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

After the Heart Attack: Get Your Estate Planning Done

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 40 seconds. That means approximately 790,000 people have a heart attack each year. If you have recently been hospitalized for a cardiac condition or other near-miss medical event, then you may be feeling a strong sense of urgency to get your estate planning done to protect your family, your business, and your legacy. Act on that feeling before you go back to your routine. Here’s how. Read More

Four Common Myths about Estate Planning

There are many myths around the topic of estate planning. Have you unknowingly bought into any of the four following common estate planning myths?

1) Myth: My spouse can make all of my healthcare and financial decisions because he/she is my spouse.

Reality: This is not always the case. To make sure your spouse can indeed make important medical decisions on your behalf, you should sign a durable power of attorney and a medical advance directive. Read More

Who should I pick to be successor trustee?

When you create a living trust, you usually need to choose who to name as your successor trustee. It is crucial that this decision is not taken lightly and that the right person is selected for the job.

If you become incapacitated, your successor trustee will step into your shoes and take full control of your trust assets on your behalf. This means he or she will have full authority to make financial decisions — including selling or refinancing trust assets. In fact, as long as the act does not interfere with the instructions in the trust document and does not breach any fiduciary duty owed, your successor trustee is given broad authority over your trust assets. The authority is very helpful in many circumstances because it avoids costly, time-consuming court proceedings, like guardianship, conservatorship, or probate. Read More

Organizing for Tax (and Estate Planning) Season

It’s the start of a new year, which means tax season—and this year’s April IRS filing deadline—is just around the corner. Soon you’ll be receiving tax forms such as your W-2 or 1099s, and you’ll start thinking about the life events that could affect your taxes in various ways.

This flurry of tax prep activity is the perfect opportunity to get your estate plan in order, too, and kill two birds with the proverbial stone.

Why? Because as you run down your list of “tax prep” questions, you will find that your answers could also impact your estate plan. Read More