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Resources

 
 

 Are Your Bank Accounts Safe?

Are you concerned about the safety of your bank accounts? If so, your fears are justified. Early in 2008, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), which insures bank deposits, reported the biggest jump in "problem institutions" it has seen since the Savings and Loan Crisis of the late 1980s. The FDIC identified 76 banks in trouble, a 52% increase from the prior year.

But there’s also good news. With proper planning you can protect your assets – even if you have considerable assets. 

Beware of Living Trust Scare Tactics

While most people know they should have some sort of estate plan in place, many procrastinate because they don’t want to undertake the process of creating one. Some are concerned about the expense and most worry about choosing an option that will accomplish their wishes as they intended. Sometimes it seems as if no plan is better than falling prey to the wrong plan. There is so much conflicting information regarding estate planning options, it’s difficult to know whom to trust. 

Creating a Lasting Legacy

Complete Legacy Planning covers all the same financial concerns that a traditional estate planning approach addresses but it also looks after non-financial assets and concerns that traditional planning does not address in a number of unique ways. 

Dangers of DIY Wills and Trusts

You can easily go on the internet or the local office supply store, gather the necessary forms and information, spend a little of your time, and, presto, you have a will or Living Trust. However, it is very easy to overlook important legal and technical planning points that can cause the estate or your beneficiaries to pay unnecessary taxes, high fees to attorneys or probate court, or can cause assets to be distributed to the wrong people at the wrong time.

Funeral Planning

As citizens of a culture that worships youth, most of us find it nearly impossible to admit our own mortality, much less make plans for that eventuality. Denial, however, offers no protection from the inevitable. As it turns out, we have far more to gain than to lose by sitting down in advance to plan for every contingency life may throw at us. To help you begin this important process, here is an essential item that should be on your list of basic estate planning objectives.  

Grandparents Guide to Second Generation Planning

Even though your children are now grown, there are many areas of concern about which parents of adult children still worry. One of which is that many adult children of baby boomers, do not even have a Simple Will in place, let alone a comprehensive estate plan for their family should something happen to them. Couple their lack of an estate plan with the very real possibility that the assets or wealth you envision passing on to them can quite easily be lost to divorces, remarriages, lawsuits, and/or simple poor money management. What if part of your legacy is to promote and provide education for your heirs and there’s nothing left for that purpose? 

 

Calculating the Benefits of a Living Trust

Chances are you’ve already heard a lot about the attributes of Living Trusts: avoiding probate and legal quagmires, sometimes lowering estate and/or income taxes and protecting privacy. Yet it’s also important to receive solid estate planning guidance before making final decisions, and to carefully weigh the benefits and potential drawbacks.  

Peace of Mind: Planning for All of Life's Contingencies

As citizens of a culture that worships youth, most of us find it nearly impossible to admit our own mortality, much less make plans for that eventuality. Denial, however, offers no protection from the inevitable. And, as it turns out, we have far more to gain than to lose by sitting down in advance to plan for every contingency life may throw at us. To help you begin this important process, get our report on the essential items that should be on your list of basic estate planning objectives. 

Should You Trust Your Estate Plan?

Estate planning is more of a process than an event. Putting together an initial plan is the essential first step, but life and laws keep changing after you put your estate plan in place. Therefore, you need periodic estate planning reviews and updates to keep pace with the changes going on around you. 

The Impact of Divorce on Your Estate Plan

The unhappy truth about marriage is that 2.4 million of them end in divorce each year. For first marriages, this typically happens somewhere around the 11th anniversary. If you’re married or you have children or other heirs who are married, perhaps you’ve considered the effects that divorce could have on your life, the holdings in your estate, and mutual family members. If so, you’ve done more thinking than most. Our report can help familiarize you with some important concepts about being prepared for divorce, should it come your way. 

The Nightmare of Living Probate

Many people know that probate occurs when someone dies with a will in force, or intestate—without a will. This legal process is so-called death probate, and it establishes the validity of the deceased’s will (or when there is no will, determines the deceased’s heirs). Probate also identifies and values the assets of the deceased; ensures that creditors are paid off; sees to it that the courts and attorneys get their fees for handling the probate; and lastly, distributes to the heirs whatever remains of the estate after all debts and expenses have been paid. As you may have guessed, probate is often a very costly, time-consuming, bureaucratic and public process. 

Your Life, Your Final Say

By now, most of America is familiar with the tragic events of Terri Schiavo’s life. No matter how you may feel about the moral and political issues that have arisen, most Americans would agree that they would not want their families to suffer through the 15-year ordeal that Terri and her family endured.  Fortunately, there are means within easy reach of any American to plan for end-of-life medical decisions. 

 

Family Wealth Trust

Chances are, you’ve already heard a lot about the attributes of Living Trusts and how important it is to avoid probate and legal quagmires, even lowering estate and/or income taxes and protecting privacy. Our firm has found that looking after these financial assets is only a part of planning for passing on your legacy. Typically speaking, non-financial assets are more valued and often omitted when passing an estate to future generations. Focusing on complete “legacy planning” causes something more than a simple or bare bones Living Trust to be needed by most families. We put this special report together to further delve into what a Family Wealth Trust can do for you and your family.

Keeping Up With the Ever-Changing Estate Tax

  

As 2013 started, the estate planning world had a new law: The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), enacted January 2, 2013. In order to understand the current estate tax situation, we have to go back to 2001, and look at how we got to the current state of affairs. Read our report.

Planning it Right the Second Time Around

One thing should be clear by now: we do our families and ourselves a great disservice when we fail to plan for every contingency. That’s why a crucial first step in this entire process should be a consultation with an estate planning attorney. He or she will help you evaluate your family’s needs and financial situation, and will draft a comprehensive estate plan that may include such tools as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Revocable Living Trust.  

The Trouble With Joint Tenancy

  

Although Joint Tenancy offers some short-term conveniences, in the long run it poses a host of problems that can cost you and your loved ones many times the expense and headaches you thought you were avoiding. For the vast majority of American couples, “till death do us part” also means, “till death do we hold property in Joint Tenancy.”

Charity Begins at Home

There’s a lot at stake for all concerned when it comes to encouraging charitable giving in America. And the Charitable Remainder Trust is one of the most popular ways Americans can donate to their favorite cause while doing well for themselves and their families.

Protecting Your Assets with the Family Limited Partnership

There may be as many as 50 or 60 million people who are actually sued each year. What can you do about it? You can create what many consider to be the premiere asset protection entity, the Family Limited Partnership, or FLP. 

Protecting Your Assets with an LLC

An LLC is one of the most popular estate tax and asset protection planning devices. An LLC is a form of business/investment entity not unlike the limited partnership (similar to the real estate or business operating limited partnerships) with which many are familiar. However, there is one important difference – all owners of an LLC, called members, are protected from liability caused by the LLC’s business/investment activities. With a limited partnership, however, the general partner(s) are liable for partnership liabilities.

Asset Protection: Reducing Risk, Promoting Peace of Mind

There are proven strategies that will ethically preserve your wealth and keep the vultures at bay. Your most powerful weapons in this fight will be a variety of estate planning tools, including the Family Limited Partnership, the Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, the Children’s Trust, and Foreign Asset Protection Trusts. 

Estate Planning with Individual Retirement Accounts

At first glance, the concept of an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) seems simple enough: a structured way to save for your golden years while deferring taxes on your growing nest egg. Unfortunately, that simple idea becomes one of the most complex areas of estate planning once IRS rules are applied. That means that not only must an estate planner consider estate tax reduction techniques, but also the amazingly complicated income tax rules the IRS has issued in its regulations. After relying on variations of the “Proposed Regulations” since 1987, the IRS issued Final Regulations in April 2002. This report is intended to provide general guidance on the income and estate tax considerations involved. It is not intended as legal advice. Only an analysis of a client’s particular financial and family considerations provides a sufficient foundation for an estate planner to make appropriate planning recommendations. 

Getting the Most out of Life Insurance

You probably know why life insurance is so important. Young families need it to replace part of a breadwinner’s income. Mature Americans find it provides their heirs with a source of funds to pay estate taxes. Investors have discovered that innovative insurance products help them build cash value, tax deferred, for long-term goals like retirement.

But remember, buying life insurance may be only part of the solution. Without proper planning, it can actually add to your estate tax bill.

Special Valuation Benefits for Farms

Real property is unique because the same acreage or parcel may be used for different economic purposes. Perhaps nowhere is this truer than with a Family Farm. However, this concept is also true with respect to other real estate used in a family business. We need to discuss “value” for a moment. To a disinterested person, the value of an acre of real estate is the highest price for which that person could later sell the acre. There is no concern in a pure profit analysis, over the future use of the property by the new buyer. How does this disinterested person’s actions affect the Family Farm or other closely held business real property? 

15 Reasons to do Estate Planning

You don’t have to be a millionaire to benefit from an estate plan. Reasons to create an estate plan are as unique as the individuals who create them. If you own a home, have minor children and/or grandchildren, grown children in their own marriages, have been divorced, own a business, or expect to receive an inheritance of your own, you need to take action now. 

Aid & Attendance: Special Care Pensions for Wartime Veterans

 While many people are unaware it exists, the Veterans Administration (VA) Aid & Attendance Special Pension provides monetary assistance to wartime veterans – and surviving spouses of deceased veterans – who need regular personal assistance. Qualifying aid or assistance can be provided at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home, and can be provided by friends, family members, or healthcare professionals.

The Truth About Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a quiet but growing epidemic. The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that millions of seniors are abused each year. It is difficult to come up with an accurate figure, because only a fraction of victims report their abuse. According to one estimate, only 16% of abuse incidents are reported to adult protective services. The problem is growing and reports of financial and physical abuse are on the rise nationwide. Across the country, in the last two years alone, abuse reports have increased 12%. 

Seven Things You Need to Know Before You Choose a Nursing Home

The purposes of this guide is to provide an overview of the things you should know when you’re considering placing a loved one in a nursing home and to point you to resources you can use to find more in-depth assistance. While we know this guide won’t change the difficult circumstances you’re facing, we hope it will help ease you through the transition you and your family are about to make. 

A Family Guide on Medicaid Planning

One of the problems with our fears is that so many of us choose to ignore them. Ignoring the possible need for nursing home care means that you miss out on the valuable chance to plan ahead. Not only does planning ahead let you shape what your nursing home experience might look like, it also allows you to think carefully about how you’ll pay for nursing home care. Perhaps more accurately, it gives you time to find alternatives for paying for care, so you can preserve your hard-earned assets. 

A Nursing Home Resident's Rights

The purpose of the Nursing Home Reform Act is to ensure that nursing home residents receive care that helps them “attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.” In addition to these federal protections, most states have enacted their own laws and regulations designed to safeguard the rights of nursing home residents. The result is nursing home residents are protected by a “Nursing Home Resident’s Bill of Rights.” Under the federal Nursing Home Reform Act, you are entitled to the protections discussed in our report. 

Living With ALS: A Legal and Financial Resource Guide

Our report will serve as an introduction to a number of the common practical and legal issues Patients with ALS and their families encounter, in addition to some practical strategies for dealing with these issues. Starting with the initial steps you should take after receiving a diagnosis, you’ll get an overview of what you need to know about financial planning, short- and long-term estate planning, as well as your options for finding and paying for long-term care.

Living With Alzheimer's: A Legal and Financial Resource Guide

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be overwhelming. It opens up a new world of medical jargon, treatments, and routines. It also means making all kinds of adjustments to the way you and your family live. These life adjustments often include decisions that carry legal implications. Our report will serve as an introduction to the common legal issues patients with Alzheimer’s and their families run into, as well as some strategies for dealing with these issues. 

Medicaid Planning for Married Couples: Solutions to Paying for Nursing Home Care

The purpose of this report is to give you some good, basic information about paying for nursing home care. In particular, it focuses on Medicaid planning and answers some of the questions you may have about this often misunderstood program. It explains the basic Medicaid rules, dispels a few myths you might have heard, and gives you a brief introduction to Medicaid planning for married couples. Our clients tell us that they have found this guide to be a valuable resource, and we hope that it will be useful to you as well. 

Nursing Home Evaluation Form

Use this free form to make informed decisions about nursing homes. Is the facility licensed? Is there a current inspection report available? Is there a waiting list? Are there charges not included in the monthly rate? There may be many questions you don't know to ask. Subscribe to get this free guide.

The Alzheimer's Survival Guide for Caregivers

The job of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be one of the hardest you’ll ever have. It’s a never-ending juggling act. First, there are the practical concerns. You are constantly on call, making sure that your loved one’s daily physical needs are met. Then you have yourself and your family to take care of. On top of that, there’s the emotional reality you must deal with: your relationship with this person is undergoing a transformation, and it will never be what it once was. No guide can cover everything you need to know as you juggle all your responsibilities as an Alzheimer’s caregiver, and this guide does not attempt to do so. What this guide does is give you practical information to make some of the everyday situations you’re likely to encounter a little easier.  

Plan Today for a Secure Tomorrow: The Benefits of Medicaid Planning with an Income-Only Trust

The need for nursing home care does not have to catch you off guard. A visit with a qualified estate planning and elder law attorney – one who has experience helping families sort through their long-term care nursing home options and understands how the Medicaid program might apply to your situation – can help you understand the choices available to you and prepare for the future with a clear plan for how to pay for a nursing home without going broke or losing the family home. One of those choices is a special kind of trust called a Medicaid Income-Only Trust. To understand why it is an effective option, you first have to know a little bit about how Medicaid qualification works – and why the Medicaid program is the best alternative for families paying their nursing home bills.

Paying for Nursing Home Care: A Guide to Medicaid Planning

According to federal government statistics, as of the year 2000, approximately 13 million Americans needed some form of long-term care. This figure is expected to grow to 27 million by the middle of this century. The transition from living independently to living in a long-term care facility, such as a nursing home, is one involving great difficulty for many people. It means giving up a certain amount of control over your own life. No longer are you in your own home, with all the privacy and independence that entails. Even in the best of nursing home situations, there are significant adjustments that need to be made, both by the person receiving care and by those family members or loved ones helping with the transition. Besides the upheaval involved in moving to a nursing home, there is also the stress of figuring out how to pay for nursing home bills. The average nursing home in Arkansas costs $5,171 each month for a semi-private room, according to seniorliving.org.

Set the Stage for Medicaid Eligibility

Within the realm of incapacity planning, there are also arrangements that deal specifically with decisions regarding steps taken to obtain Medicaid benefits. A Trust with “Medicaid triggers” comes into play by allowing your Agent to move forward with decisions that you would have handled yourself, if you were still legally competent to do so. The types of decisions required in this area of planning can vary. For instance, you may outline instructions for a nursing home stay or the repositioning of assets to allow you to qualify for Medicaid while preserving assets for the next generation if you are single, and while protecting your spouse’s financial independence. When you determine that you want to move forward with this type of planning, it is necessary to work with a qualified estate planning attorney. This attorney will find the optimal solutions for you in the event of your legal incapacity (defined as the inability to manage your own affairs). Because there is a 50-50 chance that the average adult will spend at least one year in a long-term care facility, it becomes painfully clear this type of planning is not only extremely important, but requires immediate attention to ensure you and your family protect your assets.

A Child with Special Needs Needs Special Planning

While planning for the care of a child with special needs certainly tops the list of emotionally-charged topics, the peace of mind parents gain from a well-designed estate plan is immeasurable. 

To My Dog Lucky, I leave $10,000

Unfortunately, if a pet owner becomes unable to care for his or her pets, they often end up living on the street. Thousands of pets are orphaned every year in the United States. To prevent your pets from adding to this sad statistic, you need to plan now for their care in the future. One way to do this is to include your pets in your estate plan. This can be as simple as incorporating provisions for them into your will or Living Trust. A Durable General Power of Attorney will allow an agent of your choosing to spend funds that have been allocated to your pets as he or she sees fit in the best interest of your pets.

Estate Planning Basics for Families with Young Children

It’s nearly incomprehensible for a parent to consider, but part of loving and protecting your family is providing for the possibility of events unfolding differently than you’ve envisioned. The question of what will happen to your children without you or your partner will be answered one way or another. The amount of control you have over how that question is answered is entirely up to you. Without sufficient planning, your family’s future will be decided by the judicial system. Setting up an estate plan makes sense for any individual, no matter their financial or personal situation, but for families with young children, drafting an estate plan is absolutely essential.  

LGBTQ Couples Face Special Challenges in Estate Planning

The last thirty years have seen breathtaking changes on the way to marriage equality. For decades, attorneys have stressed that lack of marriage equality meant that LGBT couples had an especially critical need for an estate plan. Now that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, you need an estate plan just as much, if not more. In this report, we’ll review some of the legal milestones since 1986; address seven common concerns of LGBT couples; and talk about why you need a plan whether you’re married or not. We’ll also take a look at the characteristics of a solid estate plan and give you some pointers on selecting an estate planning attorney who can meet your needs. 

Family Farm: The Next Generation

Landowners, ranchers, and farmers face unique challenges surrounding how to preserve the family farm; a symbol of their heritage. This report focuses on the legal and management issues of managing the family farm, and steps you can take to ensure the smooth transition from generation to generation with ease and accuracy.