Even if you put a totally solid estate plan in place, it can turn out to be worthless for the people you love if it’s not regularly updated.
Estate planning is not a one-and-done type of deal—your plan should continuously evolve along with your life circumstances and other changing conditions, such as your assets and the law.
No matter who you are, your life will inevitably change: families change, laws change, assets change, and goals change. In the absence of any major life events, we recommend reviewing your estate plan annually to make sure it continues to work best for you and your family.
Additionally, there are several common life events that make updating your plan more important than ever to ensure you keep your loved ones out of court and out of conflict. Here's a quick guide to know when it's time to call and update your planning.
1) You get married: Marriage not only changes your relationship status; it changes your legal status. Regardless of...
Some people assume that because they’ve named a specific heir as the beneficiary of their IRA in their will or trust that there’s no need to list the same person again as beneficiary in their IRA paperwork. Because of this, they often leave the IRA beneficiary form blank or list “my estate” as the beneficiary.
But this is a major mistake—and one that can lead to serious complications and expense.
IRAs aren’t like other estate assets
First off, your IRA is treated differently than other assets, such as a car or house, in that the person you name on your IRA’s beneficiary form is the one who will inherit the account’s funds, even if a different person is named in your will or in a trust. Your IRA beneficiary designation controls who gets the funds, no matter what you may indicate elsewhere.
Given this, you must ensure your IRA’s beneficiary designation form is up to date and lists either the name of the person you want to inherit your...
When you hear the words, “trust fund,” do you conjure up images of stately mansions and party yachts? A trust fund - or trust - is actually a great estate planning tool for many people with a wide range of incomes who want to accomplish a specific purpose with their money.
Simply put, a trust is just a vehicle used to transfer assets, and trusts are especially useful for parents of minor children as well as those who wish to spare their beneficiaries the hassle of going to Court in the event of their incapacity or death.
And why would you want to keep your family out of court (known as avoiding probate)?
Perhaps you’d like to keep private the details of the assets you are leaving your heirs. Leaving assets via a will (that must go through probate to go into effect) makes your estate a matter of public record. A trust is a private document and distributes assets upon your death without the need for probate, which can tie up assets for a long period of time in court....
On September 13, 2021, Democrats in the House of Representatives released a new $3.5 trillion proposed spending plan that includes a wide array of changes to federal tax laws. Specifically, the Democrats proposed a number of significant tax increases and other changes to fund the plan, including increases to personal income tax rates and the capital gains tax rate, along with a major reduction to the federal estate and gift tax exclusion and new restrictions on Grantor Trusts that would basically eliminate such trust’s ability to be used as planning vehicles.
While the proposed legislation is still under consideration and far from being finalized, given the broad-reaching impact these changes stand to have, we strongly encourage you to contact us now if you would be affected by the proposed legislation should it eventually pass. With the exception of capital gains rate increase, which could go into effect on transactions that occur on or after Sept. 13, 2021, most of the...
On September 13, 2021, Democrats in the House of Representatives released a new $3.5 trillion proposed spending plan that includes a wide array of changes to federal tax laws. Specifically, the Democrats have proposed a number of significant tax increases and other changes to fund the plan, including increases to personal income tax rates and the capital gains tax rate, along with a major reduction to the federal estate and gift tax exclusion and new restrictions on Grantor Trusts that would basically eliminate such trust’s ability to be used as planning vehicles.
While the proposed legislation is still under consideration and far from being finalized, given the broad-reaching impact these changes stand to have, we strongly encourage you to take action now if you would be affected by the proposed legislation if it does pass. With the exception of capital gains rate increase, which could go into effect on transactions that occur on or after Sept. 13, 2021, most of the proposed...
Since the age of 16, when she burst onto the charts with her debut single, “...Hit Me Baby One More Time,” Britney Spears has been one of the world’s most famous and beloved pop stars. Yet despite her massive fame and fortune, Britney, who is now 39, has never truly had full control over her own life.
As most familiar with pop culture know by now, Britney has been living under a conservatorship for the past 13 years. Also known as “adult guardianship,” a conservatorship is a legal structure in which the court granted Britney’s father, Jaime Spears, and other individuals nearly complete control over her legal, financial, and personal decisions. The conservatorship was initially established in February 2008 after Britney suffered a mental breakdown, which resulted in her being briefly hospitalized.
A Total Loss of Control
Back in 2008, the court appointed Britney’s father and attorney Andrew Wallet as her co-conservators, as Britney was deemed...
Maybe you’ve heard that before investing in a professional service you should “get three estimates.” This is often wise advice, but it’s actually a bad idea when it comes to estate planning. Hear me out. This article explains why and how you can ensure you get the most efficient and affordable plan possible for your family without shopping estate planning lawyers the way you may think.
Let’s begin with why “getting three estimates” for an estate plan doesn’t work to actually get you what you want.
First and foremost, this recommendation assumes that you should be shopping for an estate plan based on cost and that you understand exactly what you are shopping for and how to evaluate those estimates.
Shopping for an estate plan based on getting the lowest cost plan possible is the fastest path to leaving your family with an empty set of documents (maybe in a beautiful binder, but not worth the paper they are written on) that...
If you love crime documentaries and shows like 20/20 or Dateline as much as I do, then you probably remember this story in the headlines. In undergrad I dual majored in both pre-law and psychology. These types of stories fascinate me when it comes to the psychology of things like cults and how they play on a person's weakness - often to feel a place of belonging and inclusion when they have experienced loss. Though most of us are not dealing with this level of wealth, the amount of money is really irrelevant to the end message. However much you have worked to build and save, you intend to pass that on to your heirs, and the lessons of asset protection remain the same. Read below as I walk through an example of extreme wealth and one of modest inheritance and how a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust could have avoided loss of inheritance in both scenarios.
When you create your estate plan, the idea that one of your adult children would ever use their...
With high school graduation behind us, and summer half over, many parents will soon watch their children become adults (at least in the eyes of the law) and leave home to pursue their education and career goals.
Turning 18, graduating high school, and moving out is a huge accomplishment. It also comes with some serious responsibilities that probably aren’t at the forefront of their (or your) mind right now. Once your children become legal adults, many areas that were once under your control are now solely up to them.
Here’s the big one: Before they turned 18, you had access to their financial accounts and had the power to make all of their healthcare decisions. After they turn 18, however, you’re no longer able to do either.
Before your kids head out into the world, you should discuss this with them and have them sign some key estate planning documents. One you do that, if they become incapacitated, you can easily access their medical records and financial accounts...
When discussing estate planning, a will is what most people think of first. Indeed, wills have been the most popular method for passing on assets to heirs for hundreds of years. But wills aren’t your only option. And if you rely on a will alone to pass on what matters, you’re guaranteeing your family has to go to court when you die.
In contrast, other estate planning vehicles, such as trusts, which used to be available only to the uber wealthy, are now being used by those of all income levels and asset values to keep their loved ones out of the court process.
But determining whether a will or a trust is best for you depends entirely on your personal circumstances. And the fact that estate planning has changed so much makes choosing the right tool for the job even more complex.
The best way for you to determine the truly right solution for your family is to meet with me as your Personal Family Lawyer® for a Family Wealth Planning Session™. During that...
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