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.