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Articles Posted in Estate Planning

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If you haven’t yet given thought to what will happen to your vacation home (or other real estate) once you’re gone, please read this!

Mere ownership of real property can trigger not-so-pleasant things such as creditor claims, unnecessary probate, additional tax, and most importantly – ugly family disputes.

Whether it’s a cabin in the woods, a chalet on the mountain, or a cottage by the sea, a family vacation home is the getaway that brings everyone together – a place to make memories.

men-sticking-tongues-at-each-other-300x211Sibling relationships can be fraught even in the best of times. Under the stress and strain of dealing with the needs of aging parents, they can deteriorate swiftly and dramatically. It’s a common issue faced by families from all walks of life. But it can be easier to manage if you know that to expect.

It’s important to make the distinction between knowing what to expect and having expectations.

Most people, if they are honest, have an idea of how they’d like their sibling group to handle the various financial, emotional, and day-to-day needs as parents get older. But reality doesn’t always line up with those expectations. With the added pressure and anxiety of having to make important decisions and sacrifices, adult siblings often fall into old childhood patterns, triggering each other in unhealthy ways. Emotions run high. The concept of what’s “fair” gets distorted.

love-letter-1245973-mIn your estate plan, you leave behind financial wealth and possessions, but the most valuable items you can pass on are those that cannot be measured. That’s why you should consider writing an ethical Will.

What is an ethical Will?

An ethical Will is a great way to reinforce, to those people dearest to you, your values, insights and beliefs. It is a profoundly meaningful piece of writing that captures a part of you, perhaps your very essence, that won’t be found in any formal estate plan.

An ethical Will is not a legal document; you don’t need an elder law attorney to help you draft one. In fact it’s about as official as an envelope you might use to scribble your grocery list. It’s simply your opportunity to leave a spiritual legacy to your family.

You could think of it as a love letter to those you hold close. Continue reading

life-support-plus-300x193Under the most ideal of circumstances, discussions about end-of-life care decisions are difficult, uncomfortable and often thought of as a talk better suited for a later time. But as unsettling as it is, if now is not the time to have a plan in place about your health care wishes, then when is?

No one ever wants to think about the possibility of being incapacitated or in a terminal state.  But if that were to happen, would your loved ones know what your wishes are?  Would they know where you stand on being kept alive artificially?

Having your health care and end-of-life wishes documented and in place are important for not only your peace of mind but also for your loved ones who may be tasked with seeing your wishes are met.

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The Importance of Advance Healthcare Directives in a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only brought the world to a standstill. It has brought us face to face with our own mortality. The news headlines are filled with daily stories about the tragic loss of life and those stories make it clear that this virus is deadly to people of all ages and lifestyles.

A recent piece published by Dr. Asha Shajahan, a primary care physician in metro Detroit, poignantly conveyed the reality of life and death in a COVID-19 unit. Dr. Shajahan opened his piece with the following,

iStock_000026177458Small-300x281If we’re honest, most of us have spent some time in the last few weeks thinking about mortality—our own and that of our loved ones. It’s not surprising given the fact that we’re living through a pandemic that has caused unprecedented disruptions to our daily lives. We’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty, which can be scary. 

Being prepared is one of the most effective ways to alleviate anxiety caused by uncertainty. 

While none of us can hope to fully control the current situation, there are things each of us can do to help ensure that we have fewer things to worry about in case of dire emergency. 

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There is no perfect time to talk with your parents about their finances. No matter when you bring it up or how you broach the subject, it’s bound to be awkward for you—the adult child—and your parents. Be that as it may, having “The Money Talk” is a critical part of ensuring that everyone is prepared for whatever may come. 

Right now, such conversations may seem almost inappropriate. The entire global population is dealing with the frightening and life-changing experience of living with a pandemic. Our minds are focused on day-to-day needs and the swiftly changing news, not long-term financial planning. On the other hand, the reality of the situation is drawing attention to places where we might want to ensure a little more certainty, including addressing big questions about estate planning and other money matters. 

Why this is such an important conversation

By Colleen Masse

AdobeStock_46432121-300x290We’re all home for the foreseeable future and many of us find we have a little extra time for projects. My sister is cleaning out her closets, my friend is painting her living room, my son is taking online guitar lessons.

If you have the urge to get something accomplished while quarantined, I have a challenge for you: review your estate plan.

egg-300x300Do you know about the new changes that could affect your retirement accounts? Some are positive, others may require you to make some new planning decisions.

Either way, the goal of this new legislation is to improve retirement security for many Americans. And that’s a good thing.

The new law is called the SECURE Act, which stands for Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement. The legislation makes some substantial changes to the rules about retirement accounts, including IRAs and 401(k)s, that will have very direct effects on account owners and beneficiaries. 

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