Thursday, December 14, 2017

4 Reasons that Estate Planning Makes a Great Gift this Season

Giving the gift of estate planning can be one of the best gifts this holiday season!

Let's look at why estate planning is such a great gift.

1. Unlike a new phone or electronic device your estate plan does not expire or go out of fashion. Your estate plan is one of those forever things that is always there for you and is always protecting your loved ones. No phone can do that!

2. Your estate plan not only protects you but also your loved ones. It is inherently a gift of sharing. You don't have to loan out your estate plan like you would a phone or other device, it just sits in the background and is there when it is needed.

3. Your estate plan can be made private. Unlike a new device the government or other hackers cannot snoop on your estate plan. If you like privacy your estate planning is much better than dropping out of society and living in a cave forever.

4. Many clients have given the gift of estate planning for the holidays and told me that the peace of mind they have gained knowing that their families and property are protected is priceless. That makes estate planning not only a great gift but worth more than any other gift out there.

Consider taking the advice of these folks and give the gift of estate planning to your family this holiday season. You'll be glad you did!

Bernie Greenberg

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

How Proposed Tax Reform Impacts Your Estate Plan

As you may have heard, President Trump and the Congress have proposed a major revision to our tax system. This tax reform contains major changes to the estate tax arena which also involves estate, gift and generation skipping taxes.

In the article link below, these changes are discussed in detail and that's good because I don't believe you want to read a 770 page article from me. Here is the article:

Wealth Management Article on Estate Tax Changes

As you can see the changes to the estate tax system are significant! Here is a short list:

1. Immediate increase in the exemptions to $22 million.

2. Repeal of the death tax in the year 2024.

3. Other changes too numerous to list here. Please read and print the article to have for reference.

If you read that entire article I will buy you a cup of coffee! Congratulations. Suffice it to say that this proposal has not passed yet and my never do so. Watch for more news about this. I view this as a continuation of the trend started in 2010 to remove the tax overlay from your estate planning. Whether this will pass is a question not addressed here.

Thank you for your attention and interest in estate planning.

Bernie Greenberg

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.

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.