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Monday, January 11, 2021

8 Reasons Young People Should Write a Last Will and Testament

Imagine if writing a last will and testament were a pre-requisite to graduating from high school.  The graduate walks across the stage, hands the completed will to the principal, and gets the diploma in return.   It might sound strange because most 18 year olds have little in terms of assets but it’s a good idea for all adults to draft a last will and testament.

Graduation from college is another good milestone to use as a reminder to create an estate plan.  If you haven’t created a will by the time you marry – or are living with a partner in a committed relationship – then it’s fair to say you are overdue.

Think you don’t need an estate plan because you’re broke?  Not true.  Here are eight excellent reasons for young people to complete a last will and testament.  And they have very little to do with money.

You are entering the military
.  Anyone entering the military, at 18 or any other age, should make sure his or her affairs are in order.  Even for an 18-year-old, that means creating a will and other basic estate planning documents like a health care directive and powers of attorney.

You received an inheritance
.  You may not think of the inheritance as your asset, especially if it is held in trust for you.  But, without an estate plan, the disposition of that money will be a slow and complicated process for your surviving family members.

You own an animal
.  It is common for people to include plans for their pets in their wills.  If the unthinkable were to happen and you died unexpectedly, what would happen to your beloved pet?  Better to plan ahead for your animals in the event of your death.  You can even direct the sale of specific assets, with the proceeds going to your pet’s new guardian for upkeep expenses.

You want to protect your family from red tape.  If you die without a will, your family will have to take your “estate” (whatever money and possessions you have at the time of your death) through a long court process known as probate. If you had life insurance, for example, your family would not be able to access those funds until the probate process was complete.  A couple of basic estate planning documents can keep your estate out of the probate court and get your assets into the hands of your chosen beneficiaries much more quickly.

You have social media accounts.  Many people spend a great deal of time online, conversing with friends, storing important photos and documents and even managing finances. Without instructions from you, will your family know what to do with your Facebook account, your LinkedIn account, and so forth?

You want to give money or possessions to friends or charities
.  When someone dies without a will, there are laws that dictate who will receive any assets.  These recipients will include immediate family members like parents, siblings, and a spouse.  If you want to give assets to friends or to a charity, you must protect your wishes with a will.

You care about what happens to you if you are in a coma or persistent vegetative state.  We all see the stories on the news – ugly fights within families over the prostrate bodies of critically ill children or siblings or spouses.  When you write your will, write a health care directive (also called a living will) and a financial power of attorney as well.  This is especially important if you have a life partner to whom you are not married so they can make decisions on your behalf.


Monday, January 11, 2021

What are Safe Haven Adoption Laws?


Women who find themselves with crisis pregnancies often don't know what to do. They may be scared and unsure who to turn to for support. To respond to this, many states have adopted some version of what are known as Safe Haven Adoption Laws. These laws are intended to prevent infant abandonment and child endangerment by allowing mothers to safely relinquish their children without fear of prosecution. While every state's Safe Haven law is different, they each share some common features.
Read more . . .


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Things to Consider in Establishing a Charitable Giving Plan


For many individuals, leaving a legacy of charity is an important component of estate planning, but there are many factors involved in creating a charitable giving plan.

First, it is important to select causes that you believe in such as environmental, educational, religious or medical, or those dedicated to providing food and shelter to the poor. The number of charities you wish to give to depends on your available resources, as well as other beneficiaries of your estate. Many people opt to limit their selections to a handful of charities that are most important to them.

Once charities have been selected, it is crucial to do some homework to make sure the charities are legitimate, and that your gift will be used for the intended purpose, rather than to pay salaries or administrative costs.
Read more . . .


Sunday, December 6, 2020

What do I do if the other parent interferes with my custody?


You've made it through your custody battle and finally have an order from the court. This should mean the end of conflict with the other parent, right? For many parents, unfortunately, the answer is no. Interference with the other party's custodial rights frequently occurs and can perpetuate the fight far beyond the courtroom.  

What is custodial interference?

Custodial interference can occur in a number of different ways. Sometimes it involves improperly affecting the parental relationship, such as denigrating the other parent in the child's presence.


Read more . . .


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Don’t Let Your Social Networking Activities Undermine Your Divorce Negotiations

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in the past five years 81% of its members have represented clients in cases involving evidence from social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Posted pictures and comments can make the job all-too-easy for your former spouse’s attorney to attack your credibility and ensure you do not receive the relief that you are requesting from the court.

 A picture is worth a thousand words. And that picture you posted of yourself, in various stages of undress, or with a marijuana cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other, speaks volumes to the court and can result in unfavorable rulings regarding child custody or visitation. But the information posted doesn’t even have to be tawdry or illegal to land you in trouble.


Read more . . .


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Considering Online Estate Planning? Think Twice

The recent proliferation of online estate planning document services has attracted many individuals to prepare their own estate documents in what appears to be a low-cost solution. However, this focus on price over value could mean your wishes will not be carried out and, unfortunately, nobody will know there is a problem until it is too late and you are no longer around to clean up the mess.

Probate, trusts and intestate succession (when someone dies without leaving a will) are governed by  laws which vary from state to state, as well as federal laws pertaining to inheritance and tax issues. Each jurisdiction has its own requirements, and failure to adhere to all of them could invalidate your estate planning documents. Many online document services offer standardized legal forms for common estate planning tools including wills, trusts or powers of attorney.


Read more . . .


Sunday, October 11, 2020

Getting Married to Someone with Bad Credit? Issues to Consider When it comes to Marriage and Debt

Beginning  December of 2019, parties in cases where custody at issue, must complete a Parenting Plan Tool that will present each parties 


Read more . . .


Sunday, October 11, 2020

Wealth Transfer Strategies to Consider in an Election Year

With a push by the Democratic party to return federal estate taxes to their historic norms, taxpayers need to act now before Congress passes legislation that could adversely impact their estates. Currently, the federal estate and gift tax exemption is set at $11.58 million per taxpayer. Assets included in a decedent’s estate that exceed the decedent’s remaining exemption available at death are taxed at a federal rate of 40 percent (with some states adding an additional state estate tax). However, each asset included in the decedent’s estate receives an income tax basis adjustment so that the asset’s basis equals its fair market value on the date of the decedent's death.
Read more . . .


Thursday, September 17, 2020

October 1st Maryland Child Support Changes


Beginning October 1, 2020, the manner in which child support is calculated is changing. There is now a three-tiered system for calculating child support that hopefully will alleviate instances where parents are battling over a few overnights. Currently, 128 overnights is the dividing line between sole physical custody and shared physical custody (joint legal/joint physical custody). The difference in what is paid under sole physical custody and shared physical custody is often significant. A parent who has 127 overnights may still have the same expenses as the parent having 128 overnights, but that one overnight could mean the difference of hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month in child support, when the reality is that the amount of expenses are very similar 

As of October 1, 2020, cases will be evaluated on a three-tiered framework where: (1) one parent has the child(ren) for 91 overnights or less; (2) one parent has the child(ren) between 92 and 109 overnights; or (3) both parents have the children for at least 110 overnights.
Read more . . .


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Costs Associated with Dying Without a Will


When someone dies without a will, it is known as dying intestate.  In such cases, state law (of the state in which the person resides) governs how the person's estate is administered. In most states, the individual's assets are split -- with one third of the estate going to the spouse and all surviving children splitting the rest. For people who leave behind large estates, unless they have established trusts or other tax avoidance protections, there may be a tremendous tax liability, including both estate and inheritance tax.

For just about everyone, the cost of having a will prepared by a skilled and knowledgeable attorney is negligible when compared to the cost of dying intestate,  since there are a number of serious consequences involved in dying without a proper will in place.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Gun Trusts: Targeted Estate Planning


If you have a gun collection, your estate plan may be missing the mark if it fails to include a specially drafted gun trust. The typical estate plan provides for tax saving strategies, probate avoidance and beneficiary designation of various assets. However, some assets pose additional issues that must be carefully addressed to avoid unintended consequences in the future. Firearms, in particular, are regulated under federal and state laws and demand careful attention from your estate planning attorney.

Your gun collection may include weapons used for sport, self-defense or investment purposes.
Read more . . .


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