Monthly Archives:: February 2022

Protect Your Home, Family, & Assets From The Growing Threat Of Natural Disasters

The WMO found that climate change has helped drive a five-fold increase in the number of weather-related disasters in the last 50 years, and these calamities are getting more severe each year. As a result of climate change, weather records are being broken all the time, turning previously impossible events into deadly realities.

Despite this threat, most homeowners lack the insurance coverage needed to protect their property and possessions from such calamities. Roughly 64% of homeowners don’t have enough insurance, according to a 2020 report from CoreLogic, the nation’s largest source of property and housing data. One major factor contributing to this lack of coverage is the mistaken belief that homeowners insurance offers adequate protection from natural disasters. READ MORE

Marital Disclaimers and the Clayton Election: Last-Minute Estate Tax Planning

Before diving into some of the particulars of using a disclaimer and the Clayton election, let us first lay some conceptual groundwork. The main objective of using a marital funding formula in estate tax planning is to take advantage of both (1) the estate tax marital deduction and (2) the estate tax exemption to eliminate the federal estate tax due at the first spouse’s death and to reduce or eliminate federal estate tax due at the surviving spouse’s death.

What is the marital deduction? In general, as long as they meet the requirements under federal estate tax law, transfers from a decedent spouse to a surviving spouse (provided the surviving spouse is a US citizen) are excluded from the decedent spouse’s estate and are not subject to estate taxes at the first spouse’s death. This is the unlimited estate tax marital deduction. The unlimited estate tax marital deduction essentially postpones the payment of any estate taxes until after the second spouse’s death. READ MORE

Updating Your Estate Plan For Divorce: 5 Changes To Make

Your marriage is legally still in full effect until your divorce is final, so if you die or become incapacitated while your divorce is ongoing and haven’t changed your estate plan, your soon-to-be ex-spouse could wind up with complete control over your life and assets. Unless you want your ex to have that kind of power, you need to take action as soon as possible.

However, keep in mind that some states have laws that limit your ability to change your estate plan once your divorce is filed, so you may want to consider making some or all of the following changes to your estate plan as soon as the divorce is on the horizon and before you’ve filed. READ MORE

Springing Financial Powers of Attorney

If you can no longer manage your affairs, you will need somebody to act on your behalf and in your best interest. A financial power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that lets you designate a trusted person to make financial decisions for you (sign checks, open a bank account, collect your mail, etc.). The financial POA can be immediate, meaning somebody else is authorized to act for you now and into the future, or it can be springing, that is, effective only if and when an event occurs (usually when you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself).

While every estate plan should feature a financial POA, a springing financial POA requires a little more nuance to overcome its limitations. Additionally, a springing financial POA can pose problems that may not be quickly resolved even when carefully written. That said, some people dislike the idea of making a financial POA effective immediately. They prefer to have a financial POA kick in only when necessary. READ MORE

4 Reasons Why Estate Planning Is So Essential For Business Owners

When it comes to creating an estate plan, most people typically think of a will. While it’s possible to leave your business to someone in your will, it’s far from the ideal option. That’s because upon your death, all assets passed through a will must first go through the court process known as probate.

During probate, the court oversees your will’s administration to ensure your assets (including your business) are distributed according to your wishes. But probate can take months, or even years, to complete, and it can also be quite expensive, which can seriously disrupt your operation and its cash flow. What’s more, probate is a public process, potentially leaving your business affairs open to your competitors. READ MORE

Statements of Intent or Purpose in Estate Planning Documents

The reasons you, as a trustmaker, create a trust are certainly special and important to you. Still, your intent or purpose for creating a trust can also have significant legal ramifications.

For this reason, it is often critical that a trustmaker express in writing their purpose for creating the trust. There are essentially two different ways of documenting a trust maker’s intent – each has slightly different purposes, and sometimes both are generally called a “statement of intent.” READ MORE

Purchasing Life Insurance For Your Family: What You Need To Know

Although purchasing life insurance may seem pretty straightforward, it can be rather complex, especially given the different types of coverage available. Plus, because insurance agents often earn hefty commissions on the policies they sell, it can be challenging to determine precisely how much coverage (and what type of insurance) you need – and who you can trust to give you objective and accurate advice about that coverage.

With this in mind, we’ll break down the common types of life insurance coverage, explain how each of the different kinds works, and outline what you need to know to purchase a policy that will adequately address your needs, objectives, and family situation. While you should always meet with your Personal Family Lawyer® to ensure you get the proper coverage, here are a few of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a life insurance policy. READ MORE

Changes to the FAFSA Form and What It Means for Grandparents

College tuition costs and student loan debt keep going up, so much so that student debt has reached a crisis point. Student loan debt in the United States is approaching $2 trillion and grows six times faster than the national economy. The average annual cost of a private four-year college is more than $32,000 – not including expenses such as housing, food, books, and supplies. Between 2005 and 2020, the average per-student debt level nearly doubled, from $17,000 to $30,000. 

Student loan debt is an economic drag, limiting opportunities long after graduation. One of the most popular ways to save for education is a 529 plan, a qualified tuition program. These plans take their name from Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, but they are established and maintained at the state level. Every state except Wyoming has a version of the 529 plan.  READ MORE

Don’t Leave Your Children With The Babysitter Until You Read This

As we head into the third year of the pandemic, we are coming to terms with just how fragile our lives and health are. If you haven’t gotten sick yourself, it’s almost certain you know someone who has, and many of us even know of one or more individuals who have died in the past two years. 

Although severe illness and death are always at risk for – and should plan for – the pandemic has forced many of us to face our mortality like no other event in recent memory. Some of those worst-case scenarios we thought would never happen now seem much more likely, and for some people, those unthinkable situations have even become a reality. READ MORE