Friday, December 31, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Eleven

If the Will is not properly executed, it will be invalid. In Pennsylvania, the Will is valid if in writing and signed at the end. Witnesses are NOT required unless the signature is an X. These are the minimal legal requirements. But, you want to go further.

The drafter of your Will, ie. your attorney, should be present at the execution to make sure all goes well. It is also very wise to have witnesses (2) and a notary. With all of these formalities, your Will can with stand challenges applicable to improper execution.

Contact us at for expert Probate, Estate Planning, Elder Law and Business Succession Planning advice.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Ten

Many Wills unfortunatly fail to provide appropriately for minor beneficiaries. How do you want the property left to minors handled? The guardian named over the person of the child does not necessarily provide such guardian with rights to administer the assets left the child.

1. Do you want a minor child to get all assets left to him/her at 18 years of age? If yes, then name a guardian of the property.

2. Do you want a minor child to get all assets left to him/her at 21 years of age? If yes, then name a custodian of the property. Not only is the age higher but there is more flexibility provided a custodian.

3. Do you eant a minor child to get all assets left to him/her over a period of time beyond 21? If yes, then a Trust would be best. The terms and conditions of the Trust could be whatever you desire in the best interest of your child. The ages could go well into adulthood.

Contact us at for expert legal advice.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Nine

Do not make the mistake of not providing adequate powers to your Executor. In order to properly administer the estate, your Executor should be able to handle the affairs of your estate without court approval. It is not efficient to have the court approve every or even most aspects of the administration of your estate. There would be significant delay.

You want expert advise when it comes to preparing your Will and other estate planning documents. Contact us at

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Eight

How do you want the death taxes to be paid on your estate? If you are not clear in your Will, there could be unintended tax consequences.

For example, if your Will is silent on how death taxes are paid, your beneficiaries could have to sell assets to pay the taxes due at your death. If the Will provides that all death taxes are paid out of your estate, this could affect some heirs differently by reducing their inheritance.

Don't let estate planning mistakes leave your loved ones exposed. Contact us at

Monday, December 27, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Seven

If you want to make a gift to someone only if they should survive you, it must be clearly stated in the Will. One mistake that could happen is that a gift intended for a particular person could go to a totally unintended person.

For example, the Will states, I leave my shining little red corvette to my brother, John Doe. In some states, like Pennsylvania, if your brother does not survive you, then the gift could go to your brother's children. Your brother has 3 year old twin girls who clearly would not benefit from such a gift. This would not have been your intent. Therefore, you must make sure that you provide that a gift will "lapse" (not be given) if the person does not survive you.

Let experts help you with your Will and other estate planning matters. Contact us at

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Making a Difference - One Run at a Time

Tis the Season of giving. To whom much is given much is expected. If we have received much in our lifetime whether tangible or intangible, we have a responsibility to share, to give, to help. It enhances our life and those around us.

If I have learned anything in the estate planning law practice, that would be that the legacy we create today can have a meaningful and worthwhile impact upon future generations. Our firm is honored to be among the many who give back each and every day.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Six

As with the description of personal property to be given, you want to clearly describe the person to whom a gift is given. You want to name the person and if there is possible confusion make sure your Will indicates their relationship to you.

For example, I leave my gold watch to my best friend, Jane Doe. You do not want to just say to your best friend or to your favorite cousin. Let it be clear even if you have to also express where the person lives, at least at the time of making the Will.

Contact us for expert assistance in matters of Probate, Estate Planning and Elder Law.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Five

I can not tell you how many Wills did not adequately identify the property to be given. This provides for further disputes among family members. You want to be specific in your bequest. For example, provide the account number; give the property address or legal description on the Deed; provide the license number or registration. You want to catalogue art work and reference the appropriate catalogue number for distribution.

You can assist your Executor if you leave a memorandum with your Will that is precise regarding the gift. And finally, as a savings provision, let your Executor make final decisions in any dispute.

Contact us at

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Four

The 4th mistake that could occur with estate planning pertains to the distribution of "personal effects". Sometimes the biggest conflict among family members pertains to those items with little economic value but significant sentimental value. It is not the money or real estate because those distributions are generally made clear.

It is the family armoire, jewelry, china or art. Make sure you have a clear way of making the distribution. You might want to consider a lottery system or a memorandum listing who gets what. The memorandum could be placed with the Will and updated from time to time.

A little planning goes a long way to avoid conflict and bad feelings. Contact us for estate planning, probate and elder law needs at

Monday, December 20, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Three

Mistake number 3 is getting the names wrong in the Will. This is a mistake that can be avoided with careful and professional handling. You also review your Will. Even if you do not know the legal terms and conditions which must be in Will, you can address misspellings, wrong names and other name related errors.

I have seen Wills with names misspelled and sometime the wrong name. You do not want to use nicknames but your "legal" name and those of your beneficiaries should always appear in the Will. It is appropriate to have "also known as" provided in the document for additional clarification.

Don't let this mistake cause your heirs anguish. Review before you sign. Contact us at for expert advice and guidance.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number Two

The failure to provide complete information to your estate planner is a big mistake. Your estate planner needs to identify all of your assets; to estimate the relative value of those assets; and, to determine how assets are titled. It is important to provide the names and ages of all your immediate family members. If you have other heirs that you want to leave assets, their names need to be provided to your estate planner.

Contact our offices for additional information and guidance at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Estate Planning Mistakes - Number One

Over the next few days, I will review estate planning mistakes. But more importantly, I will address how to avoid them or correct them if you have failed to avoid a mistake.

(1) Not getting an estate planning professional to handle your estate planning is a common error made by many.

You can avoid this by doing your research. Check with your local association of legal professionals for a recommenation or get a referral from a friend who has used an estate planning attorney. If you have already made the mistake, then have your documents reviewed by an estate planning professional to make sure you have what works best for you and your family.

We stay current all estate planning matters to serve you. Contact our offices for a free consultation at

Monday, December 13, 2010

In A Blink Of An Eye - Follow-Up

A message from Jayla’s mom Robyn:
“Thank you Yvette and all of the sponsors for your support. Hearts for Jayla is making a difference. One Child, One Vision can make a World of Difference. Keep Praying.”

You are not alone. Giving has a domino affect in many ways. Jayla has shared what happened with her eye injury and other children do not feel alone in their personal eye injury battle. It is good to know we ran and raised money to help address, prevent and cure eye injuries. This is just a follow up video for your information and thanks again for your support. Stay in touch with us at

Breaking News - The Federal Estate Tax

Last week, a number of tax issues were addressed. For the next 2 years, 2011 and 2012 Congress has provided:

• The new estate tax rate will be levied on estates over $5 million ($10 million for couples), with a tax rate of 35% for 2011 and 2012

• The top two tax brackets will remain at 33% and 35%.

• No change for capital gains and dividends taxes. It will remain at 15% for everyone

Now that we know what to expect for the next 2 years, it’s a good idea to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate your estate plan as well as you year-end tax strategies before December 31st.

Contact us at for up to date estate planning information.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Moments That Can Touch the Soul

We all can appreciate when a simple moment becomes an extraordinary experience. This can happen anytime, anywhere.

Share your extraordinary experience with us at

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards Dies at 61

Her legacy of strength and forgiveness will live on long after her death. She fought the fight we all hope we never have to endure. Though she lost her battle to breast cancer, it will be her life's work that will be remembered by everyone.

Share your stories with us at

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Who Will Be the Guardian?

Getting your affairs in order is such an important action for all of us. However, most of us procrastinate or do not make planning for this eventuality a priority. So, I thought I would do a series on things that might motivate us to action.

The FIRST series will be on children. Yes, they are for many of us our MOST important asset and we want to make sure they are taken care of when we die. They can move us to ACT.

I thought this photo was absolutely incredible and wonderous. What a lovely family. QUESTION, who would be named as the guardian for septuplets if something happened to their parents? Naming a guardian is one of the most important parts of doing an estate plan.

Do not procrastinate. Your children are depending upon you. Contact us at

We can help.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What is Your Plan?

I ask the question because it is important to have a plan so that you are not merely reacting to situations. You are in control and make things happen. With a plan you move from reaction to action.

So, what is your plan? You develop plans for work. You develop plans for your children. But, what about a plan for you!! You start with your goals and aspirations in aspects of your life. This would encompass your personal, work, health and spiritual/religious. I would suggest you have at least 2 goals and aspirations in each category. After you list your 2 or more goals and aspirations then be as specific as possible regarding how you might accomplish those goals and aspirations. Remember, faith in your goals and aspirations will help work out some details your may not know how to address.

AND of course, getting your Will done should be NUMBER ONE in your personal goals. Once you write it down in your plan, guess what, it gets done and not as a reaction but as an ACTION!!

Contact us at for more information.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Why Do We Wait?

Many people come to my office and apologize for not getting their estate planning done sooner. Something has motivated them to get done what should have already been done. Why Do They Wait?

They wait for a child to be born; they wait for someone to die; they wait to have money; they wait for something bad to happen; they wait for something good to happen; they wait because that's what people do. We wait. So over the next few weeks, I will look at things to motivate you to action. To move us from reaction to action.

What will those things be? Wait, and see.

Contact our offices at for all your estate planning, probate and estate administration needs.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What About The Assets Left Behind?

Sometimes it takes the death of someone we love to realize the importance of having a Will.

Who will get your assets? Who will make sure taxes are paid? Who will determine what you have? Who will figure out what bank accounts you have? Who will take care of your children? Who will take care of your pets?

These questions are left unanswered BY YOU if you fail to plan. You leave it up to others to resolve these issues and it may not be in the best interest of your loved ones.

Tell me what are you waiting for? Contact us at for expert guidance.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving and folks are gathering at the homes of family and friends. It is a festive and happy time. It can also be a bit stressed and overwhelming as well. But, it is a Holiday. It is a time to take off. So, we can make it what we want it to be.
Enjoy the DAY!!
Happy Thanksgiving from us to you!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Intestate Means To Die Without a Will

Death is not a topic we like to talk about. So, we come up with interesting ways to refer to death , "kick the bucket". Does that make it less real? But it is real and it is inevitable. So before your last days, you want to get your affairs in order.

If you fail to plan, you leave the decisions to others including those you do not know.

Contact us at for expert legal advise.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Leap To Getting Your Affairs in Order

I know that frogs croaked. We all have heard frogs croaking day and night. When I researched terms used for death or when someone has died, "croak" was a part of the list. So, you do not want to "croak" without planning for those left behind.

Take the time to plan. It is easy, fast and the complex can be simply explained by a professional. We are here to take the worry away. Contact us at for your free consultation.

If not now, when.

Monday, November 22, 2010

In It To Finish!!

We did it!!! Yes, my marathon run was successful because of so many people. My trainers were, of course, awesome, Sharon Czebotar - Center for Human Performance, and Anne Van Thuyne, Trainer - Newtown Athletic Club. There were countless others at the marathon that made the difference for me.

At the 10 mile mark when my breathing was labored, a man came next to me and said "You sound as bad as I look." He did not look bad at all and paced with me for a mile with him telling me family stories as I got my rhythm back. At the 12 mile mark, a 20 year old cross country runner paced with me since he needed someone to keep him going. Can you believe I actually was able to support a 20 year old? He did the 1/2 marathon and waved me on. For miles 14-15, I was encouraged by a 65 year old man who was in the race for his personal goal of a 100 marathons in his lifetime. He was doing his 95th marathon. His speed walking paced my run. A 57 year old woman who had done a marathon in all 50 states helped me through miles 22 to 23. I was literally on my own for most of miles 24 - 26. There was no one around. The crowd was pretty thin but I pushed through to the end.

Thanks for supporting me in my run and donating to Jonathan and Jayla.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Who Will Serve As the Executor of Your Estate?

Getting your affairs in order is such an important action for all of us. However, most of us procrastinate or do not make planning for this eventuality a priority. So, I thought I would do a series on things that might motivate us to action. Last week, we addressed children or birth of a child as a motivator to act.

This week we look at the opposite of birth, death, as a motivator to action. The realization of our mortality can be incentive enough to get out affairs in order. Your assets can be wasted if you fail to choose an Executor and your family can not work together. It happens. So, why wait? Do not Procrasinate.

Don't let time run out on you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

When Should You Name a New Guardian

As a baby, our child's potential is unlimited. As our child grows, they develop interest and talents. Maybe she will be a dancer, a rocket scientist or a teacher.

You may name a guardian and then later in your child's life realize that another guardian would be more appropriate. There are many reasons to change your guardian. Some things that may trigger this decision include:

1. The age of your guardian

2. The age and talents of your child

3. The location of your guardian

4. Other changed circumstances of your guardian

5. Other changed circumstances of your child

The main thing to remember is that like other parts of your estate plan, updating is very important. It is not a once and done process but as your life changes, your estate plan evolves. We can help. Contact us at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When do you choose a Guardian?

Even an Angel needs a guardian. Who will be your Angel's guardian if something happens to you?

You should choose a guardian once your child is born. For those who practice certain religions a child's godparents are named early on. Usually a baptismal ceremony is held with the godparents present. Godparents agree to take care of their godchildren should something happen to the parents. You may already have godparents for your children so you need to name those individuals in your Will as guardians to cover all bases.

Is your Angel covered? Contact us at if we can provide any further assistance.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Should The Court Decide Your Child's Guardian?

It is a miracle!!! Birth is just that!! For many having a baby has been a difficult journey. But then the miracle of all miracles happens, you give birth. You marvel at this being, so small, so dependent, so perfect!!

You feel happy at last to be a mother, to be a father. Now another journey begins. Yes, you will enjoy watching your little miracle child grow and develop. You will love a lot and you will worry a lot. But, through it all you wonder about your child's future. An important part of your child's future is determing who would serve as the guardian if anything should happen to both parents.

Do not take such an important decision lightly. You have given your child so much and why jeopardize that with a court's decision regarding your child's future. The time to have a Will done that names your preference for guardian is now. Do not wait, do not procrastinate. Contact our offices at to help.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Things to Consider in Naming a Guardian

So, you may not have 6 or more children. But your little pumpkin is just as precious and deserves your attention and focus on their future. If that future should be without you, what would you desire for your little one.

In thinking about a guardian, consider the following:

1. What will be the least disruptive for your child since loosing a parent is catastrophic enough.

2. Who has shown unconditional care and love towards your child?

3. Who does your child like to be around?

4. Who has similar values to yours including religious belief and educational goals?

5. Who is most unselfish?

These are just a few things to consider in making such an imporant appointment as a guardian. Think now and make that choice. You child will benefit. Contact us for further guidance at

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Power of Your Legacy

Today I am presenting at Bucks County Community College, A Day For All Women. In the session participants will learn the 7 principles of wealth and recommended actions to implementa­tion. I will further provide a step-by-step understanding of estate planning.

Since women generally live longer than men, they need to use estate planning to their benefit and the benefit of their children.

Create a legacy of worth, protecting and preserving assets by attending this workshop. All are welcomed, November 7, 2010 at 8:30am until 3:00pm at Bucks County Community College.

Contact us at

Friday, October 29, 2010

Running in Fall

Update on the Marathon

Well, it is fall and running through the park is just beautiful. My 23 mile run is coming up on Sunday, Halloween. It will be the longest mile run that I will do until the 26.2 Marathon run on November 21st.

It has been quite amazing to get to this point. When I feel I can not run another mile, I think about why I am running and it gives me the energy to keep going. Yes, there have been some aches and pains. First, it was actually my toenails. I clipped them down but not before loosing one. It should just grow back. Oh, well. Then, it was my shins. I did some exercises to strengthen them. Now, it is my right hip. I have visited my Chiropractor for an adjustment and confirmation that I had not caused any harm. Epsom salt and white flower analgesic balm have become my best friends.

I am in it to finish it!!! I thank you for your support of my run and your donations to Jayla's and Jonathan's foundations.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Creating The Buzz In Business

I presented at the American Bar Association - Women Rainmakers Conference in Washington DC. It was an extraordinary event with women from all across the country attending. What I have found in my business and shared with the participants is the ever expanding extent of our reach. The technological advancements have created opportunities not only in the legal practice but all business arenas. We must find more creative ways to take advantage of the broader opportunities now available to us. You no longer have to think merely locally but nationally and internationally in your practice area.

Think about it! If you blog or tweet, the audience learning about you could be, well, anywhere. By linking in with your colleagues, friends, associates, you connect with others who may need your services or who services you may need. You are merely a click away from what may take your business to the next level. It is time to really learn more about this broader network available to you. And that was what the Women Rainmakers Conference was all about, taking advantage of the mostly FREE technology at our fingertips.

So, yes, if you blog, tweet, linkIn, facebook WISELY, you and your practice/business will reap benefits you could never imagine. So, what are you waiting for?

Contact us at with your comments.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Where Do You Think This Stock Market Is Going?

Marianna Goldenberg of Penn Wealth Planning has answered this question in her weekly commentary which I always find to be informative and insightful. She stated:

"If history is any indication: The fourth quarter of mid-term election years is almost always favorable for stocks. The market’s reaction to mid-term elections, as uncertainty fades, has almost always been positive, with fourth quarter gains as measured by the S&P 500 index averaging 8% in mid-term election years. The only two exceptions to the gains in the fourth quarter of every mid-term election year since 1950 were 1978 and 1994, when the Fed was hiking rates aggressively, a critical factor that is highly unlikely to take place this quarter. So far, stock market performance in 2010 has tracked the typical pattern for U.S. stocks in mid-term election years, albeit with a bit more than the usual volatility."

For those who wanted to know the answer to our question, this explaination might be as good as it gets. Contact us for your estate planning, probate and elder law needs at

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sometimes 2 Heads Are NOT Better than One - The Executors Dilemma

Are you an Executor of an estate? Do you share that role with another person? Well, it can all get so complicated if you do not get advice up front. Here are some tips for you:

1. You can hire and fire the attorney you hire for the estate. Determine what your fee arrangement was and proceed accordingly. Any fees incurred would have to be paid but you do not have to continue with the same attorney.

2. All executors have to agree on the estate attorney. One executor can not make that selection. If Executors can not agree that could result in court action to protect the estate from ineffective executors. An estate can be almost depleted if not totally if internal fights results. If unjustified, executors could be liable for waste.

3. All executors have to act together. Both or how ever many executors there are have to appear to be sworn as executors. Action on the estate can not occur until this is done.

My advice is to think twice before you make more than one person executor of your estate. If you must name more than one then give one power to decide any disagreement. Need more help, contact me at

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chile Celebrates Miners' Rescue

The world was able to watch and cheer the rescue of 33 miners trapped for over 2 months underground after a mine collapsed. The only thing on our minds during the rescue was the hope for the safety of all of the miners. As we clapped with tears swelling in our eyes, we felt connected to the miners' survival.

Then the rescue ends and the families move on to what will be the long healing process. Doctors will be visited, suits will be filed and commitments from politicians and the mining company will be made.

BUT this moment in time will be captured forever in the hearts of so many people. We can not help but be changed by this moment in some way. Will it inspire you to take some personal action that you have been meaning to address for a long time? Access your life and its worth, contact us at Our estate planning process is a life assessment process to benefit you and your family.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Estate Planning Boot Camp

I am a presenter today at the Bucks County Bar Association. The topic is Estate Planning Boot Camp. I will share with attorneys new to the practice some of the basic estate planning documents.

Much of what I share on my blog is helpful to practioners as well as the consumers. I have a passion for this area of the law. As a result, I often speak on the topic before consumers and my estate planning colleagues and other attorneys. I wrote Stop!! What are you waiting for? Your Step By Step Guide to Estate Planning because this is information important to EVERYONE.

Hope you enjoy my blog posts and maybe one day you can make it to one of my many presentations or just contact us at

Monday, October 11, 2010

Who's Talking To The Doctor?

What if your doctor is unable to communicate with you regarding a healthcare matter. You could have had an accident. You could be in surgery and require another procedure.

Your Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. This agent or personal representative is authorized by you to review your private medical information.

This is the THIRD most important document in your estate plan. Contact our offices at to address your probate, estate planning and elder law needs.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Do You Have the Power!!

Power of Attorney, that is. Yesterday, we discussed the Will as the most important document of your estate plan. Another important document is the Power of Attorney.

The Power of Attorney designates an individual known as your agent to handle critical financial transactions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This can include powers that range from signing checks for household expenses to arranging the sale of property or other personal or business assets.

If the person you want to name is NOT familiar with your financial transactions, then you need to let them know and provide them with the necessary information. The most important thing about appointing an agent is naming a person you trust. We can create the Power of Attorney for you. Contact us at

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can I Get A Will?

Today, we discuss the most important document in the estate plan. It is the Will.

Your Will provides for the care of minor children by establihsing guardianship. It dictates how you want your remaining assets divided among your heirs. You also name an executor to oversee the distribution of assets and pay any taxes, debts or other obligations that are due.

A simple matter to handle but unfortunately many fail to take that step. Can I Get A Will? Yes, you can!!! Contact our offices today at

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Important Documents In Your Estate Plan

Take advantage of the powerful estate planning tools designed to express your desires clearly. Further, these powerful tools provide guidance to your family and/or representatives during a difficult time when you would be unable to do so yourself.

The tools are your Will, your General Power of Atttorney, your Healthcare Power of Attorney, your Trust and your Living Will. Each one of these powerful tools will be discussed over the next few days. Stay tuned.

Contact our offices for all your probate, estate planning and elder law needs at

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Protect The Future

Did you know that accourding to a recent survey, nearly 2/3 of Americans do not have a will. This means that a judge and the laws of the state will determine the distribution of their assets and belongings if they should pass away, unexpectedly or not.

Avoiding important estate planning decisions could eventually mean that someone else has to make them for you. The results are often not in the best interest of your family and could event fail to meet their future needs. A thoughtful estate plan takes your priorities into account, protects your heirs, and establishes your legacy.

Contact our offices for all your Probate, Estate Planning and Elder Law needs at

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Issue with Probate

Probate is the means by which state courts validate a will and clear the executor to pay debts and taxes, sell property, distribute funds and perform other tasks necessary to settle an estate. It can be a lengthy and expensive process in many jurisdictions. Probate costs can consume 3 to 7% of an estat's value. It can be even more if there is a dispute that runs up additional legal fees.

You can help make sure your estate avoids many of the pitfalls of probate by planning now for the future distribution of your estate.

Contact us at for expert estate planning legal advice.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Marathon Update - Business of Caring

You have to care about yourself to truly care about others. When you fly, you are advised to place the oxygen mask over your face FIRST and then help others. You cannot help others if you are in need of air to breathe.

I enjoy helping others. My estate planning practice is about helping people. My running the Philadelphia Marathon is about helping others. BUT, it is FIRST about helping me. Because I believe giving has even more rewards then receiving. Some of you may recall me saying that I am not a runner but I am running a Marathon. At first, the training was just dreadful. Just thinking about running mile after mile made me cringe.

I am now looking out the window at the pouring down rain and longing, yes you heard right, longing to be out there running. BUT it is shaping up to be an inside treadmill day because I will run, one way or another. So I am "giving" to Jayla and Jonathan but I am receiving so much more from them and ALL those who support my run. I am still in it!!! Please donate!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Segway Company Owner Dies

You have seen the Segway. Police officers, tour guides, and then others all over started using it. They caught on and of course the money has followed. This is an estate to follow. Will keep you posted on the estate planning lessons to be learned.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Retitling Assets

This is a reminder of the importance of retitling assets when you get a Trust. Many folks ask for and obtain a Trust whether Revocable or Irrevocable, the most important step after the Trust has been signed is retitling. This means that all assets (or the assets to be placed in the Trust) that are in your name MUST BE retitled from your name to the name of the Trust, ie. ABC Trustee, for the XYZ Trust dated ______.

Without retitling your assets the Trust is pointless. It does nothing for you until assets are properly (legally changing title) placed into the trust.

We work with our clients during the retitling process. We do not leave it on them. They could forget, not understand or just procrastinate. Contact us for all your estate planning needs at

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What Now? Federal Estate Tax Legislation

I attended the Bucks County Estate Planning Council's meeting last night. The speaker's topic was on the Federal Estate Tax legislation or should I say the lack thereof. Since 2001 when the new law was implemented with a 2010 sunset, we have anticipated that Congress would be addressing the pending sunset. Well, we are half way through 2010 and nothing.

One third of the audience felt that Congress would act by year end, 1/3 felt they would act in 2011 and the other 1/3 felt they would not act at all. In other words, it is anyone's guess on the status of, among other things, the Federal Estate Tax which if Congress does nothing will take us back in time.

So what does an attorney advise a client? Flexible planning is the key with Disclaimer Trusts and QTIP trust being high on the list. Want to know more, contact us at

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Business of Caring

What would you do if you were diagnosed with a debilitating disease? Would you (1) Get your affairs in order; (2) Be paralyzed by the prognosis; (3) Be in denial and do absolutely NOTHING; or (4) Seek out the best possible professional help and advice.

In my practice I do encounter individuals who find themselves in this situation. Of course, their visit to me is getting their affairs in order but just as important they are expanding their circle of support through what is a very difficult time.

So for me, my practice is all about the human factor. It is about caring at many levels for those clients that I encounter. I am happy for them when they have a baby, purchase a new home, get a new job or start a business. I empathize with them over the loss of a loved one or their concerns for their children. I have compassion for them as they struggle to overcome or manage their life's challenges.

I know that when it comes to getting your affairs in order it is not just about the legal documents but it is about the care that goes into the preparation. Contact us at

Monday, September 20, 2010

Marathon Progress Update

Since many of you have asked, How am I doing?, I decided to provide Monday updates.

Well, things are progressing. I am now at runing 9 miles which I did yesterday. This was a point that I really felt was going to be very difficult. I started feeling, I don't think I can do this 9 miles coming up on my training program. I just felt it was beyond my capacity. BUT, I did it and it meant a lot to me. I feel that I have reached a very important milestone in the training. My training partner/coach is to be commended. She talks just when I think, no more!! How she manages to talk and run, I do not know. I need all my energy just to run. BUT, she got me through it and afterwards I felt really good.

Soooo, I am still in it to finish it. I still have a long way to go and will need your constant encouragement. So, I thank you all for that. Shout out to Mary Ann who saw me training in Tyler Park and gave me a thumbs up!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Probate - Estate Administration

If you are the executor or administrator of an estate, remember the following when closing out the estate:

1. Make sure all deeds are properly titled to the beneficiary/ies.
2. Make sure all final forms are submitted to register of wills, including final status report; any formal accounting; or family settlement agreement.
3. Make sure final approvals are obtained regarding inheritance tax filings.
4. Make sure you close out the estate account after everything is finalized.

This is a helpful checklist of things that often get overlooked. However, it would be to your benefit to consult with a professional probate attorney. We have that expertise. Contact us at

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You can be Sued As an Executor

It is important that everyone has a will so that you can name the executor over your estate. You need to ask the person you want to name whether they wish to serve. The role of executor is very important. They must make sure the distribution of your estate is done in accordance with your wishes and the requirements under the law. There are time frames that have to be met; forms that have to be filed; taxes that have to be paid; and, decision that you may leave up to the executor in your will, ie. who gets what household items, etc.

If anyone feels the executor is not performing, they can bring a legal action, ie. sue the executor. So, your executor may have to defend their actions before the court. Everyone should understand the potential risks associated with being an executor. The person making the will should pick wisely and the person agreeing to serve should understand their fiduciary role.

Contact us if you are serving as an executor. We can help you avoid litigation.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Asset Protection Planning

We all want to protect and preserve the assets that we have accumulated through all our hard work. There are simple and complex ways to accomplish that task.

Some ideas to consider include gifting to those whom you want to have your assets. Joint ownership will allow assets to pass to those whom you have made co-owners. There is so much that can be done with proper planning with insurance. Family Limited Partnerships are more complex but very effective planning tools as are different types of trusts.

You need to address all of these asset protection planning vehicle with a respected professional. Contact us at for all your estate planning, probate and elder law needs.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tax Planning - Don't wait until the last minute!!!

Tax planning for 2010 is going to be a real challenge, and unintended consequences may adversely affect the best-laid plans. Minimizing the tax bill requires a true balancing act between the changes in the tax rates, the differences in the phaseouts between the two years, and the always unpredictable alternative minimum tax (AMT).

There are significant tax savings opportunities for anyone who can control the timing of either a large income item or an itemized deduction. The problem is determining which tax year will result in the greatest benefit. We urge you to reach out to your accountant or tax preparers and discuss the following issues:

Timing of your income (there are no phaseouts in 2010) – take an early bonus, make IRA withdrawals, or recognize some other type of ordinary income in 2010
Accelerating capital gains into 2010 – selling low-bases stock as capital gain rate is scheduled to increase to 20% and the favorable 15% rate is going back to the taxpayer’s marginal rate for qualifying dividends.
AMT tax – there is no “patch” approved for 2010 and the exemption will revert back to 1986 level.
Taking deductions in 2010 vs. deferring to 2011?
Roth IRA – should you convert in 2010 and pay the tax as the income rates are going up?

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Giving Birth is Like Estate Planning

I was talking with a client today about how estate planning is about everything we do. My client is a mid-wife. She thought awhile and then compared estate planning to giving birth. I thought that was very interesting.

She said you have to prepare for child birth and if you don't there may well be complications. Hello, the same is true for estate planning. If you do not plan for when you die, there may well be complications.

She said the baby is coming whether you are ready or not. Well, Well, the same is true for estate planning. Sooner or later, death will be our reality, ready or not.

Preparing for child birth is so very important for your health and the health of your baby. Preparing for death is so very important for your family and for the legacy you leave behind.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

A Marathon is Like Estate Planning

Of course I would notice the similarities, because estate planning is what I do everyday. Training for a marathon, you have to follow a well developed plan. Just like estate planning requires the services of an expert, you want a traning program that has been developed by a professional and has been proven successful. You have to finalize your estate plan by signing the documents. You have to execute your training program by running the schedule.

Today and tomorrow, I run 6 miles then a day of rest before I increase to 7 miles. This gradual schedule along with some strength training, interval training, a few races in between and a lot of encouragement will get me to 26 miles by the end of November. Oh, did I forget to mention positive thinking!!!!

We all have to have a plan for our life events. You can rely on us for your all your estate planning and probate needs. Contact us at

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

This is a number one best seller from Swedish author, Stieg Larsson. There is a Swedish movie and plans for an American movie. The book was written as a trilogy, followed by The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I have read the first book and I am half way through the second, fascinating read.

BUT, here is what is exciting from an estate planning perspective. Stieg Larsson died after his manuscripts were released but before his books were published. He is not around to enjoy all of the popularity his books have garnered nor the financial reward associated with the popularity. So what is happening with his estate?

You guessed it. There was no Will!! His brother and father are his only living heirs. Though he lived with his life companion of 32 years, he NEVER married. The beneficiaries of his estate are his brother and father. His life companion has no legal rights to any of his estate. So does it end there?

Of course not because there is rumors of a 4th book. Stieg Larsson apparently intended to write 10 books in this series. He had completed 3 and was well into the 4th which allegedly is in the possession of his life companion. Can a settlement be reached with the family that would be amendable to ALL parties?

What do you think? Leave your comments here or contact us at

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Marathon Update - First 10K EVER!!!

Yes, I ran my first 10k, ever. It was Labor Day when most folks relax and enjoy a cook out or two. But, not me, I was out there running through the neighborhood of Morrisville, Pennsylvania. I figured if I intend to do a Marathon, 26 miles, I should clearly start with some shorter races. So, the 10k (6.2 miles, my tag number for the run was 62, coincidence???), was my starting point. In my training schedule, I had run 6 miles a couple of times, so I knew I could do it.

BUT, running on your own and running an event is so different. The Pros: Folks cheering for you; Water breaks.....The Cons: The fast pace of all the runners. So what I did was just slow down to my own comfortable pace which meant I was soon all alone, just me, myself and I.

BUT the cheering carried me through to the end and I crossed the finished line completing my first 10k. A BAGEL and WATER never tasted soooo goood!!!

I run because Jonathan can't!!
I run because Jayla needs her full vision!!

Donate what you can!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Free - Some Things In Life Are!!!!

We say, slow down and smell the flowers. It is FREE, you know.

Well, you can also get a hug, for FREE!! How special is that?? Watch and see!!!

Leave your comments here or contact us for your charitable estate planning today.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

When Do You Need A Trust?

A revocable living trust serves several purposes. It avoids probate, provides privacy and provides ease of handling your business during any incapacity. Generally, I recommend such a trust when a client has real estate in more than one state. This avoids the necessity of probating in more than one state.

However, if there is a mortgage on the property, you must obtain approval of the mortgage holder to change the Deed into the name of the trust. Though this is permissible by most lenders, the process to go through to get the approval can be daunting. So, before you obtain a revocable living trust, contact your mortgage holder to get the paper work that you will be required to fill out. This way you know the steps ahead of time and the attorney can assist you with the paperwork.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Power of Attorney

I can not stress enough how important it is to have a Power of Attorney. I had a situation recently where the brother of a client became terminally ill. The brother was not married and had no children. His only relative was my client. With the illness, my client's brother could not pay his bills and my client was taking care of all these expenses. However, my client did not anticipate such a prolong illness and needed to access his brother's money to continue with the payments.

When I visited the brother in the hospital, I realized that he did not have the capacity to execute a Power of Attorney. Obtaining a guardianship was going to be the only option available to my client. Guardianship procedures are long and costly. Whereas, a Power of Attorney can range from $75 to $150.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Inheritance Disclaimer and Medicaid

There was a question from a reader regarding whether a medicaid recipient can disclaim his inheritance. In this situation, a 89 year old man has been in a nursing home for 3 years and for the last 2 years he has been on medicaid. He had very little assets and once those resources were depleted he applied for and obtained medicaid to cover his stay in a nursing home. Now a relative has died and in their will left the 89 year old an interest in a home which when sold will yield him about $125,000. He prefers to disclaim this inheritance to enable a younger relative to inherit. Can he do this?

In order to answer that question, you must review the federal medicaid law and the state law interpreting and implementing that law. Unearned income is consider a resource for medicaid purposes and an inheritance is unearned income. But, if you disclaim an inheritance you never get this unearned income. However, does this disclaimer amount to a transfer of assets which brings with it a penalty for eligibility? Does medicaid have to be informed regarding the inheritance and the disclaimer? If the 89 year old should proceed to disclaim, there will be potential objections from medicaid and who would win depends upon all the factors mentioned.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

School's Out for the Summer

Summer slow down, please. It is August already and though we have been experiencing 100 degree weather, I still love my lazy, hazy summer days. Like most folks, I work year round but summer just reminds me of my "school's out for the summer days". At a cellular level, my body seems to remember the fun of summer. It was a time to join with my cousins at our grandmother's where the rules differed from home. Hiking in the woods, swimming in the bay, up all night, lots of homemade sugary treats and fun adventures that provide memories of a lifetime were just a few things that make me even now a summer adult.

I have thought about how to capture such basic, wholesome experiences for my children in this day and time when the freedom we had would prove dangerous today. To me, living life has given me many estate planning moments. Though this is not an estate planning moment, it is a life moment of reflection. Maybe sharing this with you, you can help me in finding ways to protect and preserve the wonders of childhood so that when our children are adults they can still feel that summer fun.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Taking Advantage of the Beach Weather

We are still fortunate that we can enjoy the beach. The weather has been perfect for just laying around on the beach all day and, in the north, our beaches have not been affected by the tragic oil spill. So, off to the shore I go with my 9 year old niece and 9 year old Angelina, the light of my eye.

I often think about Angelina if something should happen to me or my husband. We have appointed guardians in our will but there is so much we want for her that is personally us that can't be passed on. So, what I tell my clients and myself is to focus on what you can pass on to our young children if we die when they are still young. Pick a loving guardian who knows your child. Money is not the focus when choosing your guardian. Angelina likes your time and your attention. That costs you nothing. (Well, then again, for me time is money but that aside :)) Who has been there for those special moments in your child's life and in yours? Who can provide the memories of those special times? Who has smiled at or complimented your child for the small achievements? Pay attention to those people in your life and you will be looking at a potential guardian for your child.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

General Powers of Attorney

Today, I was updating a Power of Attorney for a client. This reminded me of the importance of having a professionally done Power of Attorney. I was working on a nursing home case where most of the elderly clients had appointed an agent under a Power of Attorney. It was necessary when the patient/client was unable to act on their on behalf that the agent had the requisite power to act for them. One more than one occassion, the Power of Attorney used was insufficient for bringing an action in court. The agent did not have the power to sue on behalf of the patient/client. The Power of Attorney (some pulled off of the internet or some form booklet) was limited in its use.

An attorney and especially an estate planning attorney would be in the best position to prepare an appropriate Power of Attorney. In my nursing home case, thousand of dollars were lost because no suit could be brought by the agent on behalf of the injured patient. Don't let this happen to you or your loved one.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Philadelphia Marathon

Stay tuned!! I will be blogging about the Philadelphia Marathon. WHY, you might ask would an estate planning blogger want to spend time blogging about the Philadelphia Marathon or any marathon for that matter?? BECAUSE, I just signed up to run the Philadelphia Marathon.

Yes, this "non-runner" who has never even done a 5k, which is how it all started, will be training to run a marathon. WHY?? BECAUSE I always tell my readers the importance of their life and legacy. To have a legacy, you have to be living your life and challenging yourself each and every day. It does not have to be a marathon or anything close to it but it has to be something outside of your comfort zone, your self-created box. Something that will make you say, if I can do this, I can do anything.

Well, gotta run, literally. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Your Children's Legacy

What is the legacy that you leave your children? The answer to that question goes a long way in determining your children's legacy. Each generation builds or not on the other generation. What makes the difference between generational prosperity and generational deterioration? The answer is planning, estate planning.

Prosperity is not always about money or financial wealth. Prosperity is also inclusive of happiness, well-being and fulfillment. For some, this is all that really matters. BUT, for any prosperity, one has to have a plan. Money, happiness, well-being and fulfillment, none of these happen by chance. Estate planning is the process of evaluating your "assets" - the tangible things you have (like money, a home, car, jewelry, etc.) and the intangible things that matter to you (happiness, well-being, productivity, fulfillment). After this evaluation or reflection, the estate planning process continues by looking at those who matter most to you - loved ones, other people, places or things.

When this process is donw with a professional estate planner, you make a difference in your children's legacy. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Trust serves as Will Substitute

The sweltering heat had us take a drive down to the Jersey Shore for the day. I thought about the Jersey Shore properties that are owned by so many folks who live in Pennsylvania. In many cases, it would be appropriate that their property would be passed on via a Trust. A Trust would avoid probate. Therefore, those with real estate in more that one state, avoidance of probate would make a lot of sense.

A Trust in those cases would serve as a perfect alternative to a will, a will substitute. Remember, if your property still has a mortgage on it, consent of your mortgage company would be required.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Estate Planning Moment in the Poconos

Over the Fourth of July Weekend, we spent sometime in the Poconos so our daughter could enjoy the indoor waterpark. Later during the weekend, while my husband played golf, I was lounging on the pristine shores of Lake Harmony and my daughter was taking in the water sports. I soon struck up a conversation with another vacationer and before long the conversation turned to estate planning. Ok, I just can't help myself...I love estate planning.

The question pertained to providing for your children, upon your death, when you are estranged from your husband. You need to understand that without a will, the intestate laws would distribute over 1/2 of your estate to your spouse. Even with a will, the spouse can not be disinherited. The spouse is entitled to an elective share unless there are circumstances to justify otherwise, but that would have to be proven and remember, this is after you have passed.

So, I was able to provide my fellow vacationer with some food for thought. She said that she looked forward to purchasing my book, Stop! What are you waiting for? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Estate Planning so she could be prepared for her meeting with an estate planning attorney in her state. Feel free to contact us at

Friday, July 2, 2010

L'Oreal Heiress is Among the Top Richest Women in the World

Liliane Bettencourt, the 87 year old French heiress to the L'Oreal cosmetics empire, has attacked her daughter for questioning her right to donate 1.2 billion in gifts to a 61 year old society photographer. The daughter who stands to inherit the family fortune which includes 30% interest in L'Oreal has sued the photographer for fraud. Now the courtroom drama begins. With such a large sum of money involved, the lawsuit will involve not only the family fortune but politics, power and sex. Yes, it is an estate planning soap opera. As of this writing the trial has been postponed due to tapes made by the butler (yes, the butler did it) and leaked to the press that raises issues of foreign tax shelters and questionable financial transactions. One question asked during all of this is whether there will be any impact on the company, L'Oreal. Well, time will tell but probably the family and the company are separated enough to protect the company, financially, from this particular drama.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Longest Serving Member of Congress dies at 92

Senator Robert Byrd dies at 92.

The Congress and the Nation will take time to recognize one of its longest serving members who will lie in State today in the Senate chamber. After over 50 years in Congress, Senator's Byrd's legacy will live on for generations. As the days go by, we will determine whether there are any estate planning issues that we can examine.

I might surmise, since it has not yet become headline news that the estate planning was done so that issues were addressed prior to Senator's Byrd's death. Time will tell.

To the family of Senator Byrd, we send our heartfelt condolences on the loss of your loved one whom you shared with the Nation. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kagan Confirmation Hearings

Congress makes the laws, the President enforces the laws, and the Supreme Court interprets the laws. It seems simplistic and straightforward but it is not because the devil is in the details. This week we watch the confirmation hearings of, Elena Kagan, a nominee to the Supreme Court of our nation. The hearings are just as important as an election to congress or the presidency.

I am always reading court opinions that interpret tax laws affecting estate planning as well as opinions pertaining to specific estate plans that have been challenged by those affected by the plan in one way or the other. Just like the laws of the land, your will has to be written to withstand the scrutiny of a judge, maybe not a Supreme Court Justice but the judiciary may be called in to determine whether your will complies with the laws or if your intentions are clear.

Professional guidance is key when making your will. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BP - Oil Disaster in the Gulf

I, alongwith the nation and the world, are watching the unfolding of the worst oil spill in US history. The deaths from the explosion, the impact on the fishing industry, tourism, wetlands and wildife are all unprecedented. And now there is a fund to begin to compensate those who have suffered as a result of this tragedy. But is it enough? What would be enough?

There are so many plans that have to be put on hold and dreams that can never be realized. How can you value such loss?

What we all can do is prepare ourselves for the expected and the unexpected. What happens to our loved ones when we die? How do we manage during a sickness or disability? Unlike the unprecedented oil spill, we have ways to address these emergencies. Get your will done today. Name a person under a power of attorney to act for you when you are unable to act for yourself. Take these steps now before it is too late. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Monday, June 28, 2010

Too Many Wills Creates Chaos

In my book Stop! What are you waiting for? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Estate Planning, I stressed the importance of shredding prior wills. Even though the new will revokes any prior will, finding the old one first could start a process in the wrong direction and create disharmony when the current will is found.

Apparently, there were 2 wills found for Gary Coleman and even some handwritten notes. The handwritten notes would not be a will if the will formalities were not followed.

You must handle your will as you handle your other business. Be organized and consistent. If your will is not maintained with your attorney, maintain it in a safe or safety deposit box. Why have unnecessary chaos, with a little planning while following best practices, you lessen the burden on your family and friends.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yet Another Will in the Gary Coleman Saga

This was the recent headline in one newspaper. It just reminds me of the importance of taking proper care of your important papers. When a new Will is done, it revokes the prior Will. But if no one knows of the new Will, the old Will could end up being used. That is why is it also important/critical that ALL prior Wills are shredded/burned/ get the picture. GET RID OF ANY OLD WILL.

If Gary Coleman had another Will, as long as all of the legal requirements for making a Will were satisfied, it would prevail over any Will already submitted to the courts. The ramifications of any conflicts will continue to fuel the backstory of yet another Hollywood drama.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Uncommon Millionaire and her Wonderful Legacy

I enjoy the stories of folks leaving a legacy worth millions to deserving people who did not expect it. Here is another story from the headlines that reminds us that it takes all types of people to make a difference in our lives and "be kind to your neighbors" should be everyones motto.
Click on the picture to hear her story!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Elder Care - When a Nursing Home is Required

I recently spoke with a client whose 91 and 95 year old grandparents are in need of long term care. They can no longer stay in their home because the limited care they receive (4 hours a day) is not sufficient to meet their needs. However, the cost of a nursing home is prohibitive given their resources.

So, what is one to do? Their options are limited. Since both need to have 24 hour care, all of their resources would have to be paid to the nursing home until they qualify for medicaid. My client's grandparents could spend down on eligible items like prepaid funeral, medical bills and home repairs (which would be necessary to sell it). Other transfers, like to a trust or gifting to family members, would affect their eligibility for medicaid since there is a 5 year look back period on transfers.

The options are few given their advance age. Planning for long term care needs to be on everyones' radar since we are living longer and with that our medical needs increase. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Monday, June 7, 2010

Coleman Dies at 42

Gary Coleman, the child star of "Different Strokes", suffered a brain hemorrhage and went into a coma. Life support was withdrawn and he soon passed on. It was reported that he had named his personal representative to speak for him regarding healthcare matters when he could not speak for himself. Through that power, his agent (his ex-wife) withdrew life support.

Now at issue is the remains of his body. Who has the rights thereto? His parents or his ex-wife. Unless he provided otherwise for his remains, the parents would have the priority right. Of course, as with all of Hollywood matters, the drama continues to unfold. Did he remarry the ex-wife and therefore, elevate her status to wife?

I will continue to follow but in the meantime I continue to stress the importance of your estate plan and how it covers all of your assets, even your physical body. Leave your comments here or contact us at