Category Wills and Estates

Save Tens of Thousands in Taxes by Giving Away Something You Didn’t Want to Own Anyway

I know – the headline to this article sounds too good to be true, but it IS true! It’s called a “conservation easement,” it’s perfectly legal, and it may be the smartest financial move you ever make. There is one caveat — you have to own land, a portion of which has not been developed. Maybe […]

New Section 2704 Regulations

The IRS has issued some proposed regulations for comment regarding Section 2704 of the U.S. Tax Code. If you aren’t up to speed on your tax sections, Section 2704 is a provision that applies to (among other things) the concept of the family limited partnership (FLP), a tool for families to use to pass wealth to the […]

Check your beneficiary designations!

Please, right now, stop what you are doing and take a few minutes to log into your retirement accounts and call your insurance broker to check your beneficiary designations. The theme this week has been people who have passed with no beneficiary designated or with the incorrect beneficiary designated. In one case, a man designated […]

Star Trek actor left no will

Anton Yelchin is best known for playing Clumsy Smurf in The Smurfs (oh, yeah, and Pavel Chekov in the new Star Trek movies). At the age of 27, he died in an accident. News media are reporting that his parents have filed probate, claiming that he did not have a will. His estate (which is a […]

Probate and taxes are two unrelated things

I frequently teach classes on the basics of estate planning. (I do it for free, because I enjoy it, so if you want me to speak to a group of yours, please contact me!) As part of that, I often hear misconceptions about estate planning. One big one that keeps coming up is a perceived […]

Your trust may be costing you money

Estate planning clients often seem to hold the misconception that once they have completed their estate plan, they are done. Nothing left to do but wait until they need to use it. Of course, for some, that “use it” date does not arrive for many, many years. In the interim, everything has changed, rendering their once state-of-the-art […]

Squandered Opportunities

Many people scrimp and save in the hopes of having something left over for their children at their death. But as an estate planning attorney, I know that often times that hard-earned-by-mom-and-dad inheritance turns into a squandered opportunity for the kids. The money (much like lottery winnings) is quickly used on a new flat screen TV, that […]

LegalZoom’s “$50,000 Peace of Mind Guarantee” — the false allure of the DIY legal service

In my prior post, I talked about some dangers in using DIY estate planning services such as LegalZoom. One of those dangers is the fact that, if you use an insured estate planning attorney and he screws up, your survivors are protected by his malpractice insurance. Services such as LegalZoom, though, are not your attorney […]

Why pay for a lawyer? Can’t I do it myself online?

When I speak on the topic of estate planning, I am frequently asked why someone should hire a lawyer to prepare an estate plan. “Why can’t I just do it online through someone like LegalZoom for a lot less money?” In my mind, this is a bit like trying to perform your own dental filling […]

Create a Financial Cheat Sheet

In my last post, I urged you to write down your wishes for a funeral or memorial service. This week, I’m encouraging you to create a financial cheat sheet for use by your loved ones should something happen to you (either death or disability). Write down or type up the following: The location of important legal […]