Recent Articles

How to Fund Your Trust to Avoid Probate

A common estate planning mistake many people make – including celebrities like Michael Jackson – is not ensuring the trust you have created holds all your assets. Unfortunately, most lawyers simply do not make sure this is properly handled for their clients, so if you’ve worked with any law office other than ours, you need to double check this critical issue. If you do not transfer your assets into your trust, it is an empty shell and does nothing to accomplish the objectives you had in mind when you established … [Read More...]

Debunking Gift Taxes Myths

Many people are confused about the subject of gift taxes. While only two states -- Connecticut and Minnesota -- have a state gift tax, there is a federal gift tax you may need to be concerned about. Here are some common myths and the actual truths about gift taxes: Myth: The recipient must pay taxes on gifts. Reality: While the gift giver may face taxes on certain gifts, the recipient usually doesn’t. There are some circumstances, however, when that will not be the case. For example, if you receive a … [Read More...]

How Seniors Can Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of

A 2010 study conducted by the Investor Protection Trust found that more than seven million older Americans -- 20 percent of those over the age of 65 -- had already been a victim of financial abuse. Here are some tips on how you can ensure your parents (or you in the future) can avoid becoming a victim of financial abuse: 1. Establish an estate plan with the help of a Personal Family Lawyer® while you are still of sound mind and body. This is perhaps the most meaningful way to protect your assets because when … [Read More...]

A Touching Memorial from One of March Madness’ Greatest

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of March Madness, the annual college basketball tournament, but rarely does that passion overlap with my estate planning practice. Not so this year as Dean Smith, the legendary North Carolina University basketball coach, used his estate plan to leave a legacy as admirable as his on-court success. Smith, a who passed away last month at age 83, had prepared his estate using a will and living trust. Through his trust Smith directed that $200 be given to each of his former … [Read More...]

Reasons to Establish a Trust (and Being Rich Isn’t One of Them)

When you hear the words, “trust fund,” do you conjure up images of stately mansions and party yachts? A trust fund - or trust - is actually a great estate planning tool for many people with a wide range of incomes who want to accomplish a specific purpose with their money. Simply put, a trust is just a vehicle used to transfer assets. According to a recent article at The Motley Fool, Trust Funds: They're Not Just for the Rich, and You Might Need One, trusts are especially useful for parents of minor children as … [Read More...]

No One Feeling Good About Continuing Battle Over James Brown Estate

James Brown was known for his signature song, “I Feel Good,” but no one is feeling good about the battle that is still being waged over his estate almost a decade after his death in 2006. The majority of Brown’s estate - estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars - was distributed via his will to the I Feel Good Trust to provide scholarships to underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia. None of those estate proceeds have been distributed to date, due to ongoing litigation between Brown’s … [Read More...]

Why Every Family Needs an Agent

Everyone needs an agent – and not the Hollywood type. An agent is someone you designate to handle your estate after you’ve gone or who can make decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. Here are the kinds of agents everyone needs: Executor – an executor is the person you designate to carry out your wishes for distributing your assets as listed in your last will and testament. You can choose a family member, a trusted friend or even a professional to fill this role. Guardian – if you and your … [Read More...]

Life Lessons From Celebrity Deaths on Updating Your Estate Plan

A new year always brings the sad reviews of notable personalities who have died in the past year. Two notable movie stars - Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Walker - provide a cautionary tale on the importance of keeping your estate plan and will up to date. In Hoffman’s case, his 2004 will had never been updated and he had two children after it was created. Walker’s 2001 will had also never been updated to reflect the changes in his life. Conducting an estate plan review whenever something major changes in your … [Read More...]

10 Tips to Ensure Family Harmony Over Your Estate Plan

When your children were small, you no doubt suffered the challenge of keeping peace in the family. We see this same scenario play out time after time among adult siblings when a messy estate causes family rifts. Here are 10 tips to help prevent your children from fighting over your estate: 1. Talk to children about your estate plan. It may be a difficult discussion to have, but you need to have it. If you find it too difficult, enlist the help of your estate planning attorney to go over the details of your … [Read More...]

Why You Should Get Estate Planning Off Your To-Do List in 2015

There are many goals most of us want to accomplish in life, and some of the most important ones center on family and money. Here is what a thoughtful estate plan can help you accomplish that involves both: Control health care decisions. Most people will die in a hospital or care facility, and many will lack important decision-making capacity for their own care. You can name the people responsible for health care decisions if this should happen to you through an advance medical directive as part of your estate … [Read More...]