Thursday, March 30, 2017

How Often to Review Your Estate Plan

If you already have an estate plan, that's great! Your next question is how often should you review that plan. More on that below. If you are like the almost 70% of folks who don't have a plan yet, now is the time to take care of that for yourself and family.

Here are the rules on how often to review your estate plan:

1. Every 2-3 years if nothing has happened.

2. Sooner than that interval if one of the following has occurred in your life:

  • Significant change in health of you, your spouse or a child.
  • Significant change in your net worth such as winning a lotto or inheriting.
  • A change in your family structure such as divorce, separation, marriage, living together, or birth of a child.
  • Becoming responsible for an elderly relative or parent.
  • Any other life event that is significant to you.
  • You learn of changes in the law and tax code that may impact you.
By following these simple guidelines you will keep your estate plan up to date, current and synced with your goals and objectives.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fraud Alert! 2017 Scams and Cons to Watch For

An unfortunate side effect of economic prosperity is the proliferation of scams, cons and con artists. The best way to protect yourself is to be armed with information and the discipline to say no.

Con artists seek to separate you from your money and property either directly or these days by stealing your identity. Here is a list of known frauds, scams and cons in Colorado, Douglas County and the Castle Rock area.

Let's start with the nationally publicized scams for 2017. Here is the current list from AARP:

AARP 2017 Scams

Next with tax season upon us, here are the current tax scams:

2017 Tax Scams

Credit and Money for Sex Scams. These are generally online and can involve offers of favors or even free rent and other products in exchange. Here's an interesting article:

Money or Credit for Sex Scams

Good Weather Scams. Good weather brings our the con artists who rely on good weather or even hail damage to try and steal your money. Good weather also brings out the door to door sales cons as well as ramping up internet cons. Here is a list of spring and summer scams:

1. Roofing scams. Protect yourself by dealing only with licensed roofing contractors from a list provided by your insurance company or local chamber of commerce.

2. Yard scams. Having someone else do the lawn work is inviting, but don't select someone who contacts via door to door, internet or phone.

3. Real estate advisors. There is NO such thing as a real estate advisor. People who are experts in real estate are tested and licensed by the state and are called realtors. Either deal with a licensed realtor or say goodbye to your money as it disappears into the pocket of a con artist.

4. The jobs scam. Someone promises you a job making calls or sending emails from home and they'll pay you for it. It's a scam called the "job scam" and now that you know about it you won't fall for it.

5. Sprinkler system repair scams. If someone comes to your home and tells you about your faulty sprinkler system, close the door. If you suspect issues with your plumbing or sprinkler system call your local water provider. They offer analysis and help to help you isolate what the actual problem may be.

6. Do we still need to mention internet scams? Yes we do as they represent one of the largest source of scams in America. As the graphic above says, if it sounds too good to be true it is. The internet is a wonderful place to send email, interact on social media, buy products from reputable companies and read the news. If your internet activity involves looking at and falling for things that sound too good to be true, you are asking to be scammed.

As new scams are reported on we will bring them to you. Help shine the light on scams and con artists and share this article with family and friends.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Wonder of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday because it is diverse--it means so many different things to different people. What does it mean to you?

As an estate planning attorney working with clients for the last 38 years on their wills and trusts Thanksgiving is often a motivator to many to accomplish their plans. Do you know why this is?

In my experience the holidays motiviate us to think about our families and being thankful for family is often a feature of the holidays.

As clients think about their family they are motivated to protect them. This motivation is the top reason that clients seek to have a will, trust and estate plan. In fact, here are the top reasons cited by clients for doing their estate planning:

1. Protection of family members such as spouse, children and grandchildren.

2. Protection of oneself. Many clients seek to protect against illness and disability and this is considered in every estate plan.

3. Protection of property, money or wealth. This is always an interesting factor since the amount of what someone has is irrelevant. While the current definition of a taxable estate for 2016 is $5,450,000 and for 2017 $5,490,000 many people do not have estates that large. What amount would you have to make you want to protect it? Many clients seek to protect the property they have regardless of the amount.

Whatever your reason for doing your will, trust and estate plan your reason is the best for you. I always recommend that clients consider the three areas listed above as they decide what is important to them and what to protect in their plan. As has been stated for generations, estate planning is one of the best gifts you can leave for your loved ones. Estate planning is never about how much you have, and always about how much you care for those you care for.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my family, my friends, my law firm and the wonderful town I live in. I wish to you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Bernie Greenberg