The Montana Estate Lawyer

Friday, July 13, 2018

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a document that allows you to say what should happen if death is imminent and there’s nothing more medically that can reasonably be done.  If you are in a hospital and your doctor determines that you are terminally ill with only a short period of time to live, you can clarify that you do want to have administered that serve only to prolong the dying process. 

It allows you to express your wishes in advance at a time when your life is not yet threatened and you're thinking clearly.  It comes into play when, an only when, you can't voice your own wishes and covers only one stage of your life, when you're near death. For your declaration to take effect, your attending physician must determine that there can be no recovery from your terminal or vegetative condition and your death is imminent or you can no longer experience a meaningful life.
Read more . . .

Friday, July 6, 2018

Defining Your Goals

Here is a great discussion about defining your goals when putting together your estate plan, as set forth in Keith’s book, “Introduction to Estate Planning – How to Protect and Pass on Your Legacy,” Bardolf & Company, 2017.

Your Job is to Share your Concerns

Good planning starts with identifying goals. Your goals! Not other people's goals or what someone thinks your goals should be.

Rather than rushing into a discussion about saving taxes or what to do about the family cabin, we want to take the time to figure out what you want to achieve. I find that many clients have never had the opportunity to really think about their goals.
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Friday, June 29, 2018

What a Will Does Not Do

A simple Will) is a bares bones simple estate planning tool that contains not much more than your wishes concerning transfers of property at your death.  A simple Will cannot and is not meant to do everything for you.

The following are some estate planning goals or priorities that go beyond the limitations of a simple Will:

  • Avoiding probate: With exceptions where the deceased owns no real estate solely in his or her name at death and solely owns only personal property with a cumulative value of less than $50,000, Wills must go through the probate process. Most of the time, a well-written and thought out Will, shared with family before death, should be able to pass through probate relatively quickly, but complications may occur in some circumstances. So, if your goal is to pass on property to loved ones and avoid probate, a revocable living trust is often a good option.
    Read more . . .

Friday, June 22, 2018

Estate Planning Tips for Families with Disabled Beneficiaries

I recently came across an article on that does a good job of setting forth planning tips for families who have a loved one with a disability.
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Friday, June 15, 2018

Discussing End-of-Life Arrangements With Your Loved Ones

Understandably, most of us do not want to address the subject of death with our families. It is an uncomfortable, scary, and emotionally charged conversation, and it is normal to feel intimidated by it. This is, however, not a reason to avoid the discussion. Even if you are lucky enough to have a healthy family, it is never too early to talk about end-of-life arrangements with the people close to you. These conversations will never be easy, but they can be quick and painless if you approach them properly.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Montana has adopted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

In today's world, the nature of holding our property and our methods of communication have changed dramatically. A generation ago, we delivered all of our mail by post, photos were kept in albums, documents in file cabinets, and money on deposit at the local bank. For most of us today, at least some of our property and communications are stored as data on a computer server and accessed via the internet.

Collectively, a person’s digital property and electronic communications are referred to as "digital assets" and the computers that store those assets on their servers are called "custodians." Access to digital assets is usually governed by a terms-of-service agreement rather than buy property law.

Read more . . .

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Questions & Answers When Looking for an Elder Law and Special Needs Planning Attorney

May is national elder law month.  Below is an excerpt from a guide published by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), of which I have been a member since 2003.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Estate planning for military families

With Memorial Day coming up, it is important to honor those that have served our country. This time is also a good opportunity for members of the military and their loved ones to consider their estate plan.

Military families may face special estate-planning issues that others do not. This is particularly true when one or more family members are deployed overseas. Beyond this, members of the military have access to special benefits and resources.

Read more . . .

Friday, May 11, 2018

Common Misconceptions about Living Trusts

People often hear things about living trusts from friends, family members and the media, and just assume they are true without taking the time to check them out. Here are some common misconceptions—and the facts.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

The benefits of using an irrevocable asset protection trust for long-term care planning

Last week we discussed the continuing rise in long-term care costs and how long-term care insurance may be able to help make long-term care more affordable.  This week we’ll focus on the estate planning strategy that employs an irrevocable asset protection trust.

An irrevocable asset protection trust can be an effective estate planning tool for long-term care. The trust can be set up in conjunction with or as an alternative to long-term care insurance, allowing individuals or married couples to transfer some assets into the trust where the assets can be held and managed by the trustee throughout their lifetime. The remaining assets can then be transferred to the heirs of the trust at the time of their death.

Read more . . .

Friday, April 27, 2018

The cost of long-term care continues to rise

Many people are shocked when they learn about the high cost of long-term care. Unfortunately, the cost will only get more expensive over time. A 2016 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that long-term care costs will more than double by 2047.

So how expensive is long-term care? According to studies performed by in 2017, the national median cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home in the United States is $7,148.

Read more . . .

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