Latest Blog Posts

Probate Avoidance

Posted on: November 16th, 2017
Probate can be easily avoided, but most estates are dragged through the process because many people fail to create an estate plan. ...

Surprise! You Can’t Easily Disinherit Your Spouse in the U.S.

Posted on: November 15th, 2017
In the majority of states and the District of Columbia, you can't intentionally disinherit your spouse unless your spouse actually agrees to receive nothing from your estate in a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement. ...

How to Stop Worrying About Running Out of Money in Retirement

Posted on: November 15th, 2017
Many retirees today worry about having enough money for their retirement. Of special concern is if there will be enough money to provide for the surviving spouse. ...

Do I need asset protection?

Posted on: November 14th, 2017
Everybody needs asset protection....

Budgeting as a Friend and not a Foe

Posted on: November 13th, 2017
Creating and staying on budget can empower you and help you feel in control of your earnings, your spending and your future...

What is asset protection?

Posted on: November 10th, 2017
Asset protection prevents your assets from being seized by creditors....

Mediation in lieu of Trial

Posted on: November 9th, 2017
Mediation offers a more cost-effective and efficient option to litigation and has proven effective in reducing court dockets and trials. ...

Dispelling the Top 3 Estate Planning Myths

Posted on: November 7th, 2017
Understanding the top three estate planning myths will help you to create and maintain a plan that will work the way you expect it to work when it's needed....

How to Make a Family Meeting a Successful Part of the Estate Planning Process

Posted on: November 6th, 2017
You've finished your estate planning. But have you, really? Have you explained your planning to your family? ...

Is a Revocable Living Trust Right for You?

Posted on: November 3rd, 2017
For some, a Revocable Living Trust may not be necessary to achieve their estate planning goals or may even be detrimental to achieving those goals....

Estate Planning and Asset Protection

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017
Asset protection planning is not about avoiding taxes, keeping secrets, hiding assets, or defrauding creditors.....

Better to Play it Safe: Proactive Estate Planning and Cognitive Impairment

Posted on: November 1st, 2017
The reality is that an individual’s chances of experiencing some form of cognitive impairment rise with age. While it’s never certain whether cognitive impairment will occur, smart estate planning means factoring it in as a very real possibility....

Baltimore Register of Wills Can’t Find Her Father’s Original Last Will, Will Your Family Be Able to Find Yours?

Posted on: October 31st, 2017
While your family members certainly don't need to know what your will says, they do need to know where your original will is being stored....

Providing for Your Parents in Your Estate Plan

Posted on: October 30th, 2017
What would happen to your parents if they rely on you for physical and/or financial support, and something happens to you?...

Guardian Planning

Posted on: October 26th, 2017
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....

Should You Disinherit a Child?

Posted on: October 20th, 2017
How we choose to include our children in our estate plans says a good deal about our values and faith. Not disinheriting a child who has caused grief and heartache can convey a message of love and forgiveness, while disinheriting a child, even for what seems to be good cause, can convey a lack of love, anger and resentment....

Digital Assets - Now a Part of Estate Planning

Posted on: October 18th, 2017
Unless we include our digital assets and social media in our estate planning, our family or administrator may not be able to find critical documents. ...

‘Till Death Do Us Part, Too: Estate Planning Tips for Commitment Without Marriage

Posted on: October 18th, 2017
If you and your significant other love each other but don’t want to tie the knot, you need an estate plan that takes into account your specific situation while protecting you both, along with any other family members or loved ones you wish to include....

Does Your Estate Plan Protect Your Adult Beneficiaries?

Posted on: October 16th, 2017
If you think you only need to create discretionary lifetime trusts for young beneficiaries, problem beneficiaries, or financially inexperienced beneficiaries, then think again. ...

Year End Estate Planning Tip

Posted on: October 16th, 2017
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season....

Four Steps to Stop Mail Addressed to a Deceased Person

Posted on: October 13th, 2017
One of the first things you should do as a newly appointed executor of a deceased person's probate estate is ask the post office to forward the deceased person's mail to your address....

Incorporating Faith and Values in Estate Planning

Posted on: October 11th, 2017
For many, passing along religious beliefs and values to the next generation is just as important as passing along financial wealth and tangible assets. Estate planning creates many opportunities to do this....

Caution: Writing Your Own Deed to Avoid Probate Can Lead to Unintended Consequences

Posted on: August 28th, 2017
One common way to avoid probate of real estate after the owner dies is to hold the title to the property in joint names with rights of survivorship with children or other beneficiaries. ...

How to Easily Integrate Asset Protection Trusts into Your Estate Plan

Posted on: August 25th, 2017
Asset protection trusts come in many different forms and can be used to protect property for your use and benefit as well as for the use and benefit of your family. ...

Young Adults Need Estate Planning, Too

Posted on: August 23rd, 2017
Once a child turns 18, parents lose the legal ability to make decisions for their child or even to find out basic information....

Standalone Retirement Trusts

Posted on: August 21st, 2017
What are the benefits of a Standalone Retirement Trust?...

An Estate Planning Checklist to Facilitate Wealth Transfer

Posted on: August 18th, 2017
You need to educate and update your heirs about your wealth transfer goals and the plan you have put in place to achieve these goals. ...

Three Asset Protection Tips You Need

Posted on: August 16th, 2017
A common misconception is that only wealthy families and people in high risk professions need to put together an asset protection plan. But in reality, anyone can be sued....

Estate Planning for Young Families

Posted on: August 14th, 2017
While none of us expects to die while our family is young, planning for the possibility is prudent and responsible....

Is a Financial Plan Enough? Why Experts Say You Need an Estate Plan, too

Posted on: August 11th, 2017
If you want to leave a robust financial legacy for your family, a financial plan alone is like trying to guide a boat with just one oar. It’s only part of the big picture for your overall monetary health. ...

What if I end up using up my retirement account during my lifetime??

Posted on: July 17th, 2017
Even after you set up a standalone retirement trust, you’ll have full control and the right to enjoy your retirement funds for years....

How to Minimize Legal Fees After Death

Posted on: July 14th, 2017
Careful planning can minimize the legal fees your loved ones will pay after you die. ...

The Trust Protection Myth: Your Revocable Trust Protects Against Lawsuits

Posted on: July 12th, 2017
Many people believe once they set up a Revocable Living Trust and transfer assets into the Trust, those assets are protected from lawsuits. This is absolutely not true....

Life Insurance: How Much and What Kind?

Posted on: July 10th, 2017
Life insurance can be an affordable way to provide for our children, spouse, a sibling, aging parents and others if we should die while they are depending on us. ...

What if I end up using up my retirement account during my lifetime?

Posted on: June 28th, 2017
What if I end up using up my retirement account during my lifetime?...

Does Your Revocable Living Trust Reduce Your Estate Tax Bill?

Posted on: June 26th, 2017
What if you name both individuals and charities as beneficiaries of your trust after you die? The portion of the trust property passing to the individual beneficiaries will be subject to estate taxes and the portion passing to the charities will be distributed free from estate taxes....

Taking Care of a Valuable Asset (You)

Posted on: June 23rd, 2017
Too often, we let ourselves slip to the bottom of the priority list. But when you start to think of yourself as your most valuable asset and begin to nourish and protect this asset, you will perform at your best and increase your value....

While estate planning is important for everyone, women especially need to understand estate planning and have a plan of their own in place.

Posted on: June 21st, 2017
Because women, on average, live longer than men, there is an increased need to plan for physical and/or mental incapacity that can occur in later years. ...

What is an SRT?

Posted on: May 17th, 2017
What is an SRT?...

The Trust Protection Myth: Your Revocable Trust Protects Against Lawsuits

Posted on: May 15th, 2017
While Trusts commonly provide asset protection for beneficiaries - few Trusts protect assets owned by the person who created the Trust. ...

Estate planning encompasses at least the legal and financial elements, but it may include more, as estate planning often points out the need to plan in other areas.

Posted on: May 12th, 2017
Estate planning is not simply the documents prepared by an attorney, nor is it the insurance and financial plan recommended by a financial advisor. Properly done, estate planning encompasses at least the legal and financial elements, but it may include more, as estate planning often points out the need to plan in other areas. ...

Steps you can and should take now to protect your assets

Posted on: May 11th, 2017
The best time to do asset protection planning is before a claim arises....

What are contract assets?

Posted on: May 1st, 2017
Contract assests, are not controlled by your will or trust, they’re controlled by the contract itself....

Should I Write My Own Will?

Posted on: April 24th, 2017
Legally, you have the right to draft your own documents; however, that doesn't mean you have the right to have them actually work....

Understanding Property Losses.

Posted on: April 17th, 2017
Property insurance provides protection against most risks to property, such as fire, theft and some weather damage. However, if property has appreciated and there isn't sufficient insurance for replacement value, any losses must be paid out of pocket. ...

Four common mistakes in estate planning

Posted on: April 14th, 2017
An experienced attorney can guide and assist you in making smart decisions about your estate planning, including who should be the guardian of minor children; how to provide for a child or elderly parent with special needs; how to provide for children fairly (which may not be equally); and how to protect an inheritance from creditors and irresponsible spending....

What is a beneficiary designation?

Posted on: April 12th, 2017
What is a beneficiary designation?...

Why does probate take so long?

Posted on: April 10th, 2017
Many people fail to create an estate plan, so probate is required. Frustratingly, probate can drag on for months - or even years. ...

Some strategies that can restore a person's self-confidence and avoid financial failures in the future.

Posted on: April 7th, 2017
Most of us will admit to having made some financial mistakes we regret--running up credit card debt, impulse buying, or making a bad investment or business decision. While there can be significant devastation, the key is to move beyond regret into productive action. ...

What assets require probate?

Posted on: March 17th, 2017
Many believe because they took the time to create a Trust, their estate will automatically avoid probate. Unfortunately, this is a false sense of security....

Do I have to name my spouse as the beneficiary of my retirement account?

Posted on: February 21st, 2017
You can name someone else or a trust as the beneficiary....

Posted on: February 16th, 2017
...

The Shocking Truth About Asset Protection Planning

Posted on: February 16th, 2017
The first step in protecting your assets is to understand that planning to preserve and secure your property in advance of a claim, or the threat of a claim, is a legitimate form of wealth planning. ...

Taking Care of a Valuable Asset (You)

Posted on: February 15th, 2017
Too often, we let ourselves slip to the bottom of the priority list. But when you start to think of yourself as your most valuable asset and begin to nourish and protect this asset, you will perform at your best and increase your value. ...

Why You Need To Review Your Estate Plan

Posted on: February 9th, 2017
Every state has laws for distributing the property of someone who dies without an estate plan—but not very many people would be pleased with the results....

How to Stop Worrying About Running Out of Money in Retirement

Posted on: January 27th, 2017
Many retirees today worry about having enough money for their retirement. Of special concern is if there will be enough money to provide for the surviving spouse. ...

What Is A Living Will

Posted on: January 27th, 2017
What is a living will? Does your family know your wishes if anything should happen to you?...

Living Probate

Posted on: January 26th, 2017
With people living longer due to advances in medicine and changes in lifestyle, odds are that most of us will become disabled for some time before we die and may need long-term care....

Areas in which we may pay more than necessary

Posted on: January 24th, 2017
Sharing good financial practices with your children and/or grandchildren can be part of your legacy, as you help them prepare to be prudent and responsible beneficiaries...

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

Posted on: January 20th, 2017
Naming the right beneficiary for tax-deferred retirement accounts is critical. Most people want to continue the tax-deferred growth for as long as possible, pay the least amount in income taxes and get the maximum stretch-out. Required distributions after the owner dies will be based on the new beneficiary’s age and life expectancy, so the younger the beneficiary (like a child or grandchild), the longer the stretch out....

Life Insurance and your estate plan

Posted on: January 18th, 2017
The main reasons most people have life insurance are to pay final expenses (medical, funeral, burial, etc.), replace an income stream and/or create wealth for our dependents after we die. Life insurance can also play an important role in business, estate planning and charitable giving....

Where People Waste Money...And Actions to Consider

Posted on: January 17th, 2017
In many ways, it is the routine purchases that occur without planning that subsequently accumulate to large amounts....

Why You Need An Estate Plan

Posted on: January 13th, 2017
Estate planning ensures a secure future for your loved ones and protects both your personal and business assets....

Beneficiary designations

Posted on: January 12th, 2017
Many people use beneficiary designations, and for good reason. Some significant assets, including life insurance policies, IRAs, retirement plans and even bank accounts, allow a beneficiary to be named....

Estate Planning Today Must Include Digital Assets and Social Media

Posted on: January 11th, 2017
It wasn’t very long ago that we had only paper for financial and tax records. We could simply point to a file cabinet or drawer and tell someone, “Everything is in there when the time comes.” But now we have computers and the internet, and so much of our lives is online. Unless we include our digital assets and social media in our estate planning, our family or administrator may not be able to find critical documents....

Are you Wasting Your Money?

Posted on: January 10th, 2017
Most of us are guilty of wasting money in one way or another. Often we are so busy that we pay too much for convenience, and we don't comparison shop or look for bargains. ...

Posted on: January 5th, 2017
JTWROS, Joint tenants with right of survivorship, is a form of joint ownership with a survivorship feature. ...

When would I use a disclaimer?

Posted on: December 19th, 2016
From time-to-time, we advise surviving spouses to use a disclaimer (a legal “no thank you”) to pass an asset to the next beneficiary, which is often themselves or their children....

What is a disclaimer?

Posted on: December 16th, 2016
...

How do I ensure that there isn't a will contest?

Posted on: December 12th, 2016
We live in a litigious society and anyone can sue anyone for anything. But, don’t be discouraged. There’s a lot you can do to reduce the likelihood of a will contest. ...

How do I balance the interests of my children and my spouse from a second marriage?

Posted on: December 9th, 2016
We’ll help you set up a loving estate plan that protects and provides for whomever you’d like - often that’s children and, sometimes, a second or third spouse. ...

What if I end up using up my retirement account during my lifetime?

Posted on: December 5th, 2016
By all means, use your retirement funds as you think best. Even after you set up a standalone retirement trust, you’ll have full control and the right to enjoy your retirement funds for years. However, if you’re like most people, you will still have assets in your retirement account when you die;...

What does “tenants in common" mean?

Posted on: December 2nd, 2016
Tenants in common is a form of joint ownership in which the owners can own equal or unequal portions of the property. ...

What does a trust protector do? Do I need one?

Posted on: November 14th, 2016
A trust protector’s duty is to make sure the trust maker’s intent is carried out. ...

3 Tips for Overwhelmed Personal Representatives

Posted on: November 11th, 2016
While it is an honor to be named as an executor of a will or estate, it can also be a sobering and daunting responsibility. Being a personal representative requires a high level of organization, foresight, and attention to detail to meet all responsibilities and ensure that all beneficiaries receive the assets to which they are entitled. ...

Pet Trust - Lessons to Learn

Posted on: November 8th, 2016
Not long ago, pet trusts were thought of as little more than eccentric things that famous people did for their pets when they had too much money. These days, pet trusts are considered mainstream....

I’m the beneficiary of a trust set up by my spouse when she died. The tax laws have changed significantly since then. Do I have to go to court to change the terms of the trust?

Posted on: November 7th, 2016
The simplest way to modify the trust would be if there are provisions within the trust that allow a private modification. ...

REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST

Posted on: March 15th, 2016
REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST based estate plan provides instructions that will allow you to...

The Living Will Registry

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015
A secure, on-line database called the U.S. Living Will Registry provides a means for you to store you advance directive. This allows your document to be easily accessible to you or by a healthcare provider anywhere at anytime.You can register your advance directive and/or organ donor information by several different methods:...

Estate planning for a young family

Posted on: May 8th, 2015
Many young families put off estate planning because they are young and healthy, or because they don't think they can afford it. But even a healthy, young adult can be taken suddenly by an accident or illness. And while none of us expects to die while our family is young, planning for the possibility is prudent and responsible. Also, estate planning does not have to be expensive; a young family can start with the essential legal documents and term life insurance, then update and upgrade as their financial situation improves. A good estate plan for a young family will include the following:...

Determine replacement values so you will have adequate insurance.

Posted on: May 6th, 2015
Replacement value is the amount it would cost to replace an item or structure at its condition before the loss occurred. When an item is covered by a replacement value policy, the cost of a similar item when purchased today determines the compensation amount for that item, regardless of depreciation....

Charitable Giving Finding Your Passion and Renewing Your Life

Posted on: April 27th, 2015
Americans like helping people and giving back to our communities. You may have already found your passion and are doing what you can to help. But if you are still searching for a way to make a difference, give some thought to what inspires you or what you care about deeply. It could be the arts, reading, the elderly, our military, disadvantaged children, teen mothers, or a clean planet. There are many organizations that need volunteers and financial help to do their good works. And, of course, most churches and religious organizations offer numerous ways to volunteer in your community and around the world. ...

Three Social Security traps to avoid when taking your benefits.

Posted on: April 21st, 2015
What you don't know about Social Security benefits can hurt you and your spouse for the rest of your lives. Here are three traps to avoid when taking your benefits. The Key Takeaways o The longer you can postpone taking your Social Security benefits, the larger the amount you and your spouse will receive over your lifetimes. o Continuing to work after you start receiving benefits early can temporarily reduce the amount of your benefits. o It is important to seek the advice of a retirement specialist who can help you navigate the rules of Social Security to your best benefit. ...

5 Good Reasons to Decant a Trust

Posted on: February 13th, 2015
Today many estate plans contain irrevocable trusts that will continue for the benefit of a spouse's lifetime and then for the benefit of several generations. Since these trusts are designed to span multiple decades, it is important that they include trust decanting provisions to address changes in circumstances, beneficiaries, and governing laws....

Who’s Going to Get It: Do You Really Know the Beneficiaries of Your Dynasty Trust?

Posted on: February 6th, 2015
Today many estate plans contain irrevocable dynasty trusts that will continue for the benefit of a spouse's lifetime and then for the benefit of several generations. Since these trusts are designed to span multiple decades, it is important that they clearly define who will be included as trust beneficiaries at each generation....

How Powers of Appointment Can Improve Your Trus

Posted on: January 30th, 2015
Today many estate plans contain trusts that will continue for the benefit of a spouse's lifetime and then for the benefit of several generations. Since these trusts are designed to span multiple decades, it is important for the trust creator to consider including powers of appointment in the trust agreement to allow trust beneficiaries to be added or excluded at each generation....

The Wrong Successor Trustee Can Derail Your Final Wishes

Posted on: January 23rd, 2015
Today many estate plans contain irrevocable trusts that will continue for the benefit of a surviving spouse's lifetime and then for the benefit of several generations. Since these trusts are designed to span multiple decades, it is crucial to choose the right succession of trustees. ...

Make an Achievable 2015 New Year’s Resolution – Get an Estate Plan Checkup!

Posted on: January 16th, 2015
With 2015 right around the corner, it's time to start thinking about your new year's resolutions. It doesn't matter whether you have an estate plan or don't, one important item to add to your list is getting an estate plan checkup....

4 Tips for Avoiding a Will or Trust Contest

Posted on: January 9th, 2015
A will or trust contest can derail your final wishes, rapidly deplete your estate, and tear your loved ones apart. But with proper planning, you can help your family avoid a potentially disastrous will or trust contest....

Time is Running Out for Certain Estates to Make the Federal Portability Election

Posted on: January 2nd, 2015
As a result of a 2010 tax law, a surviving spouse can receive his or her deceased spouse's unused estate tax exemption. This is called a 'portability' election. You may have seen it called the 'deceased spousal exclusion amount' or 'DSUE amount.'...

What the 2015 Inflation Adjustments for the Estate Tax Exemption

Posted on: December 29th, 2014
The Internal Revenue Service has released the official inflation adjustments that will affect 2015 federal reporting for estate taxes, gift taxes, generation-skipping transfer taxes, and estate and trust income taxes....

2015 Changes to State Death Taxes

Posted on: December 26th, 2014
If you live or own property in one of the 20 jurisdictions listed below, then you may have a state death tax issue that requires planning....

The Clock is Ticking on Maxing Out Your 2014 Retirement Plan Contributions

Posted on: December 22nd, 2014
With the end of 2014 fast approaching, now is the time to take a look at your year-to-date retirement plan contributions to see where yours stand when compared with the 2014 contribution limits....

An Estate Planning Checklist to Facilitate Wealth Transfer

Posted on: December 12th, 2014
Studies have shown that 70% of family wealth is lost by the end of the second generation and 90% by the end of the third.Help your loved ones avoid becoming one of these statistics. You need to educate and update your heirs about your wealth transfer goals and the plan you have put in place to achieve these goals....

Year End Estate Planning Tip #5

Posted on: December 5th, 2014
Don't let the chaos of the holiday season prevent you from avoiding federal gift tax by making 'annual exclusion' gifts, medical payments gifts, and educational gifts....

Year End Estate Planning Tip #4 – Check the Privacy of Your Estate Plan

Posted on: November 24th, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area of planning that many people overlook is ensuring that their final wishes remain private....

Year End Estate Planning Tip #3 – Check Your Mental Disability Plan

Posted on: November 21st, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area of planning that many people overlook is making sure their mental disability plan is up to date....

Strategies for Reducing the Income Tax Squeeze on Irrevocable Trusts

Posted on: November 19th, 2014
Under federal income tax laws, irrevocable, non-grantor trusts (such as Bypass Trusts and Dynasty Trusts) are subject to highly compressed income tax brackets....

Year End Estate Planning Tip #2 – Check Your Beneficiary Designations

Posted on: November 17th, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area of planning that many people overlook is their beneficiary designations....

Year End Estate Planning Tip #1 – Check Your Estate Tax Planning

Posted on: November 14th, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area that married couples should revisit is their estate tax planning. ...
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