Basics of good planning

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, 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 8, 2021

Estate Planning Isn't Just for Married Couples

Estate planning is not only for married couples - if you are single, estate planning can still be an essential financial tool. For example, you may want to:

• Arrange for your assets to be distributed after your death
• Pick someone to handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated
• Select a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to communicate

As a single person, you will need many of the same documents as a married couple. People typically include the following documents in their estate plans:

• Durable Power of Attorney - allows you to carry on your financial affairs in the event that you become disabled. Unless you have a properly drafted power of attorney, it may be necessary to apply to a court to have a guardian or conservator appointed to make decisions for you during a period of incapacitation. This guardianship process is time-consuming, expensive, emotionally draining and often costs thousands of dollars.

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Montana Transfer on Death Deed

Montana has replaced the Beneficiary Deed with the Transfer on Death (“TOD”) Deed. Both are intended to allow owners to transfer, effective upon death, their real property located in Montana to one of or more beneficiaries or grantees. The new TOD Deed is now the proper deed form to accomplish this result because the 2019 Montana legislature adopted the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act which allows for and provides guidance for the use of a TOD Deed.

Just like with the former Beneficiary Deed, the TOD Deed allows an owner of real property located within the state to avoid the probate process for such real property by transferring the owner’s interest in the property to the beneficiaries named in the deed. To be effective, the deed must be recorded in the appropriate recording office prior to the death of the owner.

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

How to Own Your Real Estate in Montana

Real estate encompasses not only one’s primary residence but also other real estate such as a vacation home or a rental property. The ideal form of ownership varies depending on the type of real estate you own. Below, we take a look at the different types of real estate and offer options for ownership for each.

Primary Residence

Because you can sell your primary residence exempt of capital gains taxes on the first $250,000 of gain if you are single and $500,000 if married, you should carefully consider how your home is owned. In Montana, joint tenancy with rights of survivorship allows couples to take advantage of the tax benefits for primary residences.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Estate Planning Terms to Know

Estate planning—it is an incredibly important tool, not just for the wealthy or those thinking about retirement. On the contrary, estate planning is something every adult should do. Estate planning can help you accomplish any number of goals, including appointing guardians for minor children, choosing healthcare agents to make decisions for you should you become ill, minimizing taxes so you can pass more wealth onto your family members, and stating how and to whom you would like to pass your estate on to when you pass away.

While it should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list, it can be an overwhelming topic to dive into. To help you get situated, below are some important terms to know as you think about your own estate plan.

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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Estate Planning Strategies to Consider in an Election Year

With a push by the Democratic party to return federal estate taxes to their historic norms, taxpayers need to act now before Congress passes legislation that could adversely impact their estates. Currently, the federal estate and gift tax exemption is set at $11.58 million per taxpayer. Assets included in a decedent’s estate that exceed the decedent’s remaining exemption available at death are taxed at a federal rate of 40 percent (with some states adding an additional state estate tax). However, each asset included in the decedent’s estate receives an income tax basis adjustment so that the asset’s basis equals its fair market value on the date of the decedent's death.
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Thursday, October 8, 2020

Potential Tax Law Changes That Would Affect Estate Planning

The 2020 election is almost upon us. The past has taught us that trying to predict the results of an election are futile at best. Still, estate planning clients need timely counsel as to how the election may impact their financial futures. Estate planning attorneys strive to help clients stay informed and suggest opportunities for clients to respond to changes. While we do not know exactly what the future holds, we do have strong clues as to what the tax laws may look like if the balance of power shifts in 2021 from Republican to Democrat hands.

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Preparing for Coronavirus: The #1 Legal Document Every Adult Needs to Have

As the coronavirus continues to disrupt daily life and leave Americans uncertain of the future, you don’t have to feel helpless during this pandemic. In fact, now is a great time to be proactive and plan ahead should you or a loved one fall ill. One of the most important and relatively easy things you can do (and should do) is to select a healthcare agent and set up your advance healthcare directive. 

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. 

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Five Common Mistakes with "DIY" Estate Plans

In light of the current pandemic, many people are becoming aware of the importance of creating or updating their estate planning documents. With the extension of some states’ stay in place orders, it may be tempting to create your own documents all on your own. Whether you are considering writing your own will or using an online “do it yourself” (DIY) document creator, there are many reasons why this is one project you shouldn’t undertake without the help of a professional.


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