Beneficiary designation | Estate Plan Pros

ABLE Act vs. Special Needs Trusts

Will the ABLE Act Replace Special Needs Trusts Until now, disabled individuals have had very few options to keep money in their control and maintain SSI and Medi-Cal (Medicaid) benefits. With the signing into law of the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE Act by President Obama on December 19, 2014 disabled individuals and their families have an interesting new option available. The...

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Who Is Getting Your Retirement Plan? You Might Be Surprised.

Beneficiary designations – the hidden estate plan Remember that old form you filled out for your 401(k), IRA, or other retirement plan decades ago?  No?  Well, you’re not alone.  The trouble is that that old form is going to control where your lifetime of savings is going to go.  For a lot of people, their retirement plan represents the bulk of their wealth and the bulk of...

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I have a Trust, Now What?

Once you have a trust, its very tempting to heave a sigh of relief, put the trust binder on a shelf and forget about it.  Here are three things you can do to make sure that trust you've created will work the way you and your attorney intend. 1. Fund It Trusts are a great way to avoid the cost and time of probate, but your assets must be in the trust for the trust to actually work! I have had to...

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Parents, Are You Making This Mistake With Your Life Insurance?

Did you know that you could be leaving your life insurance funds stranded in court limbo? If you have minor children, you picture the insurance funds as being the key to ensuring their comfort and future education. But there is a crucial step that your insurance agent can’t really help you with – and that is who to name as your beneficiary on that policy. Fortunately, that is what this post is...

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The Dangers of Using POD Accounts

Shortcuts are notorious for unexpected surprises, delays and unintended consequences. And that holds true for using POD (pay-on-death) or TOD (transfer-on-death) instructions as a way to avoid probate. POD, and its cousin, TOD offer a simple way of transferring the account balance at death to the designated beneficiary, but in reality could lead to some unpleasant results. Patchwork Approach...

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The Three Essential Questions Your Estate Plan Should Answer

Creating an estate plan is a partnership between you and your estate planning attorney. Like a good architect designing a bridge, your estate planning attorney will design the structure but you decide its ultimate purpose and usefulness. Determining the answer to these three critical questions form the foundation on which the attorney will design your estate plan. What do you own?  For most...

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Is Your Living Trust a Lump Of Lead Or a Fully Fueled Formula One Race Car?

Everyone knows that a race car without fuel is simply a lawn ornament – a very expensive lawn ornament, but still a lawn ornament. Only with fuel, fresh tires, and oil is the race car ready to tear up the track. What is less understood is that your living trust without fuel is simply a coffee table decoration, and not a very attractive one at that. How do you fuel your living trust? Your Trust...

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Planning For Your Children’s Financial Future

I know for a fact that my wife would much rather pick out the decorations for a birthday party than have to make plans for our two boys’ financial future if something were to happen to both of us.  No one really wants to think about the future without themselves in it.  But when we’re responsible for the lives of others, we don’t really have a choice but to make plans, and hope they never have to...

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Eight Keys to Estate Planning Success

My parents taught me to leave things better than when I found them.  That rule applied to everything from my room to the campsite at which we had spent our vacation.  So it’s understandable that I’m passionate about leaving an estate that is organized, that eliminates needless expenses and delays, and reduces the potential for conflict between surviving family members. The following are eight...

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Why your IRA shouldn’t go in your trust

Wait, I thought everything went into my trust? The answer is important because you want to take the best advantage of your IRA, with its deferred tax structure. You may think that your chosen beneficiary will operate the IRA under the same rules as you do – and unfortunately that is not the case. The critical question is the “measuring life” for the IRA account. IRA’s have what are called “...

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