Estate Planning – Procrastination Then & Now

As Depeche Mode says in their iconic song, “people are people.” There is still an enormous emotional barrier to getting even basic estate planning in place (e.g. will). The reasons for procrastination have not changed much over the decades. One of the major reasons for putting it off relates to family dynamics. Conversely, “not leaving a will can actually escalate …

Estate Planning – The Out of Office Memo

Finally taking that long weekend, that week, or crazy as it sounds those TWO weeks off from work. OK, I’ve got X going on for Client 1, Y in process for Client 2 and Client 3 might need Z, or ZZ. Well then, I think I’ll just leave everything on my desk and take off…good luck clients and colleagues! No? …

Estate Planning – Do I Really Need a Will?

Let’s start by answering the question “What is a Last Will and Testament?” According to Black’s Law Dictionary a will is “(1) a wish, desire, choice; (2) A document by which a person directs his or her estate to be distributed upon death.1 ” A testament is defined as “A will disposing of personal property.2 ” Both definitions are quite …

Estate Planning – Prince v. David Bowie

As many of you may have read by now, it is believed Prince died without leaving a Will. His “estate” including his music catalog is believed to be valued at around $150 million. Without having planned, his tax burden alone may exceed $50 million (in Federal estate taxes). Prince comes from a large blended family and under Minnesota intestate laws, …

Estate Planning – Homestead Declaration No Covered Wagon Required

Homestead WHAT? It’s 2016, who has a “homestead?” Well if you own a house, condominium, manufactured home, etc. then you have a homestead! In Massachusetts, a homeowner receives automatic protection on their principal residence in the amount of $125,000. That amount is protected against the reach of an unsecured creditor. The most common example of an unsecured creditor is a …

Charitable Giving – It’s Important To Be Specific

“I love X and want to help X financially.”  Many of us have strong feelings about a certain cause and want to contribute to that cause either during our lives or after we pass away as part of our legacy.  The feeling and desire is admirable but can result in a quagmire of problems if not done specifically. In the article …

Estate Planning – Durable Power of Attorney

DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY The prior blog entry described the Health Care Proxy and the HIPAA Release documents. These documents provide for someone of your choosing to make health care decisions for you in the event you cannot make them for yourself, and receive information about your medical condition. These documents don’t allow your chosen Agent to pay for medical …

IRS Announces Inflation Adjustments for 2016

Rev. Proc. 2015-53 Income Tax: Highest Tax Bracket for Estates and Trusts. An estate or trust will be subject to the highest income tax bracket and Medicare surtax if taxable income exceeds $12,400 (increased from $12,300 in 2015). Gift Tax: Annual Exclusion for Gifts. The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $14,000 for 2016. Annual Exclusion for Gifts to Non-Citizen …

What Is An Estate Plan & Health Care Documents

An “ESTATE PLAN”….sounds complicated and a bit grand.  I can’t possibly have an “estate.”  Surprise, we all have an estate.  If we own our own home, a car, a bank account, a retirement account, a stamp collection, a piece of art, a pet, children, etc., this makes up our estate. What an estate plan allows you to do is provide …