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.

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.

Estate Planning Lessons – Wesley Snipes and the “Pure Trust” Argument

It’s likely we’ve all taken some bad advice at some point in our lives, but when it comes to issues like taxes, bad advice can have very serious legal and financial consequences for you and your loved ones. Seeking an experienced estate planning attorney for legitimate ways to protect your assets and reduce tax obligations is the best way to prevent becoming an unfortunate victim of bad advice, like actor Wesley Snipes.

When Roles Reverse and Your Parents Need Your Help

The aging process can be difficult for those who witness it, and when it comes to our parents, we see it evolve first-hand as they come to rely on us for their needs over the years. What can we do now to make sure they’re better prepared for the future?

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.

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.

Funding: What Should Ted and Emily Have Done

While creating a Trust is an important step, it’s just the first step in securing your legacy. Has your Trust been properly funded? Find out why you should follow up with a good estate planning attorney to ensure your assets are properly protected.

Family Feud & Don't Let This Be Your Legacy

New Years is a time for resolutions. This year, resolve to keep harmony in your family both now and in the years to come. Proper estate planning helps to ensure your familys peace of mind.

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.

Planning for Adoption

When you make the decision to adopt a child into your family, it can be an exciting and emotional time. Dont let this joyous occasion of adoption lead to legal or financial trouble that can be avoided with proper planning. Find out why its important to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney when youre ready for that big step!

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.

Common Estate Planning Terms You'll Want To Know

Most people wont be familiar with legal terminology if its their first time considering a visit to an estate planning attorney. Before a consultation, review this short list of common estate planning terms to help you prepare and feel more comfortable as you begin to create your plan.

Fair Does Not Always Mean Equal

Its something you figure out early in your role as a parent: treating your children fairly does not always mean treating them exactly equally. The fair vs. equal dilemma extends far beyond the days of mediating sibling squabbles and enforcing bedtimes. Sometimes in estate planning, as in parenting, fair does not necessarily mean equal.

Cross-Training for Financial Fitness

Many couples take a divide and conquer approach to household chores, and this tends to include finances as well. Often, this means one spouse is in the dark when it comes to the family's bills, budget, and important documents. Here's how you both can get up to speed.

Peace of Mind for New Moms and Dads

As a new parent, estate planning might be at the bottom of your long list, however, it can bring you immense peace of mind. Here's what you need to know.

Estate Planning is a Team Effort

It takes a team to make sure you have a fully functioning estate plan. Learn about the players, their roles, and - most important - how simple it is to assemble your estate planning team.

Special Needs Trusts for Children with Down Syndrome

Does your child with Down syndrome receive government benefits? If yes, using your Will to leave money directly to your child can jeopardize his or her government benefits. Learn how a Special Needs Trust can provide long-term protection for your child.

I'm a Trustee! Now What?

A loved one has given you the honor and responsibility of serving as a successor Trustee. But what does this really mean? Keep reading to learn about the responsibilities involved in administering a Trust.

An Estate Plan: Don't Leave Home Without it

As you review your vacation checklist, make sure you're not forgetting your estate plan. Without an up-to-date estate plan, a vacation emergency could leave you and your loved ones vulnerable. Here's what you need to know.

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.

Eighteen: The Magic Number?

You might look at your eighteen-year-old and see an average teenager, but, legally speaking, eighteen means adulthood. When your child turns eighteen, you no longer have the right to manage their property, access their medical records, or do any number of things youve taken for granted until now. Learn about the practical problems this can present and how you can plan around them.

How a Pet Trust Can Protect Your Furry Friends

Many of us think of our pets as family members, but we dont always think through who will care for our beloved animals after we die. Did you know that you can and should include your pet in your estate plan? Here are some simple options for making sure your pet lives a happy and healthy life, even after youre gone.

Is an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust Right for You?

The Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust is a common estate planning tool. Although this trust is irrevocable, it offers some flexibility. Learn some basic facts and benefits offered by an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust. Discover whether it might work as part of your estate plan.

Protect Your Right to Make Medical Decisions

Who would make your medical decisions if you were terminally ill or get into an unexpected accident? Have you expressed your wishes to your family members and, just as importantly, have you formalized your wishes so that your doctors will follow them?

Five Things Every Woman Should Know About Estate Planning

Womens 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.

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.

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 familys responsibilities, should the unexpected happen.

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 youre raising your own children. The emotional demands of these multiple roles are often coupled with financial challenges as well. Thats why its 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 youve 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.

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.

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? Heres 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 youre likely to notice is that the attorney-prepared trust is long. And it might not be so easy to read. Theres 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, theres any number of contingencies to prepare for.

Practical Strategies for Protecting Your Privacy

Were 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 familys 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 were 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 youre 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 persons 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 youre 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 lifes 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 Youre at the end of your long, fulfilling life and youre 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.

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