Last week we addressed how new proposed tax law may lower the federal gift and estate tax threshold and prohibit current gifting strategies to lower Massachusetts estate taxes, as well as the window right now to take advantage of those current strategies. If you did not get a chance to read that blog, go check it out here.
Family Estate Planning Law Group’s Family Care Meeting™ is a great way to begin talks with your family about your estate plan. By bringing together your team, which can include your loved ones, our attorney team, a financial advisor, accountant, or any other professional you want included, the Family Care Meeting™ opens up communication, facilitating the conversation and answering questions from all those involved.
It can be difficult to plan for the unthinkable, but if you have minor children, not only is choosing a guardian a “must-do,” it can also afford you peace of mind. You may find choosing a guardian to be challenging, but it does not need to be overwhelming. In a recent blog post, we went over some aspects to consider when choosing a guardian and we’ve also compiled them into an infographic for you.
Today we’re going to wrap up our series on the mistakes we often see in estate planning. While we’re all about planning here at Family Estate Planning Law Group (it’s even in our name), we know that some plans work better than others. Here are our last three reasons why:
Mistake #8: My Estate Planning Attorney Does Not Need to Know My Other Advisors
Many people come to this conclusion because they know that if their estate planning attorney spends an hour talking to their financial planner, they are going to get billed for it. Perhaps you have learned this the hard way. While financial planners, CPAs, insurance professionals, and attorneys practicing in other areas all concentrate on different things, they often overlap, particularly when it comes to your estate plan. Doesn’t it make sense for your team of professionals to start talking to each other now, instead of having to try to figure it out once you are not around to make decisions to clarify things anymore?
The solution to this problem is both simple and challenging. The simple part is to get your team of professionals talking to each other now. The challenging part is to find professionals who won’t charge you by the hour. Working with an estate planning attorney with an ongoing care program allows you to feel confident that they are coordinating with the people they need to in order to make sure your plan is going to work without always having to worry about what the bill is going to be at the end. [Read more…]
This is Part 2 of the Top Ten Mistakes blog series. Click here to catch up on Part 1.
In our last blog, we discussed the first four mistakes you can make: Procrastination, assuming wills or trusts avoid probate, leaving assets to a child or special needs beneficiary (directly), and assuming trusts take away beneficiary control. Today we’ll look at the next three.
Mistake #5: Not Organizing Your Information During the Pandemic
Have you organized all your financial records, deeds, tax information, insurance information, and estate planning documents in one secure place or central location? Does your family know where that is? Do they know what medications you take or who your doctors are? How about your lawyers, accountants, or financial planners? These are all things you might want to consider at any time, but they are especially critical now during this pandemic when things can change quickly.
If your financial information and records are not organized before death or disability (by you, the person who knows where everything is), your loved ones can be left with a morbid scavenger hunt trying to find and recreate financial information and records during an emotionally difficult time. This may keep them from being able to make timely, important financial decisions. Your family will not be able to handle your affairs, take care of you, or advocate on your behalf during the pandemic if they can’t find your information or do not have legal authority to do so.
The solution to this mistake is to work with an estate planning attorney who has an ongoing care program. Here at Family Estate Planning Law Group, our initial intake process helps you to identify all your assets as well as the team of professionals that you work with. We then track any changes because it doesn’t matter what you own today; it matters what you own when you die or become incapacitated.
In addition to working with an attorney with a client care program, we also suggest having a Family Care MeetingTM where you invite your caregivers (children) and your professionals (financial planners, CPAs, etc.) to discuss your plan so everyone understands how it will work.
Finally, we love the “Grab and Go” Kit suggested by Healthassist which you can check out here. It’s a list of things you might want to have readily available in case you get suddenly ill and have to go to the hospital during this pandemic. [Read more…]
We’ve been talking a lot recently about the mistakes we see in estate planning because now, more than ever, we are finding that people feel uncertain, and they want to know their loved ones are secure. Despite the best of intentions, sometimes estate plans just don’t work because they were not set up or maintained properly (or you never had one to begin with). While we all want to feel good about our planning, we also want to make sure it is not a false sense of security. The next few blogs will address the mistakes we often see, and how you can make sure that you don’t fall prey to them!
Mistake #1: Procrastination
One of the biggest and most common mistakes that we see in estate planning is procrastination. For many, creating an estate plan (or updating the one they did 15 years ago) is something they are always meaning to get to but never actually do. The biggest mistake you can make is not having an estate plan, because the probate court has one for you. And for those who do have a plan, their biggest mistake may be not having looked at it in years. Changes in the law, changes in what you own, family changes, job changes, changing your residence, and changing your wishes can all keep an old plan from being effective if it is not updated. In our experience, most estate plans fail because they do not reflect what you want to have happen now.
The solution to this mistake is simple: create an estate plan or update your existing estate plan. Even if you are not quite sure who you want involved or the exact details you want to be included in your plan, someone who specializes in estate or elder law planning will be able to help you with that. Additionally, if you work with a firm that has an ongoing care program, you can always update your plan if you change your mind or if your situation changes. [Read more…]
Although most of us probably cannot even imagine a scenario where we would refuse an inheritance, there are actually situations where it would make sense. Some of these situations include:
- The property left to you could require significant upkeep, therefore significant financial outlay. A property could have extremely high property taxes or insurance, or an older home could require so much upkeep that it is simply not financially feasible to accept the gift.
- Accepting the inheritance could potentially interfere with your eligibility for a necessary government assistance program.
- The inheritance may generate a level of tax obligation that you are simply not able to pay.
- You might want the property left for you to go to another person.
- You could be contemplating filing for bankruptcy and do not want the property to be sold to pay your creditors or have it otherwise interfere with your bankruptcy proceedings.
- You could be thinking about divorce and do not want to take the chance that the inheritance could be subject to the marital property division laws in your state.
- You simply may not like the item left to you or want the inheritance.
You may have wondered at some point in your life what would happen to your assets if you were to unexpectedly die. If you are like most of us, you quickly pushed those thoughts to the back of your mind, vowing to deal with them “later.” While few of us want to sit down and think about our eventual death, most adults recognize it is a topic that should be addressed. Many who have taken the step to have an estate plan drawn up may still find it awkward or uncomfortable to talk to family members about the estate plan.
It is extremely important to talk about your long-term care plans with your adult children or others who would be left to deal with your estate in the event of your death or incapacitation. Just remember, it is much better to have these conversations now than to wait until it is too late. Family Estate Planning Law Group’s Family Care Meeting™ is a great way to begin talks with your family about your estate plan. By bringing together your team, which can include your loved ones, our attorney team, a financial advisor, accountant, or any other professional you want to be included, the Family Care Meeting™ opens up communication, facilitating the conversation and answering questions from all those involved. [Read more…]
During these unique and unprecedented times, we at Family Estate Planning Law Group are still working hard to help our families create estate plans and update their estate plans efficiently while also focusing on keeping everyone safe through social distancing practices. With the new stay at home order extended to May 18th, we have come up with several options to help our clients efficiently and safely review and execute their estate planning documents until it is safe for us to start in-person meetings again. [Read more…]
While the uncertainty in today’s market because of Covid-19 may have you nervous about your investments and the value of your assets, there are ways to take advantage of the opportunities that this drop in the market may create for you and your family.
We recently came across an article by Bob Carlson on Forbes.com about tax and estate planning opportunities that have come up in this time of uncertainty and volatility in the market. He discusses certain actions you can take now while the market is low that may be advantageous to you. We encourage you to read Mr. Carlson’s article (here).