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The Montana Estate Lawyer

Friday, December 8, 2017

Our Living Trust Planning Process


Here’s how our unique process for trust-based estate planning, Peace of Mind By Design, works.  Our process is also described in Keith Tokerud’s book, “Introduction to Estate Planning – How to Protect and Pass on Your Legacy,” Bardolf & Company, 2017. 

The Right Fit Conversation

We start with The Right Fit Conversation.  You and we first have to decide if we are a good fit to work together.  This gives the attorney a chance to learn about you and your family, your concerns, and your goals for your planning.


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Friday, December 1, 2017

Montana Beneficiary Deed

(Please note: The 2019 Montana Legislature replaced Beneficiary Deeds with Transfer on Death Deeds.  See blog posted November 19, 2020.) 

Montana allows an owner of real property located within the state to avoid the probate process for such real property by creating and recording a special type of deed known as a Beneficiary Deed.  A beneficiary deed transfers an owner’s interest in Montana real property, upon the death of the owner, to the beneficiaries named in the deed, thereby avoiding the probate process. To be effective, the deed must be properly recorded with the local county Clerk and Recorder office prior to the death of the owner.

A beneficiary deed does not modify the owner’s current interest in the real property and it does not transfer such interest to the named beneficiary until the owner’s death.  A beneficiary deed may be created and recorded by the owner even though there may be a loan securing the real property and there is no requirement that the lender be notified of the deed.


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Friday, November 24, 2017

Blog Anniversary

December 1st will be a milestone in our office.  We started our blog 7 years ago and we have covered a lot over that time and seen a lot happen. 

Keith’s first blog introduced you to Jana and Jeanne.  Well, Jana left us to pursue other avenues.  We still keep in touch with her and her family and love to see them as often as we can.


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Friday, November 17, 2017

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: no change to treatment of retirement accounts


On November 2 2017, Republicans in the House of Representatives released their version of the tax reform bill, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the "GOP Act").  The GOP Act in its current form is still subject to revision, even before it goes to a vote, and is only the beginning of what it sure to become a legislative battle involving not only Republicans and Democrats, but also special interest groups.

The GOP act as it currently stands is the first draft of what could be the most comprehensive tax code revision in decades. From an estate planning standpoint, the GOP Act seeks to repeal both the estate and generation-skipping tax taxes for decedents dying and generation-skipping transfers occurring after December 31, 2023, with higher exclusions in the interim until then. This likely will be the subject of a future blog post.


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Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans Day – remembering my father and thanking all those that have served


My father has been deceased for over 12 years now, but rarely a day goes by when I do not think of him. With Veterans Day being November 11, I thought it appropriate to thank him for his service to our country and to thank all veterans.

My father, Royce A. McCarty, Sr., served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War.


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Friday, November 3, 2017

Helping Someone with Alzheimer’s Cope with a Spouse’s Death

Losing a loved one to death is a traumatic experience for anyone, but when you are someone with Alzheimer’s, the experience can be devastating. Suddenly, the person who took care of your every need is no longer there.

It's difficult to help a loved one with Alzheimer's deal with the loss of a spouse, especially when you are grieving for the loss too. Typically, the spouse is the primary caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's. When the spouse dies, the surviving spouse must now be cared for by other family members.


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Friday, October 27, 2017

The risks of holding assets as joint tenants in order to avoid probate

Owning assets jointly with one or more children or other individuals is viewed by some as a simple informal estate plan that can avoid probate and can even avoid the expense associated with setting up a formal plan. There are advantages and disadvantage is to owning assets jointly of which you should be aware.

Joint ownership has two potential advantages--convenience and probate avoidance. If you hold title to property with a child or another individual as joint tenants with right of survivorship, it means that when you die the property is transferred to the surviving joint tenant automatically without having to go through any court probate proceedings. You don't need a will or trust.


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Friday, October 20, 2017

Near Retirement? Five Plans You Must Have in Place.

I came across a short but important article in a recent issue of Kiplinger magazine.  The article is entitled, "Near retirement? 5 plans you MUST have in place," authored by Chris Harlow, a CPA and investment advisor representative with NW Tax & Wealth Advisory Group, Inc., which was included in the May 2017 issue. I wanted to share his insights with you.


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Thursday, October 12, 2017

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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Friday, October 6, 2017

Update – Montanans with disabilities can now establish ABLE accounts

In my blog post of January 21, 2015, we reported that in late 2014 the federal ABLE (" Achieving a Better Life Experience") Act was signed into law by Congress. Montana implemented the ABLE law in May, 2015, as was reported in my blog post of May 13, 2017.  You can refer to those previous posts for more detail, but you will remember that the law is aimed at achieving a manner in which those with special needs can save money without losing needs based public benefits such as SSI or Medicaid. The federal law allows states to implement the Act to provide for a savings program for persons with disabilities that is modeled after the 529 college savings account program.  Although Montana implemented the ABLE law in 2015, it has spent the last couple of years developing the program under which accounts may be established.


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Friday, September 29, 2017

Projected estate tax exemption and annual gift tax exclusion for 2018

The Consumer Price Index was released by the Labor Department in August 2017. For most, the release of the Consumer Price Index goes unnoticed. However, this allows the experts to predict the 2018 estate tax exemption and gift tax exclusion amounts.


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