Just How Important Is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

All of your estate planning materials should be drafted by an experienced estate planning attorney and reviewed on a regular basis. Financial planning, estate planning and long-term care planning should always be conducted together to ensure that you’ve taken a long-range view and are able to appoint people to step in quickly to make decisions on your behalf if necessary. 

Even if you reviewed your estate planning years ago, your advanced health care directive, your will and your trust should be reviewed periodically. Advanced health care directives can be especially important if you were suddenly diagnosed with a serious medical condition such as cancer. A person who has been diagnosed with cancer will find their lives completely turned upside down if they have not taken proper planning.

Savings can be eliminated quickly, priorities change and jobs can be jeopardized. Furthermore, if you have not named a person to step in and make decisions on your behalf as it relates to your medical care, you could be exposed to a broad range of other problems. Setting up a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney who is mindful of all of the complicated issues affecting people in modern times can help you.  

What Doctors Need to Know About Estate Planning

Most doctors are hesitant about unnecessary paperwork in their life but because of this, they avoid taking on critical planning responsibilities as it relates to their estate. Estate planning can even seem morbid or excessively time consuming for someone with an already busy schedule. However, you should definitely start to put together your own estate plan if you’re a physician because you already face a heightened risk of lawsuits and a need for asset protection planning. There are several different steps that doctors can take in order to increase their chances of successful estate planning.

Estate planning doesn’t have to be complicated and should instead be in line with your direct needs. Some of the most important steps that doctors can take are relatively simple and can be accomplished in an afternoon. These include:

  •   Looking into long-term life insurance to provide critical benefits for your family members if something were to happen to you.
  •   Ensuring that your practice has an appropriate business succession plan in place should you become disabled or suddenly pass away, enabling your loved ones to take action and step in if necessary.
  •   Verify your beneficiary designations have been updated on an annual basis in reflection with any life changes.
  •   Ensure that you have at least a basic will in addition to other trusts and tools that can be used to help to protect your loved ones.

What Unexpected Caregivers Need to Know

Some people may not anticipate being a caregiver in the future, but that’s something they need to check in with their parents about. Adult children are not always aware that their parents are planning to use them as a caregiver.

A lack of long term care insurance and other assets that could be used to pay for critical health benefits in the future may mean that some parents are planning on their adult children to take care of them. Although parents often have unmet expectations of their children, this rarely comes up until the caregiving issue is in an emergency state. 

Parents who may be left with no one else to help them around the house or to bring them to doctor’s appointment can be a devastating situation for an adult child who is less able to save for their own future as they help pay for their parents’ future care. A study completed by Bay Alarm Medical shows that more than 55% of parents anticipate that their children will be the ones taking care of them, financially or physically, as they get older but most children did not agree with that notion or even know about it. In the Midwest, for example, only approximately one-third of adult children expected that they were responsible for caring for their aging parents.

Although participants in other regions of the United States were much more likely to say that they felt an obligation to take care of their aging parents, the ones most likely to step up for responsibility were the children who were closest with their parents. Many families avoid talking about this or other money related topics because it is an uncomfortable subject. However, it can also be an important one if you anticipate that your children will be the ones taking care of you.

Millennials and Estate Planning Must Mix

Millennials and estate planning sounds like it might not necessarily go together but far too many millennials jump to this conclusion and their family members are left dealing with the aftermath. No matter how much money is generated over the course of a lifetime, it is not real wealth if it is not effectively transferred to future generations. Estate planning is one of the most neglected aspects of wealth building and personal finance today, even among high-income professionals and successful entrepreneurs. An increasing number of both of these individuals happen to be millennials. Many people assume that they are neither rich enough nor old enough to make estate planning a top priority. 

Millennials are managing their money just as effectively as baby boomers and generation X, according to recent studies, may have a lot to lose falling for this myth. Estate planning can be a misnomer because it does seem to imply that it is only for the wealthy, leaving far too many of these millennials to ignore the estate planning process and expose themselves and their family members to problems in the event of an accident.

Sudden incapacity or death of millennial without an estate plan can lead to probate disputes and other problems after the fact. Estate planning is simply a prudent look ahead to protect family members and loved ones in the event that something unexpected happens and is increasingly important for millennials who are garnering more and more wealth in the current economy.


Can a Second Trust Created by a Person Revoke the First One?

If a person already has a trust established with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, they may be curious about whether a second trust could revoke the terms of the first one. The simple answer to this question is generally no because the creation of a second trust does not immediately revoke a prior trust. 

This is because there is a significant difference between trusts and wills that many people struggle to understand. Although wills contain a provision that a new will revokes all prior wills, trusts typically do not include the same language or apply in the same way. There is an exception to this rule fi the second trust is a complete amendment of or a restatement of the first trust.

However, a restatement is not a new trust in and of itself, but rather an amendment to the first trust already created. It is a complete amendment but still an amendment to the trust already generated. A trust may also contain a provision that revokes the first trust but this would technically classify as revocation in a written form of the first trust and would usually work to revoke the first one. However, many people may need to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney about their intentions to do this and the possible problems that may arise as a result of it.


Put Together the Plan Before You Need It with Estate Planning

Have you put off an estate plan because you don’t think you need it? Far too many families wind up dealing with the impact of a loved one’s loss without any planning in place. 

Many people don’t realize the value of estate planning until it’s too late. Most people set up their initial consultations with an estate planning attorney after they’ve had a negative experience with a friend or family member, or perhaps after they have seen a news about a celebrity’s death that prompted numerous estate planning issues.

Estate planning involves so much more than simply ensuring that your stuff ultimately gets passed on to your loved ones.

It might be easy to think of estate planning as simply putting together a will and outlining how your physical possessions will pass on to future generations, but you should consider that a good estate plan takes care of you during the course of your life, as well as your individual family members after you pass away.

Tools like wills, trusts, powers of attorney and more can help to articulate the individual decisions and desires you have if something were to happen to you unexpectedly. The right estate planning attorney is an invaluable asset as you navigate these complex processes and articulate a plan that protects you and your loved ones now and well into the future.

New Tax Law Could Tremendous Windfall for Your Children

The new federal exemption amount has increased as a result of the new tax law, which means that the amount you or your estate can pass on to your heirs free of taxes has increased to approximately $11 million this year from $5.49 million in 2017. 

An existing will that already includes a reference to the federal exemption amount rather than a specific amount for calculating children’s inheritance could mean that more is going to the children and less to your spouse than intended. If you intend to pass on significant wealth to your children and your spouse, you may need to consider reevaluating estate plan based on the wording inside your will. Your spouse could end up with a smaller portion of your estate than you intended due to the new estate tax rules if you have unclear wording in your will.

For wealthy individuals who have wills drawn up prior to 2018, there’s a chance that no specific dollar amount is included directly inside the will. This means that it may not be clear how much money goes into a trust for your children. Rather, the will might refer to the current federal estate tax exemption amount which has changed since you put together the original will. This is why it is worth scheduling a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer as soon as possible to give you the clarity you need to restructure your will or include new wording that is clear.


Things You Can’t Ignore in the Family-Owned Business Succession Planning Process

A company that you started with your spouse decades ago may hold sentimental value for you but it also has significant financial value and possible future value if your children or other heirs intend to take it over. There are multiple different things you need to consider in the process of business succession planning for a family-owned business. 

Often the emotions and conflicts that are present in a family owned business may be more difficult to deal with, highlighting the importance for an experienced business succession planning attorney. First of all, you must consider exit strategies. You must evaluate whether or not your children have the desire and the qualifications to take it over and to outline the appropriate exit strategy for the family from a financial perspective. Transferring a business can generate major tax implications if you don’t do advance planning. You might lose 30% or more to taxes which could impact the departing business owner’s retirement.

Communication with key employees and family members is another crucial component of business succession planning. Discussing the plan helps remove uncertainty about the business’s future and involving advisors to help with the streamlined process can keep everyone informed and confident. Business succession planning should also coordinate with individual estate planning tools. Transferring assets to children is a common concern for people in this situation but this needs to be done carefully and with the guidance of a lawyer who has worked in this field for many years.      

James Brown’s Estate Is Still Unsettled

Eleven years after the death of James Brown, his estate planning has fallen short in the plan to distribute his wealth efficiently. None of the beneficiaries in the will have received even a dime of the money. This includes underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia. Mr. Brown intended to donate significant amounts of money to these entities, however, a number of legal disputes have emerged and kept the estate dispute alive for more than 10 years. A dozen separate lawsuits related to the estate were initially filed after Mr. Brown passed away in 2006 on Christmas Day. The most recent of these was filed last month in California. 

Nine of the children and grandchildren of Mr. Brown are suing the widow and the estate administrator, arguing that copyright deals made by the widow were improper and illegal. Another lawsuit alleges that the widow was not actually ever James Brown’s wife. His will initially set aside $2 million to underwrite scholarships for his grandchildren and it gave his household effects and costumes to the six children he did recognize, a bequest that was estimated approximately $2 million.

The will was challenged, however, and an initial settlement was proposed that would give the children and grandchildren a quarter of the estate and the widow another quarter. However, that was overturned by the Supreme Court due to asset distribution that did not appear to be in line with James Brown’s original goals.

Why Do Wills Need to Be Recorded?


You may not need to necessarily record a trust although an important component of your trust strategy is to fund it after you have put it together. Far too many people stop after the establishment of a trust and fail to follow through with the funding. There are many different estate planning concepts included in the answer to the question about why a will needs to be recorded or filed. When you leave a will, you leave a clear set of instructions that help to determine how your property is distributed to your heirs after you pass away. estate plan and legacy

Someone must have the authority to transfer this property and this authority is granted by a court after the will is appropriately filed. The process of presenting the official will triggers the beginning of the probate process. A trust, however, is an entity that is generated when a trustee and a settlor enter into a trust agreement. A person who does not control the trust may have more challenges than a person who establishes themselves as a key player in the trust. Although you can’t touch or see a trust as you would a printed will, this is a legally recognizable entity that contains some distribution instructions after you pass away.

However, the court does not have the authority to grant the settlor’s final instructions included in a trust. This is a major departure from a will. Since the trust can survive the settlor and the trustee is granted the authority in such an agreement under state law, no court involvement may be required. Schedule a consultation today with an experienced estate planning attorney to learn more about your options with regard to estate planning.