Planning for Life

Why Are Durable Powers of Attorney So Long?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 13, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Durable powers of attorney, as well as other legal documents, seem to go on for many more pages than necessary. This especially seems odd in the case of durable powers of attorney which are simply delegations of legal rights and powers from one person to another. Why can't I simply say:

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Topics: Estate Planning

How to Fleece an Estate . . . or Giving Lawyers a Bad Name

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 6, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

A Boston estate planning attorney recently received a public reprimand from the Board of Bar Overseers (BBO) for overcharging an estate and stretching out its administration for more than seven years. In 2003, Kenneth L. Harvey, an attorney with Holland & Knight in Boston, met with an elderly client and two of her sons. The client executed a will and a trust naming Attorney Harvey as trustee and executor. She passed away later that year.

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Topics: Legal profession, Estate Planning, probate

5@55: The Essential Estate Planning Documents

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 29, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

What estate planning documents do you need and by when do you need them? Brooklyn elder law and estate planning attorney Judith D. Grimaldi along with her co-author, Joanne Seminara, answer this question in their new book, 5@55: The 5 Essential Documents You Need by Age 55. They make the case that for baby boomers, now's the time.

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Topics: baby boomers, Estate Planning

Should Non-Lawyers Own Law Firms?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 1, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Under the professional ethical rules governing the practice of law, law firms cannot have non-lawyer owners or investors. The theory behind this restriction is that nonlawyer owners would not be bound by the professional rules of lawyers and could influence their lawyer employees to violate those rules. Of course, lawyers already work for nonlawyers as in house general counsel to corporations and non-profit organizations, but in those cases their employer is also their client, so no conflicts arise.

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Topics: Legal profession, Estate Planning

Incentive Trusts: Long Arm of the Dead?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 14, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Many affluent parents are concerned about the effect of leaving any wealth to their children and grandchildren. In some instances, they fear that the recipients will misspend the funds on drugs, fancy cars or failing businesses. In other cases, their fear is simply that their children will simply lose their drive to achieve and overcome barriers that may present themselves if there's no financial necessity to do so. (See my blog on Should You Stiff Your Kids?)

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Topics: Estate Planning, Grandchildren

Should You Disinherit Your Kids?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 7, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, George Lucas and even Sting won't be giving their millions and billions to their children. Instead, the bulk of their estates will be going to charity. According to an article on CNBC.com, this is not because they don't love their children or just because they think that there are others in the world more in need of their support, but also because they don't want to undermine their children's initiative. Apparently Bill and Melinda Gates, who are worth $79 billion, plan to leave each of their children $10 million, certainly enough to live on, but not enough to purchase several mansions and a Lear jet.

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Topics: Estate Planning, Grandchildren

How Should Fees for Estate Planning Be Set?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 23, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

No one wants to pay more than they think is reasonable for anything, whether that be food, a car, or estate planning. But what's reasonable? That's often in the eye of the beholder.

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Topics: Legal profession, Estate Planning

4 Models for Attorney-Client Advising

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 26, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Earlier in the year in a blog post titled How Pushy Should Attorneys Be?, I described how my practice has evolved over the years in terms of being more likely to push my opinion on clients than I would have customarily in my earlier career. Since then, I have read Atul Gawande's Being Mortal in which he describes the trend towards a more collaborative relationship between doctors and patients and attended a talk by Nancy Kline, author of Time to Think, who proposes that professionals should give their clients space to think through their decisions so that they come to the right solution themselves.

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Topics: Estate Planning

Some Elder Care Forms You Can Use

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 12, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

The Internet is not only a source of vital information, but also of useful tools. On her website, Joy Loverde, author of The Complete Eldercare Planner, offers a number of useful forms and checklists for anyone caring for a senior. Among others, these include:

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Topics: health-care decision making, Estate Planning

7 Decisions to Make for Your Durable Power of Attorney

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 24, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

I've always said that the durable power of attorney is your most important estate planning document. It appoints your agent or agents (called your "attorney-in-fact") to step in and act for you on financial and legal matters in the event you ever become incapacitated. It can permit them to pay your bills, make investment decisions, take planning steps, and take care of your family when you can't do so yourself.

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Topics: Estate Planning

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