Beneficiary Designations and a Blended Family: Why You Need to Think Before You Sign

Whether you are in your first marriage or have remarried after a divorce, blended families are a common part of modern society. That being said, it is important to understand that blended families and subsequent marries create important and unique issues when it comes to estate planning. You may need to account for a prior spouse who is still caring for minor or disabled children, and also possibly make sure your current spouse and any children you had together – and any stepchildren – are also taken care of after you pass away. The good news is that estate planning can take all of these factors into account. This is true whether you are putting together your estate plan for the very first time or if you need to update your current estate plan due to a change in your circumstances. Read More

Are Your Documents Following the Same Script? Basics of Beneficiary Forms and Estate Planning

In the event of your untimely death, the manner in which your beneficiaries — or those people who receive your assets from your estate — are determined is highly dependent on how your property is titled.

Generally, property with title includes vehicles, boats, airplanes, real estate, bank accounts, savings bonds, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and stock certificates. If you die without a will or a trust and haven’t used any beneficiary or transfer on death options, state law will determine who inherits property with a title. On the other hand, property without a title, such as jewelry, antiques, art, and even your digital assets are usually provided for in your will or trust, and if you don’t have one typically goes to your heirs at law. As you can see, who you have listed as a beneficiary — and not having a beneficiary designation at all — can have serious implications for your family after you have passed away. Read More

Stress Test Your Estate Plan

So you have done the hard work of establishing an estate plan. Good for you! However, you still have serious work to do to ensure that the strategy you have selected will maximize your peace of mind and protect your legacy.

Estate plans should be like living, breathing creations that reflect the changes in your life. Your life can and will change due to new births, children getting older, and other shifts in the family; changes to your investment portfolio, career and business; and changes to your health, where you live, and your core values. Likewise, external events, such as new tax legislation passed in your state or the development of a novel financial instrument, can throw your plan off track or open the door to new opportunities. Read More

Just Like You Need a Medical Checkup, Your Estate Plan Needs a Checkup!

Whether or not you currently have estate planning documents, one important item to add to your calendar is getting an estate plan checkup.

If you don’t already have an estate plan, then getting one in place should be at the top of your to-do list.

Why?  Because without an estate plan, you and your property may end up in a court-supervised guardianship if you become incapacitated, and your property and your loved ones may end up in a time-consuming and expensive probate proceedings after you die.

Worse yet, if you don’t take the time to have any estate planning done, then the state where you live at the time of your death will essentially write one for you. It most likely won’t divvy up your property the way you would have and certainly will not protect your heirs the way you would.  Read More

What to Do When Your Doctor Says to “Get Your Affairs in Order”

Five words no one ever wants to hear from their doctor: “Get your affairs in order.” Unfortunately, 58 percent of Americans do not have a will or trust, and it often requires a chronic disease or terminal illness diagnosis, or other life-changing event to prompt the estate planning process. Talk to your attorney about completing the documents below and follow these tips to protect your future and make the circumstances easier for your loved ones. Read More

Three Legal Things to Do After a Scary Health Diagnosis

A scary health diagnosis can be emotionally and logistically challenging for many reasons. For instance, how can you take care of your family if you’re physically incapacitated? In addition to working closely with your medical providers, consider these three legal tips: Read More