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His Kids, Her Kids–Who Inherits? What About Adoption?

If you have adopted children or unadopted stepchildren, estate planning is critical to ensure that your property is distributed the way you desire. If you’re unmarried and in a long-term relationship with someone who has biological or adopted children, planning may be particularly important. Adopted children Adopted children are treated the same as biological children for most estate planning purposes. Thus, adopted and biological children are treated the same way under a state’s intestate succession laws, which control who inherits property in the absence of a will. In addition, adopted children generally are treated identically to biological children for purposes… Read More

If You’re Thinking About a Special Needs Trust, Read This

If you are the parent or other caregiver for a person with a serious medical or physical disability, you may find yourself wanting to financially assist and support your loved one. But this can create problems if your loved one receives government benefits, such as MediCal or Social Security Income (SSI). Because these government programs provide benefits based on the financial needs of the beneficiary, eligibility is based on strict income and asset qualification requirements. This means that providing financial assistance to a family member with special needs must be done in a way that will not interfere with the… Read More

7 Ways to Protect Your Assets

When planning your estate, your primary objective is probably to pass on as much wealth to your heirs as possible. And if you’re like most people, you want to reduce or eliminate estate taxes as well. But litigation, divorce, malpractice and other potential claims may damage your net worth more than taxes. So protecting assets from potential claims has become an additional planning objective. Fortunately, many of the same techniques you can use to reduce estate taxes also can provide creditor protection. You can use many techniques to reduce your estate for tax purposes while also protecting your assets from… Read More

After the Death of Your Spouse

Your spouse has just passed away. Coping with the loss of your loved one will be difficult. It is important that you allow yourself time to grieve. As soon as you’re able, it is also vitally important to make sure that you take the death of your spouse into account in your estate planning. Let’s look at the various estate planning documents and some of the things that should be considered at this time. 1. Your Trust You should carefully review the distribution that you have specified to ensure that it is still what you wish. You should also consider… Read More

Digital Assets Need to be Covered in Estate Plans Today

An area I recently noticed becoming a concern for my clients is being sure that their online assets are as secure as what is in a safe. As a result, I have recently begun to provide a checklist for them that includes passwords and usernames for their various online accounts. This way, their families will be able to access these accounts should they become incapacitated or when they pass away. This checklist should obviously then be stored in a secure place where the family can have access to it, but not someone who has no right to the information. I… Read More

Do I Need a Power of Attorney?

One of my clients was 76 years old with a chronic health condition. She had been advised by numerous people to create a Power of Attorney (POA) but was not sure what that meant. She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to make decisions for herself if she created a Power of Attorney. I assured her she was making the right decision by appointing her oldest daughter, whom she trusted, as her Attorney-In-Fact. We worked together to create a trust for her home, her stocks and a small rental property. I prepared a will for her also. Then I… Read More

What Happens to Your Pet if Something Happens to You?

Over the years, we have heard of numerous high profile people, such as Leona Helmsley, who have established multi-million dollar trusts for their pets’ care. Although this is probably overkill for most of us, California, along with 38 other states, has enacted legislation which recognizes pet trusts. California law requires the courts to do their best to figure out the intentions of the person who set up the trust and give them the benefit of the doubt if it’s not clear what the person intended. Moreover, courts are authorized to consider all relevant evidence of the settlor’s intent. How a… Read More

Six Reasons Why Your Adult Child Should Not Be on the Title of Your Home

Many parents, in planning their estates, add an adult child’s name to the title of their home, bank account or other assets. This may not be the best approach to estate planning, and may have unintended consequences. “Joint tenant” approach The most common way to do this is to make the child a “joint tenant with full rights of survivorship”. This means that when one joint owner dies, the other joint owner automatically acquires sole ownership of the property. Theoretically, adding your child’s name to the deed to your home or to bank accounts is a good move because it’s… Read More

The Importance of Asset Protection During a Recession

In times of recession, it is very wise to have a form of asset protection. Asset protection is the process of protecting a personal or business property from risks such as bankruptcy, lawsuits, divorce settlements, and claims. It is sometimes referred to as the debtor-creditor law. If you lose a lawsuit, you could lose your life savings or even everything you own. Even giant corporations and conglomerates are not exempted from the perils of bankruptcy. More often than not they are the first to go down in times of financial crisis and recession. Only those who are wise enough to… Read More

Make Sure You Do This When Considering Divorce

One of the financial advice sites we like is ClarkHoward.com. He’s a common-sense guy who doesn’t like to waste money. Recently, he posted this video Separate Your Credit When you Separate from Your Spouse about an issue people sometimes encounter after separating. We hope you’ll find it enlightening, but never need to use it! Feel free to forward it to family and friends, however.

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