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Why “Just a Will” Is Never Enough

When you think of estate planning, a Will is usually the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, most people who contact me tell me they don’t need anything complicated for their estate- just a Will. Indeed, Wills have a reputation as the number one estate planning tool and can be seen all over TV shows and movies, from the dramatic “reading of the Will” (which rarely happens in real life) to characters plotting how best to defraud their billionaire uncle’s Will in order to inherit his lavish estate.

But although Wills are a key part of your estate plan - and a big part of the movies - relying on a Will alone won’t solve your estate planning needs - no matter what Hollywood says. Instead, using just a Will to plan your final wishes is likely to leave your loved ones with an expensive mess that won’t distribute your assets in the way you intended.  

What’s more, a Will alone won’t ensure that you’re taken care of in the...

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Why Everyone Needs to Keep Their Estate Plan Updated

As the world and its laws continue to evolve, everyone needs to keep their estate plans up to date. An estate plan is a set of documents, such as a will or trust, that dictate how assets will be distributed upon death or incapacity. An individual's current legal and financial situation should be considered to create a comprehensive estate plan tailored specifically to their needs.

Ensure Your Wishes Are Respected

The primary reason to update an estate plan is to ensure that an individual's wishes are respected upon death. For example, suppose an individual has recently acquired valuable property or has had changes in family structure (such as marriage or children). In that case, updating the documents that outline how assets should be distributed is important. If the documents are not updated, this could lead to disputes between family members and legal complications when probate occurs. Additionally, if laws change at the state or federal level, those changes need to be...

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Your Rights As The Parent Of A Young Adult — What You Need To Know When A Medical Crisis Hits

As a parent, you are quite accustomed to managing your children's legal and medical affairs, as circumstances require. If your child requires urgent medical attention while away from you, a simple phone call authorizing care can do the trick. But what happens when those “children” turn 18, now adults in the eyes of the law, and need urgent medical attention far from home?

The simple fact is that the day your child turns 18, he or she becomes an adult and has the legal rights of an adult. This means that you lose your prior held rights to make medical and financial decisions for your child unless your child executes legal documents giving you those rights back. Without the proper legal documents, accessing medical information and even being informed about your adult child’s medical condition can be difficult and in some cases, impossible.

When sending kids off to college, it is crucial to consider the legal implications of an accident or medical emergency on your...

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Why Every Adult Needs A Living Will

When it comes to estate planning and wills, you have a variety of options for legal documents. The most common of these options is a “last will and testament,” which is also known simply as a “will.” But you may have also heard people talk about a “living will” and wonder what that is, and whether you need a living will in addition to a regular last will and testament.

Both terms describe important legal documents used in estate planning, but their purpose and function differ significantly. In this article, we will review some of the most critical things you need to know about living wills and why having a living will is essential to every adult’s estate plan. And it may be that a living will is even more important than a last will and testament.

What Is A Living Will?

A living will, also called an advance healthcare directive, is a legal document that tells your loved ones and doctors how you would want your medical care handled if you...

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Checklist: 5 Financial Decisions to Consider Before December 31

 This week, before the year ends, consider these 5 financial, retirement and tax actions you may need to take before it’s either too late or very costly for your family. And if you have living parents in their 70s, make sure you cover these considerations with them this week. 

 

01 - Review Your Investments to Harvest Losses This Year

If you have investments in a taxable account (including cryptocurrency investments), you may want to consider selling off any losers to offset any gains you have made. Selling losses can help reduce your tax liability for the year, if you have any capital gains, and then you can carry forward investment losses to offset capital gains in the future. 

If you are sitting with cryptocurrency losses that you haven’t recognized yet because you haven’t sold your cryptocurrency due to wanting to stay in the market for when crypto goes back up, you can have the best of both worlds. Sell your cryptocurrency  now before...

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Protect Your Aging Loved Ones From Undue Influence

 Following the death of a loved one, close family members are sometimes surprised to learn that they didn’t receive the inheritance they were expecting, and that the deceased instead left most of their estate to an individual they only recently met, who wasn’t even a relative. While it’s not always the case, in some situations this can mean your loved one was taken advantage of by a bad actor, who manipulated them into cutting out close family members from their plan and leaving assets to the bad actor instead.

This is called "undue influence," and it’s not only unethical, it’s illegal and considered a form of elder abuse. Given the growing number of seniors, the prevalence of diminished capacity associated with aging, and the concentration of wealth among elderly Baby Boomers, we’re likely to see a serious surge in the number of cases involving undue influence in the coming years.

Undue influence can have a disastrous effect on your...

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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 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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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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It's time to take a break & enjoy a night out! Join us for the perfect combination of entertainment & education.