Some of these articles have been written by our law firm and other articles are written by the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and compliments of our law firm. Any feedback or questions about the articles can be addressed by contacting our office.
Many of us think of our pets as family members, but we don’t always think through who will care for our beloved animals after we die. Did you know that you can and should include your pet in your estate plan? Here are some simple options for making sure your pet lives a happy and healthy life, even after you’re gone.
Not long ago, women rarely took much interest in estate planning for several reasons. Today, however, the need for estate planning is even greater if you are a woman. Debunking some of the common myths surrounding the concept of women and estate planning is a good place to start.
Terri Schiavo spent over ten years in a persistent vegetative state following a heart attack. During that time, her husband and parents waged an emotionally and financially draining legal battle that made it all the way to the President’s desk. It all could have been avoided had Terri executed an advance directive prior to her collapse back in 1990.
As parents, one of the challenges we face is ensuring our children feel as though they’re treated fairly and loved equally. What many may not realize, however, is that sometimes accomplishing this doesn’t include equal divisions, especially after they’ve reached adulthood. This is also sometimes the case with Estate Planning. While it’s designed to efficiently distribute your assets after your death, it’s also meant to see your final wishes implemented. The challenge is making sure your children understand that after assessing the dynamics and factors associated with your family and the needs of each family member, your final wishes may appear to be unfair, even though your goal was always to address the needs of each child versus the collective family.
You may have heard friends and family members discussing the need to avoid probate; however, you may not understand why avoiding probate is so important. Now is the time to learn more about probate avoidance so you have plenty of time to start including appropriate strategies in your estate plan.
You likely worked hard, saved wisely, and invested prudently to acquire the assets you now have. Now, all you need to do is to protect those assets. To accomplish that goal, you need to understand how and why your assets might be at risk as well as learn more about asset protection tools and strategies.
The Baby Boomers are reaching retirement. Some of them are financially ready for retirement; however, many are not. Even more have failed to plan their estate. No one likes to dwell on their own mortality, but failing to plan for it can have a significant financial impact on the next generation.
Like many Americans you may own property outside of the United States. Whether you inherited an ancestral family home, purchased a vacation retreat, or are currently living in a home you own oversee, owning property in another country makes estate planning a bit more complicated and increases the importance of having a well-thought-out estate plan in place.
Don’t leave your future, your children’s, or your estate’s future up to chance. Learn about the odds of incapacitation and death, and how a comprehensive estate plan can tip the balance in your favor.
Your farm or ranch has been in your family for generations. Are there obstacles which may prevent a smooth transition of values and assets to the next generation? If so, how can an effective estate plan can help you overcome those obstacles?
While you may not be able to physically lend a hand, one of the ways you can help a cause at home or overseas is through gifting. However, choosing to donate to a reputable charity or foundation is just the first decision. Find out more about charitable gift giving, including how to structure your gifts in such a way that not only helps you save taxes but allows you to provide for your loved ones and contribute to a greater cause.
While the American health care system has undergone major changes in recent years, the potential to save money and taxes through a Health Savings Account (HSA) has not changed. Find out whether you’re eligible to get started with an HSA, and how an HSA can be an excellent tax saving vehicle that provides the benefits of both a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA all-in-one!
Did you just find out you are the Trustee of a Trust? If so, you are probably feeling honored, and maybe a bit intimidated if this is your first time acting as a Trustee. In this article, find out what a Trustee’s role is within the Trust as well as the duties and responsibilities of a Trustee.
Is a long-term care insurance policy a wise addition to your estate plan? Ask yourself if you can afford to pay over $200,000 out-of-pocket for long-term care. If not, you may want to consider purchasing long-term care insurance because that’s what the average stay in a facility will cost you; however, don’t sign on the dotted line until you understand how long-term care (“LTC”) insurance works.
Who are your designated beneficiaries? Not sure? If so, you are not alone; it’s not uncommon to select designated beneficiaries without considering your overall estate plan. However, the failure to coordinate them could wreak havoc on your overall estate. Read on to learn how.
Do you know what your home’s value is? Not just the home’s market value, but all the myriad of ways you can benefit from being a home owner? Though you may not realize it, the benefits of home ownership go far beyond the value of the equity you have in the home.
If you are a nonresident alien, or you are married to someone who is, estate planning can be more complicated to navigate, and more important. Failing to plan ahead could even result in the loss of much of your estate assets to federal gift and estate taxes.
The aging process can be difficult for those who witness it, and when it comes to our parents, we see it evolve first-hand as they come to rely on us for their needs over the years. What can we do now to make sure they’re better prepared for the future?
Odds are many of us have heard of the federal gift tax; however it’s not something most Americans face and here’s why.
For most families, especially those with considerable assets, gifting is a great way to reduce their taxable estate while providing even greater benefits for minor children.
For many, one of the most complicated and awkward conversations is likely a discussion around funerals. Preplanning for a funeral can be the ideal opportunity to start a conversation, and if you’re a Medicaid recipient, it’s even more important.
Loaning Family Money – What You Need To Know Loaning Family Money – What You Need To Know Written By: The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys People lend money to family members for a variety of reasons.
For most people, dying without an estate plan means burdening loved ones with added inconvenience, delay and expense. For same-sex couples, however, dying without an estate plan can spell disaster. Find out why and learn what you can do about it.
Who would make your medical decisions if you were terminally ill or get into an unexpected accident? Have you expressed your wishes to your family members and, just as importantly, have you formalized your wishes so that your doctors will follow them?
A little nervous about your first estate planning consultation? Don't be. Here's what to expect.
Women’s roles in society and within the family have shifted dramatically over the past several generations and women have more earning power than ever before, yet too many wives take a backseat to their husbands when the subject of estate planning comes up. Here are five things every woman should know when it comes to estate planning.
Estate planning is only for wealthy people who want to reduce their estate taxes, right? Wrong! Only a tiny percentage of Americans need to worry about estate taxes but every adult needs an estate plan. Find out why.
People tend to think of estate planning as something that only the wealthy or the elderly need to do. In truth, regardless of your age, your situation in life, or your level of wealth, estate planning accomplishes a few universal goals.
You might not realize the advantages a low interest rate environment can offer for estate tax planning. Let's take a look at just a few.
Sometimes, in an attempt to avoid thinking about the worst, we miss the opportunity to do the best for our loved ones. A comprehensive estate plan can help you confront your fears in a way that will ease your family’s responsibilities, should the unexpected happen.
Keeping your special needs child secure after you are gone takes special planning. The right techniques can ensure both your child’s well-being and your peace of mind.
Insurance has a number of uses as an estate planning tool. It helps protect and preserve your estate, giving you more to pass on to your loved ones. It also has special characteristics that allow you to position your estate for sophisticated estate planning. Learn about the basic categories of insurance and how they strengthen your estate plan.
The draft of your new Trust makes you wonder if your estate planning attorney gets paid by the word. Is all this verbiage really necessary? In fact, a good plan has many points to cover.
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It can be a surprise to find yourself caring for elderly parents at the same time that you’re raising your own children. The emotional demands of these multiple roles are often coupled with financial challenges as well. That’s why it’s important to know when you can claim your aging or ill parent as a dependent for income tax purposes.
As Trusts gain popularity, a question comes up more and more often: who pays the income tax on a Trust? It seems like a simple inquiry, but the answer can be hard to pin down. So, who does pay income tax on a Trust? Here is the answer, in a nutshell.
You might have heard the word basis used in reference to taxes. Learn the definition of basis and how it can make a big difference in your estate plan.
If you’ve been chosen to serve as a Trustee, what responsibilities can you expect? Learn about the basic duties that come with this important and sometimes daunting job, and find out where you can go for guidance.
The estate planning process presents a number of opportunities for using asset protection strategies to protect yourself and your loved ones. Learn about asset protection, and avoid these four common pitfalls.
Although your Will or Trust might be the last thing on your mind as you prepare to move, this is actually an ideal time to review and update your estate plan. Find out why.
Life is full of surprises. None of us have a crystal ball, and this means it is unreasonable to create an estate plan without flexibility regarding your long-term wishes for your loved ones. When you build flexibility into your estate plan with a power of appointment, you can empower your spouse or children to stand in your place and make decisions based on your family’s changed circumstances.
Could you be married and not even realize it? If you live in a state that recognizes common law marriage, you could be married even without a marriage license or an official ceremony. Find out how common law marriage affects your estate plan and what you can do about it.
Your estate plan is prepared. Your Living Trust is in place and properly funded, you have a Pour-Over Will just in case, and your incapacity plan is ready and waiting in the event you need it. Is it time to part ways with your attorney? Not at all! In fact, your relationship with your estate planning attorney has just started.
If your children have reached adulthood, you might assume it's best to leave them their inheritances outright, with no restrictions. However, you want to make sure your children enjoy flexibility in accessing and using their inheritances while minimizing the impact of taxes, divorce, lawsuits, and other threats. Therefore, it might be better to leave their inheritances in a Trust.
When you use a Will to plan your estate, much of your personal information becomes public after your death. A Trust can help you accomplish your estate planning goals while shielding your personal affairs from prying eyes.
If you want to leave a true legacy, a traditional estate plan is not enough. With Legacy Planning, you can pass on your values, wisdom, and family heritage along with your nest egg. You can also provide your children's inheritances with just the right amount of protection from the threats and challenges of life.
Your mom and dad have always been there to guide you through life's challenges. Now, the tables are turning. Learn some strategies for gently helping your parents plan for the challenges they're likely to face as they age.
Most of us have daydreamed about inheriting money, but the reality of inheriting often doesn't match our dreams. In the real world, an inheritance can bring with it a number of questions and worries. Here we address four common concerns about inheritances.
Estate planning is on everyone's "should do" list, but it rarely seems to make it to the top of the "to do" list. Perhaps this is because of all the myths surrounding the estate planning process. Here are five common estate planning myths, along with the truths behind them.
Choosing between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA can have significant tax and estate planning consequences. Whether a Roth is the right option depends on a number of factors, including an account owner's current income, anticipated post-retirement income, and estate planning goals.
The U.S. Congress continually debates the estate tax, often considering whether or not it should be done away with entirely. Many people think this tax is a cornerstone of estate planning, so if it's eliminated, they don't need an estate plan. Nothing is further from the truth. This article explains why.
You've heard the maxim, "It's better to give than to receive." Americans take this aphorism to heart, especially as it relates to contributions to charity. Did you know that our tax laws actually encourage charitable giving? This article will explain gift-giving options from small to large, each with tax-savings implications.
Ranch life comes with its own particular challenges and rewards. Therefore, ranch families have even more need for professional advice than other families when it comes to finding the most effective means of passing on their assets, which may be more substantial than they suppose. This article explores various means that can be employed to create an estate plan which minimizes taxes and distributes assets equitably.
Time passes quickly. Life brings change. While these may seem like platitudes, they reflect the truth of most people's lives. This article will encourage you to recognize a new life stage as an opportunity to review and fine tune your estate plan.
The financial consequences of a divorce can be costly. You can do things right now to protect future generations in your family from suffering financial devastation after a breakup.
Divorce is bad enough, but did you know that your children and new spouse can suffer financial devastation if you do not remember to change your estate planning documents after a divorce?
Who should you entrust with planning your estate? Unfortunately, the estate planning industry can be a mixed bag. Along with licensed, qualified attorneys there are unqualified, or even unlicensed, individuals producing cookie-cutter estate plans that may or may not work as intended. Find out why you should choose your estate planning practitioner wisely.
You and your spouse have worked hard to save for your golden years. But have you planned for a long, secure retirement if one of you outlives the other? Here’s how paying attention to certain key financial areas can set both of you up for a secure, worry-free retirement.
When you compare a do-it-yourself living trust with one that was prepared by a qualified estate planning attorney, one of the first things you’re likely to notice is that the attorney-prepared trust is long. And it might not be so easy to read. There’s a good reason for this. This article discusses the reasons why planning for contingencies with an attorney drafted estate plan is the better choice. When it comes to estate planning, there’s any number of contingencies to prepare for.
Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. The truth is, estate planning is about achieving some pretty common goals and taking care of basic responsibilities, regardless of how big or small our investment portfolio happens to be.
We’re all exposed to invasions of our privacy, large and small, during our lifetimes and even after death. These practical strategies make it easier to shield your family’s personal affairs from prying eyes.
When you really think about it, your true wealth is much more than just your accumulated assets or material possessions. With the right plan, you can protect and preserve your true wealth and create a legacy for your family that will last for generations to come.
When you are planning your estate, it is important to remember that circumstances rarely stay the same over long periods of time. A plan that worked for your family when the kids were little may very well be obsolete by the time they've started families of their own. This is why it's important to ensure that you build flexibility into your plan.
Increasingly, pet owners are not just worried about providing for our pets during our lifetimes, we want to ensure that they get all the love and care they need after we’re gone, too. This article discusses the estate planning benefits a Pet Trust can provide for your furry and feathered animal companions.
The term "estate planning" usually calls to mind the process of creating a Will, establishing a Living Trust, or naming a guardian for young children. One piece of the estate planning puzzle that might not be readily apparent, though, is insurance. Learn how insurance in its many forms plays an important role in the estate planning process.
According to data collected in the 2010 census, 4.9 million children under age eighteen live in grandparent-headed households. If you are in this growing number of grandparents returning to your “parent” role again, one of the pressing responsibilities that accompany your job as caregiver is to make sure you have a plan for your grandchildren in the event that something happens to you. And because you’re older now than you were the first time around, planning becomes even more important. This article reviews why it is imperative to have an estate plan in place and what a basic plan should include.
As a child, your parents were there to guide and support you as you faced life’s challenges and obstacles in your path growing up. Similarly, as your parents age, and become less independent, they will rely on you as they face new challenges in their twilight years. This article examines how planning well in advance is important to ensure that no matter what lies ahead, their care and financial affairs will be looked after. Regardless of their financial means, if they are wealthy or of more modest means, there is a plan that can meet the specific needs of your family.
Picture this… You’re at the end of your long, fulfilling life and you’re ready to say goodbye to your loved ones and leave this world in peace. And then… your family declares war on each other. This scenario plays out all too often even in the closest of families. This article examines helpful ways to plan and avoid divisive family disputes after you are gone.
An alarming 55% of American's don't have an estate plan in place. Procrastination is a common excuse. However, for many people it's a lack of knowledge about estate planning, including the benefits, their options and the protections it offers them and their families. This article reviews 10 essential estate planning facts that will arm with you with enough knowledge to cross estate planning off your "to do" list.
A Roth IRA has some important distinctions from a traditional IRA, and, depending on your tax bracket, your retirement needs, and your estate planning goals, a Roth could be a better choice for you. So, what's the difference between the two types of IRAs? This article explores how each IRA works and which option can best fit your personal needs and goals.