Friday, January 29, 2010

Baby Ita s Cold Outside, Better Call Your Estate Planner - Topix

Baby Ita s Cold Outside, Better Call Your Estate Planner - Topix

t's cold here in Philadelphia on this last Friday in January, and some spouses may feel they've been left out in the cold if the federal estate tax is not reenacted and applied retroactively in 2010.

Read the rest at the link above.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Good, you've decided to start your estate plan. What do you do next? Here are the steps to follow.

It's great that you have decided to start your estate plan. So what do you do next? Follow these steps to prepare for your meeting with us:

A. Gather Information

1. Gather together all documents like: deeds to real estate; bank account, brokerage firm account, and IRA account statements. If you don't have any of these, don't worry, these are not necessary for your estate planning.

2. Find your life insurance policies, if any.

3. Find your marriage certificate, divorce documents, pre-marital agreements or anything similar, if any.

4. Write down names and dates of birth for your spouse and children if you have a spouse or children.

5. Read the 8 Steps to Getting Yourself in Order on our blog at: to help you learn how to think about your estate planning.

B. Think about these issues:

1. Who do you want to make decisions or control your money if anything happpens to you?

2. Who do you want to receive your property when you die and are they old enough or capable enough to do so?

3. Are you aware of how taxes impact your situation? If not, just write down what you think about the question. Remember, estate planning is not just for people with money or lots of property.

4. Who should raise your children if something happens to you?

5. Are special arrangements for your pets or business appropriate?

6. Do you have a direct or network marketing business?

If you prepare using these simple steps, your initial estate planning meeting with us will be productive and provide you with what you need to proceed with your estate planning. If you have questions or want to discuss how to prepare for your initial meeting, just give me a call at: 303-730-7100.

If you are receiving this message via email it is because you are subscribed to our blog by email. If you would just prefer to read the blog on the web, go to: and you can do so.

Thank you for your interest in your estate planning.

Bernie Greenberg

Thursday, January 21, 2010

When is the Right Time to Begin Your Estate Planning

Do you know the right time to begin your estate planning? The answer surprises many people.

When I posted this question online, the only person who had the right answer was my friend and real estate expert, Lea Rogers.

The right time to begin your estate plan is before ANYTHING happens. I know, it sounds trite, and this is not a trick question. I mean before anything happens. That is the right time to begin your estate planning.

So, if that is the right time, before anything happens, then the real time to begin is now. Right now, because that is the only way you can be sure to begin before anything happens.

Lea correctly used the example of the terrible earthquake in Haiti to illustrate what we mean by anything. Accidents, illnesses, disabilities are, for the most part, unpredictable events. Because life is unpredictable, we can create some certainty in our lives by completing our estate plans. If we do this now, before anything does happen, we know that we have started our planning at the right time for us.

So, the answer to the little question that started this article is NOW. Now is the right time to begin your estate plan.

If you already have an estate plan, then now is the right time to review that plan.

Bernie Greenberg

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thought for Wednesday....Just Maybe....

With everything going on now in our world, this seems like a difficult time. Political strife; natural disasters; economic difficulties; sometimes it seems just overwhelming.

I normally only write about legal and estate planning topics, but I felt today like doing something different. My friend, Rob Thomas has a song out now that I feel has a message I wanted to share with you today.

So with thanks to Rob Thomas and giving him full credit for this message, here goes:

Maybe, someday, we'll figure all this out.
Get rid of all our doubt and
Find a way to make things better.

Baby, someday, we'll live our lives out loud.
We'll be better off some how,

I take comfort from Rob's words because I believe them, I believe that anything is possible and I hope you do too. Someday.

Bernie Greenberg

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Getting Yourself In Order Step 8: Review, Review, Review

In our series on how to get yourself in order, we are at the last step. Step 8 is Review, review and review. Why do we review? Well more on that below, but first, let's review the first seven steps to getting yourself in order.

1. Protect your house. This means getting the right homeowner's insurance and liability coverages in place.

2. Protect your car. This means getting the right car insurance, including liability coverage in place.

3. Provide for decision makers in the event of your disability. This means getting Durable Powers of Attorney with HIPAA provisions in place.

4. Create your dispositive document. This means do having a Will or revocable trust and working with an attorney who specializes in estate planning.

5. Synchronize your beneficiary designations on your insurance, IRA and 401(k) with your estate plan.

6. Beware of Uncle Sam in your planning. This means to consider the tax implications of what you do in your plan so as not to create any hidden tax traps.

7. Choose the right advisors. This one speaks for itself.

If you read the articles below you will find that each of these steps is discussed in detail.

Now what about reviews? Getting yourself in order is not something that you do just one time and forget about. It is an ongoing process. It's organic and that means that it is always subject to change. Changes like these:

1. Change in yourself. Your thinking and circumstances change from time to time and what you did a couple of years ago may not be how you decide today.

2. Change in your family structure. Marriage, babies, divorce, illness and death can create change in your family structure requiring a change in your planning.

3. Change in the laws. 2010 is a great example. Estate plans created with tax planning before 2010 were made obsolete by the 2010 estate tax law changes. Do you know how these changes in the law affect you? The only way is to do periodic reviews of your plans and arrangements.

That's why we recommend to all of our clients to have a review meeting with us at least once every two years. This permits us to review current situations in light of an older plan. By reviewing, we can synchronize your current situation and goals with your plan documents.

This concludes our series on Getting Yourself In Order. We hope you enjoyed the series and found it useful and informational. If you have any questions about any of the eight steps, feel free to email or call me anytime.

Bernie Greenberg

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Why Did Congress Decide to Take Money from Widows and Orphans?

This is a very good and very important question. I can't even pretend to be cynical enough to guess at the answer. Are you aware of this? If you are not, you have exposed your family to severe financial penalties.

How did this come about? It is the result of Congress's failure to extend the estate tax exemption and unlimited marital deduction into 2010. I will cover this in greater detail in future articles, but suffice it to say, this has created a financial and tax disaster for surviving spouses and children.

For the last 30 years the bedrock of estate planning has been the unlimited marital deduction. Since 1981, spouses could take comfort from knowing that there would be no estate tax at the first death between spouses. The estate tax burden was shifted to the second death. Starting January 1st of 2010, this is no longer the case.

Now the surviving spouse is faced with a new death tax that must be reckoned with in every case because there is no marital deduction. The federal estate tax has been replaced with a brand new tax on inherited assets. This is because the basis step up that occurred at the decedent's death is gone. Again, I'll get into more details in later articles. Now the surviving spouse must calculate basis in the assets of their deceased spouse and do complex and expensive tax planning at the first death.

Since most surviving spouse are women, this is a highly discriminatory new tax. While you ask a good question, "Why did Congress decide to take money away from widows and orphans"? I am sorry to say that there is answer, good or bad.

Stay tuned as we get into greater detail about Congress sticking you with the largest lower and middle class tax increase and boondoggle in U.S. history.