Latest Blog Posts

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. ...

If You Die Without a Will, Does Your Spouse Inherit Your Entire Estate?

Posted on: November 7th, 2014
If you are married and you die without a Last Will and Testament, you may mistakenly believe that your spouse will still inherit your entire estate. Not so fast. Who will inherit your estate depends on several different factors:...

How to Minimize Legal Fees After Death

Posted on: November 3rd, 2014
Death is a costly business. Aside from funeral expenses, legal fees can take a big chunk out of how much is left for your loved ones after you're gone.But it doesn't have to be this way. Careful planning can minimize the legal fees your loved ones will pay after you die. Here's how:...

3 Asset Protection Tips You Can Use Now

Posted on: October 27th, 2014
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. A car accident, foreclosure, unpaid medical bills, or an injured tenant can result in a monetary judgment that will decimate your finances. Below are three tips that you can use right now to protect your assets from creditors, predators and lawsuits. ...

Does Your Revocable Living Trust Reduce Your Estate Tax Bill?

Posted on: October 24th, 2014
Many people believe that once they set up and fund a revocable living trust, property held in the trust will avoid estate taxes after they die. In reality, this may or may not be true depending on your choice of beneficiaries and the terms written into your trust agreement....

Estate Planning Awareness Week

Posted on: October 20th, 2014
PRESS RELEASE Estate Planning Awareness Week is October 20 -26, 2014...

Will Your Revocable Living Trust Avoid Probate? It Depends.

Posted on: October 3rd, 2014
If you've set up a Revocable Living Trust, congratulations! You're definitely on the right track. But...you're only half way there. 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. ...

Estate Planning for Young Families

Posted on: September 26th, 2014
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:...

Why Does Probate Take So Long?

Posted on: September 26th, 2014
Probate can be easily avoided, but most estates are dragged through the process. Why? Many people fail to create an estate plan, so probate is required. And - others plan with just a Will, so probate is required. As a result, assets end up at the mercy of a probate judge, open to public scrutiny, and delayed passing to beneficiaries ...

Should I Write My Own Will?

Posted on: September 19th, 2014
I'm sure you have heard this less than eloquent phrase before - 'Garbage in, garbage out.' The phrase is typically used in computer programming and scientific research. Unfortunately, it also applies to the law, legal documents, and writing your own Will. What's Wrong With Writing Your Own Estate Plan? ...

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Will: 3 Critical Mistakes

Posted on: September 12th, 2014
Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died from a drug overdose in February 2014. Sadly, he left behind three young children - and a fortune estimated to be worth $35 million. ...

3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Fees

Posted on: September 5th, 2014
Today, it is impossible to put together even a simple estate plan without the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney. Why? Because estate planning laws vary greatly from state to state and these laws are extremely convoluted and constantly changing....

The Trust Protection Myth: Your Revocable Trust Protects Against Lawsuits

Posted on: August 29th, 2014
WARNING: 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. ...

Lifetime QTIP Trusts – The Gift That Keeps Giving

Posted on: August 22nd, 2014
Estate planning for married couples can be tricky when one spouse is significantly wealthier than the other and each spouse wants different beneficiaries to ultimately inherit their estate. One solution to this problem is the Lifetime QTIP Trust. ...

Discretionary Trusts – How to Protect Your Beneficiaries From Bad Decisions and Outs

Posted on: August 15th, 2014
Leaving your hard-earned assets outright to your children, grandchildren or other beneficiaries after you die will make their inheritance easy prey for creditors, predators, and divorcing spouses. Instead, consider using discretionary trusts for the benefit of each of your beneficiaries. ...

Does Your Revocable Living Trust Reduce Your Estate Tax Bill?

Posted on: August 8th, 2014
Many people believe that once they set up and fund a revocable living trust, property held in the trust will avoid estate taxes after they die. In reality, this may or may not be true depending on your choice of beneficiaries and the terms written into your trust agreement....

Will Your Revocable Living Trust Avoid Probate? It Depends

Posted on: August 8th, 2014
If you've set up a Revocable Living Trust, congratulations! You're definitely on the right track. But...you're only half way there. 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....

How to Get Organized to Meet With Your Estate Planning Attorney

Posted on: July 25th, 2014
OK, great! You've finally decided it's time to meet with an estate planning attorney and get your affairs in order. It's time to make sure your family is protected....

Estate Planning Basics for Newlyweds – How to Get Prepared for the Unexpected

Posted on: July 18th, 2014
It's that time of year - the time for beautiful weddings, fun receptions, delicious cakes, special gifts, and romantic honeymoons. While this is a joyous time for everyone, it's also time for you and your new spouse to plan for your future - for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health....

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Inherited IRAs are Not Protected from Creditors

Posted on: July 11th, 2014
On June 12, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court--in a unanimous decision--ruled that Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) inherited by anyone other than a spouse are not retirement funds and therefore are not protected from the beneficiary's creditors in bankruptcy....

Parental Warning: If You Own Your Property this Way, You May Accidentally Disinherit

Posted on: July 4th, 2014
Owning property as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship is easy, common, and often disastrous. Sadly, children - both minor and adult - are often disinherited....

AB Trusts – Do You Need to Get Rid of Yours?

Posted on: June 27th, 2014
Are you married and is the last time you and your spouse updated your estate plan more than a few years ago? Then chances are your estate plan contains good old 'AB Trust' planning (also called 'Marital and Family Trusts' or 'QTIP' and 'Bypass Trusts') which, up until 2011, was the only way for married couples to double the value of their federal estate tax exemptions. All of this changed in 2011 when 'portability' of the estate tax exemption between spouses was introduced for the first time....

What if Treating Your Children Fairly Means Unequal Inheritances?

Posted on: June 20th, 2014
When planning their estate, most parents express the desire to treat their children equally out of a sense of fairness. However, sometimes being fair or doing what's right by your children may not mean equal or the same inheritances. ...

Solidifying the Adviser Relationship through Creative Trust Planning

Posted on: June 13th, 2014
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Protecting Against Financial Fraud in Charitable Giving

Posted on: June 6th, 2014
Americans are very generous when it comes to charitable giving. In addition, lower earners give more proportionately than higher earners. Perhaps this is because lower earners understand how easily a family can slip into financial crisis through the loss of a job or medical expenses. The thought of 'that could be me' makes people very sympathetic to helping others in need, and many cheerfully give their hard-earned money to try to help people. People of faith tend to be generous and faithful givers, and Americans, in general, are quick to help whenever tragedy or devastation strikes anywhere in the world....

Are You Wasting Money? Part Two: Food, Clothing and Entertainment

Posted on: May 30th, 2014
In Part One of this series on wasting money, we looked at housing, interest and transportation--areas in which you or your loved ones may be wasting larger amounts of money. In Part Two, we will look at how money can be wasted in everyday areas of life--specifically food, clothing and entertainment....

Are You Wasting Money? Part One: Housing, Interest, and Transportation

Posted on: May 23rd, 2014
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. Sometimes we waste money because we just stay in the same routines--shopping at the same stores, eating at the same places, using the same services. And sometimes, especially if we don't keep good records of how we spend our money, we may not even realize how much money we are wasting....

How to Stop Worrying About Running Out of Money in Retirement

Posted on: May 16th, 2014
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. This is called 'shortfall risk,' and it is a valid concern. People are living longer and health care costs continue rising, especially long-term care which many seniors will need. In addition, the recent recession has given us setbacks in investments and record low interest rates. When combined, these issues can have a serious effect on retirement savings and projected income. But there are some things you can do now to help manage your shortfall risk and protect your assets. ...

Understanding Losses: Property

Posted on: May 9th, 2014
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. To protect your wealth from these kinds of losses, it is important to determine replacement values so you will have adequate insurance. ...

Wealth Protection: Avoiding Losses

Posted on: May 2nd, 2014
You can't create wealth until you preserve it first. Each dollar lost unnecessarily isn't just a single dollar lost, but a compounded dollar lost. A dollar not lost allows wealth to compound from a higher floor. Losses can occur from many places beyond investments: property, income, taxes and fees. It is well worth paying for the expertise of professional advisors who are able to prevent or reduce losses in all of these areas. ...

Understanding Losses: Compounding Interest

Posted on: April 30th, 2014
Most investors are familiar with the magic of compounding interest but they often fail to realize that when the portfolio loses money, the math of compounding works against them. That's because when a dollar is lost, it is not just a dollar but a compounded dollar that is lost, so the investor must regain more just to break even...

Understanding Losses: Liability Exposure

Posted on: April 25th, 2014
We live in a litigious society. Lawsuits abound, whether deserved or not. If you own property or stock that was purchased at a low price and has had high appreciation, it is at risk to litigation and creditors--even if you are not in a high-risk profession. Others may be in a private business such as medicine or law that bring with it additional exposures to monitor....

Aligning Insurance Products within a Planning Structure

Posted on: April 18th, 2014
We use a variety of insurance products to manage risk in different areas of our lives in order to protect our wealth from losses that can come from property damage, businesses we own, disability, retirement and death. Instead of considering these products as separate items, make them part of an integrated, overall risk management plan. ...

What’s On Your Worry List?

Posted on: April 11th, 2014
A comprehensive financial plan that is effectively executed delivers dollar savings in improved investment returns, lower taxes, lower fees, more efficient wealth and more stable income. However, an important outcome of this process addresses what may be on your worry list: running out of money, family strife, unexpected losses and making financial mistakes. ...

Three Social Security Traps

Posted on: April 4th, 2014
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....

Five Tips to Remove Financial Hassle from Your Life

Posted on: March 28th, 2014
Everyone faces hassles in life. We can't escape them completely, but if we can minimize them, our quality of life improves. There are hassles in managing your finances and wealth, too. Here are five tips that will help you get financial aggravation under control....

Who Needs A Estate Plan?

Posted on: March 21st, 2014
If you're reading this, you need an estate plan. Why? The short answer is 'Everyone, age 18 and older needs an estate plan.' It doesn't matter if you are old or young, if you have built up considerable wealth or if you are just entering adulthood --you need a written plan to keep you in control and to protect yourself and those you love. ...

Recovering Emotionally from Past Financial Errors

Posted on: March 14th, 2014
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, then, are some strategies that can restore a person's self-confidence and avoid financial failures in the future? ...

Learning from Your Mistakes Can Become Your Teaching Moment

Posted on: March 7th, 2014
Everyone makes financial mistakes. The key is to learn from them, try not to repeat them and then pass on this hard-earned wisdom to your loved ones as an element of your financial legacy. ...

Are You Wasting Money? Part Three: Taxes, Insurance, Not Bidding and/or Negotiating

Posted on: February 28th, 2014
So far in this series on wasting money, we have looked at how people may overpay for housing, interest, transportation, food, clothing and entertainment. In this last part, we will look at a few more areas in which we may pay more than necessary--taxes, insurance, not obtaining bids for services, and not negotiating for large purchases. ...

Passion Investing as a Spark to Your Life

Posted on: February 21st, 2014
Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and over 50% of the Fortune 400's The Richest People in America list have decided to give away their wealth for charitable pursuits. Of course, not many of us have that kind of money or are inclined to give away all we own. However, giving to charitable organizations is something that anyone can do, and we can all derive a similar satisfaction by investing in causes that light our passion....

Taking Care of a Valuable Asset (You)

Posted on: February 14th, 2014
The combination of your talents, experience and skills represents an asset. Like any asset, it should be managed and protected. This includes keeping yourself healthy, having sufficient insurance protection, planning for both the near term and the future, investing in yourself, and having contingency plans if a sudden turn occurs. ...

The Three-Year Review and Three-Year Plan

Posted on: February 7th, 2014
Review your life's circumstances from three years ago. Think about what you knew and what you didn't know about managing your wealth. What were the top five lessons you learned? How have your views about money and wealth changed? Given all that, where do you want to be financially in three years? Think about how you will get there and how to do so efficiently. ...

How to Minimize the (Voluntary) Federal Estate Tax with Portability

Posted on: February 1st, 2014
Surprising to most people, the federal estate tax is a voluntary tax. Estate planning attorneys used to say, 'You only pay if you don't plan.' Now, portability provides both an alternative and a back up plan to lifetime tax planning. This means you might be able to minimize or even eliminate federal estate taxes even if you didn't plan. Here's how....

5 Important Questions to Ask Your Estate Planning Attorney

Posted on: January 6th, 2014
When you are trying to decide which attorney to hire to create your estate plan, it is important to ask specific question in order to determine if they are truly qualified to help you!...

Special Needs Trusts in Florida

Posted on: January 3rd, 2014
If you have a disabled child, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of qualified, legal counsel like Maura Curran for your estate planning. Typically, you cannot leave funds outright to your special needs child without pushing your child over the threshold for assets or income and disqualifying your child from receipt of governmental benefits. Thus, obtaining a Special Needs Trust is essential. ...
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