The Montana Estate Lawyer

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Choosing Your Estate Plan Team (Originally published on January 5, 2018)

Here are some tips when choosing an estate planning team, as set forth in Keith’s book, “Introduction to Estate Planning – How to Protect and Pass on Your Legacy,” Bardolf & Company, 2017.

The Importance of a Team

You will do your best planning if you work with a team. You want the expertise that different professionals bring to the table. A team also helps in a very practical way: getting something done! It doesn't do much good to design a great estate plan if you never put it in place. Planning with a team will help you stay the course to implement your plan, and actually do something for you and your family.
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Thursday, December 30, 2021

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!

With Christmas just behind us, and the New Year coming up quickly, all of us here at Scott, Tokerud & McCarty, P.C. (including our Parabeagle, Buster, pictured here) want to wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season. 

We will be closed Friday, December 31st, in observance of the holiday, so we will see you all in 2022!

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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Make Your Estate Planning Useful - Transfer Your Most Important Assets

When you think of "estate planning," what comes to mind? Perhaps how best to transfer wealth to the next generation.

Well, what about passing on your most important assets? How about expanding your estate planning to include transfer of your insight and wisdom? Why not prepare an Ethical Will?

What is an Ethical Will?

An "Ethical Will" is sometimes also called a Legacy Letter, Letter of Instructions or a Personal Legacy Statement. It's a way of passing down what is meaningful. Values, ideas, personal reflections, and family stories. Since ancient times, people have shared stories, wisdom, and blessings with future generations using a written statement.
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Thursday, November 11, 2021

Single? Estate planning is still essential.

More people are living single than ever before. In 1970, just about one-third of Americans 15 and older were single, according to U.S. census data. Today, that number’s closer to 50 percent.
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Thursday, October 28, 2021

The “Dirty Dozen” – IRS Warns Against Scams

Each year, the IRS puts out its “dirty dozen” list. This is a list of scams that are prevalent that the IRS wants everyone to watch out for.

This year the scams fall into four main categories: pandemic-related scams; scams relating to personal information; schemes focusing on certain victims; and scams that persuade taxpayers into taking crooked actions.

Pandemic Scams

Due to the pandemic, the government passed legislation that provided financial help to individuals and businesses. A scam can focus on stealing these payments.
Read more . . .

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Preparing for Coronavirus: The #1 Legal Document Every Adult Needs to Have (Round 2)

As we seem to be heading into Round 2 of the Coronavirus pandemic, we thought it was important to re-discuss the need to be proactive when it comes to your healthcare planning. Below is an article we originally published on August 27, 2020, where we explain what a Healthcare Agent is and why they are so important to your planning!

Even though these original thoughts may be over a year old, they are just as important today, as they were in 2020.

What Is a Healthcare Agent?
A healthcare agent (also called a medical agent, healthcare surrogate, a healthcare proxy, or a medical proxy) is a person you authorize in a healthcare or medical power of attorney to make decisions about your medical care if you are too ill to make them yourself or are otherwise unable to communicate your wishes.

Why is it important to choose a healthcare agent now?
The death rate in the United States for those contracting Coronavirus appears to be between 1.5% and 2% (updated as of September 20, 2021, per the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center).
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Thursday, August 12, 2021

A Family Meeting Can Play a Key Role in Your Estate Planning

Over the years, both Keith and I have stressed to our clients the importance of communicating your estate plan to your family.  Holding a family meeting is a good way to do this.  We feel so strongly that a family meeting plays a key role in ensuring an effective estate plan that we have incorporated it into our Peace of Mind By Design process we have in place for revocable living trust-based planning.  Of course, a family meeting's role is not limited to just trust-based planning.  It can play a key role in any plan you have in place.
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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Montana Supreme Court affirms that assets held in an irrevocable trust may be exempt for Medicaid purposes

Long-Term Care Costs Continue to Rise 

As we all know, long-term care costs continue to rise. We previously discussed how long-term care insurance may be able to make long-term care more affordable. We have also discussed the benefits of using an irrevocable asset protection trust for long-term care planning. 

The use of irrevocable trusts in Montana for long-term planning came into question recently in the Estate of Marilyn Scheidecker v. Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services case when an Administrative Law Judge and District Court in Montana upheld the denial of Medicaid eligibility for a woman who along with her sister established an irrevocable trust and transferred assets into the trust.
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Thursday, June 24, 2021

When a Will and a Contract Conflict

A Last Will and Testament devises one’s property after their passing. Great weight is given to this document; Wills have formalities that other documents don’t, hinting to its importance. But what happens when a devise in a Will contradicts a formerly executed contract? 

This issue was litigated recently in Ohio. In this case, Twila entered into a partnership agreement in 1986 with her husband and another couple. The partnership agreement contained a provision that stated: “To protect and preserve the family character of this Partnership, each of the undersigned partners agree to have prepared and to execute a last will and testament so as to ensure that his or her interest in this Partnership will, upon his or her death, pass to and vest in his or her surviving spouse.
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Thursday, May 27, 2021

May is National Elder Law Month

May is National Elder Law Month. This designation was established by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), of which I have been a member for the past 18 years. Its purpose is a way to acknowledge those members in the legal profession who support the senior community, those persons age 65 or older, with all of their planning needs.

Many people ask, "What is elder law?" Essentially, elder law is a classification of law that relates less to the type of casework performed and more to the type of person who is served. Elder law attorneys represent, counsel and assist seniors, people with disabilities and their families, with a variety of legal issues.
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Thursday, April 22, 2021

IRS Issues New Rules for ABLE Accounts

ABLE accounts were authorized by the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 and can be an excellent resource for individuals with disabilities. Let's take a deeper dive into what these accounts are, how they can benefit certain individuals, and some new regulations issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to clarify some rules regarding ABLE accounts. 

Read more . . .

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