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The Montana Estate Lawyer

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.


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Friday, April 20, 2018

Effects of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) on Estate Planning

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which was passed on January 1, 2018, may have an impact on your existing estate plan. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the most significant overhaul of the tax code since 1986. Although it was meant to simplify the tax code, it is very complex and will undoubtedly be subject to ongoing modifications and interpretations. The TCJA affects nearly every aspect of income tax and estate tax law. Accordingly, this affords new tax planning opportunities for people with estates of all sizes.


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Friday, April 13, 2018

Estate Planning 101

At its most basic, an estate plan is your plan to control your assets during life and to direct distribution of your assets at your death. There are three main focuses to an adequate estate plan: 1) ensuring your assets are sufficient and properly used for your support during life; 2) ensuring your remaining assets are distributed according to your wishes at death; and 3) minimize exposure to fees, costs, and taxes.  Estate planning generally involves trust-based planning or will-based planning.


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Friday, April 6, 2018

Pros and cons of taking Social Security at 62

Last week's blog explored the 10 reasons why today's retirees are relying so heavily on Social Security. Today we will explore the pros and cons of taking Social Security at age 62.  Today's topic comes from an article authored by Christy Bieber for The Motley Fool. Here is the link to the full article:


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Friday, March 30, 2018

10 Reasons Today's Retirees are Relying on Social Security

This is the first of two-blog post that will focus on Social Security and retirement. Today's topic is the 10 reasons today's retirees are relying on Social Security, and comes from an article authored by Andrew Lisa which can be found on GOBankingrates.com


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Friday, March 23, 2018

Two provisions under the new tax law positively affect ABLE accounts

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes two provisions that boost Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts for those with disabilities. These are the ABLE Financial Planning Act and the ABLE to Work Act.  The primary goal of the ABLE account legislation is to allow families who have children with a disabilities to have a savings ability, similar to people saving for college, without the account adversely affecting eligibility for means-tested benefits.

The Financial Planning Act allows a family to transfer funds from a 529 plan to an ABLE account as long as the beneficiary remains the same. This is important because families don't always know when a child is born that there may be a disability, or disability may occur later on.


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Friday, March 16, 2018

Refinancing your principal residence when owned by your revocable living trust

We occasionally get calls from clients who are trying to refinance their house which has been placed in their revocable living trust.  Most often it is because their mortgage lender wants them to supply assurances that, if the living trust owns the house, the trust gives the Trustee the power to mortgage the property and use the house as collateral so that the lender’s interest is secure, i.e., is protected and can be foreclosed in the event of the clients' default on the loan.

Sometimes the lender wants a letter from an attorney certifying certain things are true about the trust--that it is revocable, that is valid under Montana law, and the Trustee has certain powers including the power to borrow.


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Friday, March 9, 2018

How Caregivers Can Deal With Stress Related Insomnia

Imagine a 50-year-old man caring for his elderly mother. His mother lives in a retirement community and has support services for meals, bathing, and other basic tasks, but she still has an intense need for family support.

Her son works full time, but he takes time in the evenings and on the weekends to help her shop for groceries, pay bills, do laundry, clean, and manage the other tasks of daily life. Just six months ago, he helped her downsize from the family home into a small apartment, a process that took months. He frequently has to take time off of work to transport her to and from doctors' offices.


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Friday, March 2, 2018

Three common mistakes to avoid when planning the succession of your business

Many small business owners are focused on running their business, rather than planning for its succession. By focusing only on the here and now, however, a business owner can set his or her business up for failure once it is time to relinquish control.

1. Delay

The first business succession planning mistake is delay. Often, business owners simply wait too long before making their plan.


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Friday, February 23, 2018

The role of a premarital agreement in estate planning

A premarital agreement, also known as a prenuptial agreement or prenup, can play an important role in estate planning. While you may think of a premarital agreement as a contract created in anticipation of divorce, and not much else, it can actually be a valuable estate planning tool in such instances as second marriages in which either or both parties have their own assets or wish to protect the interests of children from a prior relationship.

When contemplating a premarital agreement, it is important to understand the effect of the agreement on the rights of a surviving spouse and the need to create documents that work in concert to achieve the intended estate planning result.  In the estate planning context, the most common and significant way a premarital agreement can impact estate planning involves waiver of the surviving spouse’s elective share right.  Under Montana law, one spouse cannot fully disinherit the other without the other's consent.


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Friday, February 16, 2018

Safekeeping your estate planning documents

I received a call this week from a client who asked for copies of his estate planning documents because his had been destroyed in a fire. That got me thinking about all of the different scenarios that could play out which could result in losing the estate planning documents that you have gone through a lengthy process to create.  I, myself, am currently going through a house remodel and I have a hard time finding a pair of socks, let alone estate planning documents.  Moving from your existing home can also be a time when documents are misplaced.

With all this in mind, then, I would remind you to ask yourself, "Where are my original estate planning documents?"  Are they in a safe deposit box? In a home safe?  In drawer somewhere?   

Wherever they are, take the time now to put your estate planning documents in a safe place where you can access them.


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