Latest Blog Posts

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Will: 3 Critical Mistakes

Posted on: August 26th, 2014
Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died from a drug overdose in February 2014. Sadly, he left behind three young children - and a fortune estimated to be worth $35 million....

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

Posted on: August 19th, 2014
If you're reading this, you need an estate plan. Why? The short answer is 'Everyone, age 18 and older needs an estate plan.' It doesn't matter if you are old or young, if you have built up considerable wealth or if you are just entering adulthood --you need a written plan to keep you in control and to protect yourself and those you love....

What if Treating Your Children Fairly Means Unequal Inheritances?

Posted on: August 12th, 2014
When planning their estate, most parents express the desire to treat their children equally out of a sense of fairness. However, sometimes being fair or doing what's right by your children may not mean equal or the same inheritances....

Estate Planning After Divorce

Posted on: August 5th, 2014
One area that is often overlooked in the divorce process is the need to update estate planning. Most people would agree that their ex-spouse is the last person they want to inherit their assets when they die--or to have that person make life and death decisions for them. But that is exactly what can happen - and often does - when these documents are not updated....

The Value of Having a “Plan” in Estate Planning

Posted on: July 29th, 2014
All too often, estate planning is viewed as a transaction: a will, a living trust, powers of attorney, etc. But the best planning happens when the professional can get to know the client on a deeper level, to uncover hopes, dreams and aspirations. It becomes more about family and values, and it becomes a process instead of a transaction....

Parental Warning: If You Own Your Property this Way, You May Accidentally Disinherit Your Own Children

Posted on: July 22nd, 2014
Owning property as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship is easy, common, and often disastrous. Sadly, children - both minor and adult - are often disinherited....

Why Does Probate Take So Long?

Posted on: July 15th, 2014
Probate can be easily avoided, but most estates are dragged through the process. Why? Many people fail to create an estate plan, so probate is required. And - others plan with just a Will, so probate is required. As a result, assets end up at the mercy of a probate judge, open to public scrutiny, and delayed passing to beneficiaries....

Naming a Guardian for Your Minor Child(ren)

Posted on: July 8th, 2014
Parents with minor children need to name someone to raise them (a guardian) in the event both parents should die before the child becomes an adult. While the likelihood of that actually happening is slim, the consequences of not naming a guardian are great. ...

Should I Write My Own Will?

Posted on: July 1st, 2014
I'm sure you have heard this less than eloquent phrase before - 'Garbage in, garbage out.' The phrase is typically used in computer programming and scientific research. Unfortunately, it also applies to the law, legal documents, and writing your own Will....

Will Your Revocable Living Trust Avoid Probate? It Depends.

Posted on: June 24th, 2014
If you've set up a Revocable Living Trust, congratulations! You're definitely on the right track. But...you're only half way there. Many believe because they took the time to create a Trust, their estate will automatically avoid probate. Unfortunately, this is a false sense of security....

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Inherited IRAs are Not Protected from Creditors

Posted on: June 17th, 2014
On June 12, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court--in a unanimous decision--ruled that Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) inherited by anyone other than a spouse are not retirement funds and therefore are not protected from the beneficiary's creditors in bankruptcy....

Estate Planning Basics for Newlyweds – How to Get Prepared for the Unexpected

Posted on: June 10th, 2014
It's that time of year - the time for beautiful weddings, fun receptions, delicious cakes, special gifts, and romantic honeymoons. While this is a joyous time for everyone, it's also time for you and your new spouse to plan for your future - for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health....

How to Get Organized to Meet With Your Estate Planning Attorney

Posted on: June 3rd, 2014
OK, great! You've finally decided it's time to meet with an estate planning attorney and get your affairs in order. It's time to make sure your family is protected. Now that you've scheduled the first appointment, what's the next step?...

Providing for Your Parents in Your Estate Plan

Posted on: May 27th, 2014
If you are part of the baby boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964), you may also find that you are a member of the sandwich generation, with responsibilities to both your parents (now or in the future) and your children. This should change the way you think about estate planning--instead of the traditional approach of how to leave assets to your children and future generations, you may also need to include providing for the previous generation (your parents)....

How to Leave Assets to Adult Children

Posted on: May 20th, 2014
When considering how to leave assets to adult children, the first step is to decide how much each one should receive. Most parents want to treat their children fairly, but this doesn't necessarily mean they should receive equal shares of the estate. For example, it may be desirable to give more to a child who is a teacher than to one who has a successful business, or to compensate a child who has been a primary caregiver....

How to Leave Assets to Minor Children

Posted on: May 13th, 2014
Every parent wants to make sure their children are provided for in the event something happens to them while the children are still minors. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives often want to leave some of their assets to young children, too. But good intentions and poor planning often have unintended results....

Three Social Security Traps

Posted on: May 6th, 2014
What you don't know about Social Security benefits can hurt you and your spouse for the rest of your lives. Here are three traps to avoid when taking your benefits....

Estate Planning Today Must Include Digital Assets and Social Media

Posted on: April 29th, 2014
It wasn't very long ago that we had only paper for financial and tax records. We could simply point to a file cabinet or drawer and tell someone, 'Everything is in there when the time comes.' But now we have computers and the internet, and so much of our lives is online. Unless we include our digital assets and social media in our estate planning, our family or administrator may not be able to find critical documents....

What and When Should You Tell Your Children About Their Inheritance?

Posted on: April 22nd, 2014
Not many parents like to talk to their children about their wealth. How much money people have is usually considered a private matter, something it's not polite to talk about. But not talking to children about how much they may inherit can leave them unprepared to handle even a modest amount....

Aligning Insurance Products within a Planning Structure

Posted on: April 15th, 2014
We use a variety of insurance products to manage risk in different areas of our lives in order to protect our wealth from losses that can come from property damage, businesses we own, disability, retirement and death. Instead of considering these products as separate items, make them part of an integrated, overall risk management plan....

Four More Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Posted on: April 8th, 2014
Here are four more common mistakes in estate planning. If your plan is in place and current, this will serve as more validation that you are on the right track. Feel free to share this information with friends and family members, especially those who may not have a plan in place....

5 Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Posted on: April 1st, 2014
From time to time, it's good to review why having a complete, up-to-date estate plan is so important. In addition to confirming our own actions, it can provide us with valuable information to pass along to friends and family who, for whatever reasons, have yet to act. So, here are five common estate planning mistakes to avoid....

Online and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Estate Planning

Posted on: March 25th, 2014
With the number of online and do-it-yourself (DIY) legal providers continuing to grow, some of individuals may be wondering if they could do their estate planning themselves. The advertising is seductive: attorneys use similar forms, the cost is significantly less than hiring an attorney, and many of these websites and kits are created by attorneys. In addition, most people think their estates are not complicated, and many think they are just as smart as (or smarter than) professionals....

Estate Planning for Women

Posted on: March 18th, 2014
While estate planning is important for everyone, women especially need to understand estate planning and have a plan of their own in place. Here are some issues that are of particular interest to women and their estate planning....

Estate Planning for Second Marriages

Posted on: March 11th, 2014
In first marriages, the couple generally has the same goals when it comes to their estate planning: take care of the surviving spouse for as long as he or she lives, then whatever is left will go to the children. They may own many of their assets jointly and, at the death of the first spouse, more than likely everything will go to the surviving spouse just as they had planned....

Potential Problems with Beneficiary Designations

Posted on: March 4th, 2014
Many clients use beneficiary designations, and for good reason. Some significant assets, including life insurance policies, IRAs, retirement plans and even bank accounts, allow a beneficiary to be named. It's free, it's easy, and, when the owner dies, these assets are designed to be paid directly to the individual(s) named as beneficiary, outside of probate....

The Advisory Team Approach to Estate Planning

Posted on: February 25th, 2014
Estate planning is not simply the documents prepared by an attorney, nor is it the insurance and financial plan recommended by a financial advisor. Properly done, estate planning encompasses at least the legal and financial elements, but it may include more, as estate planning often points out the need to plan in other areas....

How to Make a Family Meeting a Successful Part of the Estate Planning Process

Posted on: February 18th, 2014
You've made the hard decisions, your documents are signed, your trust is funded, a business succession plan is in place. Congratulations, you've finished your estate planning. But have you, really? Have you explained your planning to your family? Will they understand how your plan will work and what they may need to do if you become ill or when you die? Will they wonder why you made certain decisions?...

Understanding Losses: Liability Exposure

Posted on: February 11th, 2014
We live in a litigious society. Lawsuits abound, whether deserved or not. If you own property or stock that was purchased at a low price and has had high appreciation, it is at risk to litigation and creditors--even if you are not in a high-risk profession. Others may be in a private business such as medicine or law that bring with it additional exposures to monitor....

Understanding Losses: Compounding Interest

Posted on: February 4th, 2014
Most investors are familiar with the magic of compounding interest but they often fail to realize that when the portfolio loses money, the math of compounding works against them. That's because when a dollar is lost, it is not just a dollar but a compounded dollar that is lost, so the investor must regain more just to break even....

Understanding Losses: Property

Posted on: January 28th, 2014
Property insurance provides protection against most risks to property, such as fire, theft and some weather damage. However, if property has appreciated and there isn't sufficient insurance for replacement value, any losses must be paid out of pocket. To protect your wealth from these kinds of losses, it is important to determine replacement values so you will have adequate insurance....

Wealth Protection: Avoiding Losses

Posted on: January 21st, 2014
You can't create wealth until you preserve it first. Each dollar lost unnecessarily isn't just a single dollar lost, but a compounded dollar lost. A dollar not lost allows wealth to compound from a higher floor. Losses can occur from many places beyond investments: property, income, taxes and fees. It is well worth paying for the expertise of professional advisors who are able to prevent or reduce losses in all of these areas....

Estate Planning for Young Families

Posted on: January 14th, 2014
Many young families put off estate planning because they are young and healthy, or because they don't think they can afford it. But even a healthy, young adult can be taken suddenly by an accident or illness. And while none of us expects to die while our family is young, planning for the possibility is prudent and responsible. Also, estate planning does not have to be expensive; a young family can start with the essential legal documents and term life insurance, then update and upgrade as their financial situation improves....

Young Adults Need Estate Planning, Too

Posted on: January 7th, 2014
Once a child turns 18, parents lose the legal ability to make decisions for their child or even to find out basic information. Learning you cannot see your college student's grades without his/her permission can be mildly frustrating. But a medical emergency can take this frustration to a completely different level. The parents (or a sibling or another person) will probably have to go to court and ask for permission to obtain information about the student's medical condition, be able to make decisions about treatment, and have access to the student's financial records and accounts....

Blended Families Underscore the Need for Estate Planning

Posted on: December 31st, 2013
Anyone with children or modest assets should seriously consider some minimal estate planning, but the increasing number of blended families underscores the need for proper estate planning....

Long-Term Care Planning, Part 2: Your Funding Options

Posted on: December 24th, 2013
The first part of planning for long-term care is realizing that, a) most of us will need this kind of care for at least some time before we die and b) the cost of this care can be financially devastating for a family if it is not planned for in advance. This was covered in Long-Term Care Planning, Part 1....

Long-Term Care Planning, Part 1: A Central Requirement

Posted on: December 17th, 2013
Health care has been the topic of discussion lately, but the greatest threat to your financial health is long-term care. This is the kind of care you need if you are not able to perform normal daily activities (such as eating, dressing, bathing and toileting) without help, and it is expected that you will need this help for an extended period of time, often for the rest of your life....

Organize Information for Your Family

Posted on: December 10th, 2013
Think for a few moments about what would happen if you suddenly became incapacitated or died. Would your spouse or family know what to do? Would they know where to find important records, assets and insurance documents? Would they be able to access (or even know about) online accounts or files on your computer? Would they know whom to ask if they need help? Putting the effort in now to establish a formal document inventory can alleviate unnecessary anxiety and turmoil in the future....

Planning For Incapacity and Long-Term Care

Posted on: December 2nd, 2013
With people living longer due to advances in medicine and changes in lifestyle, odds are that most of us will become disabled for some time before we die and may need long-term care. Unfortunately, too few plan for an event that is more likely to be a probability than a possibility--and the consequences of not planning can be disastrous for all involved....

The Many Needs for Life Insurance in Our Lives

Posted on: November 26th, 2013
The main reasons most people have life insurance are to pay final expenses (medical, funeral, burial, etc.), replace an income stream and/or create wealth for our dependents after we die. Life insurance can also play an important role in business, estate planning and charitable giving....

Why Does a Living Trust Cost More than a Will?

Posted on: November 19th, 2013
It will probably cost more initially to set up a well-drafted living trust than to have a will prepared. A true cost comparison should include not only the expense to establish the will or trust, but also what it will cost should you become incapacitated and after you die....

Should You Disinherit a Child?

Posted on: November 12th, 2013
Most parents choose to leave their estates equally to their children. But sometimes, parents intentionally choose to not leave anything to a child. There may be what the parents consider to be a legitimate reason: one child has been more financially successful than the others; not wanting a special needs child to lose government benefits; or not wanting to leave an inheritance to an irresponsible or drug-dependent child. Sometimes a parent wants to disinherit a child who is estranged from the family, or to use disinheritance as a way to get even and have the last word....

VA Benefits For Long-Term Care of Veterans and Their Surviving Spouses

Posted on: November 5th, 2013
Many wartime veterans and their surviving spouses are currently receiving long-term care or will need some type of long-term care in the near future. The Veterans Administration has funds that are available to help pay for this care, yet many families are not even aware that these benefits exist....