Sunday, November 29, 2009

Your Legacy is Your Story

Your legacy is the story of your life. You can document as much of it as you care to share at any time. What is important is that you are here for a reason, your life has purpose and you can share your purpose to those who need it most.

What I have found is that most of us fail to realize that we can and do create our own reality in many ways. We can be proactive, reactive or just plain inactive in the unfolding of our life's story. You can engage the estate planning process as a process of self-discovery to help you understand the life that you are living. It may be the first time that you plant an idea of your purpose that can begin to germinate into your legacy.

Leave your comments here or contact us at to begin your self-discovery through our estate planning process.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Three Important Steps to Any Plan

It is a very windy day as I write this blog entry. Today my thougths are about the importance of planning. Whether estate planning, retirement planning, financial planning, long term care planning or personal and business planning, there are 3 important steps. You have to (1) access where you are, (2) determine where you would like to be and then (3) write down the strategies and action steps to get to where you want to go.

Along the way, have a great time because each and every moment is creating the life story that you want to leave as your legacy.

Leave your comments here or contact us at

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving - An Estate Planning Moment

Hope you had a wonderful and enjoyable Thanksgiving. This is the Holiday when families gather around the table and enjoy lots of home cooked specialty dishes. During the preparation, with parents passing along traditions to their children and grandparents sharing family stories and anedotes, is the time to discuss the family legacy and how it can be passed on.

Yes, Thanksgiving is an estate planning moment. All of the important people are generally present to ask whether they can serve important roles in your estate plan. Your executor, your trustee, the guardian of your children when you die are sitting right next to you at the dinner table. Your agent to assist during any incapacity is carving the turkey.

Why not check this to do off of your list at Thanksgiving? You and your family will be glad you did. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bankrupt, but why?

This is just unbelievable to me. I was reading statistics regarding Players for the NBA and NFL. Sixty percent (60%) of NBA players are broke within 5 years of retirement. What is even more startling is that seventy-eight percent (78%) of NFL players are bankrupt within only 2 years of retirement. How does this happen? Are all of these players just getting bad advise? Are they getting good advice and just not listening or following it?

I just think we have to start teaching people basic life skills early in the education process. Too many people just do not understand money and how to handle it at a very basic level. You do NOT have to be rich to take advantage of how the estate planning process can help you protect your money. In making sure that those you love are taken care of upon your death, the estate planning process makes sure you have money to leave. So while you are living and in your retirement years, you can look at putting money and real estate in a Trust for your benefit and others or consider other estate planning options.

If you know of a NBA player or NFL player that could benefit from our services, leave a comment here or contact us at

Great Review of My Book

DISCOVERIES - A KIRKUS review writes....

A valuable primer that demystifies estate planning

Estate planning is a legal step many know they must take as they get older, but few consumers understand it. Thankfully, estate-planning attorney Taylor-Hachoose has written a clear, concise overview of the various elements of estate planning, providing a solid foundation for taking action. The author grabs the reader from the outset. Taylor-Hachoose covers wills, health care power of attorney, durable power of attorney, living and testamentary trusts and other estate-planning vehicles. She also talks about the probate process, inheritance taxes and elder-law issues. The author admirably explains each aspect of estate planning in simple, uncomplicated language and provides helpful illustrations of the importance of advance planning. She teaches readers about case subjects “Eve and Bob” and their only daughter, Julia, “who at thirty-six still cannot quite make it on her own.” The estate plan of Eve and Bob “includes a trust for the money left for Julia, who is not fiscally responsible enough to manage the money herself.” This and other scenarios in the book are especially helpful in demonstrating estate planning in action. Near the conclusion, Taylor-Hachoose provides a worksheet to help facilitate information gathering in preparation for estate planning.

Readers should come away less intimidated by the process.


We would love to have your review of the book. Provide your comments here or contact us at

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Publicity Rights Are a Valuable Asset

I was up early this morning and thinking about what I would blog on today. I really did not have a particular subject for today. AND THEN it came to me, I had a question regarding publicity rights upon a person's death. Yes, assets include publicity rights. Whoever inherits your estate will inherit the publicity rights. You could even leave such rights to anyone.

Let's just say at your death, your assets were slim to none. Let's further say that your death resulted from you saving the lives of millions by diverting the actions of a would be terroist. You are proclaimed a hero and, in an instance, your picture is all over the news, internet, billboards, in essence everywhere. You are NOW famous, a celebrity. If someone wanted to use your image to promote anything, then they would have to obtain permission from the heirs of your estate. Your heirs could even hire an agent to manage those publicity rights and make even more money from what was a "slim to none" estate.

I read an article about this recently that pointed out that celebrities can make serious money after they die. It was reported that John Lennon earned $44 million in 2007; Tupac Shakur $9 million. Anytime a company uses the image of a dead celebrity—say, in an ad—whoever owns the publicity rights can get paid. Dead celebrities’ images are used to sell board games, fragrances, T-shirts. Serving as the agent of dead celebrities, whether for movie, music, or just publicity rights is big business.

So, understand your worth and make sure those you love benefit from that worth. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Monday, November 16, 2009

What happens to email when you die?

Let's add email to our discussion of social media. Our "assets" are more varied in this technological, multimedia, socializing generation and I only see it expanding. I can only stress, as I research this new emerging phenomenal in estate planning, that it is best if you state in your Will what you want to happen to YOUR creations whether on Facebook, MySpace, Linkin, or in your email accounts. The company policies vary for those that even have one at all. Let's explore a few:

Hotmail - has a policy of deleting email accounts if they are not touched for 270 days. If you die, your next of kin would be able to access your account within that period by proving their identity and supplying a death certificate.
Gmail - will also allow the next of kin or executor of estate to apply for access to a deceased user's email account. However, they need more identification than Hotmail. The person would have to prove their own identity and supply a death certificate as well as proof of an email conversation between them and the deceased. Gmail does not delete the deceased user's account, but the next of kin could choose to do so after gaining access to it.
Yahoo! - will let the user's next of kin ask for the account to be closed, but will not give them access to it.

All internet users who want to be sure their email and other online accounts are accessible to their legal heirs should plan an offline process for such access as part of their estate planning process. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Friday, November 13, 2009

Who controls your MySpace when you die?

Previously, we discussed Facebook's policy upon the death of its users.

MySpace has no set policy when it comes to the profiles of deceased users. It seems MySpace would handle each incident on a case-by-case basis which would require some sort of notification from the deceased user's family regarding the wishes of the family if the user had no specific indication. MySpace will not allow anyone to "assume control" of the user's profile, however it won't rule out giving families access to the user's private data. MySpace does not delete profiles after periods of inactivity, but will remove a deceased user's profile at the family's request.

If that does not provide you with the comfort you need, start your estate planning today. Leave your comment or contact us at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who controls your Facebook page when you die?

Sometimes I ask questions that I want an answer to. In the case of social media and estate planning, I find it really intriguing the questions that can be raised and how many of them will have no answers. Social networks are so new that we will be making new laws as we get more and more into this new form of interaction.

Well, I did research our question posed yesterday regarding Facebook. What happens when you die? Per Facebook's policy for deceased users, they memorialize the deceased person's account. This removes certain more sensitive information and sets privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile or find the person in search. The Wall remains so that friends and family can leave posts in remembrance.

Now that sounds all well and good but what if your family or friends want to remove your information. Should they not have the right? Who is in a better position to decide, Facebook or the family? In my legal opinion it would be the executor or administrator of the estate who should make that call. They are the ones in charge once you die. You can even make that call more directly by providing for your social media activity in your Will. What do you want to happen, now that I have you thinking about it? It's your call!

Leave your comments here or contact us at

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Facebook - What happens when you die?

Many of us are on Facebook and even more are joining everyday, creating a community with individually unique personas. Many people have developed significant followings which, in some cases, translate into profitability in other areas. So, what happens with all that you have created in Facebook when you die?

There was a specific case involving the death of a Facebook user. Obviously, there are many Facebook users who have died but this particular one resulted in litigation and therefore provides some guidance to us all on what happens on Facebook.

This case will be discussed tomorrow in detail. Follow the saga of social media and the death of the users.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Facebook, My Space, Linked In, Blog, Oh My

We have Facebook, My Space, Linked In, Blogs, Twitter and the list goes on. Well, let's take a look at social media and estate planning over the next few days to see just what we might learn.

Managing Your Social Media Websites After You’re Dead: There are many questions to explore over the next few days. Do social media networking sites have policies for post mortem users? What happens to our virtual identities when we die? Are company policies to delete inactive user accounts? Can a family member have access to the account password after the death? How private are your email accounts, myspace pages, linked in messages, etc. after you pass away?

Few free to add your questions to this list and let's explore the answers. Leave your comment or questions here or contact us at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Next Major Book Signing - 25% Discount

Pay only $20 per book!
This is my gift to you!

The next major area booksigning will be:
Thursday, December 10, 2009
7pm to 8:30pm
The David Library
1201 River Road
Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania
RSVP at (215) 321-4033
Space is limited.

Many families have asked me what is the best way to get their loved ones to address estate planning. My answer to that question was to write the book, Stop! What are you waiting for? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Estate Planning. I have found that the book is a good way to get the conversation regarding wills and other estate planning issues moving in the right direction.

Now is the time to buy the book.
At this book signing, you save 25% on the cost of the book.
Pay only $20 per book!
As part of the holiday gift giving season,
this book makes a great gift!!

Reserve your space today. Call (215) 321-4033

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

7. Discern Elder Needs

We have discussed over the last 2 weeks the 7 essential benefits of estate planning and today we address the seventh essential benefit, discern elder needs.

In 2006, the oldest of the baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964, turned 60 years old. As a result, new concerns have given rise to the specialized area of “elder law.” This term was not even mentioned when I attended law school in the early 1980’s. However, with the anticipated increase in the elderly population, the advances in technology, and the increase in life expectancy, the dynamics of our society are changing and the elder law area of practice is growing rapidly.

Elder law looks at the needs of seniors during their longer lifetime. Estate planning, as well as retirement and long-term care planning, forms a natural part of the elder law practice. Seniors are finding themselves working longer to address the cost of healthcare for elders under their care. The fact that we are living longer requires all of us to take a real careful look at long term care questions and put plans in place, like purchasing long term care insurance and getting your will, general power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney and living will done.

Want to know more about the 7 essential benefits of estate planning? Check out my new book Stop! What Are You Waiting For? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Estate Planning.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

6. Ensures Peace of Mind

Today we discuss the 6th of the seven essential benefits of estate planning. Remember the first 5 benefits of estate planning are; (1) protects assets (2) saves money (3) creates a legacy (4) distributes wealth and (5) addresses special circumstances. The 6th is Ensures Peace of Mind.

With the recent loss of his wife, Jack is now rearing three young children on his own. As an only child, he can not rely on any help from his mother Mary or his father Charles. Mary is still working beyond her retirement years just to be able to take care of herself and her husband. Charles has been diagnosed with a mentally debilitating form of Alzheimer’s, which the doctors do advise could be hereditary.

As the sole person responsible for his children, Jack wants to have peace of mind when it comes to their future. Therefore, he has made several inquiries into estate planning to get that peace of mind. He wants to make sure his children are taken care of when he dies. If he does not take the necessary steps to address guardianship of his children upon his death, then he leaves them in unnecessary turmoil and additional pain.

Choosing a guardian for minor children is a major decision. It is a decision that takes careful consideration. Without planning, Jack burdens Mary with making decisions he failed to address in advance. Even more tragic, imagine leaving questions of guardianship to the state or court with no firsthand knowledge of Jack’s children's gifts, talents, needs, and desires. Only Jack can choose the best guardian for his children.

Families unfortunately can fall apart over unaddressed estate planning. Estate planning gives you peace of mind now and will be appreciated by those you leave behind. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Monday, November 2, 2009

5. Addresses special circumstances - continues with Special Needs Trust

In my last post, I discussed 26 year old Julian who sustained permanent mental and physical disabilities as a result of complications at birth. How does one continue to take care of Julian when his parents are no longer living.

A special needs trust, sometimes referred to as a supplemental needs trust, is critical to protecting Julian’s health and well-being. The purpose of the special needs trust is to assure continuity of care and non-disruption of government supported programs and benefits, both of which are of primary concern for Linwood and Jordan, Julian's parents.

As pertains to preservation of government benefits, if Julian directly owned the assets, he would not qualify for Supplemental Security Income Benefits referred to as SSI. In addition to providing him with a monthly stipend, SSI eligibility qualifies Julian for other governmental programs. Because Julian has no control over (does not own) the money or assets in a special needs trust, the contents of the trust are not considered when calculating Julian's total assets. The special needs trust thus ensures that Julian will remain eligible for governmental benefits and programs regardless of the actual value of his total assets.

Do you have any questions on Special Needs Trusts? Leave your comments here or contact us at