Why Do I Need a Trust?

A simple will works for some people, but it's not for everyone. For those is in a second marriage, have minor children, or are concerned about fraud, a trust may serve you much better.  There are some simple estate planning techniques that you can use to avoid probate and simplify things for your heirs when you die, for example: adding beneficiaries to your retirement accounts or adding transfer on death (TOD) Read More

Is it a Good Idea to Convert my IRA to a Roth IRA and Leave it to My Children?

Roth IRAs are getting a lot of attention these days. I get a lot of questions about how to use a Roth IRA in an estate plan if you want to take advantage of tax-free growth your account will enjoy when you leave it to your children or grand children.  Some retirees convert their IRAs to Roths even if they’re not convinced the move will pay off for them. Why? It will almost certainly pay off for their heirs. A Roth Read More

What You Can’t Do With a Will

Most people know what a will does but there are things that it won’t cover. A will is just one part of a comprehensive estate plan. Here is what you can't do with a will. A will is a legally-binding statement directing who will receive your property at your death. It is also the way you appoint a legal representative to carry out your bequests and that you name a guardian for your children. Without a will, your Read More

Why Small Business Owners Need an Estate Plan

Running a small business can keep you busy, but it should not keep you from creating an estate plan. Not having a plan in place can cause problems for your business and your family after you are gone.   While an estate plan is important for everyone, it is especially important for small business owners. Planning allows you to dictate what will happen with your business after you die or are no longer able to manage Read More

The Benefits of an LLC as Part of Your Estate Plan

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are an important tool for small business owners, but they can also be useful in estate planning. An LLC can help you pass assets to your children while avoiding gift and estate taxes.  An LLC is somewhere between a partnership and a corporation. Like a corporation, LLC owners are protected from liability. But like a partnership, the owners report income and losses from the company Read More

Understanding the Common Types of Trusts

A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person (or an institution, such as a bank or law firm), called a "trustee," holds legal title to property for another person, called a "beneficiary." Trusts fall into two basic categories: testamentary (created by your will at death) and inter vivos (during your lifetime). A testamentary trust is one created by your will, and it does not come into existence until you Read More

End-of-Life Care Decision Making With Medical Directives

Just as we create estate plans for our eventual demise, we also need to plan ahead for the possibility that we will become sick and unable to make our own medical decisions. Medical science has created many miracles, among them the technology to keep patients alive longer, sometimes indefinitely. As a result of many well-publicized "right to die" cases, states have made it possible for individuals to give detailed Read More

The Durable Power of Attorney: Your Most Important Estate Planning Document

For most people, the durable power of attorney is the most important estate planning instrument available -- even more useful than a will. A power of attorney allows a person you appoint -- your "attorney-in-fact" or “agent” -- to act in place of you – the “principal” -- for financial purposes when and if you ever become incapacitated. In that case, the person you choose will be able to step in and take care of your Read More

Five Reasons to Have a Will

Your will is a legally-binding statement directing who will receive your property at your death. It also appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes. However, the will covers only probate property. (Probate is the court process by which a deceased person's property is passed to his or her heirs and people named in the will.) Many types of property or forms of ownership pass outside of probate. Read More

Estate Planning When You Have a Stepfamily

Ideally, when a second marriage joins two families together, should be a joyous occasion that creates one bigger family unit - the "blended family." Unfortunately, it too often also creates inheritance fights between stepparents and children. A good estate plan is necessary to help avoid these types of family squabbles.  Complications can arise when two people who both have children from previous relationships marry. Read More