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Author: jefftotty

Life Counsel & Planning > Articles posted by jefftotty

What to Expect During Your Free Consultation with Life Counsel & Planning

At Life Counsel & Planning, we offer a free initial in-person or online consultation to provide you with a basic understanding of our services while giving us a chance to meet you and review your goals. This meeting is simply a conversation that provides the framework for tailoring the estate plan that addresses your unique needs. What to Bring During this first meeting it is very helpful if you would bring the following documents: Previous Estate Planning Documents. If you already have a will, power of attorney and trusts in place, it is helpful for us to review these documents. Financial Documents....

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The Pitfalls of “DIY” Estate Planning

The independence of do it yourself, or “DIY,” is a point of pride for some people and keeps businesses like Home Depot and Lowes profitable. While some home improvement activities can safely be done by the average person, others, such as plumbing and electrical work, really need professional expertise. Without that expertise, you may spend more fixing the problems caused by DIY efforts than you would have spent if you had hired a professional from the beginning. The same is true for estate planning. While there are hundreds of online sites that offer basic legal estate planning documents, there is no one...

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There’s No Better Time than Now to Get Your Affairs in Order

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to slow down and self-quarantine. Some people are using this time to connect with family, clean closets or binge-watch a television show. However, this health crisis also provides time that can be used to determine what is best for your future. In other words, this is a great time to get your affairs in order by creating an estate plan. Elements of an Estate Plan An estate plan is one that addresses your current and future financial needs, assigns persons to make financial or medical decisions in the event that you are incapacitated, and designates how...

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How COVID-19 Affects Estate Planning

We are living in the midst of a pandemic on a scale not experienced since the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, and it is impacting every aspect of our lives including estate planning. There are some core estate planning tasks that you should address now, and additional opportunities created by the current volatility of the financial markets that could create transfer tax free asset distributions. Core Estate Planning Tasks With isolation rules being encouraged or required across the country, many people are at home and living without the stressors and distractions of just a few months ago. This makes it the perfect...

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Big Life Changes? Prepare for Big Estate Plan Changes

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates just how quickly and unexpectedly life can change. In addition to unanticipated upheavals that may occur, many choices we make also have significant impacts on our lives. There is a tendency of people who have created estate plans to let them run on autopilot rather than modifying them to reflect intended or unexpected life changes. This inattention to an estate plan can have serious consequences, including having assets go through probate or be inherited by an unintended beneficiary. Events that Require Estate Plan Updates An estate plan is structured to meet your needs at the time that it...

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Tips for Adults Speaking with Their Parents about Estate Planning

Estate planning conversations are tricky. Most people don’t want to discuss end-of-life issues or money, and estate planning encompasses both. While these conversations are uncomfortable, they are necessary so that adult children understand their parents’ expectations and decisions regarding long term care, asset distribution, and more. There are several ways to have this conversation and make it as productive and comfortable as possible. Don’t Delay Life is unpredictable and delaying this conversation leaves you, your siblings, and parents vulnerable to legal and financial challenges that could have been avoided. Now is an especially good time to have a conversation about estate...

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Estate Planning for Singles

Whether widowed, divorced, or never married, estate planning is something that is rarely on the mind of a person who is legally single. Even when single people consider this process, many don’t believe that the value of their assets is worth the trouble of creating a will and think that just naming a beneficiary on their life insurance policy is enough. These perspectives are problematic at best and could lead to significant problems later, both for the single person and his or her family.  An estate plan is more than writing a will and distributing assets. It also addresses several other...

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Don’t Wait: Plan Your Estate

There are many ways to structure an estate plan but there is only one key rule: Don’t wait. Too many people delay creating an estate plan until there is a medical emergency or devastating diagnosis, which makes the process rushed. Even worse, they don’t make an estate plan at all and unforeseen circumstances leave their children and other loved ones with no guidance regarding the care and financial support of their children, or any information about how to distribute their assets. An estate plan addresses these issues, and more.  Benefits of Creating an Estate Plan There are many reasons why you should...

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Tips for Reviewing Your Estate Plan with Your Children

Everyone’s estate is unique but family dynamics, especially around money, often follow known patterns that can create resentments or devolve into broken relationships. Speaking frankly with your children about the estate plan now and structuring the plan to be fair and equitable can avoid anger and needless complications after you are gone.  Ways to Communicate Your Estate Plan You can communicate your estate plan in many ways, but the key is to inform all of the children at the same time. This structure avoids resentments and beliefs that one child has influenced you at another’s expense. Also, communicate the plan before it...

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The Value of Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney

Despite the claims of online legal sites, creating estate planning documents is a complex process and it is important that they accurately reflect your wishes and are executed appropriately. Wills, trusts, healthcare directives, powers of attorney, and other related documents each serve a specific purpose and together form  a major portion of your estate plan. To have true confidence that these documents meet your needs and will be recognized by courts, banks, and hospitals, you need to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. Other benefits include the following: Establish a Comprehensive Estate Plan Your will and/or trust does not automatically cover...

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