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Some of these articles have been written by our law firm and other articles are written by the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and compliments of our law firm. Any feedback or questions about the articles can be addressed by contacting our office.

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How Life Insurance Can Fund Your Charitable Legacy

One method for making sure you leave a lasting charitable legacy is to let a life insurance policy do the work for you. Here’s how.

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This New Year, Resolve to Plan Your Estate

What are your New Year’s resolutions this year? Ever thought about adding estate planning to the list? You should; and here’s how to do it.

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Gifts to Minors: Sharing Your Wealth the Smart Way

A simple way to reduce your estate tax bill is to make financial gifts during your lifetime. Children and grandchildren are natural recipients of our generosity, but there are a few things you’ll want to consider if they are still minors. Here are some common strategies for sharing your wealth with the children in your lives.

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Be Prepared With Year-End Tax Strategies

It may seem too early to prepare for tax season, but these tips and tricks can save you money next spring.

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More Bang for Your Buck: Education Planning with Deferred Annuities

With college costs at an all-time high and no relief in sight, parents and grandparents are looking for ways to maximize their education savings dollars. Learn how you can combine the savings from an education trust with the tax savings feature of a deferred annuity to increase your college spending power.

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Why Choose a Living Trust?

The living trust is an incredibly popular estate planning option, but what is it exactly? Explore the uses and benefits of a living trust as you decide whether this planning tool is the right option for you.

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Special Needs Trusts for Children with Down Syndrome

Does your child with Down syndrome receive government benefits? If yes, using your Will to leave money directly to your child can jeopardize his or her government benefits. Learn how a Special Needs Trust can provide long-term protection for your child.

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Next Generation Planning for Your Family Business

Many business owners spend so much time working in the business on day-to-day tasks that they forget to ask one essential question: "What will happen to my business after I'm gone?" Most family-owned businesses fail to outlive their owners. Learn how you can help your business survive you.

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Does Your Estate Plan Include Digital Assets?

Your estate plan covers your real estate, your financial accounts, and your family heirlooms, but what about your digital assets? Learn what your digital assets are and how to protect them.

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James Gandolfini's Will: 3 Lessons for You and Yours

Sopranos star James Gandolfini died in 2013 at the age of 51. Within weeks of his death, his Will was made public and put under a media microscope. Why did this happen and, more importantly, what lessons can you learn from it to protect yourself and your family?

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Proper Planning Protects Your Vacation Home

Your vacation home is a source of countless cherished family memories, and you may want to keep the property in the family, for your children and grandchildren to enjoy even after you’re gone. However, without proper planning, your vacation home can become a source of conflict for your loved ones. Learn how good planning can protect your vacation home for future generations.

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DOMA’s Impact on Estate Planning for LGBT Couples

Many in the LGBT community and nationwide are celebrating the Supreme Court’s rulings in U.S. v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. What questions do these rulings raise, and how will they affect your estate plan?

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An Estate Plan: Don't Leave Home Without It

As you review your vacation checklist, make sure you're not forgetting your estate plan. Without an up-to-date estate plan, a vacation emergency could leave you and your loved ones vulnerable. Here's what you need to know.

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Without It


I'm a Trustee! Now What?

A loved one has given you the honor and responsibility of serving as a successor Trustee. But what does this really mean? Keep reading to learn about the responsibilities involved in administering a Trust.

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Estate Planning is Essential for Same-Sex Couples

For most people, dying without an estate plan means burdening loved ones with added inconvenience, delay and expense. For same-sex couples, however, dying without an estate plan can spell disaster. Find out why and learn what you can do about it.

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Same-Sex Couples


Fair Does Not Always Mean Equal

It’s something you figure out early in your role as a parent: treating your children fairly does not always mean treating them exactly equally. The fair vs. equal dilemma extends far beyond the days of mediating sibling squabbles and enforcing bedtimes. Sometimes in estate planning, as in parenting, fair does not necessarily mean equal.

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How a Pet Trust Can Protect Your Furry Friends

Many of us think of our pets as family members, but we don’t always think through who will care for our beloved animals after we die. Did you know that you can and should include your pet in your estate plan? Here are some simple options for making sure your pet lives a happy and healthy life, even after you’re gone.

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Furry Friends


Eighteen: The Magic Number?

You might look at your eighteen-year-old and see an average teenager, but, legally speaking, eighteen means adulthood. When your child turns eighteen, you no longer have the right to manage their property, access their medical records, or do any number of things you’ve taken for granted until now. Learn about the practical problems this can present and how you can plan around them.

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Protect Your Right to Make Medical Decisions

Who would make your medical decisions if you were terminally ill or get into an unexpected accident? Have you expressed your wishes to your family members and, just as importantly, have you formalized your wishes so that your doctors will follow them?

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Is an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust Right for You?

The Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust is a common estate planning tool. Although this trust is irrevocable, it offers some flexibility. Learn some basic facts and benefits offered by an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust. Discover whether it might work as part of your estate plan.

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Five Things Every Woman Should Know About Estate Planning

Women’s roles in society and within the family have shifted dramatically over the past several generations and women have more earning power than ever before, yet too many wives take a backseat to their husbands when the subject of estate planning comes up. Here are five things every woman should know when it comes to estate planning.

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About Estate Planning


What to Expect at Your First Estate Planning Consultation

A little nervous about your first estate planning consultation? Don't be. Here's what to expect.

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Planning Consultation


How the American Taxpayer Relief Act Will Affect You

Congress pulled America back from the fiscal cliff when it passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act on New Year's Day. The law covers a range of issues, form income taxes to the estate tax. Learn the specifics and find out how the new law will affect you and your family.

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Five Non-Tax Reasons You Need an Estate Plan

Estate planning is only for wealthy people who want to reduce their estate taxes, right? Wrong! ONly a tiny percentage of Americans need to worry about estate taxes but every adult needs an estate plan. Find out why.

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This New Year, Resolve to Review Your Estate Planning Options

It's time to make your New Year's resolutions. This year, consider adding a review of your estate planning options to your list. Whether or not you already have an estate plan in place, a careful review of your planning options will ensure that you protect your family and assets and leave a lasting legacy. This article reviews some estate planning information for you to consider for this New Year.

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What You Should Know About Seminars on Wills & Living Trusts

Have you ever been invited to an estate planning seminar, but been hesitant to attend? When a seminar is conducted by a licensed estate planning attorney, it can be the perfect way to learn about your planning options. Here's how an estate planning seminar can help you.

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Three Ways the IRS Rewards Your Generosity

Giving to charity is wonderful way to support your favorite cause, and it makes you feel great. But what if you want to go the extra mile and make a larger than usual contribution? Here are three ways the IRS rewards you for including philanthropy in your estate plan.

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Three Simple Steps for Managing a Windfall

What would you do if you suddenly became wealthy? Did you know that there are certain steps you should take if you win the lottery, inherit a fortune, or receive some other form of a windfall? Find out how to make the most of sudden riches – and how to avoid financial trouble.

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Tax Alert! Special Gifting Opportunities Expire December 31, 2012

Is estate tax planning on your autumn “to do” list? If not, maybe it should be. On January 1, 2013, federal estate and gift taxes stand to increase dramatically, affecting everyone who dies with an estate valued over $1 million. Learn the steps you can take now to save yourself - and your loved ones - millions.

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Home: Your Most Valuable Investment

Your home is likely your family's most valuable asset, not only emotionally, but also financially. Read this article to learn how you can take advantage of the tax, estate planning, and asset protection benefits available to you as a homeowner.

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Estate Planning Across Borders

Owning assets outside the United States raises a number of estate planning questions: Who gets your property when you pass away? What taxes are due? And how should your estate plan in the U.S. be tailored to ensure that all your property – here and abroad – is transferred as efficiently and effectively as possible?

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The Problem With Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy is a popular form of property ownership, primarily because when one owner dies, title to the property automatically re-vests in the surviving joint tenants. But using joint tenancy to avoid probate can create more problems than it solves.

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Why Everyone Needs an Estate Plan

People tend to think of estate planning as something that only the wealthy or the elderly need to do. In truth, regardless of your age, your situation in life, or your level of wealth, estate planning accomplishes a few universal goals.

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How Low Interest Rates Can Influence Your Estate Plan

You might not realize the advantages a low interest rate environment can offer for estate tax planning. Let's take a look at just a few.

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Planning for the Worst-Case Scenario

Sometimes, in an attempt to avoid thinking about the worst, we miss the opportunity to do the best for our loved ones. A comprehensive estate plan can help you confront your fears in a way that will ease your family’s responsibilities, should the unexpected happen.

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How to Leave an Inheritance for Your Special Needs Child

Keeping your special needs child secure after you are gone takes special planning. The right techniques can ensure both your child’s well-being and your peace of mind.

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Why Your Trust Shouldn't be Short and Sweet

The draft of your new Trust makes you wonder if your estate planning attorney gets paid by the word. Is all this verbiage really necessary? In fact, a good plan has many points to cover.

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Insurance: The Missing Link in Your Estate Plan?

Insurance has a number of uses as an estate planning tool. It helps protect and preserve your estate, giving you more to pass on to your loved ones. It also has special characteristics that allow you to position your estate for sophisticated estate planning. Learn about the basic categories of insurance and how they strengthen your estate plan.

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Trusts and Income Tax: Who Pays?

As Trusts gain popularity, a question comes up more and more often: who pays the income tax on a Trust? It seems like a simple inquiry, but the answer can be hard to pin down. So, who does pay income tax on a Trust? Here is the answer, in a nutshell.

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Tax Breaks for the Sandwich Generation

It can be a surprise to find yourself caring for elderly parents at the same time that you’re raising your own children. The emotional demands of these multiple roles are often coupled with financial challenges as well. That’s why it’s important to know when you can claim your aging or ill parent as a dependent for income tax purposes.

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What Does It Mean To Be a Trustee?

If you’ve been chosen to serve as a Trustee, what responsibilities can you expect? Learn about the basic duties that come with this important and sometimes daunting job, and find out where you can go for guidance.

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A Quick Guide for Basis

You might have heard the word basis used in reference to taxes. Learn the definition of basis and how it can make a big difference in your estate plan.

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Moving? Don’t Forget to Review Your Estate Plan

Although your Will or Trust might be the last thing on your mind as you prepare to move, this is actually an ideal time to review and update your estate plan. Find out why.

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Avoid These Four Asset Protection Pitfalls

The estate planning process presents a number of opportunities for using asset protection strategies to protect yourself and your loved ones. Learn about asset protection, and avoid these four common pitfalls.

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The Accidental Spouse

Could you be married and not even realize it? If you live in a state that recognizes common law marriage, you could be married even without a marriage license or an official ceremony. Find out how common law marriage affects your estate plan and what you can do about it.

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Expecting the Unexpected

Life is full of surprises. None of us have a crystal ball, and this means it is unreasonable to create an estate plan without flexibility regarding your long-term wishes for your loved ones. When you build flexibility into your estate plan with a power of appointment, you can empower your spouse or children to stand in your place and make decisions based on your family’s changed circumstances.

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Why a Trust Makes Sense - Even If Your Child Is Not a Child

If your children have reached adulthood, you might assume it's best to leave them their inheritances outright, with no restrictions. However, you want to make sure your children enjoy flexibility in accessing and using their inheritances while minimizing the impact of taxes, divorce, lawsuits, and other threats. Therefore, it might be better to leave their inheritances in a Trust.

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I Have an Estate Plan: Do I Still Need My Attorney?

Your estate plan is prepared. Your Living Trust is in place and properly funded, you have a Pour-Over Will just in case, and your incapacity plan is ready and waiting in the event you need it. Is it time to part ways with your attorney? Not at all! In fact, your relationship with your estate planning attorney has just started.

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Planning Your Estate With Privacy in Mind

When you use a Will to plan your estate, much of your personal information becomes public after your death. A Trust can help you accomplish your estate planning goals while shielding your personal affairs from prying eyes.

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Your Family Deserves More Than an Estate Plan

If you want to leave a true legacy, a traditional estate plan is not enough. With Legacy Planning, you can pass on your values, wisdom, and family heritage along with your nest egg. You can also provide your children's inheritances with just the right amount of protection from the threats and challenges of life.

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What to Expect When You're Inheriting

Most of us have daydreamed about inheriting money, but the reality of inheriting often doesn't match our dreams. In the real world, an inheritance can bring with it a number of questions and worries. Here we address four common concerns about inheritances.

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Helping Your Parents Age Gracefully

Your mom and dad have always been there to guide you through life's challenges. Now, the tables are turning. Learn some strategies for gently helping your parents plan for the challenges they're likely to face as they age.

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Does a Roth Make Sense for You?

Choosing between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA can have significant tax and estate planning consequences. Whether a Roth is the right option depends on a number of factors, including an account owner's current income, anticipated post-retirement income, and estate planning goals.

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Five Estate Planning Myths

Estate planning is on everyone's "should do" list, but it rarely seems to make it to the top of the "to do" list. Perhaps this is because of all the myths surrounding the estate planning process. Here are five common estate planning myths, along with the truths behind them.

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Getting Value Out of Giving with Charitable Trust

You've heard the maxim, "It's better to give than to receive." Americans take this aphorism to heart, especially as it relates to contributions to charity. Did you know that our tax laws actually encourage charitable giving? This article will explain gift-giving options from small to large, each with tax-savings implications.

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The Estate Tax Is Not the Only Consideration in Estate Planning

The U.S. Congress continually debates the estate tax, often considering whether or not it should be done away with entirely. Many people think this tax is a cornerstone of estate planning, so if it's eliminated, they don't need an estate plan. Nothing is further from the truth. This article explains why.

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in Estate Planning


Leaving a Ranching Legacy

Ranch life comes with its own particular challenges and rewards. Therefore, ranch families have even more need for professional advice than other families when it comes to finding the most effective means of passing on their assets, which may be more substantial than they suppose. This article explores various means that can be employed to create an estate plan which minimizes taxes and distributes assets equitably.

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There's No Time Like the Present to Review your Plans

Time passes quickly. Life brings change. While these may seem like platitudes, they reflect the truth of most people's lives. This article will encourage you to recognize a new life stage as an opportunity to review and fine tune your estate plan.

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Is Your Ex-Spouse Really Out of Your Life?

Divorce is bad enough, but did you know that your children and new spouse can suffer financial devastation if you do not remember to change your estate planning documents after a divorce?

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Make Sure Your Dreams Don't Turn Into Nightmares

The financial consequences of a divorce can be costly. You can do things right now to protect future generations in your family from suffering financial devastation after a breakup.

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Look After Your Spouse Even After You're Gone

You and your spouse have worked hard to save for your golden years. But have you planned for a long, secure retirement if one of you outlives the other? Here’s how paying attention to certain key financial areas can set both of you up for a secure, worry-free retirement.

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Choose Your Estate Planning Practitioner Wisely

Who should you entrust with planning your estate? Unfortunately, the estate planning industry can be a mixed bag. Along with licensed, qualified attorneys there are unqualified, or even unlicensed, individuals producing cookie-cutter estate plans that may or may not work as intended. Find out why you should choose your estate planning practitioner wisely.

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Short and Sweet is Not Always Better

When you compare a do-it-yourself living trust with one that was prepared by a qualified estate planning attorney, one of the first things you’re likely to notice is that the attorney-prepared trust is long. And it might not be so easy to read. There’s a good reason for this. This article discusses the reasons why planning for contingencies with an attorney drafted estate plan is the better choice. When it comes to estate planning, there’s any number of contingencies to prepare for.

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Don't be Fooled: Estate Planning Isn't Just for the Wealthy

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. The truth is, estate planning is about achieving some pretty common goals and taking care of basic responsibilities, regardless of how big or small our investment portfolio happens to be.

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Leaving a Lasting Legacy

When you really think about it, your true wealth is much more than just your accumulated assets or material possessions. With the right plan, you can protect and preserve your true wealth and create a legacy for your family that will last for generations to come.

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Practical Strategies for Protecting Your Privacy

We’re all exposed to invasions of our privacy, large and small, during our lifetimes and even after death. These practical strategies make it easier to shield your family’s personal affairs from prying eyes.

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Puppy Love: Planning Your Estate With a Pet Trust

Increasingly, pet owners are not just worried about providing for our pets during our lifetimes, we want to ensure that they get all the love and care they need after we’re gone, too. This article discusses the estate planning benefits a Pet Trust can provide for your furry and feathered animal companions.

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Estate Planning Without a Crystal Ball

When you are planning your estate, it is important to remember that circumstances rarely stay the same over long periods of time. A plan that worked for your family when the kids were little may very well be obsolete by the time they've started families of their own. This is why it's important to ensure that you build flexibility into your plan.

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Planning Your Estate? Don't Forget Insurance

The term "estate planning" usually calls to mind the process of creating a Will, establishing a Living Trust, or naming a guardian for young children. One piece of the estate planning puzzle that might not be readily apparent, though, is insurance. Learn how insurance in its many forms plays an important role in the estate planning process.

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Help! My Attorney No Longer Practices Law

It's not something we often stop to think about, but attorneys experience life changes like anyone else. They may change careers or experience an illness or disability, or they may retire or even pass away. This article discusses the steps you should take if your estate planning lawyer no longer practices law.

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What to Expect When You're Inheriting

At some point in our lives, we all dream of receiving an inheritance. We envision buying a new car, finally being able to afford private schools for the kids, or maybe even taking a trip around the world. But the reality of inheriting money or property often differs from our dreams. The process of settling an estate and distributing a deceased person’s assets can be time consuming. During this process you may have questions about taxes on various types of assets you may be inheriting, such as IRAs, valuable collectibles, and other property. This article provides a summary on what you can expect during this process if you’re anticipating an inheritance.

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Parenting Your Grandchildren? You Need a Solid Estate Plan

According to data collected in the 2010 census, 4.9 million children under age eighteen live in grandparent-headed households. If you are in this growing number of grandparents returning to your “parent” role again, one of the pressing responsibilities that accompany your job as caregiver is to make sure you have a plan for your grandchildren in the event that something happens to you. And because you’re older now than you were the first time around, planning becomes even more important. This article reviews why it is imperative to have an estate plan in place and what a basic plan should include.

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One Big Happy Family: How to Avoid an Estate Dispute

Picture this… You’re at the end of your long, fulfilling life and you’re ready to say goodbye to your loved ones and leave this world in peace. And then… your family declares war on each other. This scenario plays out all too often even in the closest of families. This article examines helpful ways to plan and avoid divisive family disputes after you are gone.

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Helping Your Parents Through Their Twilight Years

As a child, your parents were there to guide and support you as you faced life’s challenges and obstacles in your path growing up. Similarly, as your parents age, and become less independent, they will rely on you as they face new challenges in their twilight years. This article examines how planning well in advance is important to ensure that no matter what lies ahead, their care and financial affairs will be looked after. Regardless of their financial means, if they are wealthy or of more modest means, there is a plan that can meet the specific needs of your family.

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Why are Roth's Such a Big Deal?

A Roth IRA has some important distinctions from a traditional IRA, and, depending on your tax bracket, your retirement needs, and your estate planning goals, a Roth could be a better choice for you. So, what's the difference between the two types of IRAs? This article explores how each IRA works and which option can best fit your personal needs and goals.

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10 Essential Estate Planning Facts

An alarming 55% of American's don't have an estate plan in place. Procrastination is a common excuse. However, for many people it's a lack of knowledge about estate planning, including the benefits, their options and the protections it offers them and their families. This article reviews 10 essential estate planning facts that will arm with you with enough knowlege to cross estate planning off your "to do" list.

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Recently Divorced? Make Sure You Tie Up All The Loose Ends

As anyone who's been through a divorce can confirm, it can be an emotionally draining and devastating experience. Once the divorce is finalized, you may think that all your legal ties to your former spouse are completely severed. However, it couldn't be further from the truth - especially if you created an estate plan while you were married. This article discusses which estate planning documents need to reviewed and newly created, and the beneficiary designations that need to be updated after a divorce.

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What Does a Millionaire Look Like?

Last year, the number of households in the United States with a net worth of $1 million or more grew by 16%, reaching 7.8 million. So, what does a typical American millionaire look like? The answer may surprise you. This article reveals characteristics and habits these self-made millionaires have in common and how you can learn and prosper from their example.

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What to Do With a Windfall

We've all had dreams of striking it rich one day. But what would you do if your dream actually became reality? If you unexpectedly come into an inheritance or a large sum of money, it is important to know what other issues come with this new found wealth. Taxes, estate planning and financial planning to name a few, need to be considered and addressed. This article covers what to do if your dream of sudden wealth comes true and how best to handle this happy windfall.

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How to Help Others While Reducing Your Taxes

Lately it seems like natural disasters around the world are regular occurrences; from earthquakes in South America and China to hurricanes in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. We feel empathetic for the victims, but often feel powerless to help. While we may be too far to personally help the victims of these disasters, many of us send donations to help people in these communities. However, sending a check may not be the wisest choice for taking advantage of the potential tax saving benefits offered through other gifting methods. This article discusses the main gifting strategies for maximizing tax benefits, such as Charitable Trusts.

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Home Comforts: Maximizing Your Most Valuable Asset

If you're like many Americans, your home is your single most valuable asset, both emotionally and financially. In addition to being the center of your family life and possibly your most significant financial investment, your home can offer you benefits in terms of taxes, estate planning and asset protection. This article provides various examples of the benefits you can take advantage of as a home owner. With the help of a qualified estate planning attorney, you can make the most of your home, now and in the future.

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Estate Planning: It's About More Than Taxes

In 2010, contrary to a lot of people's expectations, Congress allowed the one-year repeal of the estate tax. Despite all the fuss, the estate tax repeal didn't eliminate the need for estate planning. Why? Estate planning is about so much more than just taxes. This article discusses the many non-tax related reasons why it's important to have an estate plan in place.

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The Impact of Dying Without an Estate Plan

Most of us expect that we'll be around to see another day. However, many people die unexpectedly from accidents, heart attacks, and other misfortunes. However, another big tragedy is dying without an estate plan due to procrastination. The time to plan is when we're alive and well, before illness or incapacity can strike an unexpected blow. This article looks at what would happen if you passed away with no plan in place to outline your wishes both during any period of incapacity and after your death.

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Selecting an Estate Planning Attorney - Wisely

Your estate plan determines who will be entitled to your assets, how they can use them, and the protections which they and the assets you leave them may have from creditors, divorcing spouses, etc. This article discusses the importance of finding the right attorney to assist you in creating that plan and the downside to using an attorney who is not experienced in estate planning, even if they are a friend.

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Dos and Don'ts of Managing an Inheritance

An inheritance is a bittersweet thing. Your loved one valued your relationship enough to leave you something to make your life better, you want to honor their memory and use the inheritance wisely. This article lists important "Dos" and "Dont's" to follow regarding the use of your inheritance. Also mentioned in this article are tips to consider if your inheritance is in an IRA. All too often inheritances are squandered on meaningless items, take some time to consider your options and make a difference with your inheritance.

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Who Handles the Finances in Your Family?

Often a couple may divide up everyday chores. Dividing up the work can be a great way to ease the burdens of life. But, what would happen if the person responsible for money matters died or suffered an incapacitating event? This article reveals a list of 13 important questions you should ask to ensure your financial well-being. The list includes asking about bank accounts, life insurance, bills and estate planning. When illness, incapacity or death strike, it's important to know where things are and what to do. Make sure you know the answers and are prepared for whatever may come your way.

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Preserving Your Independence

As we get older, it often seems that time accelerates. Where does all the time go? Aging is a normal part of life. Unfortunately, as we age later in life we are no longer as able-bodied as when we were younger. What would happen if your health took a turn for the worst? This article discusses planning for the future using a Medicaid Income Only Trust. This type of trust can help preserve your financial independence, but there are certain guidelines that must be followed. Plan to protect your independence, see a qualified estate planning and elder law attorney today and discuss your options.

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Pet Planning - Not Just for the Rich and Eccentric

When people think of someone setting up a Trust for their pet, they might imagine Leona Helmsley's pet Maltese named Trouble drinking Perrier from a crystal bowl in a lavish Manhattan penthouse. However, you don't have to be rich and eccentric to set up a Pet Trust to care for their beloved pet(s). Pet Trusts are most commonly set up by caring individuals who just want to make sure that their non-human family member is taken care of in the event of their own death or disability. This article discusses the 3 easy steps necessary to set up a Pet Trust for your furry and feathered family members. Remember, without you planning for them in advance, they may face the same awful fate that awaits so many other orphaned pets. You will sleep better knowing that they will continue purring or wagging their tail even if you're no longer able to care for them.

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A New Tax and Retirement Opportunity in 2010

We all know the importance of saving for retirement. However, those earning above $100,000 have had one retirement saving opportunity denied to them: the Roth IRA. If you fall into this category, you are now in luck! Beginning in 2010, there is no income limitation for converting from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. There are two methods to get money into a Roth IRA: Contributing money to the Roth IRA or converting a regular IRA to a Roth IRA. The rules are different depending on which method is used. In this article, you will learn how a Roth IRA works and the advantages you may gain if you convert. A Roth IRA can be a great way to save for retirement. But remember, these and other valuable assets in your estate are governed by beneficiary designations. A qualified estate and retirement planning attorney, who focuses their practice in that area, can help tailor an estate plan that coordinates the beneficiary designations and can help you decide whether switching to a Roth IRA is right for you.

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4 Deaths, 3 Estate Planning Mistakes

What would you want to leave behind for your family when you pass away? If the answer is not a contentious mess, then planning is required. Unfortunately, only 44% of Americans have a simple Will, much less a well-coordinated estate plan. In this story there are 4 deaths with 4 different outcomes. Each had the best of intentions but only one provided for their loved ones after their passing. A qualified estate planning attorney, one who focuses his or her practice in estate planning, can help you craft a well-coordinated estate plan that will provide for your loved ones who were left behind and avoid the 3 mistakes made by these families.

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Eighteen and Alone: The Legal Risks of Independence

When your child turns eighteen, it may feel like nothing has changed. But, disconcerting as it may be, for all legal purposes, turning eighteen makes your child an adult. Even more disturbing is the fact that without proper legal safeguards, you may no longer have any say in their medical care or financial matters. This article reviews the barriers that may prevent you from accessing your child's medical information in case of an accident or illness. Also discussed in this article are several legal safeguards that can be used to prevent this from happening to you and your child.

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Estate Planning in the Electronic Age

In today's electronic age, it seems that things are changing at an ever increasing rate. Every time we turn around, there's a new technology and more and more information to keep in mind. With the electronic storage of sensitive financial and emotionally valuable information, a new concern people have is what to do with "electronic assets" after their death or disability. This article discusses four possible options for the transfer of these potentially valuable assets.

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Guarding Against Mental Incapacity

Mental incapacity is something that concerns all of us as we age. Like physical decline, the loss of mental alertness may not be entirely within our control. This only increases the need for proper planning. If you have not planned, and are no longer able to handle your financial affairs, a competency hearing may be necessary. This article discusses certain estate planning tools that are available to help avoid this hearing and take care of you and your family in the event of your incapacity.

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Scams, Swindles, and Fraud, Oh my!

With more and more financial swindles making the news, it is not unreasonable to be worried about where you are investing. But scams are not limited to the investment field. There are plenty of scams to go around, even in estate planning. Seeking the counsel of a qualified estate planning attorney can help ensure you will not be the victim of an estate planning scam. This article explains what to look for in a qualified estate planning attorney.

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Trustee: an Honor and a Responsibility

Being named a Successor Trustee in your loved one's Trust is both an honor and a responsibility. It is the Successor Trustee's responsibility to administer the Trust and make many important decisions. In this article, we learn that some of those decisions may seem deceptively simple, however, the consequences of any hasty decisions could cause increased taxes and lost opportunities. Learn why it is important to consult a qualified estate planning attorney in order to prevent costly errors.

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Real Security

During these unsettling times everyone is searching for ways to feel more secure. This article provides details on how different components of a complete estate plan can provide real security for you and your loved ones, while building a solid foundation that can bring peace of mind during these unsettling times and in the future.

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New Year Brings Resolutions... and More

The coming of the New Year presents an opportunity to reflect on the past year, and reorganize our priorities and goals. One important resolution is protecting our assets and our families through estate planning. The process to achieve this goal is discussed in this article.

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A Loan May Be Taxing

This article examines important tax issues that may be overlooked when lending money to family members. Issues regarding gift taxes and income taxes are addressed and a possible solution using proper planning through an Irrevocable Trust is discussed.

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Planning Opportunities in a Down Market

Every dark cloud has a silver lining, including uncertain economic times. This article examines unique estate planning opportunities that are available during a down economy. Tax savings by converting an IRA to a Roth IRA at a lower value, and transferring shares in a family business at diminished asset values are two strategies reviewed.

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A Trust Can Help Protect You from a Financial Crisis

This article examines how a trust can help expand the protection on your financial accounts, including those at banks, savings and loans, credit unions, and brokerages.

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Everyone Needs a Periodic Checkup

This article examines how legal and life changes may make it a good idea to consult with your estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan continues to achieve your financial and estate planning goals.

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The Silver Lining in Tough Economic Times

This article examines the current difficult economic times and how one estate planning strategy works better now than in better economic times.

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Split Things Fairly - Not Exactly

This article examines the difficulty of giving an asset that makes up the bulk of the estate to one beneficiary, while treating the other beneficiaries fairly.

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Grandma and Grandpa--You're the Best!

The article examines ways to give to grandchildren, both during life and after you are gone.

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What's in a Word?

The article examines how George Carlin's comedy shows that the use of words can be important. The article looks at why that is also true in estate planning.

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Same-Sex Marriage Confusion

This article examines the impact of Californias landmark decision to allow same-sex marriages for both state and out-of-state residents. It clarifies the impact that this decision has on out-of-state residents and what responsibilities other states have of recognizing same-sex marriages performed in California.

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What Successful People Do

The article briefly looks at a few billionaires, that all of them have in common that they plan, and that they have done estate planning. The article goes on to show how with Legacy Wealth Planning the reader can do them one better.

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The Top 10 Things to Know About Estate Planning

Many people are often confused by Estate Planning. Here is a list of the top things to know about Estate Planning.

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Joint Tenancy - Joint Problems

Joint tenancy avoids probate and seems like a simple solution. Howver, adding a joint tenant adds all sorts of unforeseen problems.

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The Prime of Life

This article recites the tragic story of Heath Ledger and how he omitted his daughter from his Will.

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Preparing for the Unthinkable

This article recites statistics regarding unexpected tragedies in the United States including heart attack, stroke, and auto accidents. It calls on the reader to establish a Legacy Wealth Plan to be prepared.

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IRS Clamps Down on Wesley Snipes and Other Tax Protesters

This article highlights the recent trial of Wesley Snipes on criminal tax protester charges and transitions into a discussion of the fraudulent promotion of trusts, such as "pure trusts," "constitutional trusts" and "common law trusts" as a purported means of avoid income taxation. The article concludes by recommending that the consumer consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney for the preparation of their trust and estate plan.

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The Debate Continues and the Future of the Estate Tax Remains Uncertain

This article discusses the uncertainty created by EGTRRA and the likelihood (or lack thereof) of a fix from Congress in 2008. The article discusses the arguments for and against the complete repeal of the estate tax and the likelihood that Congress will not act until after a new President is elected. The article closes by encouraging consumers to see an experienced estate planning attorney for their needs.

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Death and Tragedy

The article looks at the tragedy of family disputes and how to avoid them.

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A Plan by Design or by Telephone?

The article looks at the game of "Telephone" and how transmitting your legacy in this manner is likely to result in error.

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The Passing of a Loved One

The article examines the seven elements which may be included in an estate plan: Health Care Power of Attorney, HIPAA Power, General Durable Power of Attorney, Revocable Living Trust, Pour Over Will, Funeral Trust, and Legacy Plan.

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What's Probate and Should I Care?

The article examines what probate is and why it is best avoided, and how. The article also examines the holistic concept of "legacy planning."

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What's the Worst That Can Happen?

We often think that estate planning only deals with our assets at our death. This article debunks that myth and shows how a lack of planning can have negative consequences even during your life and not just on your assets.

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Planning for Unforeseen Circumstances

The article examines the importance of drafting flexibility into your estate plan to adjust for changes in values, circumstances, and interests.

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Do You Know Who Your Beneficiaries Are?

The article looks at several types of items that pass outside a Will or Trust. In particular, it examines retirement beneficiary designations and new rules by Vanguard Group which might have disastrous results for the unaware.

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

This article looks at the factors people consider when making estate planning decisions.

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What are the Odds

This article examines the need to plan for the unexpected. It gives statistics for the odds of disability and of death from various likely and unlikely causes. It shows the importance to plan for the one certainty in life, i.e., death.

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Protecting Your Children from Their Nightmares... and Yours

The article examines statistics regarding divorce in America and how to protect your children from divorce. It examines setting up a divorce protection trust for them as well as using a marital trust for second marriages for your own assets.

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The Choice Is Yours: Don't Lose Your Chance to Make It

The article examines two cases: Terri Schiavo and Sarah Scantlin. Neither expressed their end of life decisions. Terri had her feeding tube removed after 15 years. Sarah awoke from her coma after 20 years. The article calls the reader to express their own desires in a Living Will.

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Preserve Your Wealth with Medicare Part D

The article provides a basic overview of Medicare Part D and why it is important from an estate planning perspective.

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