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What’s In a Name?

Drafting your will requires you to think carefully about who you would appoint to handle important duties on your behalf once you have passed away. These persons are called fiduciaries and if they accept the position you have assigned them they hold a duty to the people over whom you have appointed them to act. It is also important to select successor fiduciaries who would assume

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What If?

Estate planners are in the business of “what ifs.” We need to make sure that your Will covers all the possible circumstances that might arise in your life. Generally speaking, if you are married and have children you have more “what if” scenarios to be concerned about than if you are single with no children. Let me explain by use of an example. Let’s say Tarzan

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You Can’t Take it With You

Last time we discussed the various types of Wills. Let’s discuss in greater detail what they contain and why they are so important. Let’s start with the disposition of assets. The old adage is true. You simply can’t take it with you. That means you have to choose to whom to leave “it.” “It,” means everything you own at death including your personal possessions and your

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Wills vs. Revocable Trusts

You probably already know what a Will is. Wills are often dramatized on television and in movies. We always see someone drafting a Will under harrowing experiences, like in a fox hole in war or on their death bed. Then, of course, there’s always the dramatic reading of the Will before the surviving family members. I always found those to be awkward scenes. Perhaps it’s because,

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A Guide for the Journey

A common mistake one can make in crafting an estate plan is adopting a “Do it Yourself” strategy. Building an estate plan is not like building a table. You can’t just Google how to do it, walk into your local hardware store, buy some lumber and start sawing away. Tax laws are complicated and as we just discussed, they change all the time. You need a

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Make Sure to Designate Beneficiaries

Some people make the unfortunate mistake of preparing a comprehensive estate plan but forgetting that not all of their assets will be governed by the dispositive provisions in their will or revocable trust. For example, if real estate is co-owned with other people, the way the property is titled will govern who inherits the property upon death. For example, a house owned by husband and wife

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Keep Your Original Will Safe and Locatable

Most states require that an original signed and witnessed will be produced to the court for probate. Duplicate copies are most often not accepted. Courts are extremely cautious and the general legal assumption is that if you cannot produce an original will it is because the decedent (otherwise known as a “Testator”) destroyed it with the intention that it not be probated. There are some exceptions

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Keep Your Estate Plan Current

In our last entry we talked about the failure to plan. You may have breathed a sigh of relief. You may be thinking, thank goodness that discussion isn’t about me. I didn’t make the mistake of failing to plan because I already executed my estate plan. Well, this statement too must be challenged. Many people who actually do take the time to prepare their estate plan

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Don’t Fail to Plan

We have already discussed the first mistake one can make vis-à-vis their estate plan. Namely, not to make one; simply failing to plan. There is a common misperception that estate planning is only for the wealthy; only for the 1%. This is entirely false. Everyone needs a plan. If you are reading this and you yourself haven’t yet begun to plan you may be under the

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Live Your Life, Plan Your Death, and Leave a Legacy

I’m a big Harry Potter fan. As a young adult I read all the books and watched all the movies. Now my children love them too. One of my favorite parts of the series, and in my humble opinion, the most genius of J.K. Rowling’s writings is the sub-story of the Deathly Hallows, a fabled children’s story from the Tales of Beedle the Bard, which tells

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