Declare your Independence from Court Interference!

While the rest of the nation celebrates its independence on July 4th, you can rest assured that you too can declare independence for your family — from court interference. Life can be unpredictable. Whether it is a financial issue, the birth or adoption of a child, sickness or incapacity, it is important to be prepared with proper estate planning. In fact, failure to put together a comprehensive estate plan can leave you and your loved ones at the mercy of the court when it comes to distributing assets or caring for a minor or sick family member.

Estate Planning Basics:
Simply put, estate planning addresses how to manage your property in the event of your death or incapacity. Some estate planning tools you have likely heard of before including last will and testaments, living wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directive. Estate planning is a great method not only to plan your family’s financial security but to use tools to keep your family’s personal business outside of the courtroom. Read More

Four Easy to Avoid Mistakes People Make at Tax Time

It’s that time of year again: tax season. No one enjoys doing their taxes, and that is likely why many of us leave this tedious task to the last…possible…moment. As Tax Day approaches, millions of Americans are likely scrambling to track down all of their important documents to meet the April 15 deadline. But as with anything in life, the more you rush, the more likely you are to make mistakes. When it comes to your taxes, these mistakes can result in monetary penalties, delays in getting a refund, and even an increased chance of being audited. Below are four easily avoidable mistakes people make at tax time.

Not filing when you could get a refund: No matter what your income level, filing your taxes is important. This is particularly true if you are a low-income earner, as you may be entitled to a refund from the government through the earned income credit. Read More

What to Do with Your Beloved Collection

Whether your beloved collection consists of artwork, books, cars, music, or other significant items, you should not forget about this valuable asset when estate planning. You have likely spent quite some time — whether years or your entire life — building your collection; you should not leave its fate to the whims of the court. Estate planning is a great way to share the value and meaning of these much-loved items with those you leave behind. Through your estate plan, you can explain to your loved ones why you collected these items in the first place as well as the meaning or value they have for you.

Who Should Get My Prized Collection? There are several options for you when it comes to your collection. You may already know of a family member or friend who shares your interest and will genuinely enjoy the collection. Knowing specifically who is going to be receiving your collection may be part of the peace of mind you are looking to achieve with the preparation of your estate planning. Read More

4 Tips for Avoiding a Will or Trust Contest

A will or trust contest can derail your final wishes, rapidly deplete your estate, and tear your loved ones apart. But with proper planning, you can help your family avoid a potentially disastrous will or trust contest.  

If you are concerned about challenges to your estate plan, consider the following:

1. Do not attempt “do it yourself” solutions. If you are concerned about an heir contesting your estate plan, the last thing you want to do is attempt to write or update your will or trust on your own. Only an experienced estate planning attorney can help you put together and maintain an estate plan that will discourage lawsuits and ensure all legal formalities are followed.  Read More

Consider “Micro” Estate Planning in the New Year

You are probably familiar with the idea and benefits of traditional estate planning: eliminating probate fees, lowering tax liabilities, and providing financial peace of mind and security for your loved ones. If you do not currently have an estate plan, you should consider getting one as soon as possible.

But while many are aware of traditional estate planning techniques, they may not be familiar with the more short-term planning approach—often referred to as “micro” estate planning. As the New Year approaches, now is a great time to sit down and put your short-term wishes in a legal document. Read More

My Trust is Signed, No Probate for My Family, Right?

Planning ahead has obvious benefits. Whether you’re planning a vacation or researching for a job interview, it’s always smart to outline your priorities and anticipate potential challenges that may arise. Planning your estate has similar benefits. With plans clearly established, your wealth and assets are protected should you pass away or become incapacitated. It’s important to be aware, however, that simply meeting with an attorney and signing a trust does not mean your estate planning process is complete. Without properly funding your trust, your assets could still be forced through the probate process. Read More