August 3, 2012   Inheritance

Message In A Bottle: Just How Important is Your "Legacy" to Your Kids?

By Martha J. Hartney, Esq.
Recently I reorganized my kitchen, emptying a series of about 20 bottles filled with corks to make better use of the counter space they occupied. These bottles filled with corks marked every bottle of wine opened in my home since I became a single woman in 2006. Okay, lest you think me a lush, the bottles were, every one of them, opened in the company of friends and family. I collected each one as a remembrance that my life is still abundant, still full of love and laughter and company and joy, despite the fact that I left a very financially secure marriage. Every time I saw the corks, their numbers growing each week because I have a very open door home, I smiled in the remembrance of my chosen, and ever-growing family. They made me feel like a very wealthy woman indeed. Toward the bottom...
July 26, 2012   Inheritance

Treating Your Children Fairly (But Not Necessarily Equally) In Your Estate Plan

Most parents want to treat their children fairly in their estate planning, and many assume that means having their children inherit equally. But fair does not necessarily mean equal. There may be special circumstances to consider before you divide the family pie into equal parts. For example: You may want to leave more to your son who struggles to support his family on a modest teacher’s salary than to your daughter who is a successful professional, married well and has chosen not to have children.You may want to compensate a child who has given up part of his/her own life to care for you.You may have a much younger child who will need care longer than your older children.You may have a special needs child who will need care for his/her lifetime.You may have one child who has joined...
July 12, 2012   Inheritance

Family Values and History Are Still the Best Inheritance

If you are concerned that your children’s inheritance is being reduced by the collapse of the housing and investment markets, rising medical costs, a sluggish economy and a longer-than-expected lifetime, you needn’t be. According to a recent study, family values, traditions and history still mean more than money as an inheritance.   These results are from the 2012 Allianz Life American Legacies Pulse Study* which surveyed baby boomers (age 47 to 66) and “elders” (age 72 and older). Allianz Life conducted a similar study in 2005. Interestingly, despite the financial crises that occurred between 2005 and 2012, the results were strikingly similar, with a high percentage of both boomers (86%) and elders (74%) agreeing that family stories, values and life lessons ar...
January 20, 2012   Giving,   Inheritance,   Asset Protection Planning,   Business Planning

Succession Planning and the Family Farm

By Todd N. Hallock, J.D. and Sara Nelson Hallock, J.D.
“Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue.”  - Thomas Jefferson The farmer as virtuous is well-established in our national conscious and reverence for the family farm sets planning for it apart from other types of family owned businesses. Even children who do not plan to actively participate in farming have a deep emotional attachment to the farm. According to the USDA, approximately 96 percent of the 2.2 million farms are classified as “family farms.” The average age of a farm operator is 57 and the fastest growing segment is those ove...
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...
November 3, 2011   Inheritance

Giving Your Assets to Your Children Now Can Cause Serious Problems

Sometimes people will transfer title of their assets to their adult children while they are living, thinking it will make things easier for their children when something happens to them. Doing this will prevent the court from controlling the assets if you become incapacitated and it will avoid probate when you die. And while there can be valid tax reasons to transfer some assets now, it can also create problems.First, when you give away an asset, it's gone. You may think your children will give it back to you if you change your mind, but they don't have to, and things can change in families when money is involved. They could sell the asset against your wishes, they could lose it to creditors, or they could be influenced by a spouse. If you outlive your children or they divorce, a d...
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 15, 2011   Inheritance

The Talk

By James K. Leese, JD, MST
Have you ever had a client want to disinherit an heir? If so, perhaps you should recommend the “talk.”   Few clients truly understand what long term consequences the election to disinherit a “loved one” causes. The trickle down effect of disinheritance is easily lost - but, there will be a trickle down effect which can lead to harm to the other family members and their relationships.   I’m convinced that unless the “hurt or ignored” client acts responsibly and has the “talk” with the person who is of­fending them, that the effect of the “out of the blue” disin­heritance may unwittingly breed family contempt between siblings, and their issue, for generations (the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s). &nbs...
January 3, 2011   Inheritance

Becoming the Parents We Want to Be

By Martha Hartney, J.D.
Estate Planning is an Initiation in Parenting You are the bows from which your children as living ar­rows are sent forth. The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.  ~Kahlil Gibran   Parenting is a Spiritual Discipline What being a mother of two sons brings to my legal work is certainty that parenting is a spiritual journey, as much as it is a care giving role, and a never-ending set of tasks. Parenting consciously is a discipline requiring study, diligence, surrender, humility, gentility, and most definitely, grace under pressure. Parenting r...
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