Preparing Your Estate Plan | Estate Plan Pros

A Story of DIY Estate Planning – Success or Failure?

I’m a big believer in household DIY projects.  I’ve sanded, stained, hammered, caulked, mudded, painted, plumbed, and wired my way around a number of projects.  Most of them turned out tolerably well too.  And when I ran into trouble, I could always call in the pros. The trouble with estate planning documents, and legal documents in general, is that by the time you realize you’re in trouble, it...

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Dodging the Estate Tax Bullet

Hang around estate planners long enough, and sooner or later the topic will turn to estate tax, and the hottest trends in avoiding it.  First, a little background: the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 set a permanent (or as permanent as you get in Washington anyway) exemption amount and tax rate for large estates.  The “exemption amount” is set to adjust for inflation, and for 2014 is $5.34...

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Top Ten Myths About Revocable Trusts

Trusts are often misunderstood beasts, either underappreciated, or greatly feared. This post should put your mind at ease, and reveal the soft warm lovable creatures revocable trusts actually are. Revocable or living trusts is the most common type of trust. There are many other kinds of trusts that meet special and unique goals. Today though, we’re going to look at the revocable trusts, and...

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The Art of Fishing and Estate Planning

I’ve drowned my share of worms fishing with my dad.  Not to mention marshmallows, and power bait.  Parenting is about passing on valuable life lessons, like “measure twice, cut once”.  The great thing about trusts is that you can use them to pass on life lessons as well.  This post is about passing on important financial skills through the structure of the trust benefits. There are at least...

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Holding Successor Trustees Accountable, or Contesting a No Contest Clause

When beneficiaries and the successor trustees reach different conclusions about what should happen with the property, litigation is often the result.  While one of the main goals in estate planning is to avoid litigation, its helpful to look at the complete picture. The Good: Holding Successor Trustees Accountable Litigation is a good thing when it allows beneficiaries to hold successor trustees...

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Intentionally out in the cold?

Step-children and ex-spouses and the challenges of planning for the blended family I love history.  Reading about who came to power and why, and seeing how a seemingly insignificant decision can have huge consequences.  You can’t study history for very long without realizing the importance of family and bloodlines.  In our modern world of blended families it is easy to forget that the law is...

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Estate Planning Checklist

The start of a new year is always a great time to review your big picture goals.  Here are three quick items to review for your own personal protection, and your family’s protection.  Start by clarifying your goals. Goal 1. Protect yourself In the event of incapacity, you want the people you know and trust making important decisions on your behalf.  By executing a Durable Power...

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How To Talk To Your (Adult) Children About Estate Planning

Having a conversation with your adult children about your estate planning choices can be emotionally challenging, not to mention the host of potentially difficult practical decisions to be made.  But the benefits of having a conversation now can make the difference between future family harmony, or the source of family feuds, broken relationships, and money wasted on litigation....

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Estate Planning: Where To Start

Beginning the process of estate planning can be overwhelming.  There is a world of terms, products, and prices, and understanding and choosing between the different options can be a daunting challenge.  Let me walk you through the three most important questions, and hopefully take some of the mystery away. Define your goals You may not necessarily know exactly what legal pitfalls...

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How To Lose $1 Million For Your Heirs

I stumbled on a story earlier this year of a widower who faithfully paid the premiums on a large (over $1 million) life insurance policy. When he had a massive stroke, his children moved him to be close to them, and closed his bank account. Months later, his children discovered the policy in their father’s paperwork, but by then it was too late –the company had no option but to cancel the policy...

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