Getting Started

People generally avoid estate planning. Here, we discuss ways to find a lawyer, as well as newer options including virtual law offices and do-it-yourself planning, to hopefully motivate you to get started.

How Much Do You Really Want to Know About Your Estate Plan?

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I received some interesting comments on my last post from Jennifer Deland, a Massachusetts estate planning attorney.  To paraphrase, she expressed that the typical estate planning client is really not interested in the technical language stated in the law.  Instead, it is of utmost importance to determine what the client thinks the documents say and…

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The Repercussions of Drafting Estate Planning Documents Imprecisely

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You’ve probably heard the notion that one incorrectly drafted phrase or sentence can have great detrimental effects on your will or trust.  Later in this post, we will provide two examples of this consequence. But first, we provide essential background to help further underscore the main point that preparing a will takes precision, careful attention…

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MDP Ethics (or “I’m a CFP Again, But Keep it on the Down Low”)

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I would like to take this opportunity to announce that I am once again a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).  I took a brief hiatus from this designation but now have re-qualified.  I am now entering my 15th year of CFP-dom.  Read more...

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4 Steps to Take Today to Preserve Your Digital Assets

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Today, we will continue our discussion of digital estate planning by talking about some direct steps you can take to protect your “digital assets” after your death. The overall goal is to protect the existence of your documents, pictures, emails, etc., and to prevent sites from destroying them before your digital executor can get to…

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It’s Time for Estate Planning Maintenance Plans: Here’s Why

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Today, I’d like to revisit the idea of estate-planning maintenance plans.  There is a new trend developing in which people can not only receive the requisite documents from their estate planning attorney, but can also pay an annual fee to have the attorney provide necessary updates and guidance as your life, your circumstances and even…

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Latest Simpsons Episode Raises Concerns About Burns’ Estate Plan

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The first three minutes of the latest episode of The Simpsons, “Flaming Moe“, introduced a slew of interesting estate planning themes.  Spoiler alert: I reveal here these three minutes of the plot, which is then relegated to barely an afterthought for the remainder of the episode.  Read more...

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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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22 Errors Found in a “Create Your Own Will” Software Package

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Last week, I bought a fairly well-known estate planning software package for under $50 to see how well it would do in drafting a will. I assumed that I was part of a married couple living in Anytown, Virginia with a small, non-taxable estate that wanted to disinherit one of our three adult sons.  Read…

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Estate Planning Fees: The 6 Levels of Service

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The distinguished blogger Hani Sarji, in his excellent forbes.com blog “Estate of Confusion”, has recently posted twice about estate planning fees.  Here, I continue the discussion by describing what I see as the six available levels of service for estate planning.  Be sure to pay close attention to the pros and cons for each as…

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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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