Scary Estate Planning Stories

Halloween Creepy HillDon’t fail your family the way these 4 celebrities failed theirs

With haunted houses, horror films and talk of zombies, October is a great month to review a few scary estate stories. Instead of failing to properly plan for your family, learn from these cautionary tales. Make sure your family doesn’t experience the fate of the following four celebrities, whose estate planning fiascos negatively impacted their heirs: (more…)

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What Every New Parent Absolutely Must Know About Wills

123rf-31066687Leaving an Inheritance to Your Kids

Summer is rife with showers. Not water-related weather events, but celebrations for graduates, newlyweds and newbie parents. We love helping people plan no matter their station in life. But new parents hold a special place in our hearts.

With kids of our own, at Skvarna Law Firm, we understand parental compulsion to provide for your new baby’s future in every conceivable way. Infancy is a time for celebrating new life and sparks the need to organize and plan for every possible contingency. So, as soon as you get settled, or maybe even before your little one is born, consider taking a little time to make a will. (more…)

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Six Ways a Trust Protector Can Help You

Protection concept.What is a Trust Protector?

Trust protectors are a novel, yet commonly used protection in the United States. In short, a trust protector serves as an appointed authority over a trust which will be in effect for a long period of time. Trust protectors make sure that trustees:

  • Maintain the integrity of the trust.
  • Make solid distribution and investment decisions.
  • Adapt the trust to changes in law and circumstances.

When changes occur, as often happens in life, the trust protector can modify the trust to carry out the trust maker’s intent. The important thing about this is that the trust protector has the power to act in such a case without having to go to court to seek a ruling. This is a key benefit, which saves time and money and honors family privacy.  (more…)

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Disability and Your Estate Plan

Plans Flushed Down Toilet Failure Word 3d Illustration

 “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

~ Robert Burns

Despite forethought and concerted strategy, you cannot possibly prepare for every conceivable emergency. Life could deal you a car accident, sudden illness, workplace injury or chronic medical condition – each of which could force you to reevaluate the core assumptions you relied on when you originally established your estate.

(more…)

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Probate Pros & Cons

Probate BooksIn estate planning circles, the word “probate” holds the same status as the terms “disease” or “illness” in the medical world. The reason for this reaction — especially with people who have larger than average estates — is because financial planners do their utmost to keep clients’ properties from going to probate whenever possible. Nevertheless, the probate system was originally established as a means of protecting property when someone passed.

Thanks to the probate system, heirs have a chance to take matters to court to obtain their loved one’s properties even if they were not named in a will. So why do people do people think the worst of probate? Is there any redeeming value in probate? You may be surprised that the answer is, “Yes.” Here are the pros and cons of going through probate. (more…)

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What is an irrevocable trust?

Bartender decanting wine without disturbing the sedimentThe only constant in life is change. And, as we have discussed in previous posts, life changes should be reflected in your estate. Despite containing the word “irrevocable,” an irrevocable trust can be altered using what the industry calls “decanting” the original trust.

Decanting is essentially a “do-over”

Estate attorneys decant a trust when they move funds from an existing trust (which has less favorable terms) to a new trust (with more favorable terms). As the name implies, estate decanting is like the term applied to wine. With the latter, a decanter transfers wine from one bottle to another, leaving the unwanted sediment in the original bottle. In the same way, when decanting an irrevocable trust, estate attorneys figuratively pour the contents from one trust to another, leaving behind the undesirable terms. (more…)

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Lessons from Marilyn Monroe’s Estate

Marilyn MonroeRegardless of whether you were a fan of the late Marilyn Monroe, you can benefit by examining her estate. A veritable lesson in “what not to do,” Monroe failed to proactively assign beneficiaries to her substantial estate. (more…)

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Estate Planning/Pet Assets

dog with piggy bankFew would argue that Americans love their pets. But some would be shocked about the degree of this type of devotion:

  • Pet-related expenditures reached more than $60 billion in 2015
  • 20% of Americans admit to altering romantic relationships over pet disputes
  • 80% brag about their pets to others
  • 79% allow pets to sleep in bed with them
  • 37% carry pictures of their pets in their phones or wallets
  • 31% take time off from work to be with their sick pets
  • As many as 33.9 million households in the United States own dogs
  • 3 million own cats

(more…)

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Care & Feeding of Your Estate Plan

estate and lawyer/notary bindersHow to Maintain & Update Your Estate Plan

Creating your estate is not a “one and done” proposition. While you will be able to breathe a sigh of relief after working with an experienced estate planning attorney to set up your estate, you shouldn’t set the binder aside and go about your business. Although estate plans protect your loved ones and legacy after you pass, they are living, breathing documents that should be updated whenever significant changes occur.  (more…)

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Digital Asset Tips to Your Cyber Legacy

Businessman using tablet pc and selecting cyber assets.An entire category of commonly-overlooked legacies has emerged over the past 15 years – digital assets. Your cyber legacy includes your digital assets. While you may not include domain addresses among your most prized possessions, you could be surprised. Consider, for example, the domain name LasVegas.com, which is worth $90 million. CarInsurance.com is valued at nearly $50 million and Internet.com is worth an estimated 18 million dollars. But even if you failed to invest in this type of domain name, your online properties have value.    (more…)

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