Estate Planning Articles

Some of these articles have been written by our law firm and other articles are written by the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and compliments of our law firm. Any feedback or questions about the articles can be addressed by contacting our office.

How Likely Is That To Happen?

Don’t leave your future, your children’s, or your estate’s future up to chance. Learn about the odds of incapacitation and death, and how a comprehensive estate plan can tip the balance in your favor.

Gifting Your IRA to Your Favorite Charity

Many people may be considering giving to a favorite charity or cause especially around this time of year. However, it’s important to make sure you’re informed about the latest tax rules before drawing from your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Find out why you should speak with an experienced attorney when you’re feeling charitable this holiday season.

Owning Overseas Property Increases the Need for Estate Planning

Like many Americans you may own property outside of the United States. Whether you inherited an ancestral family home, purchased a vacation retreat, or are currently living in a home you own oversee, owning property in another country makes estate planning a bit more complicated and increases the importance of having a well-thought-out estate plan in place.

Estate Planning for Young Adults

Estate planning for an 18-year-old isn’t something most people think about, but there are certain documents you need to create in case something happens to a young adult. An estate planning lawyer can help.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gifting and Medicaid Eligibility

Here are just a few of the common misconceptions surrounding gifting and Medicaid eligibility… I can just give away my assets and tell Medicaid I don’t have any. My spouse will end up without anything if I need Medicaid to help pay for my nursing home care! I waited too long and now Medicaid planning can’t help me

Is Purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance a Good Idea?

Is a long-term care insurance policy a wise addition to your estate plan? Ask yourself if you can afford to pay over $200,000 out-of-pocket for long-term care. If not, you may want to consider purchasing long-term care insurance because that’s what the average stay in a facility will cost you; however, don’t sign on the dotted line until you understand how long-term care (“LTC”) insurance works.

Medicaid Asset Transfer Rules – When Gifting Can Cost You

If they had the funds, most people would not think twice about gifting assets to an adult child or loved one. But, that gift could jeopardize Medicaid eligibility. Moreover, you may need that eligibility to help pay for the high price of long-term care for you or a spouse.

How Will Life Insurance Policies Impact Medicaid Eligibility?

Like most seniors, you probably own at least one life insurance policy. Will that policy interfere with your eligibility for Medicaid benefits if you need them down the road? If you are unsure, now is the time to learn how Medicaid evaluates life insurance policies.

Medicaid Estate Recovery – Are Your Assets Safe?

The longer you live, the better the odds are you will one day need long-term care (LTC). For the average person, the cost of that care can be prohibitive. Moreover, you cannot count on Medicare nor your basic health insurance to cover costs associated with LTC

Medicaid Patient Share of Cost for Long-Term Care

Nursing home costs can deplete a nest egg very quickly. Planning ahead to ensure you qualify for Medicaid can help immensely. However, do not make the mistake of assuming that Medicaid will cover your entire long-term care bill. Instead, be prepared for a share of cost.

How You Can Provide for Your Disabled Child and Still Qualify for Medicaid

Amy and David both need nursing home care as well as Medicaid’s help paying for that care; however, they have assets that exceed the program limit. The couple also wants to continue to provide financial assistance to their disabled adult son. However, they are concerned that the Medicaid asset transfer rules will prohibit them from doing so. The good news is they can continue to provide for their son and qualify for Medicaid immediately.

A Nursing Home’s Take on the Need for Medicaid Planning

Nursing homes have historically resisted the concept of Medicaid planning based on the assumption that patients who engaged in Medicaid planning were trying to avoid paying their bills. In recent years, many nursing homes have started to rethink that position as they realize that Medicaid planning is often in their best interest as well as the patient’s.

Medicaid Gifts to Children

Do the Medicaid gifting rules and asset transfer penalties have you confused? If so, you are not alone! Unfortunately, failing to understand the rules and penalties could result in your ineligibility for benefits right when you need them the most. The answers to several common questions may help you gain a better understanding of Medicaid’s rules and penalties.

I was Appointed Trustee of a Trust. Now What Do I Do?

Did you just find out you are the Trustee of a Trust? If so, you are probably feeling honored, and maybe a bit intimidated if this is your first time acting as a Trustee. In this article, find out what a Trustee’s role is within the Trust as well as the duties and responsibilities of a Trustee.

How to Lend a Hand and Save Taxes

While you may not be able to physically lend a hand, one of the ways you can help a cause at home or overseas is through gifting. However, choosing to donate to a reputable charity or foundation is just the first decision. Find out more about charitable gift giving, including how to structure your gifts in such a way that not only helps you save taxes but allows you to provide for your loved ones and contribute to a greater cause.

When Roles Reverse and Your Parents Need Your Help

The aging process can be difficult for those who witness it, and when it comes to our parents, we see it evolve first-hand as they come to rely on us for their needs over the years. What can we do now to make sure they’re better prepared for the future?

Preparing for Your First Estate Planning Consultation

Many people put off estate planning because of the uncertainty of what it means and what it encompasses. It’s not an overwhelming or time-stealing process, though it is crucial for ourselves and our families.

Taking Care of Your Spouse After You Are Gone

It is not uncommon that a loved one is being cared for by a spouse close in age, so it is important to ensure they will continue receiving care even after their spouse is gone. An estate planning attorney can advise and assist with taking the necessary step to secure the future of your loved ones, especially those in need of special care and assistance.

The Changing Needs of Aging Parents

We always hear that planning is crucial. No truer is that sentiment than when it comes to caring for our aging parents. Proper planning can mean the difference of an enjoyable retirement or one that’s riddled with problems.

Loaning Family Money – What You Need To Know

Loaning Family Money – What You Need To Know Loaning Family Money – What You Need To Know Written By: The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys People lend money to family members for a variety of reasons.

Estate Planning is Essential for Same-Sex Couples

For most people, dying without an estate plan means burdening loved ones with added inconvenience, delay and expense. For same-sex couples, however, dying without an estate plan can spell disaster. Find out why and learn what you can do about it.

Five Things Every Woman Should Know About Estate Planning

Women’s roles in society and within the family have shifted dramatically over the past several generations and women have more earning power than ever before, yet too many wives take a backseat to their husbands when the subject of estate planning comes up. Here are five things every woman should know when it comes to estate planning.

How the American Taxpayer Relief Act Will Affect You

Congress pulled America back from the fiscal cliff when it passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act on New Year's Day. The law covers a range of issues, form income taxes to the estate tax. Learn the specifics and find out how the new law will affect you and your family.

Five Non-Tax Reasons You Need an Estate Plan

Estate planning is only for wealthy people who want to reduce their estate taxes, right? Wrong! Only a tiny percentage of Americans need to worry about estate taxes but every adult needs an estate plan. Find out why.

This New Year, Resolve to Review Your Estate Planning Options

It's time to make your New Year's resolutions. This year, consider adding a review of your estate planning options to your list. Whether or not you already have an estate plan in place, a careful review of your planning options will ensure that you protect your family and assets and leave a lasting legacy. This article reviews some estate planning information for you to consider for this New Year.

What You Should Know About Seminars on Wills & Living Trusts

Have you ever been invited to an estate planning seminar, but been hesitant to attend? When a seminar is conducted by a licensed estate planning attorney, it can be the perfect way to learn about your planning options. Here's how an estate planning seminar can help you.

Three Ways the IRS Rewards Your Generosity

Giving to charity is wonderful way to support your favorite cause, and it makes you feel great. But what if you want to go the extra mile and make a larger than usual contribution? Here are three ways the IRS rewards you for including philanthropy in your estate plan.

Three Simple Steps for Managing a Windfall

What would you do if you suddenly became wealthy? Did you know that there are certain steps you should take if you win the lottery, inherit a fortune, or receive some other form of a windfall? Find out how to make the most of sudden riches – and how to avoid financial trouble.

Tax Alert! Special Gifting Opportunities Expire December 31, 2012

Is estate tax planning on your autumn “to do” list? If not, maybe it should be. On January 1, 2013, federal estate and gift taxes stand to increase dramatically, affecting everyone who dies with an estate valued over $1 million. Learn the steps you can take now to save yourself - and your loved ones - millions.

Home: Your Most Valuable Investment

Your home is likely your family's most valuable asset, not only emotionally, but also financially. Read this article to learn how you can take advantage of the tax, estate planning, and asset protection benefits available to you as a homeowner.

Estate Planning Across Borders

Owning assets outside the United States raises a number of estate planning questions: Who gets your property when you pass away? What taxes are due? And how should your estate plan in the U.S. be tailored to ensure that all your property – here and abroad – is transferred as efficiently and effectively as possible?

The Problem With Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy is a popular form of property ownership, primarily because when one owner dies, title to the property automatically re-vests in the surviving joint tenants. But using joint tenancy to avoid probate can create more problems than it solves.

Why Everyone Needs an Estate Plan

People tend to think of estate planning as something that only the wealthy or the elderly need to do. In truth, regardless of your age, your situation in life, or your level of wealth, estate planning accomplishes a few universal goals.

Planning for the Worst-Case Scenario

Sometimes, in an attempt to avoid thinking about the worst, we miss the opportunity to do the best for our loved ones. A comprehensive estate plan can help you confront your fears in a way that will ease your family’s responsibilities, should the unexpected happen.

Insurance: The Missing Link in Your Estate Plan?

Insurance has a number of uses as an estate planning tool. It helps protect and preserve your estate, giving you more to pass on to your loved ones. It also has special characteristics that allow you to position your estate for sophisticated estate planning. Learn about the basic categories of insurance and how they strengthen your estate plan.

Why Your Trust Shouldn't be Short and Sweet

The draft of your new Trust makes you wonder if your estate planning attorney gets paid by the word. Is all this verbiage really necessary? In fact, a good plan has many points to cover.

Tax Breaks for the Sandwich Generation

It can be a surprise to find yourself caring for elderly parents at the same time that you’re raising your own children. The emotional demands of these multiple roles are often coupled with financial challenges as well. That’s why it’s important to know when you can claim your aging or ill parent as a dependent for income tax purposes.

Trusts and Income Tax: Who Pays?

As Trusts gain popularity, a question comes up more and more often: who pays the income tax on a Trust? It seems like a simple inquiry, but the answer can be hard to pin down. So, who does pay income tax on a Trust? Here is the answer, in a nutshell.

A Quick Guide for Basis

You might have heard the word basis used in reference to taxes. Learn the definition of basis and how it can make a big difference in your estate plan.

What Does It Mean To Be a Trustee?

If you’ve been chosen to serve as a Trustee, what responsibilities can you expect? Learn about the basic duties that come with this important and sometimes daunting job, and find out where you can go for guidance.

Avoid These Four Asset Protection Pitfalls

The estate planning process presents a number of opportunities for using asset protection strategies to protect yourself and your loved ones. Learn about asset protection, and avoid these four common pitfalls.

Expecting the Unexpected

Life is full of surprises. None of us have a crystal ball, and this means it is unreasonable to create an estate plan without flexibility regarding your long-term wishes for your loved ones. When you build flexibility into your estate plan with a power of appointment, you can empower your spouse or children to stand in your place and make decisions based on your family’s changed circumstances.

The Accidental Spouse

Could you be married and not even realize it? If you live in a state that recognizes common law marriage, you could be married even without a marriage license or an official ceremony. Find out how common law marriage affects your estate plan and what you can do about it.

I Have an Estate Plan: Do I Still Need My Attorney?

Your estate plan is prepared. Your Living Trust is in place and properly funded, you have a Pour-Over Will just in case, and your incapacity plan is ready and waiting in the event you need it. Is it time to part ways with your attorney? Not at all! In fact, your relationship with your estate planning attorney has just started.

Why a Trust Makes Sense - Even If Your Child Is Not a Child

If your children have reached adulthood, you might assume it's best to leave them their inheritances outright, with no restrictions. However, you want to make sure your children enjoy flexibility in accessing and using their inheritances while minimizing the impact of taxes, divorce, lawsuits, and other threats. Therefore, it might be better to leave their inheritances in a Trust.

Planning Your Estate With Privacy in Mind

When you use a Will to plan your estate, much of your personal information becomes public after your death. A Trust can help you accomplish your estate planning goals while shielding your personal affairs from prying eyes.

Your Family Deserves More Than an Estate Plan

If you want to leave a true legacy, a traditional estate plan is not enough. With Legacy Planning, you can pass on your values, wisdom, and family heritage along with your nest egg. You can also provide your children's inheritances with just the right amount of protection from the threats and challenges of life.

Helping Your Parents Age Gracefully

Your mom and dad have always been there to guide you through life's challenges. Now, the tables are turning. Learn some strategies for gently helping your parents plan for the challenges they're likely to face as they age.

What to Expect When You're Inheriting

Most of us have daydreamed about inheriting money, but the reality of inheriting often doesn't match our dreams. In the real world, an inheritance can bring with it a number of questions and worries. Here we address four common concerns about inheritances.

Five Estate Planning Myths

Estate planning is on everyone's "should do" list, but it rarely seems to make it to the top of the "to do" list. Perhaps this is because of all the myths surrounding the estate planning process. Here are five common estate planning myths, along with the truths behind them.

Does a Roth Make Sense for You?

Choosing between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA can have significant tax and estate planning consequences. Whether a Roth is the right option depends on a number of factors, including an account owner's current income, anticipated post-retirement income, and estate planning goals.

The Estate Tax Is Not the Only Consideration in Estate Planning

The U.S. Congress continually debates the estate tax, often considering whether or not it should be done away with entirely. Many people think this tax is a cornerstone of estate planning, so if it's eliminated, they don't need an estate plan. Nothing is further from the truth. This article explains why.

Getting Value Out of Giving with Charitable Trust

You've heard the maxim, "It's better to give than to receive." Americans take this aphorism to heart, especially as it relates to contributions to charity. Did you know that our tax laws actually encourage charitable giving? This article will explain gift-giving options from small to large, each with tax-savings implications.

Leaving a Ranching Legacy

Ranch life comes with its own particular challenges and rewards. Therefore, ranch families have even more need for professional advice than other families when it comes to finding the most effective means of passing on their assets, which may be more substantial than they suppose. This article explores various means that can be employed to create an estate plan which minimizes taxes and distributes assets equitably.

There's No Time Like the Present to Review your Plans

Time passes quickly. Life brings change. While these may seem like platitudes, they reflect the truth of most people's lives. This article will encourage you to recognize a new life stage as an opportunity to review and fine tune your estate plan.

Is Your Ex-Spouse Really Out of Your Life?

Divorce is bad enough, but did you know that your children and new spouse can suffer financial devastation if you do not remember to change your estate planning documents after a divorce?

Choose Your Estate Planning Practitioner Wisely

Who should you entrust with planning your estate? Unfortunately, the estate planning industry can be a mixed bag. Along with licensed, qualified attorneys there are unqualified, or even unlicensed, individuals producing cookie-cutter estate plans that may or may not work as intended. Find out why you should choose your estate planning practitioner wisely.

Look After Your Spouse Even After You're Gone

You and your spouse have worked hard to save for your golden years. But have you planned for a long, secure retirement if one of you outlives the other? Here’s how paying attention to certain key financial areas can set both of you up for a secure, worry-free retirement.

Short and Sweet is Not Always Better

When you compare a do-it-yourself living trust with one that was prepared by a qualified estate planning attorney, one of the first things you’re likely to notice is that the attorney-prepared trust is long. And it might not be so easy to read. There’s a good reason for this. This article discusses the reasons why planning for contingencies with an attorney drafted estate plan is the better choice. When it comes to estate planning, there’s any number of contingencies to prepare for.

Practical Strategies for Protecting Your Privacy

We’re all exposed to invasions of our privacy, large and small, during our lifetimes and even after death. These practical strategies make it easier to shield your family’s personal affairs from prying eyes.

Leaving a Lasting Legacy

When you really think about it, your true wealth is much more than just your accumulated assets or material possessions. With the right plan, you can protect and preserve your true wealth and create a legacy for your family that will last for generations to come.

Estate Planning Without a Crystal Ball

When you are planning your estate, it is important to remember that circumstances rarely stay the same over long periods of time. A plan that worked for your family when the kids were little may very well be obsolete by the time they've started families of their own. This is why it's important to ensure that you build flexibility into your plan.

Puppy Love: Planning Your Estate With a Pet Trust

Increasingly, pet owners are not just worried about providing for our pets during our lifetimes, we want to ensure that they get all the love and care they need after we’re gone, too. This article discusses the estate planning benefits a Pet Trust can provide for your furry and feathered animal companions.

Help! My Attorney No Longer Practices Law

It's not something we often stop to think about, but attorneys experience life changes like anyone else. They may change careers or experience an illness or disability, or they may retire or even pass away. This article discusses the steps you should take if your estate planning lawyer no longer practices law.

Planning Your Estate? Don't Forget Insurance

The term "estate planning" usually calls to mind the process of creating a Will, establishing a Living Trust, or naming a guardian for young children. One piece of the estate planning puzzle that might not be readily apparent, though, is insurance. Learn how insurance in its many forms plays an important role in the estate planning process.

Parenting Your Grandchildren? You Need a Solid Estate Plan

According to data collected in the 2010 census, 4.9 million children under age eighteen live in grandparent-headed households. If you are in this growing number of grandparents returning to your “parent” role again, one of the pressing responsibilities that accompany your job as caregiver is to make sure you have a plan for your grandchildren in the event that something happens to you. And because you’re older now than you were the first time around, planning becomes even more important. This article reviews why it is imperative to have an estate plan in place and what a basic plan should include.

What to Expect When You're Inheriting

At some point in our lives, we all dream of receiving an inheritance. We envision buying a new car, finally being able to afford private schools for the kids, or maybe even taking a trip around the world. But the reality of inheriting money or property often differs from our dreams. The process of settling an estate and distributing a deceased person’s assets can be time consuming. During this process you may have questions about taxes on various types of assets you may be inheriting, such as IRAs, valuable collectibles, and other property. This article provides a summary on what you can expect during this process if you’re anticipating an inheritance.

Helping Your Parents Through Their Twilight Years

As a child, your parents were there to guide and support you as you faced life’s challenges and obstacles in your path growing up. Similarly, as your parents age, and become less independent, they will rely on you as they face new challenges in their twilight years. This article examines how planning well in advance is important to ensure that no matter what lies ahead, their care and financial affairs will be looked after. Regardless of their financial means, if they are wealthy or of more modest means, there is a plan that can meet the specific needs of your family.

One Big Happy Family: How to Avoid an Estate Dispute

Picture this… You’re at the end of your long, fulfilling life and you’re ready to say goodbye to your loved ones and leave this world in peace. And then… your family declares war on each other. This scenario plays out all too often even in the closest of families. This article examines helpful ways to plan and avoid divisive family disputes after you are gone.

10 Essential Estate Planning Facts

An alarming 55% of American's don't have an estate plan in place. Procrastination is a common excuse. However, for many people it's a lack of knowledge about estate planning, including the benefits, their options and the protections it offers them and their families. This article reviews 10 essential estate planning facts that will arm with you with enough knowledge to cross estate planning off your "to do" list.

Why are Roth's Such a Big Deal?

A Roth IRA has some important distinctions from a traditional IRA, and, depending on your tax bracket, your retirement needs, and your estate planning goals, a Roth could be a better choice for you. So, what's the difference between the two types of IRAs? This article explores how each IRA works and which option can best fit your personal needs and goals.

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