Maintaining the Family History

Developing an estate plan also includes deciding who will be the person or persons to carry on the family history.  Arguably this may have more to do with legacy planning – taking the longer range view of your final estate.  However, my experience has been that many clients do wish to decide about the specific beneficiaries of family heirlooms and other cherished possessions, regardless of their monetary value.

Your legacy can also include photos, family videos; home movies and DVDs; diaries, memoirs; letters; genealogical studies; and digital data.  It would be difficult to put a “price” on such memorabilia and their intrinsic value.  However, certain family members may have more of an interest in items of historical significance.

Careful thought will probably produce a list of those family members.  The next step would be to talk with them about their willingness to be the ‘caretakers’ of specific family memorabilia and then decide how to apportion the items.

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: for more articles and printable infographics



Nursing Home Eviction – free webinar

According to the website – 9,000 elders are evicted from nursing homes annually in the United States.  Many of those are the most vulnerable.

In 2016, an article titled:  “Nursing homes turn to eviction to drop difficult patients (Matt Sedensky, May 8, 2016)**  “Those targeted for eviction are frequently poor and suffering from dementia, according to residents’ allies. They often put up little fight, their families unsure what to do. Removing them makes room for less labor-intensive and more profitable patients, critics of the tactic say, noting it can be shattering.”

On Dec. 6, 2017 (12-1 PM) the Justice in Aging site offers a free webinar that highlights what can be done when a loved one is being threatened with eviction from a nursing home.

The webinar is presented by Eric Carlson and offers to deal with topics such as “State protections; when eviction is permitted; notice requirements and advocacy tips.”

Go to the NCLER website to learn more about this free webinar and other topics of interest for those advocating for the elderly.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: for over 200 articles and printable infographics

** original story –

When To Make That Gift!

In Estate Planning there is always the question of what inheritance to leave; who will benefit; how to leave it and when to leave it.

At times, a decision is made to make a substantial gift while you are still living.  There are many reasons to take this approach –

1)  People are living longer and your children might well be senior citizens themselves before they inherit from your estate.

2)  There are financial pressures on younger generations and there is a sense that the inheritance might be useful – “sooner rather than later”

3)  You have determined that you have adequate funds to take care of yourself into the future. (This is particularly important.  If you have to tap into an IRA to make a gift – you might want to rethink your retirement plans.)

4)  You are considering a trust/gift that aids and encourages specific achievements – for example setting aside funds for a child’s college education or establishing a trust for a grandchild

5)  You consider loans for a specific use – for example aiding your child to purchase or upgrade a home; or money for an adult child to take educational courses to improve their job skills

6)  You consider periodic gifting now from a trust – rather than a ‘lump sum’ inheritance upon your death.

A review of your Estate Planning goals and adjusting them as you age and as your adult children age – are good reasons to consider when is the best time to make a gift.

So, at this holiday season and approaching the end of the year, now might be a good time to review your ‘gift giving’ plans for the longer perspective.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website – for over 200 articles and printable infographics

Not As Spooky As Halloween!

(I have been posting a version of this article for a few years, but it bears repeating…)

There are many articles written about the reasons that people avoid thinking about making a will and formulating an estate plan.  A few of the top reasons are:

Thinking of our own mortality is very unnerving

Find it difficult to broach the subjects/issues of estate planning with family members

Believe that one needs to be wealthy to bother with an estate plan

Thinking that one does not have enough assets;

Feel that it is too complicated or expensive and takes too long; or

Justify delay, thinking that there is ‘plenty of time’; just “put it off until tomorrow” and “things will take care of themselves”.

One other possible reason is that people think the estate planning process is just downright SPOOKY!!

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, there may be some trepidation at the outset, but clients leave my office with a feeling of “relief”.  Yes, dare I say, that they are HAPPY AND RELIEVED that they made the decision to formulate a plan for their future and the security of loved ones.

There are some great infographics on my website ( to help you “adjust” to the idea of having an estate plan.

Feel free to make copies of the helpful graphics from the site.

Here are titles of the Infographics to help you begin the process:

My 4 Step Plan – Building Blocks of Your Estate Plan – yes, it is only four steps!

My Client- It’s All About You– my practice is very client-focused

Building A Strong Estate Plan – the steps to a secure future

How To Plan For Your Attorney Meeting – helpful hints to make the most of our meeting time

Your Estate Planning Team – the professionals that can assist with the process

People ask:   What can an Estate Plan do for ME? 

An individualized Estate Plan can offer –

Peace of mind – knowing you have a plan in place for the future

Help Preserve your assets – there are often strategies for tax planning within an estate plan

Protect the future of your loved ones – clearly a great motivation

Offer Guidelines to follow if you are disabled (temporarily or permanently) and deal with end- of- life issues/wishes

Avoid conflict – with a clear estate plan, there can be far fewer misunderstandings among family members/beneficiaries.  A well-crafted plan is a pathway to avoid conflict

Manage and Plan for Change – deal with the ever- changing legal landscape as well as the fluctuations within your own life

For many – NOT having an Estate Plan is a lot spookier than Halloween!

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future… in a Constantly Changing World.

Please read my Disclaimer and “How I Can Help You”

Visit my website: for over 200 articles and printable infographics



IRA’s and Beneficiaries

In a Kiplinger (SMART INSIGHTS FROM PROFESSIONAL ADVISERS) article (August, 2017) titled: Death of ‘Stretch’ IRAs Would Mean Loss of Flexibility for Beneficiaries by Scott M. Dougan, RFC, Investment Adviser, Global Plains Advisory Group, Inc. there were several cogent points made.

If you have a large IRA as part of your estate plan and you intend to leave the funds to a beneficiary, I recommend you read Mr. Dougan’s article about all pending legislation.

For those of you who wish to access the bill, the link is:  S.3471 – Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2016 – 114th Congress (2015-2016)

An excerpt from the bill:

“…Moreover, the shift in recent decades from employer-sponsored defined benefit plans, under which the default form of benefits is an annuity, to defined contributions plans, which generally do not offer annuity benefits, creates the risk of employees outliving their retirement savings. The Committee believes that legislation is necessary to provide new incentives for employers to adopt retirement plans (including ways to reduce the costs associated with having a plan), new incentives for workers to contribute to workplace plans and individual retirement arrangements, and other measures to further retirement income security.”

Note:  There have been 13 related bills, including H.R. 6346 “Retirement Security for American Workers Act – 11/29/16)

All is not without hope however, when it comes to IRA inheritance if the new legislation passes as written/revised.

One option for those with a large IRA (emphasis on the word large) is to establish a testamentary charitable remainder trust.  This type of trust allows for passing on a large IRA to a non-spouse beneficiary. (emphasis on non-spouse).

The basics and validity of setting up such a trust is beyond the scope of this article and depends on: various individual circumstances; the provisions of the IRA itself and all pending/revised legislation.

Note:  A testamentary charitable remainder trust should not be considered without sound legal advice.

Consulting with an estate planning attorney with a tax background would be a good start to finding out if such a trust would be advisable in individual circumstances.

Why is the government so interested in seeking a shorter payout period for inherited IRA’s?  Consider that, according to some estimates, the valuations (2015) of all IRAs exceeded $7 trillion – and that is a lot of tax revenue!

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: for 200 more article and printable infographics

Expensive Cities to Live In (or avoid) When Retiring

Investopedia can always be depended on for some light reading and interesting factoids.

One article that arrived to my inbox… Top 10 Most Expensive Cities in the U.S. By Lisa Goetz ( June 13, 2017)

Luckily none of the ‘most expensive’ cities are in my state of Colorado.

No real surprise that New York and Honolulu made the list, along with several California cities.

Check out the  website for the complete list.

If you live in one of these cities and are planning for retirement, be prepared for some higher bills than other cities.

If you are planning to relocate after retiring, check out the ‘vital stats’ on any city, town you are considering.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: for more than 200 articles and printable infographics

Trust – A Matter of Privacy

Once upon a time…using a trust to avoid estate taxes is what motivated many people.  Now, each person can pass $5.9 million at their death – virtually estate tax free (some exceptions apply).

(There are many types of trusts and it is beyond the scope of this article to review all of them.  Each trust will have a ‘benefit’ for example-the special needs trust.)

Skip forward to 2017…The big motivator for creating a trust, for many, is now the matter of privacy.  I have written many times that probate proceedings are a matter of public record.  Many do not realize how intrusive “public” actually means.

One acquaintance told me their story- they had dealt with the probate themselves without an attorney and provided the required probate contact information.  Subsequently, they were being ‘hounded’ with mail and telephone calls

Their probate documents were public records as was the will. There are people and companies “trolling” for information by using those records.  Probate proceedings are public and yes, a third-party could attend all of the hearings in open court, get a copy of a will, and gain knowledge about all of the assets that an individual owned at the time of their death.

There are instances where probate ‘court’ is not required, but keep in mind that probate documents are still available as ‘public’.

Companies use contact information derived from the probate documents to make various ‘offers’ – offers that vary…from purchasing the property of the deceased to making loans to the ‘recently bereaved’.  And the companies can be very persistent.

Doubtless, to get those kinds of offers from complete strangers while dealing with the grief and loss of a loved can be stressful.

Avoiding probate to maintain privacy remains a strong motivator for utilizing a trust in estate planning.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

 Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: for more than 200 articles and printable infographics

Estate Planning – More Than You Think!

People often comment that my blog articles are far- ranging, covering many topics.  (I have to offer thanks to my researcher for keeping up with many of these topics.)

Many blog/articles might be thought to be outside the guidance of an estate planning attorney.

I think the best way to respond is with a page from my website…the How I Can Help You page.

Clearly, Estate Planning covers many more issues than developing wills and trusts for clients.  Even the list below is not all-inclusive when it comes to the advice and help that a client might need.

(Situations often arise for my clients that fall outside even these broad-ranging issues.  When this happens, I am often able to use my professional networks to provide clients with additional useful advice and guidance.)

Estate Planning…  covers much more than you think! Visit my website (under Categories) for more than 200 articles for the scope of subjects.

Creating/revising a Will

A will is being contested

Creating a Trust or Revising the terms of a Trust

Retirement Planning

International Relocation Planning

Moving to/from a Community Property State – Knowing the Laws

Business Succession Planning/Perpetuation Planning

Buy-Sell Agreements

Buying/Selling a Business


Charitable Giving/Gifting Plan

Family business agreements

Passing family business on to a successor

Giving/Receiving an Inheritance

Designating a guardian for your child

“Windfall” of money and need a plan

Legacy Planning

Digital Asset Protection

Pre- Nuptial Agreement

Family Business issues

Creating an Estate Plan

Loved one has died…duties of an Executor/Representative

Going through probate

Going through divorce and revision of an Estate Plan

Review a business contract

Disposition of assets; including fine art valuations

Conservation Easement

Deciding what kind of Trust document is best for a particular situation

Protecting the future of a special needs child

Dealing with legal issues of a “blended” family

Corporation Agreements

LLC Agreements

Real Estate Deeds

Beneficiary Designations

Powers of Attorney

Litigation of a will

Special Needs situations

And more….

Yes, Estate Planning – it’s more than you think it is!

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

 Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: for over 200 more articles and printable infographics


Social Security’s Representative Payment Program

For those individuals (usually adults) with special needs and for those taking care of someone with special needs there is a program that helps recipients to manage their finances, the Representative Payment Program.

According to the Social Security website:  “Social Security’s Representative Payment Program provides financial management for the Social Security and SSI payments of our beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their Social Security or SSI payments.”

Social Security states – “Generally, (we) look for family or friends to serve as representative payees.”…  “When friends or family are not able to serve as payees, Social Security looks for qualified organizations to be representative payees.”

A person (or organization) who is a representative payee helps Social Security beneficiaries in managing their benefits.

What are the duties of a representative payee?

“A representative payee’s responsibilities include:  Using benefits to pay for the current and foreseeable needs of the beneficiaries;  appropriately saving any remaining benefits; and keeping good records of how you spend the benefits.”

A Representative Payee can be an individual..or it can be an organization (Organizational Representative Payee).

One such organization in Colorado is CFPD (

According the their website: “CFPD was approved as an Organizational Representative Payee (RP or Rep Payee) by the Social Security Administration in 2010, and receives regular audits.”

What does CFPD do?

“CFPD can receive any government benefit payments on behalf of beneficiaries; deposit those funds into a special account; and disburse them based on a personalized budget created with beneficiaries and their support teams.”

There is a charge for their service, allowable by Social Security.  The charge comes from the beneficiary’s account (or from the beneficiary’s trust if one exists) each month.

CFPD offers other services for beneficiaries.

Keep in mind that a Representative Payee is not the same as an adult guardianship, although both are not mutually exclusive and an in- depth legal analysis of both in beyond the scope of this article.

Only a court can determine if an adult needs a guardian. In Colorado – “The Court may appoint a guardian for an adult with or without restrictions when the Respondent *is determined to be incapacitated.**”…

*  Respondent is a person for whom the appointment of a Guardian is required.  A Ward is a person for whom a Guardian has been appointed.

**“An incapacitated adult is defined (by the Court) as one who is unable to effectively receive or evaluate information or both or make or communicate decisions to such an extent that the individual lacks the ability to satisfy essential requirements for physical health, safety, or self-care, even with appropriate and reasonably available technological assistance.”

Note:  Application for Guardianship is a legal process and best handled with the advice of a legal professional.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: for over 200 more articles and printable infographics

Student Loan Debt-We Are Not Alone

Student loan debt has been the focus of some of my recent articles.  Why such an interest?  For Estate Planning purposes it is necessary to quantify all debt and that includes your own, your spouse, and your child or grandchild (if you have assumed -or plan to assume – any of their loan indebtedness).  Such debt affects your financial planning; your retirement planning and your estate planning.

So it was interesting to know that we in the U.S. are not alone is dealing with the ‘student loan debt crisis’.

It seems that British students are also struggling with increasing student debt.  Our neighbors ‘across the pond’ have concerns about how to deal with the situation.

According to the website: in the article titled: How to avoid student debt disaster: Should parents borrow to pay off loans or let children go £50k into the red? We explain all – British parents are grappling with questions of student loan debt for their offspring.  Formerly, decades ago, a university education in the U.K. was within the grasp of a talented student who wanted further education.

Presently, according to the article:

“Around 320,000 18-year-olds have applied to go to university in the UK this year…

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies they face average debts of £50,800..

If you started university before 2012, rates on loans were just 1.25% (in the U.K.)…

But if you started after then, you will pay a lot more…”


An interesting twist for British student loans:  Unlike conventional loans, the amount British students repay each month after graduation is linked to their earnings (in a certain formula) and after 30 years any outstanding debt is ‘wiped’ by the Government.  However, student loan payments are taken directly out of wages by the employer, thus former students cannot miss payments, and their debt does not go into collection.

There are a number of other caveats of the student loan system in the U.K. beyond the scope of this article to explain.

The point is, parents in the U.K. (like those in the U.S.) have increasing concerns about how their children will be able to afford a university education and how their loans can be repaid.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: for more articles and printable infographics