Estate Planning

Joint Ownership as an Alternative to Estate Planning (Part 1)

Joint ownership is commonly thought to be an easy alternative to estate planning. Perhaps you (or your parents) have kicked around the idea of adding the name of a trusted adult child on a checking account or the title to your home. The thought is that as Mom (or Dad) gets older, the

What Michael Jackson Has Taught Us All (Part 3)

Blog Post by Melissa Platt, Esq.

Lesson #3: Every family with children must put into place a plan that specifies what should happen to their children, both in the short-term and the long-term, in the case of a parent’s death or incapacity.

Michael Jackson’s untimely death is another heartbreaking reminder that we never know when or how we’ll die. Responsible parents can no longer afford to think, “That won’t happen to me,” or “I’ll get around to it later.” Whatever you may think about MJ as a person, it’s undeniable that he was a devoted father.

What Michael Jackson Has Taught Us All (Part 2)

Blog Post by Melissa Platt, Esq.

Lesson #2: Your estate plan must be updated regularly to keep up with your changing life. An estate plan that is done once, stuck on a shelf, and never looked at again will not be effective when your family needs it. Your circumstances and your assets change, so it is critical to have an on-going relationship with your lawyer so that your estate plan can reflect those changes.

Unfortunately for his family, MJ did not update his estate plan to reflect his changing circumstances. When Michael’s will was signed in 2002, Debbie Rowe (Michael’s ex-wife and disputed biological mother of two of his children) had surrendered her parental rights.

What Michael Jackson Has Taught Us All (Part 1)

Blog Post by Melissa Platt, Esq.

I’m sure we all have some memories associated with Michael Jackson Some of my memories include watching the music video “Thriller” for the first time, attempting the “moon walk,” and wondering what Disneyland’s “Captain EO” was all about. And now the King of Pop’s legacy includes several valuable lessons on estate planning as well.

Lesson #1: It’s not about the documents. In my opinion, one of the reasons why you do estate planning with an attorney is to have someone take you by the hand, advise you through the decision-making process, and guide you around potential pitfalls. Why else would you pay an attorney thousands of dollars for documents that you can get for a few hundred dollars (or less) online or from an office supply store?

Platt Law Teams Up With Wealth Counsel

I'm pleased to announce that Platt Law has teamed up with Wealth Counsel, a national organization of Estate Planning attorneys whose primary purpose is to educate and support other estate planning attorneys around the U.S. with respect to the highly technical and complex aspects of estate planning.

CNBC Interview with Fellow Personal Family Lawyer, Alexis Neely

Fellow Personal Family Lawyer, Alexis Martin Neely was recently interviewed on CNBC's "On The Money" program on the essentials of estate planning.  Her advice here is solid.


Common Mistakes in Estate Plans: Division of Personal Effects

Occasionally, when I visit with clients about how they would like to manage the distribution of their personal effects (e.g., jewelry, furniture, firearms, etc.) upon their deaths, they jokingly say something like "What do I care? I'll be dead!" or "Aw, I'll just let 'em fight it out."

Estate Taxes Will Continue To Be An Issue

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal provided an in depth look at the history of the development of the estate tax in the U.S. as it currently stands.  Although the Republican and Democrat supporters of the repeal of the federal estate tax had managed to pass a law phasing out and ultimately repealing the estate tax, their efforts seem to nevertheless be on the rocks today with the incoming Obama administration and decidedly fiscally liberal majority in congress. 

Estate Planning: Who Needs It?

I am frequently asked by friends and neighbors the following question: "Do I really need an estate plan? I'm not a Rockefeller, after all." My typical response is: "You already have an estate plan. You just need to study it and decide if you're comfortable with it."

New $13,000 Annual Gift Tax Exclusion

The IRS recently announced that the annual gift tax exclusion amount will increase from $12,000 to $13,000 beginning Jan. 1, 2009.  This means that every individual can give away up to $13,000 per person, per year without having to file a gift tax return. For example, you could make a gift of $13,000 to each of your three children and to each of their spouses for a total of $78,000 per year (or two times that amount for married couples).  There is no limit to how many individuals you may make gifts to.

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