Summer break is coming up, and before we know it, the kids will be out of school and ready for some fun in the sun. This also means that you are going to be wondering what your co-parent plans to do with his or her time with the kids. If those plans include a trip somewhere, [...]
In a perfect world, nobody would get divorced. However, if divorce were to happen in a perfect world, it would happen quickly, easily, and the process would certainly not include any pain or stress. Unfortunately, though, this is the real world, and in the real world, divorce is often a painful, stressful process that can be [...]
Most divorced parents in the state of Texas follow by the Texas Family Code standard possession order. This schedule is quite detailed and the provisions in it typically apply to both of the parents, as well as any children involved. If the non-custodial parent wants to spend time with a child or children during the summer, [...]
An extremely important Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling occurred on June 26, 2015, changing the scope of same-sex marriage in America forever. In the final ruling regarding the case Obergefell v. Hodges, SCOTUS stated that all of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, must recognize marriages and issue marriage [...]
While most proactive individuals know the importance of having a well-rounded estate plan, it is typically considered as something that will take effect after they have passed away. But there are in fact many ways in which comprehensive estate planning can have a positive impact on your life while you are still around to reap [...]
When you establish a trust, you name someone to be the trustee. A trustee does what you do right now with your financial affairs - collect income, pay bills and taxes, save and invest for the future, buy and sell assets, provide for your loved ones, keep accurate records, and generally keep things organized and in [...]
If you have a revocable living trust, you probably named yourself as trustee so you can continue to manage your own financial affairs, but eventually someone will need to step in for you when you are no longer able to act due to incapacity or after your death. The Successor Trustee plays an important role [...]
We know it’s hard. Thinking about someone else raising your children stops us all in our tracks. It feels crushing and too horrific to consider. But you must. If you don’t, a stranger will determine who raises your children if something happens to you - your child’s guardian could be a relative you despise or even [...]
No one wants unnecessary court involvement in their life. But without careful and proactive estate planning, chances are that some aspect of your estate will end up being decided there. Here are two of the most common ways court proceedings can make their way into the management and distribution of your assets, along with the estate [...]
What This Means for You and Your Family On January 24, 2017, the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2017, or H.R. 631, was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives by South Dakota congresswoman Kristi Noem. If passed, H.R. 631 would completely repeal the federal estate tax. A separate companion bill put before the Senate by [...]
While the term fiduciary is a legal term with a long history, it very generally means someone who is legally obligated to act in another person’s best interests. Trustees, executors, and agents are all examples of fiduciaries. When you pick trustees, executors, and agents in your estate plan, you’re picking one or more people to make [...]
As Valentine’s Day brings heart-shaped chocolate boxes and roses by the dozen into your imagination, seize the moment to learn about the drawbacks of “I love you” wills and introduce yourself to the estate planning move that’s actually going to ensure you do well by your loved ones: a lifetime beneficiary trust. Rise above the misconceptions [...]
Many people put their estate plan on their to-do list as a one-time project: “Create estate plan” or “Meeting with lawyer 10:30 a.m. Thursday for estate plan.” Thinking of your estate plan as a single project or task to complete and move off your list is a common approach – but it’s also an approach that [...]
Things don’t always go according to plan. On the other hand, sometimes pet owners can get a bit creative when providing for their pets. Let’s take a look now at 3 famous cases involving pet trusts and distill important lessons from them. David Harper and Red David Harper, a wealthy, reclusive bachelor in Ottawa, Canada, wasn’t [...]
As Ambrose Bierce once darkly observed, “Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.” Obviously, ideally, when someone passes away, the paperwork and material concerns associated with the estate are so flawlessly handled (thanks to excellent preparation) that they fade into the background, allowing the family to grieve and remember in [...]
In estate planning circles, the word “probate” often comes with a starkly negative connotation. Indeed, for many people — especially those with larger estates — financial planners recommend trying to keep property out of probate whenever possible. That being said, the probate system was ultimately established to protect the property of the deceased and his/her heirs, [...]
When you pass away, your family may need to visit a probate court in order to claim their inheritance. This can happen if you own property (like a house, car, bank account, investment account, or other asset) in only your name. Although having a will is a good basic form of planning, a will does not [...]
A pet trust is an excellent way to make sure your beloved pet will receive proper care after you pass on. The problem, of course, is that you won’t actually be there to see that your wishes are carried out. It’s critical to set up a pet trust correctly to ensure there are no loopholes or [...]
If you want to leave a robust financial legacy for your family, a financial plan alone is like trying to guide a boat with just one oar. It’s only part of the big picture for your overall monetary health. A well-informed financial plan is worth your time for several reasons, but let’s look at how [...]
Not long ago, pet trusts were thought of as little more than eccentric things that famous people did for their pets when they had too much money. These days, pet trusts are considered mainstream. For example: in May 2016, Minnesota became the 50th (and final) state to recognize pet trusts. But not every pet trust is [...]
While it is an honor to be named as an executor of a will or estate, it can also be a sobering and daunting responsibility. Being a personal representative requires a high level of organization, foresight, and attention to detail to meet all responsibilities and ensure that all beneficiaries receive the assets to which they are [...]
If your life or the law has changed since you signed your trust, it needs to be updated. Updates can be made by way of an amendment - or - a complete restatement. An amendment updates a specific part of the trust; whereas, a restatement, updates the entire trust. You might think that an amendment would [...]
A resume is a “snapshot” of your experience, skill set, and education which provides prospective employers insight into who you are and how you will perform. Imagine not updating that resume for 5, 10, or even 15 years. Would it accurately reflect who you are? Would it do what you want it to do? Likely not. [...]
Estate plans are almost magical: they allow you to maintain control of your assets, yet protect you should you become incapacitated. They take care of your family and pets. And, if carefully crafted, they reduce fees, taxes, stress, and time delays. Estate plans can even keep your family and financial affairs private. But one thing estate [...]
Please allow us to be frank. It’s unrealistic to think that a piece of paper you draft, reflecting your life at a certain time, will work when your life has completely changed some years later. We’ll use the Kendrick family as an example. Meet the Kendricks Meet Bill and Karen Kendrick. They got their first estate [...]
A: By all means, use your retirement funds as you think best. Even after you set up a standalone retirement trust, you’ll have full control and the right to enjoy your retirement funds for years. However, if you’re like most people, you will still have assets in your retirement account when you die; that’s when the [...]
A: Lawsuits are filed every few seconds all year long, every year, in the United States. We all have a bullseye on our back. Commonly, lawsuits stem from car accidents, business failure, divorce, malpractice, tenants, slip-and-falls, bankruptcy, and the like. Without your protection, inherited assets can be seized.
A: A standalone retirement trust, “SRT” for short, is a trust used to provide asset protection and maximized tax deferred growth for spouses, children, and other loved ones. This means more assets go to the people you care about.
Q: I set up a trust for my grandchildren years ago and everything has changed since then. Can I revoke that trust and start over?
A: What you can do is “decant” your trust, meaning you can take the assets from the original trust and pour them into a new trust, with new and more favorable terms. Decanting essentially would give you the results you’re looking for.
Q: I feel as though I’m always battling with my deceased husband’s children as they are the remainder beneficiaries of my trust. I don’t like having to ask for A, B, and C. I’d rather have a fixed amount that comes each month so I can count on that income and not deal with my step-children’s lawyer. What can I do?
A: This may be a good case to have the trust converted to a unitrust, so monthly payments are guaranteed and conflict is reduced. That being said, we wouldn’t want you to give up your right to principal if you need it. Let’s talk about it.
A: A trust protector’s duty is to make sure the trust maker’s intent is carried out. And, yes, we use trust protectors in all of our trusts to make sure changes in the law or changes in circumstances don’t frustrate the trust maker’s intent. The trust protector has the power to modify your trust to meet [...]
Q: I’m the beneficiary of a trust set up by my spouse when she died. The tax laws have changed significantly since then. Do I have to go to court to change the terms of the trust?
A: Not necessarily. The simplest way to modify the trust would be if there are provisions within the trust that allow a private modification. Look for “trust protector” provisions. If you’d like help interpreting your trust and get an overview of your options, we’d be happy to review the trust.
Q: The trustee of my trust just isn’t working out. Can I change the trustee? I’m afraid I’m stuck because the trust is irrevocable. Please help!
A: You may be in luck because most trust modifications we make involve changing the trustee. Unfortunately, we can only answer generally here because we don’t know the details of your trust or your individual situation, but, yes, often the trustee can be changed, even if the trust is irrevocable. Please call our office ASAP to [...]
Most people think of probate as a private process. However, since wills are filed at the courthouse, probated estates become a matter of public record. That means your nosey neighbor Nellie can simply go down to the courthouse or hop online and find out about your probate. Really. It's Not Just Nellie That Has Access... After [...]
Today many people are using a revocable living trust instead of a will or joint ownership as the foundation of their estate plan. When properly prepared, a living trust will avoid the public, costly and time-consuming court processes of conservatorship or guardianship (due to incapacity) or probate (after death). Still, many people make a big mistake [...]
Are you planning on making charitable donations before the end of the year? The IRS reminds us that you must itemize deductions on your tax return to claim a deduction for these gifts. In addition, the following five tips can help make those year-end charitable gifts count. Tip #1 – Give to a Qualified Charity. Only [...]
Shocking to most people, the retirement account you leave for your spouse can be seized in a divorce, lawsuit, or bankruptcy. 3 Options Available To Surviving Spouses When your surviving spouse inherits your IRA, he or she generally has three options: Cash out the inherited IRA and pay the associated income tax. WARNING: the cashed-out IRA [...]
Do you have IRAs or other retirement accounts that you plan to leave to your loved ones? If so, proceed with caution. Most people don’t know the law has changed: inherited retirement accounts no longer have asset protection, meaning they can be seized by strangers. How Can Inherited IRAs Be Protected? Enter the Standalone Retirement Trust [...]
During your lifetime, your retirement account has asset protection, but as soon as you pass that account to a loved one, that protection evaporates. This means one lawsuit and POOF! Your life long, hard earned savings could be gone. Fortunately, there is an answer. A special trust called a “Standalone Retirement Trust” (SRT) can protect inherited [...]
If your clients choose to use a Standalone Retirement Trust (SRT) to provide asset protection benefits for their beneficiaries, then the tax-related asset allocation strategy would be essentially the same as without an SRT, with one small exception. Consider skewing your investment plan toward: loading retirement accounts and inherited retirement accounts with bonds, REITS, and other [...]
Media mogul Sumner Redstone – owner of CBS and Viacom, among other holdings – allegedly created quite an estate planning mess, according to a recent report in the New York Times. A June 2nd article reports that “with a fortune estimated at over $5 billion, Sumner M. Redstone could afford the best estate planning that money [...]
So you’ve done the hard work of establishing an estate plan. Good on you, as they say across the Pond. However, you still have serious work to do to ensure that the strategy you’ve selected will maximize your peace of mind and protect your legacy. Estate plans are living, breathing creations. Your life can and will [...]
As poet Robert Burns mused centuries ago, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Despite thoughtful effort and a concerted strategy, you cannot prepare for every emergency. A car accident, sudden illness, workplace injury or chronic medical condition can force you to re-evaluate the core assumptions you used to plan your future and [...]
Are you failing your family the way these 4 celebrities failed theirs? These four celebrity estate planning fiascos offer lessons about how to handle your own planning and legacies. Pablo Picasso – The great Dada artist died in 1973 at 91 without a will, a status referred to as “intestate.” Of course, Picasso isn't the first, [...]
If you’re thinking about giving your children their inheritance early, you’re not alone. A recent Merrill Lynch study suggests that these days, nearly two-thirds of people over the age of 50 would rather pass their assets to the children early than make them wait until the will is read. It can be especially satisfying to fund [...]
You finally crossed “getting your estate plan done” off your list, and you’ve (rightly) breathed a huge sigh of relief. By tackling this challenge, you’ve not only established protections for your loved ones and legacy, but you’ve also freed up some important “mental space” that had previously been preoccupied. Once you create the documents that make [...]
If you've been appointed an executor of a loved one's estate, or a successor trustee, and that person dies, your grief – not to mention your to-do list, including tasks ranging from planning the funeral, coordinating relatives coming in from out of town and (eventually) meeting with a trust administration or probate lawyer – can be [...]
As we build wealth, we naturally desire to pass that financial stability to our offspring. With the grandkids, especially, we often share a special bond that makes us want to provide well for their future. However, that bond can actually turn into a weakness if proper precautions aren’t set in place. If you’re planning to include [...]
When establishing a trust, you need to give serious thought to choosing your successor trustee—the person who will administer your trust once you’re no longer able to do so. This individual ideally should be: Someone you trust implicitly. Someone who is organized, responsible and meticulous. Someone who can remain steadfast to your wishes in the face [...]
As a new mother, you naturally want to ensure your new baby’s future in every way. For many new mothers, infancy is a time for celebrating new life, and making a will is the last thing on their minds. For others, the process of bringing new life into the world sparks intense feelings of wanting control [...]