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Estate Planning Summer Checklist

We get busy this time of year as families get ready for summer vacations. Here is an Estate Planning Checklist to review before your trip. 1. Living Trust.  Do you have one? Is it up to date? Successor Trustees. Are your successor trustees (the people who will manage your money and assets if you become incapacitated or pass away) still the ones you want? Or does your living trust name your neighbor…

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Thank Congress if You Made Big Gifts in 2012

Hank Wittenberg has a great article on estateplanning.com on why those of you who did year end planning in 2012 made the right choice, even though Congress extended the generous gift and estate tax exclusions with the American Taxpayer Relief Act. The tax act signed into law by President Obama last week provided some very good estate planning provisions. Surprisingly, I have already read and heard complaints from other estate planning attorneys…

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How the Lifetime Bypass Trust Works: Attention CPAs

Many of my clients are interested in the Lifetime Bypass Trust. And some are vetting the concept through their CPAs. Here is an email (with the names removed) I have sent to several CPAs to clarify this amazing but simple planning strategy. The structure we are proposing is a lifetime bypass trust. The concept is the same as used with an A/B trust, or bypass trust. When a bypass trust is created…

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Gift Now Before It’s Too Late

One of my clients send me a terrific article from Concannon Miller about the urgency to make gifts and how to make gifts before December 31. It is so good, I'm posting the whole article. When it comes to making a decision about gifts and protecting assets, the main message is that, if appropriate for you, make gifts before the law changes in 2013; however there are many important nuances to the…

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9. Other Documents You Need

This is part 9 in my series, Estate Planning – What You Need to Know. Part 9 - Other Documents You Need. Pour-Over Will When you create a revocable living trust as the central piece of your estate plan, you should also include a pour-over will. A revocable living trust only controls property that you have transferred to it. If you die without transferring your property to the trust, such as real…

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8. You Can Give Your Children Divorce and Asset Protection

This is part 8 in my series, Estate Planning – What You Need to Know. Part 8 - You Can Give Your Children Divorce and Asset Protection. Of the thousands of clients I’ve worked with, most know how they want to distribute their assets when they die:  For married couples, it’s usually to the surviving spouse and then in equal shares to their children.  For a divorced client or widow, it’s usually…

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6. Revocable Living Trust

This is part 6 in my series, Estate Planning – What You Need to Know. Part 6 - Revocable Living Trust. The solution for probate is a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust is a legal contract you make with yourself, or, if you are married in a community property state like California, with your spouse. The trust is a set of instructions on how you want your assets to be…

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5. What If I Only Have a Will?

This is part 5 in my series, Estate Planning – What You Need to Know. 5 - What If You Have Only a Will? So maybe you’ve done some planning. You’ve executed a will. Is that enough? Maybe not. The will states who gets your assets, and if you have young children, it names the guardians to raise your children. That’s good and it’s certainly better than no plan. However, the downside…

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4. Why You Need Guardians If You Have Young Children.

This is part 4 in my series, Estate Planning - What You Need to Know. Why You Need Guardians if You Have Young Children. If you have young children, the most important part of your estate plan is naming the guardians to raise your children if something happens to you and your spouse. Typically, the guardians are named in the will. If the estate plan has a revocable living trust, the guardians…

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2. Who Needs an Estate Plan?

Here is part 2 my series entitled, Estate Planning – What You Need to Know. Who Needs an Estate Plan? If you have a family, a house or a business or you have assets you would like to pass down to certain people or charities, then you absolutely need an estate plan. An estate plan will make sure there are enough funds to take care of your spouse and young children, often…

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