Latest Blog Posts

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. ...

Buyer Beware: How to Avoid Estate Planning Scams

Posted on: December 15th, 2020
Imagine spending thousands of dollars on an estate plan to protect loved ones, only to find that no true protection exists. ...

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. ...

Special Estate Planning Considerations for Art and Other Collections

Posted on: June 16th, 2020
Regardless of its dollar value, if you have a collection, it should be included in your estate plan. You should make arrangements in advance to ensure that the collection is handled in the way you want, and if it is worth a lot of money, that its value is maximized....

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....

Ancillary Probate: When Is It Used, Where It Occurs, and How to Avoid It

Posted on: April 9th, 2020
In situations in which probate is required, more than one probate proceeding may be necessary if you own property in more than one state....

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. ...

How to Protect Your Great Ideas or Works for Your Family

Posted on: March 30th, 2020
You do not have to be a famous author, painter, or inventor to have valuable intellectual property that could provide a stream of income for your family members or loved ones after you pass away. ...

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. ...

Important Things Your Agent Under a Medical Power of Attorney Needs to Know

Posted on: March 19th, 2020
Even if you are currently the picture of good health, you may suddenly become too ill to make healthcare decisions for yourself or become unconscious after an accident, needing someone to stand in your shoes to make those decisions for you....

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. ...

Family Bank Trusts

Posted on: January 9th, 2020
Those in high-risk professions such as real estate developers, business owners, and professionals such as doctors and lawyers are often intrigued by the Family Bank Trust....

Effect of Bankruptcy on Estate Planning

Posted on: January 7th, 2020
At the conclusion of the bankruptcy case, any remaining money or property can go through the probate process and be transferred to the beneficiaries of your will....

529 Plans - What You Need to Know

Posted on: January 6th, 2020
There are a variety of factors you should consider in determining whether a 529 plan is the best option for your family, including some that may impact your estate planning. ...

How to Stop Worrying About Running Out of Money in Retirement

Posted on: December 23rd, 2019
People are living longer and health care costs continue rising, especially long-term care which many seniors will need. ...

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....

Incapacity Planning

Posted on: December 19th, 2019
If you can’t pay your bills and manage your day-to-day affairs, don’t you want to be the one who selects the person who takes over for you? If you don’t decide, the court will freeze your assets and make that decision....

Estate Planning...A must whether you have a little or a lot!

Posted on: December 17th, 2019
Protecting your family’s future must be customized to fit your and your family’s unique needs. No matter your level of wealth, it is important to understand that the reasons for estate planning are universal....

Productivity Tips for the New Year

Posted on: December 16th, 2019
There are several end-of-the-year financial deadlines, some of which may result in lost opportunities, forfeitures of funds, or even tax penalties if they are left undone. Make sure your hard-earned money is working for you....

When Equal Isn’t Necessarily Fair

Posted on: December 12th, 2019
While it is important to consider the feelings of your loved ones when dividing your assets, you have the right to do what you wish with your estate. ...

Consider “Micro” Estate Planning in the New Year

Posted on: December 10th, 2019
You are probably familiar with the idea and benefits of traditional estate planning: eliminating probate fees, lowering tax liabilities, and providing financial peace of mind and security for your loved ones. If you do not currently have an estate plan, you should consider getting one as soon as possible....

Why You Should Name a Stand-Alone Retirement Trust as Beneficiary

Posted on: December 9th, 2019
Naming the right beneficiary for tax-deferred retirement accounts is critical....

What does a discretionary trust mean?

Posted on: December 5th, 2019
Sometimes giving assets outright to a beneficiary – such a child, a grandchild or a special needs loved one – is not the ideal method of distributing assets in an estate plan. ...

5 Things Every New Mother Needs to Know About Wills

Posted on: December 3rd, 2019
Providing for your baby’s long-term welfare may start with just a simple will, but to be fully protected, you probably need more. ...

What are contract assets?

Posted on: December 2nd, 2019
Trust assets, annuity funds, insurance value and proceeds, and retirement funds are all contract assets. ...

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. ...

Giving Thanks With Your Estate Plan

Posted on: November 28th, 2019
Estate planning covers more than just financial matters. ...

Wills vs. Trusts: A Quick & Simple Reference Guide

Posted on: November 26th, 2019
Confused about the differences between wills and trusts? If so, you're not alone....

How to Align Insurance with Your Estate Plan

Posted on: November 25th, 2019
If you’re like most folks, you use a variety of insurance products to manage risk and protect you, your family, and your assets from losses caused by property damage, businesses, property, accidents, disability, retirement, and death....

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....

What to do with the family heirlooms and keepsakes

Posted on: November 21st, 2019
Included in someone’s estate could be invaluable personal property, such as family heirlooms or keepsakes. This type of property should not be overlooked in your estate plan just because it may not have a high dollar value because it still has sentimental value that cannot be quantified. ...

Revocable Trust vs. Irrevocable Trust: Which Is Best for You?

Posted on: November 19th, 2019
Trusts allow you to avoid probate, minimize taxes, provide organization, maintain control, and provide for yourself and your heirs. In its most simple terms, a trust is a book of instructions wherein you tell your people what to do, when. ...

Missed a Required Minimum Distribution?: Here Is How to Fix It

Posted on: November 18th, 2019
The retirement years are supposed to be carefree—but what if you neglected to take the required minimum distribution (RMD) from one or more of your retirement accounts or took a distribution that was lower than required? ...

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. ...

Is a delayed inheritance really an enhanced inheritance?

Posted on: November 14th, 2019
Aside from having more control over how the assets will be used, there are also several protections that come from a trust as opposed to an outright distribution....

3 Simple Ways to Avoid Probate Costs

Posted on: November 12th, 2019
Probated estates are subject to a variety of costs from attorneys, executors, appraisers, accountants, courts, and state law....

Five Surprisingly Common Planning Mistakes Baby Boomers are Making in Droves

Posted on: November 11th, 2019
Even if you’ve made a financial mistake or two, there’s still time to avoid these five surprisingly common planning mistakes baby boomers are making in droves....

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....

Is now the time to remodel your old trust?

Posted on: November 6th, 2019
Making changes to an existing trust - and other estate planning documents - can help you save money and costs, and it may allow you to make better investments decisions....

Wills, Trusts & Dying Intestate: How They Differ

Posted on: November 5th, 2019
Many of us don't take the steps to get that estate plan in place because we don't understand the nuances between wills and trusts - and dying without either....

High Deductible Health Plan? How Your Health Savings Account (HSA) Works with Your Estate Plan

Posted on: November 4th, 2019
HSAs can be extremely useful tools in retirement, tax planning, and estate planning, but the tax rules surrounding them are complex. ...

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....

Three Keys to Protecting Yourself from a Rogue Executor

Posted on: October 31st, 2019
If you are a beneficiary under a loved one’s estate plan, you may be under the assumption that those assets will be distributed according to his or her wishes. Inheritance theft, however, is an underreported problem that can cost families dearly....

Guardian Planning

Posted on: October 30th, 2019
Importance of naming guardians in your last will and testament. Failure to name a guardian or have a last will can be detrimental to your family if something happens to you....

My Loved One Has Died - What Do I Do Now?

Posted on: October 29th, 2019
When a family member or other loved one dies, grief and shock can sometimes be overwhelming. The last thing most people want to think about is making phone calls or funeral arrangements. Some things do not need to be done immediately, but there are some steps that should be taken soon after the loss of your loved one. We hope the following guide will help facilitate this process during a stressful and emotional time....

Your Fall “Legal Affairs” Checklist

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

Legal Paperwork Cheatsheet: A Guide to the Top 12 Must-Have Documents

Posted on: October 24th, 2019
Whether you own a little or a lot, the last thing you want to do to your loved ones is leave a bureaucratic mess after you pass away or become incapacitated...

Adopt-a-Dog Month - Love Them Today and Love Them Tomorrow with a Pet Trust

Posted on: October 22nd, 2019
Making arrangements for your pet in your will may not be the best option, because it leaves the fate of your pet in limbo while your estate is probated—a process that could take several months....

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 Manage Your Basis “Step Up”

Posted on: October 17th, 2019
If you or someone you know has received an inheritance, it is important for you to understand how to manage your basis “step up.” A “step up” in basis is the adjustment of the value of an appreciated asset - for tax purposes - upon inheritance. ​...

Planning for Your Automobile

Posted on: October 15th, 2019
Have you considered what will happen to your car when you pass away? In 2019, it is projected that there will be 281.3 million registered vehicles in the United States. Your car is a valuable asset—as well as a potential source of liability—that you should consider in your estate plan. ...

Which life events that require an immediate estate plan update?

Posted on: October 14th, 2019
Since your family’s needs and circumstances are constantly changing, so too must your estate plan....

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. ...

Did you or a loved one make any of these five critical estate planning mistakes?

Posted on: October 10th, 2019
Most Americans are indifferent to estate planning - at best - or completely ignore the issue - at worst. ...

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. ...

The Silent Threat to Your Estate Plan

Posted on: October 3rd, 2019
It is common knowledge that everyone needs to have an estate plan in place. Commonly, the focus is on assets, taxes, and any changes to legislation that may affect the security of your loved ones in the event of your incapacity or death....

Informal Probate Can’t Be As Bad As Formal Probate, Right?

Posted on: October 1st, 2019
For those not familiar with the term, probate refers to the legal process required to distribute the assets of the deceased. During the probate process, a representative is authorized to pay debts and distribute assets on behalf of the deceased. In probate, there are different routes: informal probate or formal probate....

Estate Planning Considerations for Benefits Open Enrollment

Posted on: September 30th, 2019
When considering any retirement plan offered through your employer such as a 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan, you will need to consider: what percentage of income you choose to contribute and whether the contribution must be made pre-tax, after-tax, or to a Roth plan....

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....
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