Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Springtime - Change is Good

As I look out on a beautiful clear day after several cold rainy days, I welcome, no, I embrace change. I prepare for my day with gusto awaiting that next estate planning challenge. How do you handle change in all its multifariousness?

I know you hear that the only thing constant is change. Yet, you, like most people, may struggle against it. Do you look upon change as a friend or something to dislike and resist? Are you only comfortable with your “known” environment? Change does represent the unknown and uncertainty and yes, that can cause discomfort. It is no wonder that we live with so much stress, anxiety and dis-ease. The struggle against a constant is a losing battle.

So what is the answer? Let go and let life’s flow embrace you. Is that easier said than done? No, I believe it is easier, if done. So I ask you to make one change today. End your procrastination habit and get your estate planning done. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Who is a Millionaire?

There are some stories that fill you with emotions. They touch our souls. I want to share this story of Grace Groner with you.

We ALL have something to give that will make a difference to someone. In the case of this very special story, a lot of people will benefit from the generosity of an unlikely millionaire. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Final Gift

A friend's mother passed and I attended the memorial service in celebration of her mother's life. It was very intriguing for me. Her mother donated her body to science. Though I have noted that request in documents for many individuals, this was the first time that I attended a service where one had donated their body to science. My friend's mother had follow in the footsteps of her own mother who gave her body to science at a time when very few people considered that option.

As I have said in several blogs that our assets include everything, even our bodies. We can recall the controversy surrounding Michael Jackson's body and burial. What about Anna Nicole Smith? There was major controversy over the location of the burial of her body.

So, think about ALL your assets and make those needed decisions so things can go as smoothly (at least as regards the body) for your family when you die as it did for my friend's family. Leave your comment here or contact us at

Thursday, March 25, 2010

You Got To Dream Big

You have no excuse not to dream big. You don't need money nor an alloted amount of time. You don't need any one's permission nor their feedback. As the Nike commercials say, just do it or should I say "just dream it". A friend of mine shared with me one of her mottos "don't just face reality, create reality". So, you have to dream to make something that you want to happen in your life. You should not just wait for life to happen, because we all know it will.

When people say to me that they do not have an estate to plan, or assets to pass on, or a legacy worth preserving then I encourage them to dream. If they do, sooner or later, they will come to me with an estate to plan, assets to pass on, or a legacy worth perserving.

I found the young man in this video to be very inspiring. Watch and dream your big dream.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Inherited IRAs

I had a question posed regarding IRAs. The question was what is the benefit of leaving retirement benefits in Trust when the beneficiary of an Inherited IRA may "stretch" the Inherited IRA and therefore get payments over time. The short answer is that they may but a Trust makes sure that they do. If you want to protect the asset you pass on to loved ones, the trust provides you with that protection as well as the control.

Let your hard earned assets serve your loved ones in the way that you want. Leave your assets in a Trust. We can help. Contact us at or leave a comment here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Power of the Purse

I attended an anual grantmaking dinner hosted by the Bucks County Women's Fund. It was entitled Power of the Purse to symbolize the strength and potential of women's philanthropy. The program also demonstrated to all in attendance that charitable estate planning is just as important to engage in while you are living. We see the fruits of our charitable support. Those who benefit are also given an opportunity to give their thanks. Everyone receives encouragement to do even more to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

There are many people who want to know the best way to support charitable causes. You can make charitable deductions to a qualified charity (501c3, church, etc) during your lifetime; you can give a specific amount in your will to a non-profit organization; and, you can set up all types of trust to meet your specific need. Let us help. Contact us at or leave your comments here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Divorce or Marriage

Whether you are getting a divorce or you are getting married, you need to have your wills done or updated upon the occurrence of either event.

I have had situations where the only will in effect was the one written before the divorce. Naming a prior spouse can be problematic upon death. Was the intent to provide for the person or the "spouse"? The prior spouse could allege that no change was made because there was still an interest by the divorcing spouse to leave the prior spouse assets upon death. The person in the best position to address the issue is now deceased.

Take care of those important matters when your life circumstances changes. Doing a will or updating one is one of those important matters to address.

Leave you comments here or contact us at

Friday, March 19, 2010

Estate Planning as a Family Conversation

I read a good article in the New York Times written by Deborah Jacobs. It was entitled Estate Planning as a Family Conversation. When I saw that article, I could immediately relate to her story.

When I wrote Stop! What are you waiting for? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Estate Planning, I viewed it as a way to open up the estate planning dialogue with family members, especially aging parents. It is not easy for children to discuss their parents' immortality. But, it is a fact of life. So, how do you go about doing it? What happens if you do not do it? Determine the answer to that question and that will be the basis of the conversation. Then you use a guide, like my book, to provide substantive information to the discussion.

In the New York Times article, the father was estanged (but not divorced) for over 30 years from his wife. He wanted his children to receive his assets. Without a will and in the state where he lived, upon his death, his wife would receive his entire estate. He had to plan to reach his desired result.

Contact us at or leave your comments here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Tale of Two Seminars

I have often stated how estate planning serves different needs. It is not a one size fits all and it is not for just one type of planner. For example, I am speaking on estate planning to 2 different groups today and promoting my book, Stop! What are you waiting for? Your Step-By-Step Guide to Estate Planning.

First, an association of ministers will be interested in how charitable estate planning can be encouraged amongst their congregation. Many people during their lifetime financially support their religious organization through some consistent giving arrangement. Their giving can extend beyond their lifetime if plans are made. If not, the giving stops when they die.

Second, an association of independent financial advisors will want to know how their clients' assets can be protected with estate planning. What are the latest tax issues affecting estates?

Though the conversations will be very different, the goal to take the time now to plan for the future is the same. Contact us at or leave your comments here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Celebrating our heritage and the heritage of others are festive occassions. It is also a time to remember the importance of passing on traditions that represent the essence of a culture.

Estate planning allows you to do that as well. We give to causes that represent who we are, our interests; we support family to sustain generations; and, we express in our own last words and testament our hopes for the future.

Enjoy the celebrations!!! Leave your comments here or contact us at

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who Is Clark Rockerfeller?

I found this story amazing. How could someone create identities at a whim and in high circles? How can one claim to be a Rockerfeller without immediate attention or confirmation?
When families are estanged from their relatives this, among other situations, creates such an opportunity. Sometimes estate planning can provide a chance to reunite families in ways that protect their identity and heritage. Estate planning does not require equal sharing of wealth but it can at least make clear who belongs.
Of course, estate planning nor anything else can stop people from being unscrupulous. How can your family reunite broken ties? Contact us at or leave your comments here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cold Case

I was channel surfing last night and landed on Cold Case. Basically, each week the show takes a look at an unsolved case, aka cold case. It made me think about the estate plans not yet done. You should have a plan for your loved ones when you are no longer around. When we die what do we leave behind for the ones we love? Why leave everyone guessing on what you want or what you would have done if you planned?

When you leave your estate plan undone, it becomes a Cold Case for someone else to solve. My experience has shown that no investigator, detective, officer nor forensic specialist can figure out your intent.

So, don't leave your family with a mystery to solve. It is not a pleasant affair for anyone. Contact us at and let the estate planning process begin.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Should I name a couple as Guardian?

Couples with young children have a major decision to make. Who will serve as guardian of the children if both of them should die before the children reach 18?

Clients wanted to know whether it was wise to name a brother and his wife as the guardians of their 3 children. I often cite the issue of divorce. What happens to the children if there should be a divorce of the guardians? Who do you want to have the children in that situation? The person you name in that situation should be the person named in your will as guardian.

You do not want your children in the middle of a custody dispute if you can plan ahead and avoid that potentiality.

More on your children and guardians tomorrow. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Will To Go, please.

You often here me say that estate planning is for everyone, and it is. It is not only those who "think" they do not have assets worth protecting (what about your children, your home); but those with assets who fail to plan. Wealth, knowledge, expertise, education, etc. are not guarantees that folks have done what they need to do. The same applies to estate planning.

Some people have not taken the time to really review what they are worth and even those who do know, for all the reasons we have discussed (procrastination at the top) have not done their estate planning. New clients came to me with had an immediate need to at least have a will in place. With small children at home, they were leaving on a much needed vacation together without the children. So I said "Sure, I can do a will for you." It was not until they filled out the paper work that I realized what they needed was much more than a "simple will". With assets in excess of 10 million dollars, a "simple will" does not, in any way, cover their needs.

They are not alone in failing to realize how important it is to take the time (not when you are rushing to catch a flight or even on death's bed) to plan now. Leave your comments here or contact us at

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Where Are Those Docs.?

Now that you have gotten around to doing your will and the other important documents; Powers of Attorney and Living Will, where are they? That is such a BIG issue for so many people. No one knows where you placed your documents.

I have advised and continue to do so that your documents should only be in one of three places. Your Original documents should be either with your
(1) attorney,
(2) a fireproof and waterproof safe in your home, or
(3) a safety deposit box at the bank.
A copy may be given to your agent under your powers of attorney or your executor under your will. Though it is not required, all of the foregoing is highly recommended. Otherwise, the calls, the search, the anguish will be high when you unable to communicate their location.

Where Are Your Documents?? Leave your comments here or contact us at