Our EstatePlanner Documents Organizer

Our EstatePlanner Documents Organizer
The EstatePlanner is a comprehensive estate planning and documents organizer system.This useful financial tool is the easy and efficient solution to enable your heirs to quickly locate all your important legal documents and information, and to settle your estate quickly and inexpensively. It consists of 150 pages of tabbed forms, planning checklists, and estate planning information, all housed in a deluxe 3-ring binder. It comes with an instructional CD recorded by Mr. Loveridge to help you use it effectively. $79.95 + s/h. For more information, see our posting for November 28, 2008, below. To order, call us at (801) 262-8889, or email us at emarel@comcast.net. Free Bonus when you order The EstatePlanner: Mr. Loveridge's 172-page estate planning course, "How To Avoid Probate, Death Taxes, and Family Civil War!"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"End of Life" Decisions. It's important to make decisions about the kind of medical care you wish to receive if you are sick or terminally ill, and to name the persons (i.e., "agent") who can make those decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You also may wish to become an organ donor, which can give the "gift of life" to those in need.

If you are a Utah resident, you should complete the new (effective Jan. 1, 2008) Utah Advance Health Care Directive, which replaces both the old Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will forms previously used. You can find the Directive and instructions for completing it (along with other useful information) at http://aging.utah.edu/utah_coa/directives/index.html. That site also has a very useful Toolkit which I recommend you read and complete before making any decisions. Be sure to print and sign two copies of the Directive; keep one at home and give the other to your family, doctor or attorney for safekeeping.

Utah residents can find information and register as an organ donor, by calling the Utah Donor Registry at 866-YES-UTAH or by visiting www.yesutah.org.

Non-Utah residents can find the legal requirements for their state by visiting www.donatelife.net/CommitToDonation/index.php.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Do You Have Unclaimed Assets? You or your relatives (alive or deceased) may have unclaimed property (i.e., bank accounts, etc.) to which you or a family member are legally entitled. Do a quick check at the following website, which represents state governments throughout the country: http://www.unclaimed.org. Don't forget to enter not only your own name, but the names of deceased relatives (i.e., mother, father, etc.) to search for unclaimed assets. If you discover assets which belong to a deceased relative, our office can help you provide the legal documentation to claim them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Avoid "Family Civil War!" One of the most common sources for family contention when settling an estate is the distribution of personal effects (i.e., collectibles, family photos, antiques, etc.). Often, a decedent leaves it up to a successor trustee to pass these items to family members in a "fair" manner without designating which specific items should be given to each individual. Years ago, one of my clients died without indicating, in writing, how her two children should divide her furniture and art works. Her children fought over them and paid their lawyers almost $25,000 (!) in legal fees to resolve differences. The items eventually were divided, but relationships were shattered. The easy solution? Write down who is to receive your personal effects, or, at least, the procedure you wish to be followed in distributing them.

Here are some tips to effectively distribute valuables: 1) Talk to each family member privately to find out which items they would most value; 2) designate-in a dated and signed writing-which items should pass to each beneficiary; 3) be sure to specify (especially in the case of more valuable items) whether the gift counts as part of their share of the estate or is in addition to their share; 4) if two or more persons desire the same item (i.e., your piano, grandfather clock, etc.), consider specifying that the item will be distributed based on a family auction (i.e., the highest bidder receives the item and the auction proceeds are divided among all members, etc.); 5) if you leave personal effects to your spouse (and this is especially important in the case of "blended" marriages where each spouse has children from a prior marriage), specify whether your spouse should receive your items outright or merely to use until his or her death or remarriage (remainder to another). Most important (again, very important to do in a "blended" marriage): Be sure to identify which items in your household are yours or your spouse's, to better clarify who has the legal authority to dispose of them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

East budgeting and tracking of your finances. In these uncertain (and turbulent!) economic times, it's even more crucial that we control our finances. One of the most useful sites I've found is MINT.COM. This wonderful site helps you track all your expenditures, set financial goals, reduce your debt, and automatically links all your financial activities to your bank or credit union accounts. One of the site's most useful features is that you can log on and see, in easy-to-understand graphics (i.e., pie charts), where you're spending your money--essential information if you're trying to "stay within budget." The best part? It's absolutely free! Check it out!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

When Powers of Attorney Are Not Effective. We recommend that our clients have a General Durable Power of Attorney, naming an agent of their choice to manage their finances and other transactions if they become disabled or incompetent. Clients occasionally tell us, however, that their power of attorney was ineffective to access funds in an account or to sell or transfer real estate or other assets. The reason for this is simple: Your power of attorney only can be used for your personal assets (i.e., assets titled in your name, alone), and will not be effective for assets titled in the name of your Living Trust.

How can your trust assets be managed for you if you become incompetent? Your Successor Trustee (named in your trust) simply executes an Affidavit of Incapacitation acknowledging your incompetence, attaches a letter from your doctor verifying your incapacitation, and presents the Affidavit to each institution where you keep trust assets. Your Successor Trustee, then, can replace your name with his on your trust assets, becoming your trustee, and can manage your trust assets for you without a court hearing or court supervision. If you either don't have a General Durable Power of Attorney, or need it updated, please contact us at (801) 262-8889 or email us at emarel@comcast.net.
Sick of Credit Offers? Visit https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t to "opt out" of credit card and other credit solicitations. For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission's web site: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre17.shtm.
Historical Tax Returns. Would you like to see what income tax forms (and tax rates) looked like over the years? Go to: http://www.taxhistory.org/www/website.nsf/Web/1040TaxForms?OpenDocument and click on any year. In particular, examine the (low) tax rates on the 1913 return (and weep!).

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Identity Theft Protection Using a "Security Freeze." You can protect yourself against a crook using your stolen personal information, like your Social Security number, to open new accounts in your name. Simply implement a “security freeze,” which “freezes” or locks access to your credit file against anyone trying to open up a new account or to get new credit in your name.

When a security freeze is in place at all three major credit bureaus, an identity thief cannot open a new account because the potential creditor or seller of services will not be able to check your credit file. When you want to apply for credit, you can lift the freeze temporarily using a PIN so legitimate applications for credit or services can be processed. For more information about Utah’s Credit Freeze Law, and how to “freeze” or “unfreeze” your credit information, see: http://www.consumersunion.org/pdf/security/securityUT.pdf

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Disinherited by Ademption. I recently met with a woman and her two brothers to settle their mother's estate. In her trust, the mother had provided for a duplex to be given to her daughter, in addition to an equal share of the estate. The mother, however, had sold the duplex before she died.

The daughter asked, "Don't I get an additional share of the estate to compensate me for the loss of the duplex?" Her brothers were adamant: "No," replied one brother. "If Mother wanted you to receive a replacement asset she would have asked Mr. Loveridge to amend her trust to give you a larger portion." Legally, the property was considered adeemed, and the daughter lost her "bonus" duplex. The point? If you dispose of an asset intended for a specific beneficiary, be sure to consider whether to give that beneficiary another asset or a larger share to replace it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Stop Unwanted Solicitations. Utah provides a free service for Utah residents to protect their e-mail and other electronic addresses from solicitations for certain adult-oriented products and services. Like the Nation Do Not Call List, once a resident registers an address, senders of messages that advertise adult-oriented products or services are required to remove registered addresses from their mailing lists. You can read more about the Utah's do-not-contact list, as well as register online by visiting: http://donotcontact.utah.gov.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Penalty ("in terrorem") Clauses. Occasionally, clients request that I include a provision in their trust disinheriting any beneficiary who contests the trust, brings an action against the trustee, or otherwise, as they put it, "causes trouble" when the estate is settled. Utah law (UCA 75-7-112) provides that any such clause which penalizes a beneficiary for bringing such an action is unenforceable, as long as “probable cause” exists for instituting the proceedings. However, frivolous actions by a beneficiary (or a non-beneficiary) could, indeed, result in a “penalty” being enforced and that beneficiary being disinherited. What is “frivolous?” Good question! Any estate contest should only be considered after obtaining proper advice from a competent estate planning attorney, and not just because you’re dissatisfied with a decedent’s estate plan or your share.
Settle A Decedent's Estate Promptly! When a loved one dies, it's important to notify us immediately, to insure that various tax benefits are achieved and to insure that the decedent's assets are distributed properly. For example, if you are married, and your estate exceeds $3,500,000, it's important to divide your trust assets between the Marital and Family trusts (assuming your trust contains these provisions!). This will reduce or eliminate death taxes for your survivors. Also, if any of your assets are not titled in your trust at your death, they can be "poured-over" to your trust by your "Pour-over Will." However, Utah requires all wills to be probated within 3 years of the decedent's death. If the decedent's estate is not settled within 3 years, his Will cannot be probated and will not be effective to transfer his probate assets into his trust. The assets will, instead, be transferred to his "heirs at law," who may be different from his trust beneficiaries whom he intended to receive his estate.
Excellent Estate Planning Article! www.nytimes.com/2009/02/26/your-money/estate-planning/26estate.html?em

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rich or Old? You don't have to be "rich" or "old" to plan your estate! Young parents who have few assets need to plan their estates, as do older, more affluent people. What would happen if a young couple with small children (and few assets), perish in a "common accident?" Who would rear their children? Even if the parents make a will naming guardians for their children, how will the guardians (assuming they accept that role!) pay for the health costs, education and support of the deceased couple's children? Accepting the role of guardian means that you have the legal and moral responsibility to provide for your young wards, and if few assets were left for their care, you (as legal guardian) have to pay for it! Here's a simple solution:

Young parents first need to buy sufficient life insurance to insure proper financial care for their children. (If you're in your 20's or 30's, and in good health, you can buy $500,000 of 30-yr., level term insurance for $300 to $600 premium per year.) Next, set up a living trust with your spouse and children as beneficiaries, and specify in the terms of your trust how its assets will be used to care for your family. Then, make the trust the beneficiary of your insurance, which provides the trust the needed liquidity so that its terms can be properly carried out. Finally, name a responsible trustee (i.e., the "money manager") to manage the trust and execute a "pour-over" will naming the guardians who will rear your children. This simple plan allows young parents to financially (and affordably) provide for their family's care and to specify in detail how and by whom their funds will be used for that care.

What about the cost of the estate plan? Most simple estate plans (living trust, will, powers of attorney, etc.) can be established for as little as $500 (much less than what parents spend for recreation!). Please call us for details.

Friday, March 20, 2009

2009 Prepaid Estate Planning Review Service. I recently mailed an invitation to our clients to subscribe to our 2009 Prepaid Review Service. For $69, you can have your estate plan (trust, will, powers of attorney, etc.) reviewed by us (anytime during 2009) to be sure it conforms to your planning objectives (additional charge for document amendments). Most law firms charge $200-300 per hour for this service, and this program is our way of helping you keep your plan updated at minimum cost. To subscribe, or to make a review appointment, please call our office at 801-262-8889.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Federal Estate Tax. It's 2009, and the most significant estate planning news is that the exemption from Federal Estate Tax is now $3,500,000! This means that only estates with a total net worth (assets minus debts, such as mortgages, etc.) greater than the exemption will be subject to estate tax. Current law provides for the estate tax exemption to become unlimited in 2010 (no tax for anyone!), but decrease to only $1,000,000 in 2011. However, current bills in the House and Senate propose keeping the exemption permanently at $3,500,000. We'll keep you posted when the law is finalized.

How does this affect you? If your living trust contains "marital deduction" language (designed to eliminate or reduce estate tax), and your estate net worth is below the $3,500,000 exemption, it is critical that you have your trust amended to reflect current law. Call us for an appointment to see whether your estate plan is affected.