Estate Planning

Britney Spears: A Cautionary Tale about Conservatorships

Posted on: September 22nd, 2021
A conservatorship is an extreme step and should be approached with great caution—an individual’s liberties are at stake....

Important Questions Your Estate Planning Attorney Will Ask You

Posted on: September 10th, 2021
We are here to reassure you that estate planning is not as scary as so many people think it is....

Disaster Preparedness Month: How to Prepare for Whatever May Come Your Way

Posted on: September 1st, 2021
September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. Although none of us can predict the future, there are some things you can do to ensure that you and your family are ready. ...

What Is a Separate Revocable Living Trust?

Posted on: August 30th, 2021
A trust is a legal concept that allows an individual to transfer ownership of their accounts and property to a trustee who has a legal obligation to use that property for the benefit of a beneficiary....

Basis: What You Need to Know

Posted on: August 23rd, 2021
“Basis” is a term used frequently in tax law. ...

Trust and Estate Administration: Whom Should You Bring to the Meetings?

Posted on: August 17th, 2021
Though it is not legally required, you may choose to involve other family members in your meetings with the attorney....

How Can Remarriage Affect Your Estate Planning?

Posted on: August 10th, 2021
If you or someone named in your estate planning documents has remarried, there are several major issues that you should be aware of as well as steps you should take to ensure your estate planning continues to be appropriate for your current situation....

When You May Not Be Able to Use a Financial Power of Attorney

Posted on: August 6th, 2021
When you sign a financial POA, you grant the person you designate, known as an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” the legal authority to manage your financial matters, including banking transactions, real estate transactions, investments, gift giving, and paying bills....

What Happens to Your Digital Movies When You Die? (Hint: Read the Fine Print in the User Agreement)

Posted on: August 2nd, 2021
When it comes to digital movies, “ownership” is not quite what it seems...

The Difference Between a Prenuptial Agreement and a Will or Trust

Posted on: July 29th, 2021
Wills and trusts are no longer reserved only for those with substantial wealth. Having a will or a trust is just something responsible people do. ...

Can a Beneficiary Also Be a Trustee of a Trust?

Posted on: July 26th, 2021
The short answer is yes, a beneficiary can also be a trustee of the same trust—but it may not always be wise, and certain guidelines must be followed....

Successor Trustee Compensation

Posted on: July 19th, 2021
If you have not specified in a will or a trust whether, or how much, the fiduciary should be compensated for their services, most state laws have addressed the question....

Living, Testamentary, and Constructive Trusts: Are They All the Same?

Posted on: July 15th, 2021
The concept of trusts is an area within estate planning that can create a great deal of confusion for people unfamiliar with the law....

Why Is My Trust So Long?

Posted on: July 8th, 2021
Creating a comprehensive plan for your future involves numerous different and critical elements. ...

Can a Disabled Individual Be an Executor or a Trustee?

Posted on: June 30th, 2021
In general, a disabled individual can serve in any of these fiduciary roles as long as their disability does not materially interfere with their ability to carry out the legal responsibilities and duties imposed on them by law....

Types of Life Insurance and How They Can Be Used in Estate Planning

Posted on: June 23rd, 2021
The right kind of life insurance, when properly understood and carefully coordinated with your estate planning, can provide significant economic benefits and peace of mind for you and your loved ones should you pass away sooner than expected....

To Have, but Not to Hold? Common Law Marriage and Estate Planning

Posted on: June 23rd, 2021
As society evolves, how we identify marriage in our society also changes....

Simultaneous Deaths: What If My Spouse and I Die at the Same Time?

Posted on: June 18th, 2021
The chances of a married couple dying in a common accident or within a very short time of one another are probably quite slim. ...

What Are the Rights of a Child Born Outside of Marriage?

Posted on: June 8th, 2021
If you are a nonmarital child or have a nonmarital child, it is essential to understand how rights to inherit are formed and defined....

Selling a Deceased Loved One's Real Estate: Things You Need to Know

Posted on: June 2nd, 2021
After the death of a loved one there are a variety of tasks that must be handled to wrap up your loved one’s final affairs. ...

Options for Establishing and Transferring Your IRA to a Loved One

Posted on: May 26th, 2021
By far the most common way to leave your IRA at your death is to simply name those whom you want to receive your account as beneficiaries on the plan’s beneficiary designation forms....

National Home Remodeling Month: Can I Remodel My Own Estate Planning Documents?

Posted on: May 18th, 2021
According to the National Association of Home Builders, May is National Home Remodeling Month. Perhaps, however, your home is fine as is and you need a remodeling project for something other than your home. Estate planning is one area that often goes unexamined and neglected. Is it time to remodel your estate plan? ...

Options for Establishing and Transferring Your IRA to a Loved One

Posted on: May 12th, 2021
Americans are using a variety of tax-deferred accounts to save for retirement. Many people are unaware that there are numerous options for transferring these types of accounts to their loved ones....

Defining “Fair Market Value”: The Case of Wilburn v. Mangano

Posted on: April 30th, 2021
When reading through a will or trust agreement, you may see language that grants a right to an individual to purchase certain property from the estate or trust at “fair market value.” ...

Do I Have to Leave Anything to My Children?

Posted on: April 26th, 2021
You can disinherit a child under most states’ laws, but you must understand the limitations and additional factors if you are considering this option....

Handling the Legal Affairs of a Missing Person

Posted on: April 13th, 2021
Approximately 600,000 people go missing in the United States each year.[1] The loved ones who are left behind must carry not only heavy emotional burdens but significant practical burdens too. ...

It’s All in the Family: Understanding Common Legal Terms That Describe Loved Ones in Estate Planning

Posted on: April 12th, 2021
Using the correct terms is critical in wills, trusts, and other legal documents because words have significant implications. The wrong word can lead the courts to incorrectly interpret your documents and therefore cause an unintended result. Here are a few commonly confused words, their proper meanings, and some usage scenarios....

How to Talk to Mom and Dad about Creating an Estate Plan

Posted on: April 5th, 2021
Once you understand the consequences of not having those conversations, the next question is how do you raise the issue with your parents? ...

Estate Tax Returns—Not as Scary as They Sound

Posted on: March 30th, 2021
When an individual passes away, tax issues are one of the many things that must be considered....

What to Know If Your Deceased Loved One Owned Firearms

Posted on: March 23rd, 2021
When you are handling a deceased loved one’s final affairs, you must consider the chance that your loved one owned one or more firearms at the time of death....

What You Should Know about Life Insurance Settlements

Posted on: March 19th, 2021
When an insured party sells a life insurance policy to a third party investor, the transaction is called a life settlement....

What If No One Wants My Stuff?

Posted on: March 12th, 2021
A critical question to ask yourself when creating an estate plan is who will get your stuff when you pass on? ...

Ways to Leave Your Real Estate to Your Loved Ones (and the Pros and Cons)

Posted on: March 8th, 2021
Failing to understand how you legally own your real estate and how it will be passed on to your loved ones can lead to unintended, and often negative, consequences....

What If I Can't Find My Loved One's Documents?

Posted on: March 3rd, 2021
If a loved one has recently died or become mentally incapacitated, finding the person’s estate planning documents is essential. ...

Including Noncitizens in Your Estate Planning

Posted on: February 24th, 2021
Estate planning law is already complex—adding international legal issues to the mix can exponentially increase that complexity....

Third-Party Supplemental Needs Trusts

Posted on: February 8th, 2021
If you want to provide for a loved one who is disabled or has special needs when you are no longer here, care must be taken to ensure that the inheritance you leave will help rather than harm your loved one...

My Loved One Has Died: As an Heir or Beneficiary, Do I Need an Attorney?

Posted on: January 21st, 2021
You just found out that your favorite aunt has died. You receive a notice from the attorney handling her affairs stating that you are a beneficiary. Your best friend advises you to get an attorney. What should you do? ...

Handling the Legal Affairs of an Estranged Noncitizen Spouse at Death

Posted on: January 19th, 2021
One of the first questions that must be answered is which country’s laws will apply with respect to inheritance, division of property, child custody, and taxation....

Should You Own Your Timeshare in Your Trust?

Posted on: January 15th, 2021
Owning timeshares can provide significant benefits for those committed to using them regularly and who know how to maximize the value for themselves and their families. ...

Can Dual Citizenship Ruin Your Estate Plan?

Posted on: January 13th, 2021
Any US citizen with dual citizenship must be prepared to carefully consider a variety of complex legal issues when planning for death. This is particularly true if the dual citizen owns property in one or both countries....

The Recipe for a Satisfying Estate Plan

Posted on: January 11th, 2021
Misconceptions about who needs an estate plan abound....

You Inherited a Retirement Account: Now What?

Posted on: January 8th, 2021
It has become critically important for families to understand both the laws applicable to wills and trusts and the complex laws governing retirement plans....

Choosing a Corporate Trustee

Posted on: December 31st, 2020
The role of a trustee is complex and involves a wide variety of skills and mindsets. Trustees must operate in the best interests of the beneficiaries. ...

What to Do When a Loved One Dies Abroad

Posted on: December 29th, 2020
The death of a loved one can be one of the most disorienting life events. But if the loved one dies while traveling in a foreign country, the emotional and bureaucratic burdens can multiply exponentially....

What to Do When a Child Dies

Posted on: December 23rd, 2020
No one can ever prepare for the cascade of challenges that come with the death of a minor child. Not only are there legal and financial challenges that you must deal with, but all of these challenges come at a time of deep emotional crisis....

Can an Estate Plan Include a Right of First Refusal on Certain Property?

Posted on: December 21st, 2020
A ROFR is a useful legal tool to ensure that certain types of property end up in the hands of those who value them most while balancing a family’s desire to fairly distribute accounts and property among other loved ones. ...

A Tale of Two Celebrities: Chadwick Boseman and Eddie Van Halen

Posted on: December 15th, 2020
With a celebrity’s passing, we realize that death is an equalizer. It also reminds us of the importance of estate planning to protect a person's money and property. ...

All in the Family: Making Sense of Per Stirpes, By Representation, and Per Capita Distributions

Posted on: December 10th, 2020
The notion of fairness often pervades family dynamics and may continue even beyond death when decisions about dividing accounts and property arise. ...

How Refinancing a Property Can Affect Your Estate Plan

Posted on: December 7th, 2020
One often overlooked consideration is the impact that refinancing your home could have on your estate plan....

Deeper Dive into Advance Healthcare Directives

Posted on: October 23rd, 2020
When it comes to your healthcare, especially during these uncertain times, you need to ensure that two estate planning documents in particular are up to date. ...

Estate Planning After Personal Injury Settlements

Posted on: October 5th, 2020
A sudden and large infusion of cash can be overwhelming to an individual and the individual’s family, and without sound legal planning, can be lost or mishandled....

Conservation Easements: Preserving a Heritage With Tax Benefits

Posted on: October 1st, 2020
In general, a conservation easement is a tool used to protect natural resources....

What Happens If My Beneficiary Dies Before Me?

Posted on: September 28th, 2020
Sometimes a beneficiary of an estate or trust dies before the person leaving the inheritance. If this has happened to you, you may be wondering what is next. How does this event impact your original plans?...

Disaster Preparedness Month: How to Prepare for Whatever May Come Your Way

Posted on: September 18th, 2020
Because September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, we want you to be prepared for whatever life throws at you. ...

Why Your Heirs or Beneficiaries May Receive a Smaller Inheritance Than You Thought

Posted on: September 10th, 2020
The effort that you put into planning your estate today can have a significant impact on how much of your money and property end up in the hands of your heirs or beneficiaries. ...

Seven Ways to Avoid Family Fights over Your Property

Posted on: August 31st, 2020
Far too many families end up fighting, or at least experiencing tension, over a family inheritance. But it does not have to be that way....

How Do I Donate My Organs When I Die?

Posted on: August 12th, 2020
Organ donation is one of the most regulated aspects of the healthcare industry, and the legalities have very unique considerations. ...

Avoiding Financial Grief: How to Protect Your Significant Other from Frozen Accounts

Posted on: August 5th, 2020
The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. Nothing can truly prepare a person for such a loss. However, dealing with the financial stress of frozen bank accounts can exacerbate the stress....

Help! I’ve Been Named as a Guardian. What Do I Do?

Posted on: July 24th, 2020
Being a guardian is an important responsibility. If a family member or friend wishes to name you as a guardian for a child, it is important to seriously consider whether you have the time, patience, and ability to take on this role. ...

Sandwich Generation Month: Considerations When Caring for Both Children and Parents

Posted on: July 17th, 2020
If you have the documents necessary to know and carry out your parents’ or child’s wishes for their care, regardless of the situation, you can rest assured that they will receive the care they desire. ...

Summer Vacation Plans? Precautions and Preparations to Consider

Posted on: July 13th, 2020
After months of near confinement in our homes, many of us are stir-crazy and eager to travel to a vacation destination. Although more states are opening up, there are several precautions to consider and preparations to make as you plan your summer travels....

Why Your Marital Agreement Should Be Shown to Your Estate Planner

Posted on: July 6th, 2020
If you and your spouse have a marital agreement, it is crucial for you to provide a copy of it to your estate planning attorney to avoid conflicts between provisions in your estate planning and the marital agreement....

Kids Going Away To College? Why You Should Include Estate Planning in the Preparation

Posted on: June 30th, 2020
How can you make sure your kid is going to be safe at school, so far away from home? There is something, probably not yet on your to-do list, that absolutely can make all the difference. Bring your child to a local estate planning attorney. ...

Legal Requirements to Consider When Selecting an Executor

Posted on: June 29th, 2020
The person you choose to be your executor (sometimes called a personal representative) will play an extremely important role, as that person will be responsible for gathering, securing, managing, and ultimately distributing your money and property when you pass away....

How to Handle Savings Bonds in Estate Planning and at Death

Posted on: June 22nd, 2020
There are several estate planning issues you should keep in mind if you have savings bonds or plan to invest in them....

Assisted Reproductive Technology and the Real Impact on Estate Planning

Posted on: June 19th, 2020
The laws addressing ART vary widely from state to state, so it is important to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney in your state to ensure that your estate plan will achieve your goals. ...

Caught in the Undertow: How No Estate Plan (or a Bad One) Could Leave Your Family Overwhelmed

Posted on: June 12th, 2020
There are a number of dangers associated with failing to put a well-thought-out estate plan in place that could make your family members feel as though they are drowning if you were to pass away....

Things to Be Aware of When Administering a Hoarder's Estate

Posted on: June 2nd, 2020
If you have been named as the personal representative of a relative’s estate and discover that the deceased person’s home is packed, floor to ceiling, with collections, clothing, old mail, books, and papers, what should you do?...

Can a Non-U.S. Citizen Create an Estate Plan in the U.S.?

Posted on: May 27th, 2020
U.S. citizens, and non-citizens who meet the IRS’s definition of a “resident” of the United States, are subject to federal gift and estate taxes on all of their money and property, worldwide....

Writing Your Own Obituary as an Addition to Your Estate Plan

Posted on: May 13th, 2020
Because your obituary is all about you, you can emphasize any aspects of your life you wish. There is no correct format, so you are free to tell your story in the way you feel most comfortable, showcasing your personality. ...

Estate Planning Considerations for Restauranteurs

Posted on: May 8th, 2020
Failing to create an estate and business succession plan can lead to big headaches for your family, business associates, and employees—or could even lead to the loss of the restaurant. ...

Unclaimed Property - What is it, Where to find it, and Its Impact on Estate Planning and Administration

Posted on: May 4th, 2020
For most of us, every penny counts, so it is almost inconceivable that we could have lost track of any money or property. Regardless of how careful we are with our finances, it is possible for utility deposits, credit balances, unused gift certificates, banks accounts, and many more types of property or money to accidentally be forgotten or abandoned....

COVID-19: A Reminder of Why Estate Planning Is Important

Posted on: April 29th, 2020
Although most people are not likely to be in serious danger even if they come down with the coronavirus, it is a wake-up call to those who have been putting off creating or updating an estate plan....

Which Distribution Method Is Best? Showing Your Children the Love

Posted on: April 27th, 2020
There are a variety of ways that you can leave money and property to your children, and you can choose the method you think best takes your goals, including their wellbeing, into account....

Reconsidering Your Role in Others’ Estate Plans (How to Say No)

Posted on: April 22nd, 2020
If a family member or friend has asked you to serve as the executor of his or her estate or as trustee of a trust he or she is creating, there are a number of factors you should consider before accepting either of these important roles....

Spring Cleaning: Time to Clean Up Your Estate Planning

Posted on: April 7th, 2020
Your estate plan, like your home, periodically needs a thorough polishing. Your life circumstances are constantly changing, and an estate plan that perfectly met your needs a couple of years ago may now be cluttered with outdated provisions or documents. ...

Estate Planning is Like Building a Snowman

Posted on: March 20th, 2020
The foundation of a snowman is the large snowball at the bottom that acts as its base. Likewise, a trust is the foundation of your estate plan. ...

Common Mistakes with DIY Estate Plans

Posted on: March 13th, 2020
Even if your DIY will meets all your state’s requirements and is legally valid, the will alone is unlikely to be sufficient to address all of your estate planning needs....

American Heart Month: Who Should Be My Medical Agent?

Posted on: February 21st, 2020
The person you choose will be authorized to make critical health care decisions, including whether to consent to or refuse medical treatment and which health care providers or hospitals to use for your care. ...

Trusts - The Swiss Army Knife of Estate Planning

Posted on: December 20th, 2019
Trusts are a foundational estate planning tool with a solid history for being highly effective in ensuring a person’s wishes are carried out....

How is a corporate trustee different?

Posted on: November 29th, 2019
A trust is a legal arrangement in which a trustee holds and manages assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. ...

Seeing an Estate Planner? Three Key Questions to Ask

Posted on: November 22nd, 2019
Hiring an estate planner is an important decision as you are seeking advice on how to protect your loved ones once you are gone....

Murphy’s Law and Estate Planning

Posted on: November 15th, 2019
As the old adage goes “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Referred to as Murphy’s law, this well-known saying has no mercy. Sadly, estate planning is no exception to its wrath. ...

National Adoption Month: Taking Care of Your New Family Member

Posted on: November 8th, 2019
If you are in the process of adopting or have recently adopted a child, it is a great time to create or update your estate plan to ensure that it provides for your new family member in the way you intend....

Three Tips for Talking About Your Estate Plan During the Holidays

Posted on: November 1st, 2019
The holidays are right around the corner, bringing the joyous season of gathering with family and loved ones into full swing. It is the time to slow down, get caught up with loved ones, and enjoy the family and experience quality time around the dinner table. It is also a great idea to take this opportunity to review your estate plan and talk about the topic with your loved ones....

Your Fall “Legal Affairs” Checklist

Posted on: October 25th, 2019
With the fall season here, it’s an excellent time to review your affairs....

Do your parents have an estate plan?

Posted on: October 18th, 2019
Talking about the future with your parents -- including their estate matters, finances, and memorial wishes -- is one of the most important conversations you can have with them....

How to Successfully Make a “Large” Gift to Your Children or Grandchildren

Posted on: October 11th, 2019
If you are considering giving cash or property to someone, a little bit of planning can really help avoid negative consequences. ...

Should your child’s guardian and trustee be the same person?

Posted on: October 4th, 2019
Keep in mind that a guardian will provide day-to-day love, care, and support for your child. While the guardian you choose may be great with your children, he or she may not be great with money. ...

Five Considerations When Selecting a Guardian for Your Children

Posted on: September 27th, 2019
In the same manner that you can choose different individuals to manage the estate’s finances and your minor children’s day-to-day needs, you can also choose more than one guardian for your kids....

How an Estate Planning Letter of Intent Can Help Your Family

Posted on: September 13th, 2019
Estate planning can do much more than focus on finances, it can also provide for care of those you leave behind....

Are Your Documents Following the Same Script? Basics of Beneficiary Forms and Estate Planning

Posted on: September 5th, 2019
Who you have listed as a beneficiary -- and not having a beneficiary designation at all -- can have serious implications for your family after you have passed away....

Legal Considerations When Getting Your New College Student Ready to Go

Posted on: July 26th, 2019
Many parents are actively involved in their college-aged children’s care and responsibility. Once your child becomes 18 years of age, he or she is protected by HIPPA laws. This means health care professionals cannot provide medical information without your child’s signed consent, even though your child may still be on your health insurance. ...

Not Married? You’re not alone - but you still need a plan. Estate Planning for People Living Together, Bachelors, and Bachelorettes

Posted on: May 31st, 2019
Having a cohesive and well-drafted estate plan will ensure that you protect and provide for those you truly care about upon your death. ...

How Estate Planning Can Help You Dream About Your Future

Posted on: April 19th, 2019
There are several benefits of developing an estate plan with your legacy in mind. You can help the next generation become empowered to achieve competence, character, and confidence...

Who should I pick to be successor trustee?

Posted on: April 12th, 2019
When deciding who should be your successor trustee keep in mind the type and amount of assets held in your trust, the complexity of the terms of your trust document, and the qualifications of your candidates....

What do successor trustees and executors do?

Posted on: April 5th, 2019
Typically, a petition of probate must be filed with the court for an executor to be appointed. If the person agrees to be the executor, and no one objects, the court will issue letters of testamentary. ...

Why Your Estate Planner Needs to Know If You've Lent Money to Family

Posted on: February 25th, 2019
We have all heard stories of families torn apart because of disagreements over money. So, what can you do to make sure your intra-family loans help — rather than hurt — your family?...

Debt After Death: Why You Should Think About It When Estate Planning

Posted on: February 4th, 2019
A little bit of planning can go a long way in ensuring your family and loved ones are protected in the event of a tragedy....

Organizing for Tax (and Estate Planning) Season

Posted on: January 25th, 2019
The flurry of tax prep activity is the perfect opportunity to get your estate plan in order, too, and kill two birds with the proverbial stone....
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