DON’T “SPEND DOWN” FOR MEDICAID!

When people come to us for advice on how to qualify for Medicaid to pay for their nursing home cost, we hear this phrase “Spend Down” all the time.  Many people who have researched Medicaid benefits for long term care have heard that they should “Spend Down” their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid.  In this article I will explain why this could be the worst advice a client could follow—and yet most financial planners, social workers, Medicaid Consultants, and even lawyers still read more

WHY YOU NEED AN ESTATE PLAN (OR ONGOING UPDATES IF YOU ALREADY HAVE ONE)

I can already hear you thinking, “Of course I’m going to hear a lecture on why I need an estate plan, coming from an estate planning lawyer!”  Well, I decided to check with Google to see what it thought about the topic.  I ran the search “Why do I need an estate plan”, and among the top 10 pages were articles from Forbes, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Vanguard, and Market Watch—all financial advisory/investment firms. They aren’t even in the business of estate planning, so why would read more

WHAT IS A GENERATION SKIPPING TRUST?

A SHORT EXPLANATION OF THE TRANSFER TAX SYSTEM

Have you heard of a Generation Skipping Trust before?  Have you been told that it’s a trust that will cut out your children from your inheritance and leave everything to your grandchildren?  That’s what the name sounds like, but this isn’t exactly true.  It’s a common misunderstanding.  So what is a Generation Skipping Trust?

A Generation Skipping Trust is a trust that we sometimes refer to as a Dynasty Trust or a Legacy Trust because it is designed to leave a legacy that will protect read more

WHICH BUSINESS ENTITY IS RIGHT FOR ME?

WHICH BUSINESS ENTITY IS RIGHT FOR ME?

Last month I wrote about why every American should start a small business—even if it’s just setting up a lemonade stand or buying a condo to rent to tenants. I explained how there are significant tax benefits to business owners that aren’t available to someone who is only an employee with a W-2 paycheck. Now that you’ve decided to start a business, what is the right type of business entity for you?

Let’s start with a list the different types of ways read more

why you should start a business

WHY YOU SHOULD START A BUSINESS (August 2015)

WHY YOU SHOULD START A BUSINESS

When you are starting a new business there are so many things to think about and so much varied advice that comes from different sources. Some people think the first thing you have to do is register a business entity like a corporation or an LLC with the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.  Others believe the first thing to do is make a logo, business cards, and a website.  Still others say you must start with a business plan.  All of these steps read more

Identity Theft - How to protect yourself

IDENTITY THEFT: HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF (July 2015)

IDENTITY THEFT: HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America in the past two decades. In fact, last year it was the number one complaint category according to the FTC, with 12.7 million victims of identity fraud in 2014.  The scary thing is that in 66% of the cases, the bank or other financial institution did not notify the victim, the victim noticed it and notified the bank! So we must be vigilant in monitoring our statements.

I know from personal experience read more

POWER OF ATTORNEY AGENT, TRUSTEE, AND EXECUTOR THE DIFFERENCES, DUTIES, AND RESPONSIBILITIES (May 2015)

             I often encounter clients (or their families) who have some confusion about their rights and responsibilities as a legal representative of a family member or friend.  Usually, the person is named as an agent under a financial power of attorney or a trustee of a trust.  What does that mean?  And how far do those powers extend?

A general power of attorney (POA) lets the agent act on behalf of the principal (the person who created the power of attorney and appointed the agent), read more

(ALMOST) EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHARITABLE TAX DEDUCTIONS

Last year at this time I wrote an article about tax deadlines and the penalties for not filing or not paying on time.  This year I want to talk in detail about one of our most innovative and useful strategies that can help clients to save on their taxes.

This strategy is leveraging charitable deductions.  Most everyone is familiar with the idea of taking a tax deduction for cash donations to charitable organizations.  A common example is money donated to your church, school, or favorite non-profit read more

DANGERS OF JOINT TENANCY

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Many Husbands and Wives own title to their home as “Tenants by the Entirety” or as “Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship.”  Often they’ve been told that it’s a cheap and easy way to avoid probate and are shocked to discover that it doesn’t.  The catch here is that rights of survivorship—whether through Tenants by the Entirety or by Joint Tenancy—only delay probate until the death of the survivor.  When the first spouse passes away, read more

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GIFTING YOUR ASSETS

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            Most of my clients have heard that you can give away $10,000 per year to any other person without consequences.  That’s not exactly correct.  Some have heard that you should consider giving away your assets to your children or other loved ones 5 years before you might need to go to a nursing home.  Therefore, many of them believe that you should start giving $10,000 per year to each of your children and grandchildren or other loved ones. read more