Estate Planning

October 17, 2014   Estate Planning

Estate Planning Awareness Week: Does Your Plan Need a Check-Up?

This 8-point checklist can help determine whether your estate plan needs help. National Estate Planning Awareness Week takes place this month (Oct. 20-26) and will highlight the fact that more than 120 million Americans do not have proper estate plans in place.   An estate plan, properly executed, can protect you as well as your family in the event of sickness, accidents or untimely death. With just a little advanced planning, you can help your family avoid wasted dollars and unnecessary hardship.   Even if you have an estate plan in place, it should be reviewed on a regular basis. Congress, state legislatures and the courts are constantly changing the estate-planning rulebook. In fact, there have been several major estate and income tax law changes in recent years. Depending on...
October 16, 2014   Estate Planning

Same-sex marriage and estate planning: What all couples need to know

Here’s how same-sex spouses can properly leverage the benefits of legal marriage. By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Educational Content, WealthCounsel The Supreme Court recently refused to hear appeals from states whose same-sex marriage bans had been struck down by the U.S. Circuit Courts. As a result, same-sex marriage is now legal in several states where it had previously been banned, either by state statute or by state constitutional amendment. (There are some exceptions. Idaho, for example, has a last-minute appeal pending.) When it comes to estate planning, what does this mean? Essentially, same-sex couples now have legal rights they previously lacked, and in some cases, they’ll need to take steps to properly leverage those rights. Here are just a few exam...
July 8, 2014   Estate Planning

Why We Procrastinate about Estate Planning

By Vickie Schumacher
Unfortunately, a lot of people haven’t participated in any meaningful estate planning. Most will readily admit it is something they need to do, but they keep putting it off. Why? Here are some of the more common reasons why we procrastinate about estate planning—and some information that just might get you moving.  It’s expensive. Granted, a lot of people don’t have extra money lying around these days. But not doing anything can end up costing your loved ones much more than it would cost you to plan now. If you own assets in your name and you become incapacitated due to illness or injury, you (your assets and your care) will likely be placed in a court guardianship. This is not free. All costs (attorney fees, accounting fees, court costs, etc.) will be paid fro...
July 1, 2014   Estate Planning

Common Misconceptions About Estate Planning

By Vickie Schumacher
Many people have some wrong ideas about estate planning. And that’s understandable if you get your information from sources that, while well intentioned, may be simply repeating hearsay. These sources can include friends, neighbors, relatives, television, magazines, newspapers and, yes, even the internet. (I read it on the internet so it must be true, right?)   Let’s look at some of these misconceptions and set the record straight.   1. I have a will so my family will avoid probate when I die. Actually, a will only works if your property goes through probate after you die.  Probate is the legal process through which the court makes sure that after your death your debts are paid, that your will is legally valid, and then that your assets are distributed accor...
May 29, 2014   Estate Planning

Estate Planning is a Woman’s Issue, Part Two: Married, Single and Charitably Inclined

Women have special estate-planning needs. In Part One we explained that, because women typically live longer than men, they need to plan for the possibility of incapacity in their later years. We also discussed that women as caregivers need to plan for the continued care of those who may be dependent upon them.   In Part Two, we will look at estate planning through the eyes of married and single women.  We will also look at why estate planning is essential for women who are charitably inclined.   Married Women. Not only do women live longer, but they also tend to choose husbands who are older. This means they are likely to become widowed and live on their own for a number of years. Without proper estate planning many married women will see their standard of living reduced du...
May 27, 2014   Estate Planning

Estate Planning is a Woman’s Issue, Part One: Incapacity and the Caregiver

All women—regardless of marital status and career choices—need to understand estate planning and need to have a plan of their own in place. Here are some issues that are of special interest to women.   Incapacity: Generally speaking, women live longer than men. As a result, there is an increased need to plan for physical and/or mental incapacity that can occur in later years.Consider long-term care insurance. When purchased in advance, it can help cover the costs of incapacity and help you remain in your home for as long as possible.Plan now to prevent the court from taking control of your finances and your personal care. At a minimum, you need a durable power of attorney for assets (so someone you trust will have the authority to manage and use your assets to provide for...
May 23, 2014   Estate Planning

Estate Planning and Second Marriages, Part Two: Solutions

In Part One, we looked at some of the planning issues that arise in second marriages. Planning that often works well in a first marriage—owning property jointly with your spouse and naming your spouse as beneficiary of insurance policies and retirement benefits—usually doesn’t work in a second marriage.   The issue becomes how to provide for your current spouse without disinheriting your own children. While planning for second marriages is more complicated, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you work out an arrangement that works for everyone involved.   Suggestions may include:  If each of you has considerable assets, you may want to keep your assets and your estate planning separate.If your spouse has considerably fewer assets than you do, y...
May 20, 2014   Estate Planning

Estate Planning and Second Marriages, Part One: The Issues

By Vickie Schumacher
Couples in first marriages generally have 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 if you are in a second marriage things are different. There may be your children, your spouse’s children and sometimes our children. You may each have assets that you brought into the marriage, and each of you may want those to go to your own children. At the same time, you probably want to make sure your surviving spouse will have enough to live on should you die first.   More than likely, the est...
May 14, 2014   Estate Planning

What Will You Do With Your Last “Teachable Moment”?

By Wendi Temkin, Attorney at Law
As a parent, it is our job to model for our kids how to be caring, self-sufficient and contributing members of society.  We work hard.  We volunteer our time.  We donate to causes.  We bake for the school fundraisers.  We are polite to the people who wait on us in stores and restaurants.  All of these little details of our everyday lives add up to a strong lesson for our children in how to become a moral adult.   Why not take the opportunity to show your children one last example of how to do good in this world by using your estate plan to “put your money where your mouth is.”    You don’t have to be a Rockefeller to make charitable giving a part of your estate plan.  In fact, there are a number of ways you can support you...
March 27, 2014   Estate Planning

Hold a Family Meeting to Explain Your Estate Plan

Parents are often reluctant to share their estate plans with their adult children. Some may feel it is a private matter, only to be unveiled after their death. Many are afraid of creating relationship problems within the family, for example if one child is chosen to be a trustee or executor over the others or if inheritances are not equal. But explaining your decisions now to your family, in a general way, will avoid surprises later and make it more likely that they will accept them. Holding a family meeting is a good way to do this. Ask your estate planning attorney and financial advisor to be there. They will be able to explain how your plan will work and why these decisions were made, as well as answer any questions. This will also introduce your advisors to your family members so they...
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