"But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
- Benjamin Franklin
  

Latest Blog Posts

Asset Protection Trusts

Posted on: July 9th, 2015
Asset protection has become a common goal of estate planning. ...

Caution: Writing Your Own Deed to Avoid Probate Can Lead to Unintended Consequences

Posted on: May 29th, 2015
One common way to avoid probate of real estate after the owner dies is to hold the title to the property in joint names with rights of survivorship with children or other beneficiaries....

Three Liability Planning Tips for Physicians that Anyone Can Use

Posted on: May 6th, 2015
Whether you are a physician or not, you probably know that the practice of medicine is a profession fraught with liability....

When is an Estate Subject to State Death Taxes?

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015
In the United States, certain states collect a death tax based on the value of the deceased person's estate and who inherits it....

Is a Payable on Death Account Right for You and Your Family?

Posted on: March 27th, 2015
Payable on death accounts, or "POD accounts" for short, have become popular for avoiding probate in the last decade or so. ...

3 Powers to Consider Giving to a Trust Protector

Posted on: March 13th, 2015
Today many estate plans contain irrevocable trusts that will continue for the benefit of a spouse's lifetime and then for the benefit of several generations....

Five Changes Proposed in President Obama’s 2016 Budget That Could Affect Your Estate Plan

Posted on: March 9th, 2015
The Obama administration recently released its budget proposal for the 2016 fiscal year. ...

It’s Not Just About Death and Taxes: The Essential Legal Documents You Need for Incapacity Planning

Posted on: February 25th, 2015
Comprehensive estate planning is about more than your legacy after death, avoiding probate, and saving on taxes. ...

Five Things You Need to Know About the Recently Enacted ABLE Act

Posted on: February 9th, 2015
The ABLE Act will allow certain individuals with disabilities to establish tax-free savings accounts that can be used to cover expenses not otherwise covered by government sponsored programs. ...

How Powers of Appointment Can Improve Your Trust

Posted on: January 31st, 2015
Today many estate plans contain trusts that will continue for the benefit of a spouse's lifetime and then for the benefit of several generations....

Three Social Security Traps

Posted on: January 23rd, 2015
What you don't know about Social Security benefits can hurt you and your spouse for the rest of your lives. Here are three traps to avoid when taking your benefits....

Estate Planning After Divorce

Posted on: January 15th, 2015
One area that is often overlooked in the divorce process is the need to update estate planning. ...

4 Tips for Avoiding a Will or Trust Contest

Posted on: January 6th, 2015
A will or trust contest can derail your final wishes, rapidly deplete your estate, and tear your loved ones apart. ...

Make an Achievable 2015 New Year’s Resolution – Get an Estate Plan Checkup!

Posted on: December 31st, 2014
With 2015 right around the corner, it's time to start thinking about your new year's resolutions. ...

Year End Estate Planning Tip #4 – Make Gifts that Your Family Will Love but the IRS Won’t Tax

Posted on: December 23rd, 2014
Don't let the chaos of the holiday season prevent you from avoiding federal gift tax by making "annual exclusion" gifts, medical payments gifts, and educational gifts....

Year End Estate Planning Tip #3 – Check Your Mental Disability Plan

Posted on: December 18th, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area of planning that many people overlook is making sure their mental disability plan is up to date. ...

Year End Estate Planning Tip #2 – Check Your Beneficiary Designations

Posted on: December 12th, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area of planning that many people overlook is their beneficiary designations....

Year End Estate Planning Tip #1 – Check Your Estate Tax Planning

Posted on: December 5th, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area that married couples should revisit is their estate tax planning. ...

Are You Wasting Money? Part Three: Taxes, Insurance, Not Bidding, and Negotiating

Posted on: November 29th, 2014
So far in this series on wasting money, we have looked at how people may overpay for housing, interest, transportation, food, clothing and entertainment. ...

Are You Wasting Money? Part Two: Food, Clothing and Entertainment

Posted on: November 21st, 2014
In Part One of this series on wasting money, we looked at housing, interest and transportation--areas in which you or your loved ones may be wasting larger amounts of money. In Part Two, we will look at how money can be wasted in everyday areas of life--specifically food, clothing and entertainment. ...

Are You Wasting Money? Part One: Housing, Interest, and Transportation

Posted on: November 14th, 2014
Most of us are guilty of wasting money in one way or another. Often we are so busy that we pay too much for convenience, and we don't comparison shop or look for bargains. ...

How to Stop Worrying About Running Out of Money in Retirement

Posted on: November 7th, 2014
Many retirees today worry about having enough money for their retirement. Of special concern is if there will be enough money to provide for the surviving spouse. This is called "shortfall risk," and it is a valid concern. ...

How to Minimize Legal Fees After Death

Posted on: October 30th, 2014
Death is a costly business. Aside from funeral expenses, legal fees can take a big chunk out of how much is left for your loved ones after you're gone. ...

Should I Write My Own Will?

Posted on: October 24th, 2014
I'm sure you have heard this less than eloquent phrase before - "Garbage in, garbage out." The phrase is typically used in computer programming and scientific research. Unfortunately, it also applies to the law, legal documents, and writing your own Will....

What if Treating Your Children Fairly Means Unequal Inheritances?

Posted on: October 17th, 2014
When planning their estate, most parents express the desire to treat their children equally out of a sense of fairness. However, sometimes being fair or doing what's right by your children may not mean equal or the same inheritances....

Estate Planning Basics for Newlyweds – How to Get Prepared for the Unexpected

Posted on: October 9th, 2014
It's that time of year - the time for beautiful weddings, fun receptions, delicious cakes, special gifts, and romantic honeymoons. While this is a joyous time for everyone, it's also time for you and your new spouse to plan for your future - for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. ...

Five Tips to Remove Financial Hassle from Your Life

Posted on: October 3rd, 2014
Everyone faces hassles in life. We can't escape them completely, but if we can minimize them, our quality of life improves. There are hassles in managing your finances and wealth, too. Here are five tips that will help you get financial aggravation under control....

Strategies for Those Awkward Financial Discussions

Posted on: September 26th, 2014
There may be people close to you (spouse, parents, children) who are practicing financial behaviors that are unproductive or destructive. You want to help them get back on track, but you don't want to come across as judgmental or condescending, or put them on the defensive....

How to Get Organized to Meet With Your Estate Planning Attorney

Posted on: September 19th, 2014
OK, great! You've finally decided it's time to meet with an estate planning attorney and get your affairs in order. It's time to make sure your family is protected. ...

Estate Planning

Posted on: September 12th, 2014
Many people believe that estate planning is only for people who are particularly wealthy, have elaborate schemes in mind for passing their money to their heirs, or for people who are acutely ill and contemplating their death. This could not be farther from the truth!...

3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Fees

Posted on: September 5th, 2014
Today, it is impossible to put together even a simple estate plan without the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney. Why? Because estate planning laws vary greatly from state to state and these laws are extremely convoluted and constantly changing. ...

Life Insurance: How Much and What Kind?

Posted on: August 27th, 2014
Life insurance can be an affordable way to provide for our children, spouse, a sibling, aging parents and others if we should die while they are depending on us. Life insurance proceeds can provide extra income to help pay ongoing household bills and child care; pay off a mortgage, credit cards and other debt; pay for college; and pay funeral costs and other final expenses. (Life insurance also plays a vital role in business succession planning and it has numerous applications in estate planning.)...

Naming a Guardian for Your Minor Child(ren)

Posted on: August 18th, 2014
Parents with minor children need to name someone to raise them (a guardian) in the event both parents should die before the child becomes an adult. While the likelihood of that actually happening is slim, the consequences of not naming a guardian are great....

How to Choose a Trustee

Posted on: August 11th, 2014
When you establish a trust, you name someone to be the trustee. A trustee basically does what you do right now with your financial affairs--collect income, pay bills and taxes, save and invest for the future, buy and sell assets, provide for your loved ones, keep accurate records and generally keep things organized and in good order....

The Many Needs for Life Insurance in Our Lives

Posted on: February 25th, 2013
The main reasons most people have life insurance are to pay final expenses (medical, funeral, burial, etc.), replace an income stream and/or create wealth for our dependents after we die. Life insurance can also play an important role in business, estate planning and charitable giving....

Family Values and History Are Still the Best Inheritance

Posted on: February 18th, 2013
According to a recent study, family values, traditions and history still mean more than money as an inheritance....

Estate Planning

Posted on: February 11th, 2013
Many people believe that estate planning is only for people who are particularly wealthy, have elaborate schemes in mind for passing their money to their heirs, or for people who are acutely ill and contemplating their death. This could not be farther from the truth!...

Estate Planning for Second Marriages

Posted on: February 4th, 2013
In first marriages, the couple generally has 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....

Young Adults Need Estate Planning, Too

Posted on: January 28th, 2013
Once a child turns 18, parents lose the legal ability to make decisions for their child or even to find out basic information. Learning you cannot see your college student's grades without his/her permission can be mildly frustrating. But a medical emergency can take this frustration to a completely different level. The parents (or a sibling or another person) will probably have to go to court and ask for permission to obtain information about the student's medical condition, be able to make decisions about treatment, and have access to the student's financial records and accounts....

Estate Planning in 2013 and Beyond under the New Tax Law

Posted on: January 25th, 2013
The recent tax legislation dealing with the "fiscal cliff" included significant revisions to the estate tax law that will affect estate planning for the foreseeable future. ...

2013 Resolutions

Posted on: January 7th, 2013
New Year's resolutions for 2013, including Estate Planning and staying organized for the tax season....

Estate Planning Today Must Include Digital Assets and Social Media

Posted on: December 31st, 2012
Estate planning for digital assets and social media accounts is similar to estate planning for other assets. You need to make a list of what you have and where it is located, name someone (with computer and social media know-how) to step in for you, provide that person with access, and provide some direction for what you want to happen to these assets....

5 Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Posted on: December 24th, 2012
From time to time, it’s good to review why having a complete, up-to-date estate plan is so important. In addition to confirming our own actions, it can provide us with valuable information to pass along to friends and family who, for whatever reasons, have yet to act. So, here are five common estate planning mistakes to avoid....

Estate Planning for Women

Posted on: December 17th, 2012
While estate planning is important for everyone, women especially need to understand estate planning and have a plan of their own in place....

Estate Planning for Young Families

Posted on: December 10th, 2012
Many young families put off estate planning because they are young and healthy, or because they don’t think they can afford it. But even a healthy, young adult can be taken suddenly by an accident or illness. And while none of us expects to die while our family is young, planning for the possibility is prudent and responsible. Also, estate planning does not have to be expensive; a young family can start with the essential legal documents and term life insurance, then update and upgrade as their financial situation improves. A good estate plan for a young family will include the following:...

10 Things to do before December 31st

Posted on: November 30th, 2012
There is just a little while left to do some good planning before the year runs out. ...

Estate Planning After Divorce

Posted on: June 28th, 2012
One area that is often overlooked in the divorce process is the need to update estate planning. Most people would agree that their ex-spouse is the last person they want to inherit their assets when they die'or to have that person make life and death decisions for them. But that is exactly what can happen, and often does, when these documents are not updated....

Paying for College

Posted on: April 20th, 2012
Given the continual increases to college education, the 529 plan may be a helpful tool for paying for college....

A Love Letter

Posted on: April 20th, 2012
Estate planning is not just about planning for your death and it is certainly not just for the affluent. Your estate plan is the most important love letter that you will ever write....

GRAT Planning

Posted on: April 20th, 2012
Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, and CEO Sheryl Sandberg. used a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) to transfer upwards of $200 million free of gift and estate tax....

Need for Advance Healthcare Directive

Posted on: April 20th, 2012
The California Advance Healthcare Directive allows us to designate in advance who will make medical decisions about our care when we are unable to do so ourselves. These decisions include end-of-life decisions that allow us to avoid the Terri Schiavo family battles....

Obama 2013 Budget Proposal

Posted on: April 20th, 2012
On February 13, 2012, President Obama released his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2012. This budget contains several long-standing proposals ' as well as some new ones ' that would impact estate planning significantly. Overall, the proposal attacks several tried and true planning strategies and would scale back the exemptions under current law....

Inherited IRAs

Posted on: April 20th, 2012
Who you name as the beneficiary of your IRA can have a significant impact on how your IRA is taxed....

Blended Families

Posted on: April 19th, 2012
Anyone with children or modest assets should seriously consider some minimal estate planning, but the increasing number of blended families underscores the need for proper estate planning....