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How to Evaluate a Good Estate Plan

When I go car shopping, I have a number of metrics I can use to evaluate the value of what I’m buying – miles per gallon, horsepower, and length of warranty for instance.  But what kind of metrics can the average person use to evaluate the value of the trust they have?  Pretty binder?  The length of the document?  Here are some key things to look at when evaluating the...

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The Real Cost of Estate Planning

The Real Cost of Estate Planning

Have you ever come across a deal that you really wanted to jump on, and for whatever reason, didn’t or felt like you couldn’t at the time?  And later, you looked back, and realized that you should have made the leap?Bill Gates, at age 23, offered a majority share for his fledgling tech company, Microsoft, to Ross Perot, the President of Electronic Data Systems, for between $50 to $60 million...

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Avoid Hiding Your Estate From Your Kids - Leave a Treasure Map

Tips On Implementing Your Estate Plan

Assuming you’ve created a plan that contains your unique goals and wishes for your family, the next step is to ensure that your plan is carried out.  The first tip is to not hide your estate plan.  It’s easy to hang on to “important” paperwork for years, burying the legal “treasure” (your estate plan, and other helpful information) in a mountain of irrelevant papers.  Let’s create...

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Litter, Procrastination, and Making Your Kids Love You Forever

Litter, Procrastination, and Making Your Kids Love You Forever

Growing up my family did a lot of camping.  Mountains, plains, rivers, lakes, desert, you name it, we probably set up a tent there.  Got to get up close and personal with some amazing places, and not just the usual Lake Tahoe, Yellowstone, Yosemite places. One of our rituals at the end of every trip was to pick up the camp site.  And by that, I mean we would scour the place....

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Three Reasons Not To Put Your Child on Your Bank Account

Three Reasons Not To Put Your Child on Your Bank Account

If you’re like most people, adding your child to your bank account seems like the easiest thing to do, rather than relying on legal documents like a power of attorney.  There are at least three reasons why this estate planning “shortcut” is a bad idea. Your child may have to pay gift taxes if they do the “right thing” for their siblingsWhen you add your child to a bank account, they become a...

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To Protect Your Children’s Inheritance, You Don’t Have to Control It

To Protect Your Children’s Inheritance, You Don’t Have to Control It

An estate plan gives you lots of opportunities to define when and how your beneficiaries can use their inheritance.  Inheritance is a nice word for everything you’ve worked hard for all these years.  Maybe you want to specify that your children can only invest in tax free bonds, and can never use your money for a vacation ever, or maybe you don’t.  Either way, your estate plan can...

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Legal Protection for Your College Freshman

Legal Protection for Your College Freshman

Besides Top Ramen, there are two essential legal documents your high school graduate needs to have in place.  Two Key Legal DocumentsIt may be hard to believe your child heading off to college really is an adult, but they’ve officially crossed that threshold into adulthood.  It’s an exciting time.  And it’s a very legally vulnerable time because now your child does not have a...

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Accidentally Hiding Your Assets From Your Kids

Accidentally Hiding Your Assets From Your Kids

Most people I work with haven’t revealed a lot about their estate to their children.  And usually, there is no good reason to let your children know all the details about your financial matters.  But take a moment and step back – if something were to happen to you, how would your child, your successor trustee, your executor, know where to start? If you have a trust in place, the first...

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A Tale of Caution Involving a Holographic Will

My dad always said that wisdom is learning from other people’s mistakes – it’s cheaper than learning from your own mistakes.  Here is a classic example to learn from: the estate of Estelle Elsa Manwell, from El Dorado County.  Ms. Manwell was well to do – according to court documents she owned real estate in Contra Costa and El Dorado County worth $1,238,848. Ms. Manwell must have known...

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Protecting Mom’s Future – Estate Planning for the Surviving Spouse

Protecting Mom’s Future – Estate Planning for the Surviving Spouse

According to the Census Bureau, 56% of surviving spouses over age 65 are women.  When it comes to estate planning for the surviving spouse, you can use your trust to give them extra protection. DirectSome couples prefer the simplicity of having everything go to the surviving spouse outright.  If that is your preference, and you have an older trust, it is worth having it reviewed. ...

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Avoid These 7 Costly Mistakes When Planning for a Special Needs Child

7 Costly Mistakes When Planning For A Special Needs Child

Children with disabilities can benefit greatly from advanced planning on the part of their parents.  Conversely, if the parents fail to plan for their special needs child’s future, that child could find themselves without resources and without assistance.  Here are seven costly mistakes to avoid when planning your estate for your special needs child. Mistake #1: Ignoring your child’s...

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Control Your Assets in a Trust

Control Your Assets in a Trust

One of the questions I get all the time is, should I put _________ (name an asset) into my trust?  The answer, of course, is that it depends on the asset, but generally speaking, everything you own should be transferred to the trust.  Which leads to the follow-up question: do I lose control of my assets when I put them into my trust?  Why Put Your Assets Into A TrustIf your goal is...

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5 Types of Living Trusts You Need to Know About

5 Types of Living Trusts You Need to Know About

Not all living trusts are the same.  And I’m not talking about quality either, though that is a major factor too.  I’m talking about the difference between minivans, pickups, and sports cars.  There are five major types of trusts that we use every day in our practice for different situations. Probate Avoidance TrustThis is the basic, direct distribution trust that is the typical...

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Buried in Paperwork?  Suffolk County Probate & Family Court Dysfunction Causes Chaos

Buried in Paperwork? Suffolk County Probate & Family Court Dysfunction Causes Chaos

Missing files.  Unprocessed checks totaling several hundred thousand dollars in filing fees.  A procedural and paperwork mess that saw pleadings as far back as 2015 not docketed or scanned.  The legal system is complicated enough, but when clerks behind the counter can’t handle the paperwork, the system doesn’t function.  And unfortunately, that is exactly what happened in the...

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If Your Trust Is the Beneficiary of Your IRA, It Could Cost Your Kids a Boatload

If Your Trust Is the Beneficiary of Your IRA, It Could Cost Your Kids a Boatload

If you have the wrong kind of trust, naming it as the beneficiary of your retirement account could cost your kids a lot in extra taxes.  How?  It happened because you’ve just forced your heirs to report the entire amount as income.  When you inherit a retirement account, several things change immediately.  The first is that the account will look at the new owner to re-...

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