Basics of good planning

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. 

Read more . . .

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.

What is a DIY estate plan? 

A DIY estate plan is something that you “do yourself” without the advice of an estate planning attorney. Someone who DIYs their own legal documents could be:

Read more . . .

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Important Steps to Protect Your Special Beneficiaries

All children are a blessing. From the day they are born, you begin making plans to ensure that your child or grandchild has a bright future. What will their interests be? What job will they have? Who will they marry? While these are common concerns for most families, for those with a special needs child or grandchild, taking steps to ensure they have a safe, happy, and healthy future is even more important due to the additional hurdles they may face. To help provide a prosperous future for your special needs child or grandchild, we suggest the following steps:

1. Have a Special/Supplemental Needs Trust Prepared
One of the first things you can do in your estate planning is establish a special or supplemental needs trust (SNT) for the benefit of your child or grandchild.

Read more . . .

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Protect Your Finances From Coronavirus Complications

Many Americans spend a lot of time and effort in managing their finances. While most are worried about how the coronavirus (COVID-19) will impact their income—whether that’s because they are temporarily furloughed, find themselves suddenly without a job, or watching their investment and retirement accounts dwindle—there is another way COVID-19 can wreak havoc on American’s finances: lack of incapacity planning.  

As the coronavirus continues to expand across the country, thousands of Americans are unable to carry out normal financial responsibilities because they are too ill, or they are stuck abroad and unable to travel home, or from a lack of resources due to being isolated at home. 

While feeling healthy, individuals should plan ahead now and ensure that someone will take care of their financial duties by setting up a Financial Power of Attorney. This important legal document will not only protect your finances should you fall ill from COVID-19 but also from any events that might leave you incapacitated, like an injury or accident.

Read more . . .

Thursday, March 26, 2020

CORONAVIRUS / COVID 19: Essential Estate Planning Considerations for Yourself and Loved Ones

With the threat and uncertainty of COVID-19, many people may be thinking about what they should be doing to prepare for and handle their personal estate planning needs or those of an elderly family member. Here is a checklist of estate planning essentials.

Healthcare or medical power of attorney.  This document allows you to designate a person or persons to assist you with your personal affairs and medical care.  It allows for a family member or close friend to make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself.

Read more . . .

Thursday, February 13, 2020

If A Decedent Dies Without A Will, How Are The Assets Distributed?

Each state has statutes called “Intestacy” statutes that are referred to when an individual dies without a Will. These statutes dictate intestate succession, which is how “probate” property is to be distributed to the decedent’s heirs. 

What is probate property, or, stated another way, when is a probate necessary? Generally speaking, probate is necessary when a person dies leaving property in his or her own name (such as a house titled in the name of the decedent) or having rights to receive property (such as a wrongful death claim or debt owed to a decedent). However, not all property in which the decedent has an interest will be subject to probate. There are certain kinds of property which pass to a new owner on death without going through probate, such as:

• Property which is owned by the decedent and another person as joint tenants with right of survivorship will pass automatically to the surviving joint owner without going through probate.
Read more . . .

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The SECURE Act and Your Estate Plan

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act). The Act became effective on January 1, 2020 and impacts retirement accounts. Among other things, the Act increases the start date for required minimum distributions (RMDs) from 70 ½ years of age to 72 years of age, eliminates the contribution age limit for qualified accounts, and allows penalty-free withdrawals of $5,000 for the birth or adoption of a new child. One of the more  significant and key provisions of the Act changes the way designated beneficiaries receive the funds after the account owner has died. 

In the past, designated beneficiaries had the opportunity to “stretch the account” – taking distributions over their individual life expectancy.
Read more . . .

Thursday, December 26, 2019

New Year's Resolutions

(I originally posted this almost ten years ago, but it still holds true today.)

We all make New Year’s resolutions.  Losing weight, exercising, learning a new language . . .
Read more . . .

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Estate Planning Awareness Week: The Importance to You and Your Family of Having an Estate Plan

In 2008, Congress recognized the need for the public to understand the importance and benefits of estate planning by passing House Resolution 1499, which designated the third week of October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Nevertheless, according to a 2019 survey carried out by, 57% of adults in the United States have not prepared any estate planning documents such as a will or trust despite the fact that 76% viewed them as important. Many of the respondents said this was due to procrastination, but many others mistakenly believed that it was not necessary because they did not have many assets.

Why should you have an estate plan?

An estate plan can provide significant peace of mind by ensuring your assets are protected, plans are in place in the event you become ill, and your property is passed down according to your wishes.
Read more . . .

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Why Living Trust Plans Don't Work

Many people think of estate planning as a one-time event. They may put a significant amount of time, money and effort into creating a great living trust-based plan, but then they file it away and forget about it. What is going to happen to these plans?  They won’t work when these people and their family need them to.

The most common reason trust-based plans don’t work is that the trust doesn’t own all of the assets.  So, even though a properly funded trust will allow the family to avoid probate, that won’t happen for these people.

Read more . . .

Thursday, September 12, 2019

529 Plans and Their Advantages

A 529 plan, otherwise known as a qualified tuition plan, is a tax-sheltered way of saving for education. 529 plans are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions, and offer several estate planning benefits.

Distributions from the 529 plan, if used for the beneficiary’s qualified education expenses, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, equipment, and a limited amount of room and board, for students at colleges, junior colleges, technical schools, and even, with limitations, primary and secondary schools, are income tax-free.

Even though you can change beneficiaries or get your money back, 529 plan contributions are considered “completed gifts” for federal gift tax purposes.  As such, they are eligible for gift tax annual exclusion, currently $15,000 per year per person, $30,000 for married couples, for any number of recipients.
Read more . . .

Archived Posts


← Newer12 3 4 5 6 7 8 Older →

Our law firm, attorneys and lawyers handle matters throughout Montana (MT), including Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Havre, Helena, Kalispell, Lewistown, Livingston, Missoula, Shelby and Whitefish.

© 2020 Scott, Tokerud & McCarty, P.C. | Disclaimer
Eight 3rd St. North, Suite 507, Great Falls, MT 59401
| Phone: 406-727-2200

Estate Planning | Elder Law | Veterans Aid & Benefits | Advanced Estate Planning | Probate / Estate Administration | Business Law | Business Succession Planning | Purchase/Sale of a Business | Special Needs Planning | Guardianships | Asset Protection | Planning for Children | Pet Trusts | Events | Articles & Videos | Professional Advisors | Newsletters

Attorney Website Design by
Zola Creative