My adult children were home for the Easter holiday and I took the time to have that important conversation with them about their estate plans. Wait? You are an estate planning attorney. Why haven’t you had that conversation with them before? Haven’t you said before that an adult child's estate plan is an important aspect of your overall estate planning function? Why, yes. Yes, I did. But we as parents had to do some Read More
What If You Fail to Name a Beneficiary?
What happens if you fail to name a beneficiary on your 401K account? or your investment account? or your life insurance policy? In true legal logic, the answer is “it depends”. Most often, the financial institution that holds the fund’s assets has determined a default beneficiary in accordance with the agreement you signed when you opened the account. But in some cases, the agreement may be silent on the issue. This Read More
Marital Separation and Estate Planning – Avoiding the Elective Marital Share Problem
Just because you are separated and going through a divorce does not mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to your estate plan. In fact, there are a set of circumstances in which the law might create a result that you expressly wanted to avoid if you do not take measures to protect yourself. I am talking about the “elective marital share”. Separated But Not Divorced This issue keeps coming up with clients of mine Read More
Update Beneficiary Designations to Avoid a Disaster
One of the simplest things you can do to protect your hard-earned assets and manage your estate is to review your beneficiary designations statement. If you do not keep them up to date, a variety of disasters can occur. Three Women and a Man in a Coma Let me tell you a quick story. Years ago, long before I became an attorney, an acquaintance had a terrible car accident and was in a coma in the hospital. He was Read More
Pet Trust: Will the Dog Inherit More Than Me?
That is a distinct possibility in my house. But seriously, making provisions for our beloved pets or service animals is an important issue and potentially an estate planning consideration. While this is most easily understood in terms of your typical family pet such as a dog or cat, it gets more significant if you own other animals such as horses. At the end of the day, a pet trust might be the best solution. Our Read More
Where Do I Store My Estate Planning Documents?
“Now what do I do with these?” says almost every estate planning client upon final execution or signing of their documents. Where do you store them for safekeeping and who do you tell of their existence? The short answer is that you store them in a very safe and secure location. And you tell those people who need to know where that is and how they can gain access. Well, what does that mean and how do I do Read More
What Estate Tax Will I have to Pay?
One of the most frequent questions asked by potential clients is “how much tax am I going to have to pay on my estate”? While tax mitigation is certainly a consideration, the vast majority of people worry about this issue far too much in my opinion when it comes to estate planning. And notice how I used the phrase tax mitigation as opposed to tax avoidance. Most of us want to reduce the amount of taxes we pay. We Read More
When is the Best Time for My Kids to Get Their Inheritance?
If you are like most parents, you want your estate to be evenly divided and given to your children if your spouse pre-deceases you. That is not necessarily set in stone; you can divide it up any way you see fit. But most people do follow the first scheme - by dividing their estate into even shares to give to their kids as their inheritance. But what does that mean if your kids are minors and how does that affect Read More
How Much of My Estate Does My Spouse Get?
The portion of your estate that passes to your spouse is called the marital share. Typically, you would provide for your spouse by indicating in your Will how much of your estate is to go to them upon your death. We often refer to an “I Love You Dearly Will” as being one that leaves everything to my spouse if they outlive me or everything to my children if my spouse pre-deceases me. For the vast majority of married Read More
How Do I Change My Will?
Is it ever too early to create a Will? The short answer is NO. Better to create a Will too early than too late. A properly constructed Will can serve you for many years before you need to update or revise it. But if circumstances arise that necessitate changing your Will, it does not have to be difficult. So, how do you change your Will? Why Change your Will? Your Will should be amended or changed anytime a major Read More