Planning for Life

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

Digital Estate Planning: Who Should Have Access to Your On-line Accounts?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 3, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Facebook has recently implemented a legacy contact to give an individual you name access to some aspects of your Facebook account after you pass away. Google instituted a similar Inactive Account Manager in 2013. Both are responses to an increasingly common dilemma as individuals pass away "owning" many Internet accounts and identities.

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Topics: Estate Planning

How Pushy Should Attorneys Be?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on February 10, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

When I was in law school I took part in a clinic that taught us lawyering skills as an adjunct to the substantive law taught in the other classes. The clinic taught a theory of client counseling that I have moved away from in my actual practice. We were taught to empower clients by explaining the legal consequences of particular choices they might make and based on the information that we provide to leave to the clients to decide how to proceed.

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Topics: Estate Planning

Beneficiaries: By Group or By Person?

Posted by Christina T. Vidoli on February 9, 2015

By Christina T. Vidoli

You want to leave your estate to your kids and grandkids, and you want it divided evenly.
But how?

There are two ways of distributing money -- per stirpes and per capita. You can specify either method in your will, trust, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other estate planning devices. Both are acceptable options when naming beneficiaries, but the possible outcomes can be drastically different from one approach to the other.

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Topics: Estate Planning

5 Estate Planning Tips for the Non-Nuclear Family

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 6, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

Do you have a Leave It to Beaver family -- two opposite-gender parents, one or more kids, all healthy and thriving? If so, you can probably use an pretty standard, off-the-shelf estate plan. But if not, it's not as simple and you have a lot of company.

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Topics: Estate Planning, second marriage

What are Trust Protectors and Should You Have One?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 25, 2014

By Harry S. Margolis

Trust protectors have become a more common feature of irrevocable trusts in recent years because they offer flexibility and oversight. Having originated with off-shore trusts that are used primarily to protect assets from creditors, trust protectors are now found in special needs and domestic asset protection trusts and sometimes in trusts used for tax planning purposes.

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Topics: trusts, Estate Planning

7 Ways a Donor Advised Fund Can Help Your Charitable Giving

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 11, 2014

Donor advised funds are charitable foundations that commit to following the advice of donors in distributing their accounts to charities. Many community foundations, such as The Boston Foundation, manage donor advised funds for their contributors. The contributor takes the charitable tax deduction in the year she contributes to the fund even though she may not pass the funds on to charities for several years. Some have questioned this as a public policy matter, but it has certain benefits for the donor.

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Topics: Estate Planning

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