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What Your Last Will & Testament Will (And Will Not) Do—Part 2

Uncategorized Sep 07, 2022

August is “National Make-A-Will Month,” and if you have already prepared your will, congratulations—too few Americans have taken this key first step in the estate planning process. In fact, only 33% of Americans have created their will, according to Caring.com’s 2022 Wills and Estate Planning Study

 

Yet, while having a will is important—and all adults over age 18 should have this document in place—for all but a few people, creating a will is just one small part of an effective estate plan that works to keep your loved ones out of court and out of conflict. With this in mind, this series discusses exactly what having a will in place will—and will not—do for you and your loved ones in terms of estate planning.

Last week, in part one, we looked at the different things having a will in place allows you to do. Here, in part two, we detail all of the things that your will does not do, along with identifying the specific estate...

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What Your Last Will & Testament Will (And Will Not) Do—Part 1

Uncategorized Sep 01, 2022

August was “National Make-A-Will Month,” and if you have already prepared your will, congratulations—too few Americans have taken this key first step in the estate planning process. In fact, only 33% of Americans have created their will, according to Caring.com’s 2022 Wills and Estate Planning Study

 

Yet, while having a will is important—and all adults over age 18 should have this document in place—for all but a few people, creating a will is just one small part of an effective estate plan that works to keep your loved ones out of court and out of conflict. With this in mind, here we look at exactly what having a will in place will—and will not—do for you and your loved ones in terms of estate planning.

If you have yet to create your will, or you haven’t reviewed your existing will recently, contact us, your Personal Family Lawyer® to get this vital first step in your estate planning handled right away.

...

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3 Critical Considerations For How To Save For Your Child’s (or Grandchild's) College Education—Part 2

If you have started to save for your child or grandchild’s college education, it’s worth considering whether to use a 529 plan, an education savings account, or an irrevocable trust. 

 

Last week, in part one of this series, we discussed 529 plans and education savings accounts, which are both popular options for saving for college education. One of the main reasons for their popularity is their tax-saving advantages. The money you contribute to a 529 account grows on a tax-deferred basis, and withdrawals are tax-free, provided they are used for qualified education expenses, such as tuition, room and board, and other education-related fees.

 

That said, one of the downsides of 529 plans is that they come with strict limits on how you can use the funds (for education-related expenses only), and they also have a limited range of options for how you can invest your funds, primarily in various mutual funds. For these reasons, 529 plans and ESAs aren’t...

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3 Critical Considerations For How To Save For Your Child’s (or Grandchild's) College Education—Part 1

If you have started to save for your child or grandchild’s college education, it’s worth considering whether to use a 529 plan, an education savings account, or an Irrevocable Trust. 

 

Here’s what we think you should consider as you decide: 

 

First, consider whether you want your offspring to have broader options than just the traditional college experience. 

 

Since the start of the pandemic, college enrollments have declined by over one million students over the past two years, and with college tuition getting more and more expensive, many students are considering alternatives to the traditional higher education path.

 

Gap years, travel, trade programs, and online training are replacing the traditional college education path for many, and if you want that to be an option for your children or grandchildren, you should be aware that the traditional college savings plans may not be the right fit for your family.

 

Instead,...

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4 Essential Strategies For Protecting Your Family's Assets

 

You might think that only the super wealthy need to worry about asset protection planning. But the truth is that if you don’t have millions, you may be at even greater risk. For instance, if you are a multi-millionaire, a $50,000 judgment against you might not be that big of a deal. But for a family with a modest income, savings, and home, it could be devastating.

 

Furthermore, asset protection planning isn’t something you can put off until something happens. Once you are under threat of a lawsuit, it’s likely too late to protect your assets. Like all types of planning, to be effective, you must have your asset protection strategies in place well before something happens. And your asset protection plan isn’t a one-and-done deal: it must be regularly updated to accommodate changes to your assets, family dynamics, and the law.

 

While you should meet with us at The Legal Mama to determine the asset protection strategies that are best suited...

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How Estate Planning Can Reduce The High Cost Of Dying—Part 2

Despite the fact that it happens to every single one of us and is as every bit as natural as birth, very few among us are properly prepared for death—whether our own death or the death of a loved one. 

 

Yet the pandemic might be changing this.

 

According to Census figures, the pandemic caused the U.S. death rate to spike by nearly 20% between 2019 and 2020, the largest increase in American mortality in 100 years. More than two years and 1 million deaths later, it's more clear than ever that death is not only ever-present, but a central and inevitable part of all our lives.  

Yet, some in the end-of-life industry believe the pandemic’s massive loss of life has also created an opportunity to transform the way we face death, grief, and all of the other issues that arise when we lose someone we love dearly. In fact, this sentiment is the mission of the new startup Empathy, an AI-based platform designed to help families navigate the logistical and...

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How Estate Planning Can Reduce The High Cost Of Dying—Part 1

Despite the fact that it happens to every single one of us and is as every bit as natural as birth, very few among us are properly prepared for death—whether our own death or the death of a loved one. 

 

Yet the pandemic might be changing this.

 

According to Census figures, the pandemic caused the U.S. death rate to spike by nearly 20% between 2019 and 2020, the largest increase in American mortality in 100 years. More than two years and 1 million deaths later, it's more clear than ever that death is not only ever-present, but a central and inevitable part of all our lives.

 

Yet, in what may be one of its few positive outcomes, some in the end-of-life industry believe that the pandemic’s massive loss of life has created an opportunity to transform the way we face death, grief, and all of the other issues that arise when we lose someone we love dearly. In fact, this sentiment is the mission of the new startup Empathy, an AI-based platform designed to...

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5 Common Estate Planning Concerns For Your Second (Or More) Marriage

Uncategorized Jul 14, 2022

With divorce occurring in roughly 50% of all marriages in the U.S. and life expectancy increasing every day, second—and even third—marriages are becoming quite common. And when people get remarried in mid-life and beyond, they often bring children from prior marriages into the mix. Such unions are often referred to as a “blended” family or a “Brady Bunch” family.

 

But blended families can also take other forms. Whether you have stepchildren, adopted children, children from a previous relationship, or you have someone you consider “kin,” even though that individual might not be classified as your legal relative in the eyes of the law, these are also examples of a blended family.

 

Whenever you merge two families into one, you are naturally going to encounter some challenges and conflict. To this end, blended families present a number of particularly challenging legal and financial issues from an estate planning perspective....

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What You Need to Know About Collecting Life Insurance Proceeds

Uncategorized Jul 07, 2022

If you're looking to collect life insurance proceeds as the policy’s beneficiary, the process is fairly simple. However, during the emotional period immediately following a loved one’s death, it can feel as if your entire world is falling apart, so it’s helpful to understand exactly what steps you need to take to access the insurance funds as quickly and easily as possible.

 

Not to mention, if you’ve been dependent on the person who died for financial support and/or you are responsible for paying for the funeral or other expenses, the need to access insurance money can be downright urgent. Plus, unlike other assets, an estate’s executor typically isn’t involved with collecting life insurance proceeds, since benefits pass directly to a beneficiary, so this is something you will need to handle yourself.  

 

With this in mind, we’ve outlined the typical procedure for claiming and collecting life insurance proceeds, along...

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Estate Planning FAQs For LGBTQ+ Couples

As we are about to wrap up another Pride Month, the LGBTQ+ community faces an increasingly uncertain legal landscape. In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, ending the recognition of a constitutional right to abortion, many are worried that other rights, especially for same-gender couples, who might also be under threat. 

 

In fact, with Roe overturned, legal experts warn that the Supreme Court’s new Republican majority may come for landmark LGBTQ-rights decisions next, including marriage equality established by Obergefell v. Hodges. In light of this potential challenge, it’s critical that same-gender couples ensure their estate plans are carefully reviewed and updated by an estate planning lawyer who understands the special needs of LGBTQ+ planning to address any such developments.  


Although we will have to wait and see whether the Supreme Court ultimately decides to rule on marriage equality, same gender couples can act right now...

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