Latest Blog Posts

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....

Cryptocurrency and Estate Planning: What You Need to Know

Posted on: September 26th, 2019
Your entire cryptocurrency investment can essentially disappear into thin air the moment you pass away or become incapacitated. If you have not taken the proper steps to plan and protect these assets, your loved ones left behind have no way of accessing or recovering them....

Free yourself from Court Interference

Posted on: September 24th, 2019
Failure to put together a comprehensive estate plan can leave you and your loved ones at the mercy of the court when it comes to distributing assets or caring for a minor or sick family member. ...

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

Posted on: September 16th, 2019
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....

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....

What to Do with Your Beloved Collection

Posted on: September 12th, 2019
Knowing specifically who is going to be receiving your collection may be part of the peace of mind you are looking to achieve with the preparation of your estate planning....

Estate Planning and Asset Protection

Posted on: September 11th, 2019
Asset protection planning is not about avoiding taxes, keeping secrets, hiding assets, or defrauding creditors....

How A Living Trust Helps Your Family

Posted on: September 10th, 2019
Unlike a will, a fully funded living trust will avoid probate, typically a lengthy and costly court-supervised process....

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

Posted on: September 9th, 2019
After you set up a standalone retirement trust, you’ll have full control and the right to enjoy your retirement funds for years....

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....

The Biggest Threats to Successful Estate Planning

Posted on: August 30th, 2019
If you have not done any estate planning or if what you have done is ineffective, your estate will be subject to your state’s intestate laws. These laws predetermine who will inherit your assets and in what proportion....

My Trust is Signed, No Probate for My Family, Right?

Posted on: August 27th, 2019
With plans clearly established, your wealth and assets are protected should you pass away or become incapacitated. It’s important to be aware, however, that simply meeting with an attorney and signing a trust does not mean your estate planning process is complete. Without properly funding your trust, your assets could still be forced through the probate process....

What Could the SECURE Act Mean For You?

Posted on: August 23rd, 2019
The SECURE Act, Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement seeks to make Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) more appealing for Americans of all backgrounds....

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. ...

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

Posted on: July 19th, 2019
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. ...

When is probate necessary?

Posted on: June 4th, 2019
One of the appealing aspects of putting together an estate plan is to avoid probate. ...

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. ...

When is “living probate” necessary?

Posted on: May 28th, 2019
One of the appealing aspects of putting together an estate plan is to avoid probate. ...

Consider “Micro” Estate Planning

Posted on: May 14th, 2019
While many are aware of traditional estate planning techniques, they may not be familiar with the more short-term planning approach—often referred to as “micro” estate planning....

Guardian Planning

Posted on: May 2nd, 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....

Big “Life Changes” Often Mean Big “Estate Plan Changes”

Posted on: April 30th, 2019
While putting an estate plan together is a good thing to do, many people make few updates once the plan has been created, despite other key life events happening over the years. This is a major mistake that can place your hard-earned money and assets into a costly probate or into the wrong hands....

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...

Small Business Owner? Know What Can Happen to Your Business If You Become Incapacitated or Pass Away

Posted on: April 16th, 2019
A properly executed will or trust will allow you to state how you would like your assets to be transferred -- and who will receive these assets -- at your death....

How to Leave Your Life Insurance and Retirement Plan to Your Minor Children

Posted on: April 15th, 2019
While it is true that life insurance is a particularly helpful financial tool to protect your loved ones, it is just as important to consider how to leave the proceeds to your minor children. ...

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. ...

Are Payable-On-Death Accounts Right For You?

Posted on: April 3rd, 2019
POD sounds great because they are easy. But, there can be significant problems using this as the primary tool for passing along what you’ve worked to build....

Digital Afterlife: An Estate Plan For Your Social Media Accounts

Posted on: March 22nd, 2019
While the internet has made our lives easier by allowing us to access our information with the simple push of a button, it may be difficult for our loved ones to do the same once we are gone....

5 Steps for Coordinating Plans Across Generations

Posted on: March 19th, 2019
Intergenerational estate planning is important. This type of planning is about more than just helping one generation build as much wealth as possible. These plans help prepare heirs to both manage and preserve those assets into the future for long-lasting enjoyment....

What to Do with Your Beloved Collection

Posted on: March 15th, 2019
Whether your beloved collection consists of artwork, books, cars, music, or other significant items, you should not forget about this valuable asset when estate planning. You have likely spent quite some time -- whether years or your entire life -- building your collection; you should not leave its fate to the whims of the court....

Estate Planning: Why Me, Why Now, and Is a Will Enough?

Posted on: March 13th, 2019
Upon your passing, your Will has to go through probate – a process whereby a court reviews your Will and determines its validity. It is a lengthy and often costly process in many states to begin with and can become even lengthier if a Will is contested (e.g., on the grounds that someone coerced or cajoled their way into an inheritance). The delay in disposition of your assets and the accompanying legal costs may put your family members in financial straits...

Joint Tenancy Pitfalls: The ‘Simple’ Fix that Can Leave Your Family Broke

Posted on: March 1st, 2019
There are many ways to own your assets. When you die, it is only natural that you want your family to share in the bounty of your hard work....

Do you really need a will?

Posted on: February 26th, 2019
Do you really need a will? The short answer to this question is “yes.” In fact, everyone who owns anything - no matter how little value it may seem to have - should have a will....

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?...

The More You Know: Reverse Mortgages & Estate Planning

Posted on: February 19th, 2019
You have likely seen several advertisements for reverse mortgages if you have spent any time watching television or surfing on the internet. The concept and sell is a simple one: as long as you own and live in your home, you can supplement your retirement...

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

Posted on: February 8th, 2019
In the event of your untimely death, the manner in which your beneficiaries -- or those people who receive your assets from your estate -- are determined is highly dependent on how your property is titled....

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....

Digital Assets - Now a Part of Estate Planning

Posted on: January 31st, 2019
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. ...

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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