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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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If You’ve Been Asked To Serve As Trustee, Here’s What You Should Know

If a family member or friend has asked you to serve as trustee for their trust either during their life, or upon their death, it’s a big honor—this means they consider you among the most honest, reliable, and responsible people they know.

That said, serving as a trustee is not only a great honor, it’s also a major responsibility, and the role is definitely not for everyone. Serving as a trustee entails a broad array of duties, and you are both ethically and legally required to properly execute those duties or you could face liability for not doing so.

In the end, your responsibility as a trustee will vary greatly depending on the size of the estate, the type of assets covered by the trust, how many beneficiaries there are, and the document’s terms. In light of this, you should carefully review the specifics of the trust you would be managing before making your decision to serve.

Remember, you don’t have to take the job. That said, depending on who...

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10 Common Estate Planning Mistakes Your Family Can’t Afford to Make—Part 2

 Because estate planning involves actively thinking about and planning for frightening topics like death, old age, and disability, many people put it off or simply ignore it all together until it’s too late. Sadly, this unwillingness to face reality often creates serious hardship, expense, and trauma for those loved ones you leave behind. 

To complicate matters, the recent proliferation of online estate planning document services, such as LegalZoom®, Rocket Lawyer®, and Trustandwill.com, may have misled you into thinking that estate planning is a do-it-yourself (DIY) affair, which involves nothing more than filling out the right legal forms. However, proper estate planning entails far more than filling out legal forms. 

In fact, without a thorough understanding of how the legal process works upon your death or incapacity, along with knowing how it applies specifically to your family dynamics and the nature of your assets, you’ll likely make serious...

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10 Common Estate Planning Mistakes Your Family Can’t Afford to Make—Part 1

 

Because estate planning involves actively thinking about and planning for frightening topics like death, old age, and chronic disability, many people put it off or simply ignore it all together until it’s too late. Sadly, this unwillingness to face reality often creates serious hardship, expense, and trauma for those loved ones you leave behind. 

To complicate matters, the recent proliferation of online estate planning document services, such as LegalZoom®, Rocket Lawyer®, and Trustandwill.com, may have misled you into thinking that estate planning is a do-it-yourself (DIY) affair, which involves nothing more than filling out the right legal forms. However, proper estate planning entails far more than filling out legal forms. 

In fact, without a thorough understanding of how the legal process works upon your death or incapacity and applies specifically to your family dynamics and the nature of your assets, you’ll likely make serious mistakes when...

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Probate: What It Is & How To Avoid It—Part 2

Unless you’ve created an estate plan that works to keep your family out of court, when you die (or become incapacitated) many of your assets must go through probate before those assets can be distributed to your heirs. Like most court proceedings, probate can be time-consuming, costly, and open to the public, and because of this, avoiding probate—and keeping your family out of court—is often a central goal of estate planning. 

 

To spare your loved one’s the time, cost, and stress inherent to probate, last week in part one of this series, we explained how the probate process works and what it would entail for your loved ones. Here in part two, we’ll discuss the major drawbacks of probate for your family, and outline the different ways you can help them avoid probate with wise planning. (See what you missed in Part one!)

 

What’s At Stake For Your Family
Probate court proceedings can take months, and sometimes even years, to...

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5 Ways DIY Estate Plans Can Fail & Leave Your Family At Risk—Part 2

Do a Google search for “digital wills” or “online estate planning,” and you’ll find dozens of different websites offering low-cost, do-it-yourself (DIY) and sometimes even free estate planning documents, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives.

From LegalZoom® and Rocket Lawyer® to TrustandWill.com and FreeWill.com, these DIY legal documents may seem like a cheap and easy way to finally cross estate planning off your to-do list—and do so without having to pay a lawyer big bucks to assist you. After all, you’ve been able to prepare and file your taxes online for years, is estate planning really that much different? And aren’t lawyers using the very same forms you find on these DIY document websites? 

An Inconvenient Truth
This kind of thinking is exactly what DIY and online estate planning services would like you to believe, but it’s far from true. In fact, relying on DIY or online estate...

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5 Ways DIY Estate Plans Can Fail & Leave Your Family At Risk—Part 1

Do a Google search for “digital wills” or “online estate planning,” and you’ll find dozens of different websites offering low-cost, do-it-yourself (DIY) and sometimes even free estate planning documents, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives.

From LegalZoom® and Rocket Lawyer® to TrustandWill.com and FreeWill.com, these DIY legal documents may seem like a cheap and easy way to finally cross estate planning off your to-do list—and do so without having to pay a lawyer big bucks to assist you. After all, you’ve been able to prepare and file your taxes online for years, is estate planning really that much different? And aren’t lawyers using the very same forms you find on these DIY document websites? 


An Inconvenient Truth
This kind of thinking is exactly what DIY and online estate planning services would like you to believe, but it’s far from true. In fact, relying on DIY or online estate...

Continue Reading...

A Not-So-Happy Accident: Bob Ross's Estate Planning Failures Leave His Son With Next To Nothing - Part 1

 As the host of the wildly popular The Joy of Painting TV series on PBS, Bob Ross became a pop-culture icon, who was equally famous for his giant head of hair, soothing baritone voice, and folksy demeanor as he was for his iconic landscape paintings. And like so many other artists, Bob’s artwork and image would become even more popular following Bob’s death in 1995.

Bob’s philosophy in both painting and life was that there “were no mistakes in life… just happy little accidents.” Sadly, as detailed in the recent Netflix documentary Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed, Bob’s failure to coordinate his business agreements with his estate plan was anything but happy, leaving his only son largely unable to benefit from his father’s fame and fortune.

As we’ll discuss in this series, Bob’s planning failures have led to an ugly court battle between his former business partners and his family, who were fighting for...

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3 Estate Planning Issues For LGBTQ Couples—Part 2

 3 Estate Planning Issues For LGBTQ Couples—Part 2

 

Whether you are married, in a committed partnership, or buying homes with chosen family (platonic or otherwise), estate planning is about much more than planning for death—it's about planning for life. It's the way to ensure your beloved will be protected and provided for in the event of your death or incapacity. As members of the LGBTQIA+ community, it's more important for us and our families to get a handle on our estates than anyone. 

 

Although marriage equality (for the LGBTQIA+ community) is legally recognized in all 50 states, long-held prejudice at both the political and family level continues to create complications for both married and unmarried queer families. For example, suppose you have family members who are opposed to your marriage/chosen family living situations. In that case, your estate plan may be more likely to be disputed or even sabotaged by unsupportive relatives. This...

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4 Tips For Talking About Estate Planning With Your Family Over the Holidays

Vacations and Holidays Are the Perfect Time for Families to Talk About Estate Planning

If you are spending the upcoming holiday with older family members, this is actually a great opportunity to talk about planning with them. While there are few “perfect” times to talk with parents about their estate plan, the relaxed times you spend together on vacation or downtime during the holidays can be one of them. You have the benefit of having everyone together sitting down in one place. So take advantage of that!

Here are some tips on how to bring up this critical conversation:

Find a good place to start.

One of the best ways to ease your parents into a financial discussion is to bring up your own.  Tell your parents that you were looking into your own estate plan and wondering if they had already executed their own.  You can let them know that you have learned that the different types of plans require very different levels of effort from the executor and cost from...

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