I recently wrote a blog post on how often everyone should review their estate plans -- when you're younger, when circumstances change; when you're older, every five years. It just happened that after posting that blog, I had the opportunity to review the new book by my colleague and friend, Vincent E. Bonazzoli, How an Ordinary Lawyer Creates and Sustains an Extraordinary Client Care Program, in which he explains that estate planning is all about planning for unknown future events and circumstances.Read More
Topics: Estate Planning
Aretha Franklin was a star and a wise businesswoman. According to her obituary, she demanded payment up front before she performed. She is reported to have died with an estate worth $80 million.
Yet, she had no estate plan. When one of my clients sent me an email asking me why, I turned the question back to her and she responded:
I think that she has some shady lawyers, accountants, and other random business people around her who did not serve her well.Read More
How often should you review your estate plan? The answer, like that to many other legal questions, is it depends. It depends on how old you are and whether there has been a significant change in your circumstances. If you are over age 60, you should review your plan every five years or so. But if you're younger, you don't need to do so nearly as often.
Here are a few age ranges and what they mean in terms of estate planning:Read More
Why don't people, especially seniors, plan to protect themselves and their families? The answer, which I learned at a program sponsored by the Boston Estate Planning Council about findings from the MIT Age Lab, can in part be explained by the acronym PRUNE. PRUNE stands the types of information that have emotional impact on us, those that are:Read More
The other day I met with a husband and wife and their adult son to discuss the parents' estate plan. We discussed tax planning, avoiding probate and steps to provide for financial management if either or both spouses become incapacitated.
Then I told the son that he and his sister have a choice. When they inherit from their parents they can either have everything distributed outright to them or have it remain in trust for their benefit. We call these "family protection trusts." As I explained to the son, family protection trusts provide the following benefits:Read More
A financial planner recently asked me the following:
Second, because this question comes up from time to time, what organization of estate planning attorneys do you recommend I use as a general resource? I just googled "estate planning attorney organizations", but I found several:
Which one should I start with? Assume the clients have assets of $1-$3M - not enough to worry about federal estate taxes, but big enough to be somewhat complicated, and definitely worth updating the will, doing the business and health care POAs, etc.Read More
I've often mused about the contrast between the formalities necessary to execute a will, requiring two witnesses and a notary, and the lack of formality to name a beneficiary of an investment or retirement account or a life insurance policy. Often the investment and retirement accounts contain substantially more money than the rest of an individual's estate. And often the beneficiaries can be changed online without any of the protections required for a will.Read More
Topics: Estate Planning
A life estate is a deed that divides ownership by time. The "life tenant" has full rights to the property during his life, but at his death full rights pass to the "remaindermen." Both the life tenant and the remaindermen are owners of the property, but their interests are different.Read More
So, what's a QTIP trust? "QTIP" stands for qualified terminable interest property. Total legal gobbledygook, right? So forget the words. What it means is a trust that you leave for your spouse that gives him the right to all of the income and limits his right to the principal. Those limits can be total, meaning no right to principal, or minor, meaning simply limited by the HEMS standard (for health, education, maintenance and financial security) or fully available but controlled by a trustee other than your spouse.