Estate planning is one of the most complicated and emotionally stressful legal ventures you will embark on during your lifetime. Whether you have a modest estate, or a multi-million dollar estate, the concept is the same, and the decisions that have to be made are the same. Who will receive your estate assets? How and when will they receive them? How can I avoid probate and estate taxes? These are all common questions and concerns when estate planning. No one wants to risk making a mistake in … [Read more...] about The Error Free Estate Plan–Is It Possible?
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have issued a challenge to the world’s most wealthy individuals. They asked their fellow billionaires to make a pledge to give away at least half of their wealth to charitable causes over the course of their lives.Both of these gentlemen have practiced what they preach. Gates has donated billions of dollars to his own Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Buffett has given Berkshire Hathaway stock valued at over $10 billion to the Gates Foundation. Though few have … [Read more...] about What is a Donor Advised Fund?
If you have an elderly loved one who is living on a fixed income, and also has regular monthly medical expenses, those expenses may be adding up quickly. If your loved one is lucky enough to have private healthcare coverage, then he or she is better off than many elderly Americans. Unfortunately, many of America’s elderly struggle with both the rising cost of healthcare and the increased need for medical services as a result of the natural aging process. Two government programs--Medicaid (called … [Read more...] about Help with Healthcare Costs — Medicaid (aka Medi-Cal) and Medicare
Even in the best of times, people are always looking for ways to save money. During tough economic times, like we have seen over the past few years, finding ways to save money becomes even more important. Cutting corners when it comes to estate planning, however, is not one of the ways you want use to cut costs. Let’s look at just one example of the bad estate planning that results when trying to save money by “do-it-yourself” estate planning. Imagine the following scenario. You decide that … [Read more...] about Transferring Ownership of Your Home–An Example of Bad Estate Planning
Parenting is a tough job--and it doesn’t end when your children become adults. Tough decisions are still required to be made even after your children reach adulthood, like how to treat them under the terms of your estate plan. As a parent, your first reaction is likely that you will treat them all the same, of course! This is, unfortunately, a common estate planning mistake. None of your children are the same so why must they be treated the same in your estate plan? This does not mean you should … [Read more...] about Common Estate Planning Mistakes: Treating All Children the Same
Grief and loss are things we must deal with as human beings many times throughout our lives. Mourning the loss of a loved one or pet is a universal human experience. The loss of a relationship caused by breakup or divorce, the loss of a family member or friend or the loss of a beloved pet causes all of us to go through the mourning process of dealing with grief and loss. In the late 1960s, Elsabeth Kubler-Ross published the seminal book, “On Death and Dying,” which outlined the five stages of … [Read more...] about The Universal Stages of Grief and Loss
As the population of older Americans continues to grow at a historic rate, the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease grows as well. Despite efforts to raise awareness about the disease, it remains somewhat of a mystery to most of us. Consequently, if you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you may not know what to do. To help you regain some of the control you may feel you lost with the diagnosis, let's explore some practical steps to take after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. What Is … [Read more...] about Steps to Take after an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
What happens when an individual who is not licensed to practice law provides advice to an individual – does the quality of the advice matter if the individual is unlicensed? This article by my friend and colleague Tereina Stidd, an estate planning attorney, explores the unauthorized practice of law and how it damages the legal profession. Read on to learn more. … [Read more...] about The Other Side of the Unauthorized Practice of Law
During times of high stress such as tragedy or emergency, we tend to feel helpless. This article by my friend and colleague Tereina Stidd, an estate planning attorney, explores how a comprehensive estate plan helps reduce anxiety in uncertain times. Read on to learn more. … [Read more...] about Estate Planning Reduces Stress During High Anxiety Times
The terms of a decedent’s Last Will and Testament (if one was left behind) are used to determine how the decedent’s estate assets are distributed during the probate process. Sometimes, however, the validity of a Will is challenged in what is known as a Will contest. One of the grounds that may be alleged to challenge a Will is “lack of testamentary capacity.” What, exactly, does that mean though? Whether you are considering a challenge to a Will or you are an Executor with a duty to defend a … [Read more...] about Contesting a Will Based on Lack of Testamentary Capacity