Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Charitable Estate Planning

Over the next few decades, it is estimated that trillion of dollars will be tranferred from the parents of baby boomers to their children. Charitable giving will play an enormous role in this tranfer of wealth. Although charitable giving provides many personal and tax benefits, it has a more fundamental benefit. It is voluntary giving. Involuntary giving results from overpayment of taxes. With proper planning, involuntary giving can be avoided. Individuals can give money from their estate to the charities they desire.

Many people during their lifetime engage in charitable giving activities. They make gifts to cancer research, heart associations, educational institutions, or well water projects. Many give to hospitals, churches, or other religious and cultural institutions. Others have long term relationships with charities and want to continue charitable giving upon their death.

Over the next few days, I will provide you with the ways to engage in charitable estate planning.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Power of Philanthropy

I was reading in one of Maya Angelo's recent books Letter to my Daughter a section she wrote on philanthropy. She expressed that she did not see herself as philanthropic as much as she saw herself as charitable. In being charitable, she and all of us, are expressing our philanthropic spirit. I attended the Bucks County Women's Fund Power of the Purse Dinner last week. Over 400 women and men attended this event which demonstrated the power of Giving. Many programs of community organizations received grants from the Fund. This is possible when a number of philanthropic individuals pool their money to leverage their giving and provide funds to programs (1) helping victims of domestic violence, (2) addressing self-sufficiency, (3) boosting self-esteem, (4) acheiving economic stability, (5) building homes and (6) advocating for our youth.

Estate planning helps us address our philanthropic interest in many ways during our lifetime and upon our death. Think about how and what you give and make sure you are allowing the power of your philanthropy to work for you. Get your estate plan done today.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Economy, You and Your Estate

What does the current state of the economy mean to you? How will the economy effect your estate plan? This is the perfect time to revisit your estate plan. More than likely changes are warranted. If you have not done an estate plan, a will or powers of attorney, then you leave your family's future to chance. There may not be many things for certain at this time but one thing you can take to the bank, if you bank is still around, is without a plan of your own, your family suffers. If you want luck on the side of your family's future then plan now. Should you become incapacitated, your family is more prepared to handle your affairs. When you die, your family is more prepared to deal with the financial impact of your death. This economy has us all being more cautious and reflective of our circumstances. Talk to an estate planning attorney today!! You may be able to protect the assets that you have for the future you want for your family.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Did you Know?

We may be living in economically depressed times but during the same time our technology advancement is amazingly far reaching. Just watch this short video and see how far our technolgy has and will continue to take us. It is the universality of the technology that provides us with the greatest benefits and allows us to share wisdom across cultures. It is all about communication and reaching as many people as possible with information that can be as informative as tranformational.

I blog regularly of my passion about being prepared through estate planning. I realize that wealth transfer is of international interest as I have traveled beyond our borders to share with and learn from others. When we are prepared by having a will or trust, we protect not only financial assets but also alleviate the unnecessary burdens that could be faced by our loved ones when we fail to plan.

Did you Know?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nursing Home Care

I was having lunch today with new acquaintances. When they found out I was an estate planning attorney, one mentioned that she soon would be needing my services. Of course the title of my new book came to mind and I said Stop! What are you Waiting for? the time for estate planning is now. This concept is easy enough to grasp but what followed was a specific example to make it more relevant. The other person in our luncheon party mentioned that his mother was just released from the hospital to a nursing home. She was a bit disoriented and needed to address some financial matters. He realized then the importance of having a Power of Attorney to handle these affairs during her hospitalization. She is now at a nursing home and a decision will have to be made whether she will have the capacity to return to her home or have to stay with nursing home care. With both her healthcare power of attorney and general power of attorney for financial matters, he can begin to make decisions to help his mother. At any given time, I have found many examples where planning ahead made all the difference in whether a person gets what they need when they need it. I encourage everyone to plan, now.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Saving and Powers of Attorney

Saving is on the top of the advice list of the financial experts. Given the current volatility of the stock market, where does one save? Many are looking to FDIC insured institutions when placing their money and others are staying where they are to "wait" things out in hope that things will get better. What is the right approach depends upon your specific circumstances. Will the government be able to insure the increasingly failing institutions? Can you "wait" things out? I think saving is good advice as long as you make sure to take care of the essential matters. This would include making sure you have documents in place to address the unexpected or the unplanned. Everyone should have powers of attorney in place, one to handle healthcare matters and one to handle financial matters should we become incapacitated. You do not want to leave to chance who might take care of matters for you when you can not do it yourself. Choose a person as your agent that you trust and that you can depend upon in trying times.

Stop! What are you waiting for? Your essential guide to estate planning, my upcoming book, will help you through these economic times with sound and practical advice for your future.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Elder Law and Estate Planning

I often learn from my audiences. Last week, I did a presentation on estate planning. For me, sharing information on estate planning is one of the missions of my practice. It is my way to give freely of my knowledge and, yes, in return I hope that my services will be used by those who attend my seminars. At least that was why I started doing presentations in the first place. However, it has evolved into something even more meaningful for me. I have learned so much more from my audience than many of them will ever realize unless, of course, they should read this blog. Their questions make me go deeper into my explanations of those things which, without their questions, I would have only touched the surface of the topic. They want to know, for example, how Elder Law and Estate Planning relate. Are they separate or is one part of the other? Is there a certification for either? They want to know if and when they have to update exisitng documents. Their wit and wisdom and perspective are refreshing. In addressing the 45% federal estate tax on estates in excess of 3.5 million, one person's comment was given our plight in the current economic crisis, we may not have to be concerned about this as an issue. It is the proverbial silver lining.

These questions will be answered and these gems will be shared in my upcoming book, STOP! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? YOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO ESTATE PLANNING.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Let it Snow, let it Snow, let it Snow

Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling!! I love watching the snow fall on the already white color landscape and admiring the trees brushed with still just a dusting of snow on their branches. My daughter and her friends are already out in the winter wonderland while I take in the warmth of the fireplace with my laptop companion. It's a SNOW DAY!!! What are you going to do with yours? Of course, I want to encourage you to start getting somethings checked off of your list so that you are closer to getting to what matters most. It is on your list but may not be done yet!! It is your WILL. It either needs to be done or to be updated. No time like the present to jot down your ideas. Write your thoughts and your feelings regarding your assets and those whom would serve as the recipients of those assets upon your demise. Create a picture of your life with words. Let your estate planning attorney deal with the legal wording.

People ask what are the legal requirements of a will anyway. In Pennsylvania your will can be handwritten. You have to sign your will at the end of the writing. If you are over 18 and of sound mind, you have a valid will. No need for witnesses or notary. Now that being said, though they may not be legally required, they are highly recommended and of course I never do a will without them. Why, you ask? Because, I say. My daughter would then respond, because Why??

Well, let me just share this story. Remember when billionaire recluse Howard Hughes died, from accounts of that time, it appeared that he had not left a will. Attorneys and executives of Hughes's corporations began an intensive search to find a will, while speculation grew that Hughes might have left a handwritten will. The problem a handwritten creates is the element of proof. Since there were no witnesses and no notary, numerous "forged" wills were presented as Howard Hughes' will. Do not leave your final affairs to that level of speculation and potential misdeeds. A couple of witnesses and a notary seal are not that much to ask to make sure your billions get into the right hands!!!

Check out my upcoming book, Stop! What are you waiting for? Your Essential Guide to Estate Planning.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Your Story, Your Legacy

I feel very strongly that your story is your personal legacy worth more than any "tangible" ie money, etc. asset you may have. Helping to encourage people to tell their story in some documented way, either by writing a book, an article, creating a memoir, making an audio or video recording, is part of what I do. This part of my practice, as well, excites me and keeps me motivated.

It all started simply, with my Dad. When my sister, brother and I were very young my Dad was writing a book. He stopped after a while and we never noticed him working on it anymore. Over 30 years later, my sister asked him whatever happened to his "book". He just said he got writer's block and stored it away in the attic. What really happened was that he came to a part of his life story that was beyond the pain he wanted to revisit. In 2006, after much prodding and encouragement from my sister and I, he published his first book; Between God and Me - A Korean War Veteran Remembers. After I read the book, I realized the painful memory that my Dad hoped to forget. But the reality is that we can not forget the pain like we can not forget the joy of our life. What we can do is share it and in ways beyond our expectations be healed and heal others. That gift of writing his story has been one of the most meaningful things my Dad has given me. It is the reason that I encourage my clients to create a legacy by not only ascertaining their "money" assets but their intangible (non-money) wealth. I never know what might happen from there. If, like my Dad, the writing could become a new found passion. Since 2006, after completing now 3 BOOKS, my Dad is working on his 4TH.

AND of course, he has encouraged me in my writing to share with my clients and others, Stop! What are You Waiting For? Your Essential Guide to Estate Planning.