Tuesday, September 26, 2017

6 Estate Planning Steps to Take Right Now

More than 70% of folks who should have some plan in place do not. No will, power of attorney, HIPAA documents or living will. Numerous sources report this has stayed consistently high for almost 30 years.

Not having any plan is hazardous to you and your family in these ways:

1. No plan = undesired results.

2. No plan = no choice of decision makers.

3. No plan = no protections in place for you, your loved ones and your property.

Everyone seems to agree on the merits of having some plan in place yet an alarming number of folks still have no plan. Here are six simple steps you can take today to protect yourself and family:

1. Think about what is important to you and decide if you want to protect your spouse and children.

2. With the large federal estate and gift tax exemptions planning today is about protecting family members and income tax savings. Gather together your asset information: titles and beneficiary designations.

3. Schedule an estate planning meeting with a qualified estate planning attorney; one who actually specializes in estate planning.

4. Discuss your goals, assets and beneficiary designations with your estate planning attorney.

5. Implement the plan by signing all of the estate planning documents you work out; will, trust, powers of attorney, living will and health care documents.

6. Make sure each asset is titled properly and the beneficiary designations are ALL coordinated with your estate plan.

Estate planning is all about family!

Six simple steps to estate planning success and to get on the road to protecting yourself, your family and your property.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

3 Steps To Finding a Qualified Estate Planning Attorney

When you decide to get your will and estate planning started one of your first  steps is selecting the right estate planner. Difficulty with this alone stops many from completing their will and plan. Here are three sure-fire steps to follow to make sure you have the best and right assistance.

1.  Avoid the DYI Route

It's so tempting, do it yourself, save money and cut out the lawyers. With all those home fix up shows on TV and all the youtube videos how hard could it be right? Wrong! DYI estate planning is risky for you and a certain way to force your family into probate court. Read the many articles below on the specific risks of DYI estate planning.

2. Avoid the Internet Route

Also tempting is to find an online form and fill that out. Even websites like Legal Zoom should be avoided. There are several articles below discussing why the internet approach is also doomed to fail. Besides, who wants OJ's lawyer preparing their will and health care documents?

3. Make sure the lawyer you work with has these qualifications

  • Minimum of 7 consecutive years as a full time estate planning specialist or is an associate in a firm that has at least one attorney who meets this criteria.
  • Peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell of AV or is an associate in a law firm where the director of the estate planning department has this rating.

Now you have three simple steps to finding the right estate planning attorney for you and your family. Remember to use all three steps and to insist on the two requirements from the lawyer you choose. Not all attorneys are qualified to practice estate planning law and you are the only person who can protect yourself.

Thank you for your interest in wills and estate planning. Feel free to join the conversation by commenting below or sending me an email.

Bernie Greenberg

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.