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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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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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Estate Planning For A Child With Special Needs: What Parents Need To Know

Estate planning is an obvious concern for all parents, but if you have a child with special needs, it’s crucial that you are aware of the unique considerations that go into planning for a child who may be dependent on you at some level for their lifetime. If your child has special needs, you must understand exactly what’s necessary to provide for the emotional, physical, and financial needs of your child, in the event of your own eventual death or potential incapacity.

When creating your estate plan, there are two major considerations for you to focus on: 1) Who would care for your child if and when you cannot (also known as guardianship), and 2) How will your child’s financial needs be met when you are not there to meet them.

Naming Legal Guardians for a Lifetime of Care

The first and most critical step in ensuring the future well-being of your child with special needs is to name both short and long-term legal guardians to take custody of and care for your child...

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What Happens to Your Facebook Account When You Die?

If you’re active on social media, Facebook probably plays a prominent role in your life. And now, social media can even play a role in your afterlife.  

Because of our interconnectedness through social media, estate planning has evolved to take into account more than just your tangible assets. Your digital assets are looked at as well, such as cryptocurrency, websites, and social media accounts. Though social media may seem trivial compared to the rest of your personal property, a Facebook account can function as a virtual diary of your daily life, making it a part of your legacy—and one you’ll may want to protect. 

Since social media is so new, there are very few state laws governing how your Facebook account should be handled upon your death. In light of this, Facebook itself is in nearly total control of what happens to your profile after you die. Without proper planning, your post-mortem Facebook presence can be harmful to the loved...

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How to Avoid 2 Common Causes for Estate Planning Disputes—Part 2

 

  In the first part of this series, we discussed one of the most frequent causes for dispute over your estate plan. Here, we’ll look at another leading cause for dispute and tell you how to avoid it! 

Let's be honest, most families have disagreements, disputes, or just plain drama even in the best of times. When considering what will happen to your estate when you die or if you become incapacitated, why leave it up to chance? This quick read can help you avoid uncomfortable family dynamics even if you're not around to play peacemaker. 

 No one wants to believe their family would ever end up battling one another in court over inheritance issues or a loved one’s life-saving medical treatment, but we see it all the time. This is especially true for those who rely on do-it-yourself estate planning documents found online. The good news is you can dramatically reduce the odds of such conflict by enlisting my support...

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Avoid These 2 Common Causes for Dispute Over Your Estate Plan — Part 1

Let's be honest, most families have disagreements, disputes, or just plain drama even in the best of times, so when you're considering what will happen to your estate when you die or if you become incapacitated, why leave it up to chance? This quick read can help you avoid uncomfortable family dynamics even if you're not around to play peacemaker. 

No one wants to believe their family would ever end up battling one another in court over inheritance issues or a loved one’s life-saving medical treatment, but we see it all the time. This is especially true for those who rely on do-it-yourself estate planning documents found online. (You may think that most lawyers would try to convince you to do otherwise, but did you know that many lawyers actually love those online platforms?? Estate administration is a very lucrative hourly billing model, and the worse the documents, the more it costs your family to fix after you die! I would rather you get the guidance to do it...

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Building Family Unity Through Giving

Many families choose to spend their Thanksgiving Holiday volunteering at soup kitchens, food pantries, or other shelters. While this is a great time of year to do so, we know that these facilities are overwhelmed with volunteers during the holiday season and then in great need of volunteer and monetary support the rest of the year when families have gone back to their day-to-day lives. Volunteer work such as this is such a great way to teach your children gratitude, financial responsibility, and to recognize there are many in need this week and all year round.

Volunteering and giving are great opportunities to build family unity. Bob Graham, Founder of the Namaste Foundation has discussed that in his career as a CPA he worked with clients who had inherited wealth. “I noticed the tremendous insecurities many had,” says Bob. “They lacked confidence in their ability to earn money on their own and were fearful of losing money – almost to the point of being...

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How Do I Choose a Life Insurance Policy That’s Right For Me and My Family?

Life insurance products can be complicated to pick from and even more complicated to understand; especially when you’re up against sales pitches from the people selling them (who stand to make a lot of money off of your decisions). The first question to ask yourself is, “Do I have an obligation to provide income replacement for the people who depend on me?” This question could also be more along the lines of, "Do I want my loved ones to have an additional source of income to pay for household services or support if I am gone?" If the answer is “yes”, then you should have some kind of life insurance so that those people don’t have an additional worry.    

The type of life insurance you should buy depends on your family goals and circumstances. The two main types of insurance you’ll hear about are "term" and "whole life."  

Term insurance is just what it sounds like, for a...

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Are You Clear About How Your Parents Estate Plan Will Impact You?

Do your parents have an estate plan? Is it up to date? No matter how much you think you and your parents do or don't have, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to be asking these and several other questions. When your parents become incapacitated or die, their affairs will become your responsibility, and it will be impossible to ask them to clarify anything. So, if you don't know whether or not they have estate planning in place that will help you best support them, let us help you figure it out! 

The Best-Case Scenario 

In a best-case scenario, your parents have an updated estate plan, and they’ve walked you through it. They have provided an inventory of their assets that’s easy for you to find listing out everything they own, how it’s titled, and who it should go to and how. Ideally, it also includes directions on how to handle their non-monetary assets, and an audio recording or written stories that pass on their values,...

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2021 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date?

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...

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