Estate Planning Articles
Some of these articles have been written by our law firm and other articles are written by the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and compliments of our law firm. Any feedback or questions about the articles can be addressed by contacting our office.
The Role of Compensation in Estate and Medicaid Planning
Most estate plans can benefit from the addition of a Medicaid planning component that helps ensure eligibility for Medicaid to help cover the high cost of long-term care (LTC) in the future. One of the many tools in the Medicaid planning arsenal is compensation paid as part of a personal services contract.
The Importance of Advanced Directives – The Terri Schiavo Story
Terri Schiavo spent over ten years in a persistent vegetative state following a heart attack. During that time, her husband and parents waged an emotionally and financially draining legal battle that made it all the way to the President’s desk. It all could have been avoided had Terri executed an advance directive prior to her collapse back in 1990.
Protecting Your Assets from Medicaid Spend-Down Using a Special Trust
Protecting the family fortune requires more than just a basic estate plan. Contemplating the need to qualify for Medicaid to help cover the high cost of long-term care should be an integral part of any comprehensive estate plan. One frequently used Medicaid planning tool that can protect your assets from the Medicaid spend-down requirement is an Irrevocable Income Only Trust.
Women and Estate Planning – Debunking the Myths
Not long ago, women rarely took much interest in estate planning for several reasons. Today, however, the need for estate planning is even greater if you are a woman. Debunking some of the common myths surrounding the concept of women and estate planning is a good place to start.
Medicaid Gifts to Children
Do the Medicaid gifting rules and asset transfer penalties have you confused? If so, you are not alone! Unfortunately, failing to understand the rules and penalties could result in your ineligibility for benefits right when you need them the most. The answers to several common questions may help you gain a better understanding of Medicaid’s rules and penalties.
A Nursing Home’s Take on the Need for Medicaid Planning
Nursing homes have historically resisted the concept of Medicaid planning based on the assumption that patients who engaged in Medicaid planning were trying to avoid paying their bills. In recent years, many nursing homes have started to rethink that position as they realize that Medicaid planning is often in their best interest as well as the patient’s.
Understanding the Federal Gift Tax and its Implications
Odds are many of us have heard of the federal gift tax; however it’s not something most Americans face and here’s why.
Practical Discussions About Funerals
For many, one of the most complicated and awkward conversations is likely a discussion around funerals. Preplanning for a funeral can be the ideal opportunity to start a conversation, and if you’re a Medicaid recipient, it’s even more important.
Claiming More Than Marriage: Important Financial and Estate Planning for Same-Sex Marriages
Many of the obstacles same-sex couples faced until now are no longer unanswered questions or impossible challenges. Due to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell this past June, estate planning, taxes, and other important legal quagmires are a bit clearer – and more easily achieved.
Take Advantage of Gifting to Reduce Your Estate
Incorporate gifting to your loved ones as a way of reducing your overall annual tax burden, but be sure you do it in such a way that it maximizes your goals.
Preparing for Your First Estate Planning Consultation
Many people put off estate planning because of the uncertainty of what it means and what it encompasses. It’s not an overwhelming or time-stealing process, though it is crucial for ourselves and our families.
My Attorney Just Retired – What Now?
Hiring an estate planning attorney has its challenges, especially if your current attorney is preparing to retire or relocate. Here are a few tips that can help you make the transition.
Fair Does Not Always Mean Equal: Avoiding Conflict in Inheritances
As parents, one of the challenges we face is ensuring our children feel as though they’re treated fairly and loved equally. What many may not realize, however, is that sometimes accomplishing this doesn’t include equal divisions, especially after they’ve reached adulthood. This is also sometimes the case with Estate Planning. While it’s designed to efficiently distribute your assets after your death, it’s also meant to see your final wishes implemented. The challenge is making sure your children understand that after assessing the dynamics and factors associated with your family and the needs of each family member, your final wishes may appear to be unfair, even though your goal was always to address the needs of each child versus the collective family.
Gifting to Benefit Minor Children
For most families, especially those with considerable assets, gifting is a great way to reduce their taxable estate while providing even greater benefits for minor children.
Taking Care of Your Spouse After You Are Gone
It is not uncommon that a loved one is being cared for by a spouse close in age, so it is important to ensure they will continue receiving care even after their spouse is gone. An estate planning attorney can advise and assist with taking the necessary step to secure the future of your loved ones, especially those in need of special care and assistance.
The Ties that Bind: Grandparents and Grandchildren
There are few things more precious than the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. Be sure you leave them with more than just memories. Proper estate planning is a great way to make the most of your gifting efforts.
The Role of Legacy Planning
Legacy planning goes beyond typical estate planning and focuses on protecting not only a family’s assets but their personal legacy, such as family values, stories and heirlooms.
Loaning Family Money – What You Need To Know
Loaning Family Money – What You Need To Know Loaning Family Money – What You Need To Know Written By: The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys People lend money to family members for a variety of reasons.
Estate Planning is Essential for Same-Sex Couples
For most people, dying without an estate plan means burdening loved ones with added inconvenience, delay and expense. For same-sex couples, however, dying without an estate plan can spell disaster. Find out why and learn what you can do about it.
What to Expect at Your First Estate Planning Consultation
A little nervous about your first estate planning consultation? Don’t be. Here’s what to expect.
Five Things Every Woman Should Know About Estate Planning
Women’s roles in society and within the family have shifted dramatically over the past several generations and women have more earning power than ever before, yet too many wives take a backseat to their husbands when the subject of estate planning comes up. Here are five things every woman should know when it comes to estate planning.
How the American Taxpayer Relief Act Will Affect You
Congress pulled America back from the fiscal cliff when it passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act on New Year’s Day. The law covers a range of issues, form income taxes to the estate tax. Learn the specifics and find out how the new law will affect you and your family.
Five Non-Tax Reasons You Need an Estate Plan
Estate planning is only for wealthy people who want to reduce their estate taxes, right? Wrong! Only a tiny percentage of Americans need to worry about estate taxes but every adult needs an estate plan. Find out why.
This New Year, Resolve to Review Your Estate Planning Options
It’s time to make your New Year’s resolutions. This year, consider adding a review of your estate planning options to your list. Whether or not you already have an estate plan in place, a careful review of your planning options will ensure that you protect your family and assets and leave a lasting legacy. This article reviews some estate planning information for you to consider for this New Year.
What You Should Know About Workshops on Wills & Living Trusts
Have you ever been invited to an estate planning Workshop, but been hesitant to attend? When a Workshop is conducted by a licensed estate planning attorney, it can be the perfect way to learn about your planning options. Here’s how an estate planning Workshop can help you.
Three Ways the IRS Rewards Your Generosity
Giving to charity is wonderful way to support your favorite cause, and it makes you feel great. But what if you want to go the extra mile and make a larger than usual contribution? Here are three ways the IRS rewards you for including philanthropy in your estate plan.
Three Simple Steps for Managing a Windfall
What would you do if you suddenly became wealthy? Did you know that there are certain steps you should take if you win the lottery, inherit a fortune, or receive some other form of a windfall? Find out how to make the most of sudden riches – and how to avoid financial trouble.
Tax Alert! Special Gifting Opportunities Expire December 31, 2012
Is estate tax planning on your autumn “to do” list? If not, maybe it should be. On January 1, 2013, federal estate and gift taxes stand to increase dramatically, affecting everyone who dies with an estate valued over $1 million. Learn the steps you can take now to save yourself – and your loved ones – millions.
Home: Your Most Valuable Investment
Your home is likely your family’s most valuable asset, not only emotionally, but also financially. Read this article to learn how you can take advantage of the tax, estate planning, and asset protection benefits available to you as a homeowner.
Estate Planning Across Borders
Owning assets outside the United States raises a number of estate planning questions: Who gets your property when you pass away? What taxes are due? And how should your estate plan in the U.S. be tailored to ensure that all your property – here and abroad – is transferred as efficiently and effectively as possible?
The Problem With Joint Tenancy
Joint tenancy is a popular form of property ownership, primarily because when one owner dies, title to the property automatically re-vests in the surviving joint tenants. But using joint tenancy to avoid probate can create more problems than it solves.
Why Everyone Needs an Estate Plan
People tend to think of estate planning as something that only the wealthy or the elderly need to do. In truth, regardless of your age, your situation in life, or your level of wealth, estate planning accomplishes a few universal goals.
How Low Interest Rates Can Influence Your Estate Plan
You might not realize the advantages a low interest rate environment can offer for estate tax planning. Let’s take a look at just a few.
Planning for the Worst-Case Scenario
Sometimes, in an attempt to avoid thinking about the worst, we miss the opportunity to do the best for our loved ones. A comprehensive estate plan can help you confront your fears in a way that will ease your family’s responsibilities, should the unexpected happen.
How to Leave an Inheritance for Your Special Needs Child
Keeping your special needs child secure after you are gone takes special planning. The right techniques can ensure both your child’s well-being and your peace of mind.
Insurance: The Missing Link in Your Estate Plan?
Insurance has a number of uses as an estate planning tool. It helps protect and preserve your estate, giving you more to pass on to your loved ones. It also has special characteristics that allow you to position your estate for sophisticated estate planning. Learn about the basic categories of insurance and how they strengthen your estate plan.
Why Your Trust Shouldn’t be Short and Sweet
The draft of your new Trust makes you wonder if your estate planning attorney gets paid by the word. Is all this verbiage really necessary? In fact, a good plan has many points to cover.
Tax Breaks for the Sandwich Generation
It can be a surprise to find yourself caring for elderly parents at the same time that you’re raising your own children. The emotional demands of these multiple roles are often coupled with financial challenges as well. That’s why it’s important to know when you can claim your aging or ill parent as a dependent for income tax purposes.
Trusts and Income Tax: Who Pays?
As Trusts gain popularity, a question comes up more and more often: who pays the income tax on a Trust? It seems like a simple inquiry, but the answer can be hard to pin down. So, who does pay income tax on a Trust? Here is the answer, in a nutshell.
A Quick Guide for Basis
You might have heard the word basis used in reference to taxes. Learn the definition of basis and how it can make a big difference in your estate plan.
What Does It Mean To Be a Trustee?
If you’ve been chosen to serve as a Trustee, what responsibilities can you expect? Learn about the basic duties that come with this important and sometimes daunting job, and find out where you can go for guidance.
Avoid These Four Asset Protection Pitfalls
The estate planning process presents a number of opportunities for using asset protection strategies to protect yourself and your loved ones. Learn about asset protection, and avoid these four common pitfalls.
Moving? Don’t Forget to Review Your Estate Plan
Although your Will or Trust might be the last thing on your mind as you prepare to move, this is actually an ideal time to review and update your estate plan. Find out why.
Expecting the Unexpected
Life is full of surprises. None of us have a crystal ball, and this means it is unreasonable to create an estate plan without flexibility regarding your long-term wishes for your loved ones. When you build flexibility into your estate plan with a power of appointment, you can empower your spouse or children to stand in your place and make decisions based on your family’s changed circumstances.
The Accidental Spouse
Could you be married and not even realize it? If you live in a state that recognizes common law marriage, you could be married even without a marriage license or an official ceremony. Find out how common law marriage affects your estate plan and what you can do about it.
I Have an Estate Plan: Do I Still Need My Attorney?
Your estate plan is prepared. Your Living Trust is in place and properly funded, you have a Pour-Over Will just in case, and your incapacity plan is ready and waiting in the event you need it. Is it time to part ways with your attorney? Not at all! In fact, your relationship with your estate planning attorney has just started.
Why a Trust Makes Sense – Even If Your Child Is Not a Child
If your children have reached adulthood, you might assume it’s best to leave them their inheritances outright, with no restrictions. However, you want to make sure your children enjoy flexibility in accessing and using their inheritances while minimizing the impact of taxes, divorce, lawsuits, and other threats. Therefore, it might be better to leave their inheritances in a Trust.
Planning Your Estate With Privacy in Mind
When you use a Will to plan your estate, much of your personal information becomes public after your death. A Trust can help you accomplish your estate planning goals while shielding your personal affairs from prying eyes.
Your Family Deserves More Than an Estate Plan
If you want to leave a true legacy, a traditional estate plan is not enough. With Legacy Planning, you can pass on your values, wisdom, and family heritage along with your nest egg. You can also provide your children’s inheritances with just the right amount of protection from the threats and challenges of life.
Helping Your Parents Age Gracefully
Your mom and dad have always been there to guide you through life’s challenges. Now, the tables are turning. Learn some strategies for gently helping your parents plan for the challenges they’re likely to face as they age.
What to Expect When You’re Inheriting
Most of us have daydreamed about inheriting money, but the reality of inheriting often doesn’t match our dreams. In the real world, an inheritance can bring with it a number of questions and worries. Here we address four common concerns about inheritances.
Five Estate Planning Myths
Estate planning is on everyone’s “should do” list, but it rarely seems to make it to the top of the “to do” list. Perhaps this is because of all the myths surrounding the estate planning process. Here are five common estate planning myths, along with the truths behind them.
Does a Roth Make Sense for You?
Choosing between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA can have significant tax and estate planning consequences. Whether a Roth is the right option depends on a number of factors, including an account owner’s current income, anticipated post-retirement income, and estate planning goals.
The Estate Tax Is Not the Only Consideration in Estate Planning
The U.S. Congress continually debates the estate tax, often considering whether or not it should be done away with entirely. Many people think this tax is a cornerstone of estate planning, so if it’s eliminated, they don’t need an estate plan. Nothing is further from the truth. This article explains why.
Getting Value Out of Giving with Charitable Trust
You’ve heard the maxim, “It’s better to give than to receive.” Americans take this aphorism to heart, especially as it relates to contributions to charity. Did you know that our tax laws actually encourage charitable giving? This article will explain gift-giving options from small to large, each with tax-savings implications.
Leaving a Ranching Legacy
Ranch life comes with its own particular challenges and rewards. Therefore, ranch families have even more need for professional advice than other families when it comes to finding the most effective means of passing on their assets, which may be more substantial than they suppose. This article explores various means that can be employed to create an estate plan which minimizes taxes and distributes assets equitably.
There’s No Time Like the Present to Review your Plans
Time passes quickly. Life brings change. While these may seem like platitudes, they reflect the truth of most people’s lives. This article will encourage you to recognize a new life stage as an opportunity to review and fine tune your estate plan.
Make Sure Your Dreams Don’t Turn Into Nightmares
The financial consequences of a divorce can be costly. You can do things right now to protect future generations in your family from suffering financial devastation after a breakup.
Is Your Ex-Spouse Really Out of Your Life?
Divorce is bad enough, but did you know that your children and new spouse can suffer financial devastation if you do not remember to change your estate planning documents after a divorce?
Choose Your Estate Planning Practitioner Wisely
Who should you entrust with planning your estate? Unfortunately, the estate planning industry can be a mixed bag. Along with licensed, qualified attorneys there are unqualified, or even unlicensed, individuals producing cookie-cutter estate plans that may or may not work as intended. Find out why you should choose your estate planning practitioner wisely.
Look After Your Spouse Even After You’re Gone
You and your spouse have worked hard to save for your golden years. But have you planned for a long, secure retirement if one of you outlives the other? Here’s how paying attention to certain key financial areas can set both of you up for a secure, worry-free retirement.
Short and Sweet is Not Always Better
When you compare a do-it-yourself living trust with one that was prepared by a qualified estate planning attorney, one of the first things you’re likely to notice is that the attorney-prepared trust is long. And it might not be so easy to read. There’s a good reason for this. This article discusses the reasons why planning for contingencies with an attorney drafted estate plan is the better choice. When it comes to estate planning, there’s any number of contingencies to prepare for.
Don’t be Fooled: Estate Planning Isn’t Just for the Wealthy
Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. The truth is, estate planning is about achieving some pretty common goals and taking care of basic responsibilities, regardless of how big or small our investment portfolio happens to be.
Practical Strategies for Protecting Your Privacy
We’re all exposed to invasions of our privacy, large and small, during our lifetimes and even after death. These practical strategies make it easier to shield your family’s personal affairs from prying eyes.
Leaving a Lasting Legacy
When you really think about it, your true wealth is much more than just your accumulated assets or material possessions. With the right plan, you can protect and preserve your true wealth and create a legacy for your family that will last for generations to come.
Estate Planning Without a Crystal Ball
When you are planning your estate, it is important to remember that circumstances rarely stay the same over long periods of time. A plan that worked for your family when the kids were little may very well be obsolete by the time they’ve started families of their own. This is why it’s important to ensure that you build flexibility into your plan.
Puppy Love: Planning Your Estate With a Pet Trust
Increasingly, pet owners are not just worried about providing for our pets during our lifetimes, we want to ensure that they get all the love and care they need after we’re gone, too. This article discusses the estate planning benefits a Pet Trust can provide for your furry and feathered animal companions.
Help! My Attorney No Longer Practices Law
It’s not something we often stop to think about, but attorneys experience life changes like anyone else. They may change careers or experience an illness or disability, or they may retire or even pass away. This article discusses the steps you should take if your estate planning lawyer no longer practices law.
Planning Your Estate? Don’t Forget Insurance
The term “estate planning” usually calls to mind the process of creating a Will, establishing a Living Trust, or naming a guardian for young children. One piece of the estate planning puzzle that might not be readily apparent, though, is insurance. Learn how insurance in its many forms plays an important role in the estate planning process.
Parenting Your Grandchildren? You Need a Solid Estate Plan
According to data collected in the 2010 census, 4.9 million children under age eighteen live in grandparent-headed households. If you are in this growing number of grandparents returning to your “parent” role again, one of the pressing responsibilities that accompany your job as caregiver is to make sure you have a plan for your grandchildren in the event that something happens to you. And because you’re older now than you were the first time around, planning becomes even more important. This article reviews why it is imperative to have an estate plan in place and what a basic plan should include.
What to Expect When You’re Inheriting
At some point in our lives, we all dream of receiving an inheritance. We envision buying a new car, finally being able to afford private schools for the kids, or maybe even taking a trip around the world. But the reality of inheriting money or property often differs from our dreams. The process of settling an estate and distributing a deceased person’s assets can be time consuming. During this process you may have questions about taxes on various types of assets you may be inheriting, such as IRAs, valuable collectibles, and other property. This article provides a summary on what you can expect during this process if you’re anticipating an inheritance.
Helping Your Parents Through Their Twilight Years
As a child, your parents were there to guide and support you as you faced life’s challenges and obstacles in your path growing up. Similarly, as your parents age, and become less independent, they will rely on you as they face new challenges in their twilight years. This article examines how planning well in advance is important to ensure that no matter what lies ahead, their care and financial affairs will be looked after. Regardless of their financial means, if they are wealthy or of more modest means, there is a plan that can meet the specific needs of your family.
One Big Happy Family: How to Avoid an Estate Dispute
Picture this… You’re at the end of your long, fulfilling life and you’re ready to say goodbye to your loved ones and leave this world in peace. And then… your family declares war on each other. This scenario plays out all too often even in the closest of families. This article examines helpful ways to plan and avoid divisive family disputes after you are gone.
10 Essential Estate Planning Facts
An alarming 55% of American’s don’t have an estate plan in place. Procrastination is a common excuse. However, for many people it’s a lack of knowledge about estate planning, including the benefits, their options and the protections it offers them and their families. This article reviews 10 essential estate planning facts that will arm with you with enough knowledge to cross estate planning off your “to do” list.
Why are Roth’s Such a Big Deal?
A Roth IRA has some important distinctions from a traditional IRA, and, depending on your tax bracket, your retirement needs, and your estate planning goals, a Roth could be a better choice for you. So, what’s the difference between the two types of IRAs? This article explores how each IRA works and which option can best fit your personal needs and goals.