Family Planning

January 14, 2016   Estate Administration

The Perfect Gift for the New Adult in Your Family

What are you planning to give your teenager when he or she legally becomes an adult? A car? A deposit for an apartment? A trip to Europe?Those are all fine gifts, depending on how much you can afford to spend. But here's one you may not have thought of...and it won't cost you a bundle.Take your son or daughter to your attorney's office and have them prepare a trio of documents: a simple trust or will, a durable power of attorney, and a medical power of attorney.Actually, it's a gift for both of you, because once your child reaches legal age, you will no longer be able to automatically make medical and legal decisions for him or her without the appropriate legal documents authorizing you to do so.If your son becomes ill or injured and cannot handle his own financial affairs,...
September 5, 2012   Estate Planning

Letter to an Ex

By Martha J. Hartney, Esq.
Below is a fictional letter I drafted to a former partner because I know only too well what can happen when estate planning is not done properly—after divorce.  I hope you enjoy this outreach to an ex-spouse or partner and consider taking steps to do everything this letter suggests for you.  You can even send the link to your ex!     Dear Ex,   Though we’re not married (cohabitating, procreating) anymore, there are a few things I’d like to say about how you set up your affairs for our kids.  You’re about to go on vacation, and I know you worry about being away from them and having an emergency or tragedy happen.  I know I don’t have ANY say in how you set up your estate plan, but there are things that I’d like you to co...
May 14, 2012   Estate Planning

Creating Family Legacies by Michael Stuart

By Michael G. Stuart, J.D., C.P.A.
The earliest images I have of family are from when I was a kid. Smells coming out of the kitchen. My mom cooking for days. She would always cooking it seemed like. A lot of things I experienced when I was very young really impacted me later on as things happened in the family and as the transition occurred, it was different. Things that were important to me, stayed with me. And I sort of convey that to my clients when I talk to them. I got into this business when my dad died and when I was eleven. I used to go around to his clients and friends and ask him what he was like. They would say some great things. They would say “Your dad was a great lawyer.” “He would dot his I’s and cross his T’s.” “I wouldn’t sign a contract unless I talking to hi...
May 9, 2012   Estate Planning

Estate Planning for Second Marriages

In first marriages, the couple generally has the same goals when it comes to their estate planning: take care of the surviving spouse for as long as he or she lives, then whatever is left will go to the children. They may own many of their assets jointly and, at the death of the first spouse, more than likely everything will go to the surviving spouse just as they had planned.   But second marriages (after divorce or death of the first spouse) are different. There may be his children, her children and sometimes our children. Each of you probably has assets that you brought into this marriage, and you want those to go to your own children after you die. At the same time, you probably want to make sure your surviving spouse will have enough to live on should you die first.   More t...
February 10, 2012   Business Planning

The Family Limited Partnership

How to Transfer Your Business (and Other Assets) to Your Children Without Losing Control A family limited partnership will let you remove your business, and any future appreciation on it, from your estate now, and still keep some control. It is especially useful when the business might otherwise have to be liquidated to pay estate taxes. Stocks, real estate or insurance can also be used instead of a business.Here's how it works. When you set up a family limited partnership, you transfer the assets into the partnership in exchange for partnership shares. You keep the general partner shares and, over time, you can gift limited partnership shares to your children, removing the value of the gifted partnership interests from your estate.Though you have a fiduciary obligation to the other ow...
February 2, 2012   Estate Planning

How Can I Prevent My Children from Fighting Over My Estate After I Die?

You probably own some items of real or sentimental value (jewelry, antiques, art, heirlooms, furniture, clothing, etc.) that you want a certain child, grandchild, special friend, relative, or organization to have after you die.Or perhaps you simply want to provide an orderly way for your belongings to be divided among your heirs after you're gone. We've all heard stories about fighting over Grandma's piano or china. The damage is often so deep that sisters don't speak to each other for the rest of their lives!Here are some suggestions that can help you prevent this from happening in your family:Make A Special Gifts List: If you have a living trust, you can make a list of these special gifts and whom you want to have them. Date the list, have it notarized (or witne...
January 16, 2012   Inheritance

Protect Against the Generation Skipping Transfer Tax

When you die, if some or all of your estate bypasses your children and goes directly to a grandchild, your estate could have to pay a tax called the generation skipping transfer (GST) tax. This is a very expensive tax. It is equal to the highest federal estate tax rate in effect at the time, and is in addition to the federal estate tax."Skipping a generation," and incurring this tax, can happen in three ways. It can happen intentionally, for example if you "skip" the living parent (your child) and leave an inheritance directly to your grandchildren. It can also happen unintentionally. For example, if the inheritance is in a trust for your child, he or she dies after you but before receiving the full amount in the trust and your grandchildren will receive their parent...
December 20, 2011   Inheritance

Will Your Kids Be Unintentionally Disinherited?

Taking ballroom dancing lessons helped Claire cope with the recent death of her husband of 40 years. Her instructor provided her with the companionship she was missing. Claire, with a new sense of self-esteem, soon fell head-over-heels in love. Her children were shocked when their mother announced she had married her instructor.But the real shock came a few months later when Claire died: the children learned their mother had placed all her assets in joint ownership with her new husband. Even though Claire's will left everything to her children, they were completely disinherited.How have you planned your estate? Have you followed the traditional approach of leaving everything to your spouse? Have you thought about what could happen if you die first? Even if your spouse doesn't remar...
October 16, 2011   Inheritance

Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over Inheritance

By P. Mark Accettura, J.D.
Those of us who practice in the area of estate planning are regularly confronted with families behaving at their worst. People who are normally thoughtful and connected with their emotions revert to fighting children, figuratively, sometimes literally, scratching, punching, and pulling each other’s hair. Even where there is no overt conflict, it seems that nearly every family has some amount of tension percolating just beneath the surface as they address family inheritance issues.Stories of families in conflict at the death of a loved one are regular fodder in the media. It is easy to mock them; they look ridiculous, and it all seems so petty. We wonder why people just can’t get along. But, after some study I have learned that what appears as greed and pettiness are really symp...
July 16, 2011   Estate Planning

Estate Planning Considerations for Blended Families

By Jennifer L. Moccia, J.D., LL.M.
As the rates of divorce and remarriage climb, those with recently blended families may be witness­ing the emergence of troublesome estate planning issues. The interests of a new spouse and child can create conflict with a parent’s desire to provide fairly for children from a previous relationship, causing unforeseen compli­cations, misunderstandings, and damage to the blended family unit. For those family members without a clear understanding of their new rights and obligations, the fol­lowing scenarios provide examples of common planning problems and potential solutions to these issues.   Scenario #1: All Assets to Surviving Spouse. Many married couples choose to leave all of their assets to each other upon the first death, under the assumption that the surviving sp...
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