Estate Planning

July 30, 2012   Estate Planning

10 Steps to Getting Started with Your Estate Planning

Procrastinating about your estate planning? If you’ve been postponing it because you’re just not sure how to get started, here are some steps to help spur you on.   1. Set a deadline. We all know how life can get in the way of something like this. Plan to have it done by the end of the year or by your next birthday or anniversary.   2. Become an educated consumer. It is much better to become educated about the basics of estate planning on your own time than to pay an attorney or other professional to educate you. Save your money for questions about your specific situation. There is good general information readily available online and in books written specifically for consumers. ( is an excellent source of accurate, easy-to-understand information.) A...
October 30, 2012   Estate Planning

10 Things To Do Before the End of This Year

The end of the year will be here before we know it. But there is still time to get some major estate planning goals accomplished. Here are ten things to do before the end of 2012.   1. Have your estate planning done. Set the end of the year as your deadline to finally get this completed. Figure out why you have been procrastinating and conquer your fears. If it’s because you don't have an attorney, ask friends and acquaintances for referrals. If it’s because you aren’t sure who you want to be the guardian for your minor children or who you want to be your executor or trustee or how to divide your estate, your attorney can help you decide. (You can always change your mind later; don’t let these decisions keep you from putting a plan in place now.) If money i...
August 18, 2016   Estate Planning

3 Succession Solutions for Family Farms

By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Education, WealthCounsel
Splitting up a family farm is hardly a simple process.Farm families must not only determine how to sustain farm operations in later generations but also how to divide the estate equitably among children. This gets particularly tricky when some kids are working the farm and others are not.However, building out a detailed succession and estate plan for the family farm is essential. Families that fail to do so put both family harmony and their most valuable asset at risk. According to the USDA, the average value of assets for larger family farms was about $4.5 million in 2014. How can a family pass the farming business—and access to the land and equipment necessary to run it—to a farming heir without neglecting non-farming family members? Fortunately, there are several ways t...
December 21, 2012   Estate Planning

8 Estate Planning Things to Do Before You Travel

Does your estate plan (or lack thereof) come to mind every time you board a plane or embark on a long drive? That’s because when we travel, many of us are reminded of our own mortality and the remote but real possibility that we might not return due to death or illness.   Before any trip, most of us create a “to-do list” of things we have put off and want to take care of before we leave. Here, then, is a checklist of estate planning things to do before your next trip. Taking care of these will help you travel with peace of mind, knowing that if you don’t return, you have made things much easier for those you love.   1. Have your estate planning done. If you have been procrastinating about your estate planning, use your next trip as your deadline to finally...
January 20, 2009   Estate Planning

A Certain Sensitivity – Estate Planning for Women

By Nancy L. Sander, Esq.
Estate planning for women requires a certain sensitivity. Women typically fail to take active roles in planning their estates and need education as to its importance. Estate planning workshops generally present women as “surviving spouses.” Conversely, planners are told, “the wife makes the decisions.” Techniques focus on the nuclear long-term marriage with children, but in reality that model is waning. Consequently, women are more likely to become key clients and require sensitivity to their situational needs.   While unique, a woman can be in one of three basic groups – married, single, and previously married. Estate counseling should address a relev...
July 24, 2013   Estate Planning

Alternatives to Pet Trusts

When Leona Helmsley died in 2007, she left a whopping $12 million to her dog, Trouble. Although most people do not leave their pets such astounding amounts in their estate plans, many consider their pets to be family members, and want to provide for them accordingly.   Providing for your pet in an estate plan is tricky because, unlike a human relative, you cannot simply leave money outright to your pet. Therefore, many pet owners have turned to pet trusts. Through a pet trust, a pet owner can set aside a specified amount of money for his or her pet. The pet owner can draft a trust document that explains when and how money is to be withdrawn from the trust and spent on the pet.   Although pet trusts are very popular, there are many alternatives that may be a better fit for your fa...
February 14, 2013   Estate Planning

An Estate Plan for Cinderella’s Parents

By Ahmed Shaikh
I saw Cinderella for the first time with my daughter recently, and though I (and likely you) were familiar with the outline of the story, we often forget the backstory. It starts with the disaster, specifically, an estate planning disaster in a world that does not need to worry about the estate tax or probate, or even lawyers. You see, Cinderella’s mother died when she was a child. Her father decided to remarry a woman with two girls that are about the age of his own daughter. Cinderella’s father dies next, when she is still a child. He leaves the estate to his widow (the normal thing to do in the real world), who serves as Cinderella’s stepmother. This woman takes control of the estate for the benefit of herself and her own two daughters. Cinderella then, as presumably...
January 4, 2009   Estate Planning

Are you Missing an Opportunity to Help a Veteran?

By Valerie L. Peterson, J.D.
According to the Armed Forces Veterans Homes Foundation, there are currently more than 9.2 million veterans aged 65 or older living in the United States. Many of these veterans lack the financial resources necessary to sustain them in their final stages of life.   The good news is there is financial help for many of these veterans. There are pension benefits available to wartime veterans or their surviving spouses who are either disabled, or over age 65, and who have low income and assets. Maximum pension benefits range from $661 per month for a surviving spouse, $985 for an unmarried veteran, and up to $1,291 per month for a married veteran.   For those wa...
April 23, 2012   Estate Planning

Beneficiary Designations: Simple but Not Always Effective

Many people use beneficiary designations, and for good reason. Some significant assets, including life insurance policies, IRAs, retirement plans and even bank accounts, allow you to name a beneficiary. When you die, these assets are designed to be paid directly to the individuals you have named as beneficiary.But that is not always what happens. For example:If your beneficiary is incapacitated when you die, the court will probably have to take control of the funds. That’s because most life insurance companies and other financial institutions will not knowingly pay to an incompetent person; they may insist on court supervision.If you name a minor as a beneficiary, you are probably setting up a court guardianship for the child. Life insurance companies and other financial institutions...
March 13, 2014   Estate Planning

Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust

Many people now choose a revocable living trust instead of relying on a will or joint ownership in their estate planning. A living trust that has been properly prepared and funded with your assets can provide many benefits for you and your loved ones.   How many of these benefits of a revocable living trust are you familiar with?  Avoids the time and expense of probate when you die.Avoids multiple probates if you own assets in more than one state.Provides easier, more efficient administration of your estate.Prevents court interference at incapacity.Gives you and your family maximum privacy by avoiding public court processes.Minimizes emotional stress on your family.Brings all of your assets into one plan controlled by one set of instructions.Prevents unintentional disinheriting.M...
Free Estate Planning Checklist

Free Estate Planning Webinar

Stay Updated

Stay updated by receiving updates to's free resources, latest topics, premium content, upcoming events and more!

Subscribe to Our E-Newsletter