Estate Planning 101

An overview of estate planning, including discussions about intestacy, probate, asset ownership and estate taxes.

Digital Assets: Estate Planning for Online Accounts Becoming Essential (Part I)

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If you are the only person who has access to your online accounts, then what happens when you die?  When you open an account online, you usually have to first accept the company’s “Terms of Service” on a take it or leave it basis.  These terms usually provide that the company will maintain some level…

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Senate Tax Bill Introduced: Impact on Estate Taxes and Revenues

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Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced the first Congressional bill that reflects the Obama-Republican compromises on estate taxes from earlier this week. Hani Sarji at forbes.com has closely monitored the estate tax debate all week and provided an excellent summary of Reid’s bill early this morning.  Here, I summarize his summary by briefly explaining…

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The Estate Tax Debate: Some Behind-the-Scenes Concerns

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A $5 million estate tax exemption with a lower estate tax rate?  Executive Branch vs. Legislative Branch?  Democrats vs. Republicans?  These are exciting times for estate planning enthusiasts.  I have always wondered why there was never a “Law and Order” or “L.A. Law” type of show featuring estate planning lawyers.  “No, Ms. Senior Partner, a…

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Obama and GOP Agree on Estate Tax: Winners and Losers

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Last night, President Obama and leading Republicans came to an agreement to reinstate the estate tax in 2011 and 2012. The agreement exempts an individual’s first $5 million from the tax, and above that amount, the rate maximizes at 35%.  Read more...

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Estate Planning Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I

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As we all know, many films do not take the time to peruse the estate planning effects caused by its characters and events.  I found that “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I”, released Friday, was a fine exception.  In fact, it was the earliest that a film introduced estate planning topics since “Death…

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Last-Minute Estate Planning Can Lead to Chaos

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I had the misfortune of hearing a dreadful story over the weekend.  It is a fine example of how emotions can run quite high in the weeks leading to death if no estate plan is established, and how the survivors are left to solve complex issues that will have an impact for generations.  Read more...

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“Do I Need a New Will if I Move to Another State?”

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Generally, if a will is valid in one state, it will be valid in the next state.  However, if your state laws differ in the areas discussed below, a revision or a completely new will is likely warranted. Proving Your Will Your personal representative will have to prove the validity of your will to the…

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Linking Ideals and Website Disclaimers

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Changes are afoot at the website. First, I have tried to upgrade the home page using a new magazine-style format.  Additionally, I am trying to improve the navigability of the site through seven new major categories representing major estate planning phases and considerations.  Read more...

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Quaids and Star Whackers Need a Refresher Course

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Attorney-extraordinaire Jason Miller, a regular reader of this blog, alerted me to this ongoing saga about Randy Quaid and his wife Evi. To summarize, the Quaids believe that they are being pursued by a Hollywood cult called the “Star Whackers”. During their “escape”, the Quaids trashed their former home, skipped out on some large hotel…

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Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts: The Fundamentals

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As discussed in this post on common uses for trusts, an irrevocable trust is a separate entity you can create for many different purposes. The “Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust”, or ILIT, is one type of irrevocable trust that is set up to own life insurance on your life. With the ILIT, your family can ultimately…

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