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Firm News for Collins Law Firm

An Introduction to Planning for Long Term Care

Posted On 4/16/2014

Long term care is the kind of care you need if you are not able to perform normal daily activities (such as eating, dressing, bathing, and toileting) without help, and it is expected that you will need this help for an extended period of time, often for the rest of your life.

This kind of care is often needed due to aging, chronic illness or injury, and most of us will need it for at least some time before we die. But it is not just for the elderly; a good number of younger, working-age adults are currently receiving long term care due to accident, illness or injury.

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Women and Long Term Care

Posted On 4/16/2014

In recent months, major insurers have adopted “gender distinct” rates for new coverage. Translation: If you’re a woman, you’ll now pay more than a man for the same coverage.

Rates for single women rose 20 to 40% last year, while rates for single men fell 15%, says Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) in Westlake Village, Calif. For couples, who pay blended rates, premiums rose 3%.

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How to Avoid an Estate Planning Scam

Posted On 4/7/2014

By now, we’re all familiar with Bernie Madoff and his infamous Ponzi scheme. Many people have also heard about the “grandparent scam.” In this swindle, the scammer calls posing as the victim’s grandchild, claiming to be traveling in a foreign country and in distress. The scammer convinces the victim to wire them money. The “grandchild” hangs up, and the funds are gone forever.

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Which Costs More: Probate or Trust Administration?

Posted On 4/7/2014

There is no question that a Living Trust allows you to avoid probate – if, of course, the Trust is properly drafted and funded. But does this mean a Living Trust is more cost-effective than a Will?

Some people say that a Living Trust offers no net savings over a Will. In their opinion, the cost of preparing a Living Trust plus the cost of Trust Administration at death, equals or exceeds the costs of preparing a Will and probating an estate. Is this the truth?

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Women and Estate Planning

Posted On 3/26/2014

They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but is this true when it comes to estate planning? Absolutely. And because women often find themselves in such different circumstances than men, it is even more crucial for them to educate themselves about estate planning, and consult an experienced estate planning professional.

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Peace of Mind for New Moms and Dads

Posted On 3/24/2014

A brand new baby brings a special kind of chaos to your home. In the midst of sleep deprivation, midnight feedings, and seemingly endless diaper changes, estate planning is likely the last thing on your mind. And yet, making an estate plan is a relatively simple task that can bring an immense sense of security to your growing family. Here are the basics:

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Cross-Training for Financial Fitness

Posted On 3/24/2014

John and Susan have been married for 38 years. Like many couples, early in their marriage, they gravitated toward a division of labor that worked for them. John is an amateur chef, so he handles the grocery shopping, the meal planning, and the cooking. Susan loves the outdoors, so she takes care of the lawn and the garden. Susan, who is a neat freak, does much of the cleaning, while John keeps track of the family finances.

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The Case of the iPhone Will

Posted On 3/24/2014

In the case In re Estate of Karter Wu (Supreme Court of Queensland, Australia), Mr. Wu created and stored his Last Will and Testament on an iPhone, along with a series of other documents, most of them final farewells.

Wu’s iPhone Will named an executor and successor, set forth how he wished to dispose of his assets at death, dealt with his entire estate, and authorized the executor to deal with his financial affairs. The Will began with the words “This is the Last Will and Testament of Karter Wu.” At the end of the document, Wu typed his name where the testator would normally sign his name, followed by the date and his address. The Australian court admitted the Will to probate.

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Four Tips for a Pain-Free Season

Posted On 2/5/2014

New Year’s Day has come and gone, and April 15th looms in the not-too-distant future. While it’s true that many of the big tax planning decisions – like deferring income or bunching deductions – should be made before December 31st, there is still plenty you can do to save money and hassles this tax season. Here are a few simple suggestions:

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Estate Planning is a Team Effort

Posted On 2/5/2014

An effective estate plan is not just a stack of well-drafted documents, it’s an arrangement designed to take care of you and your family during the most challenging moments of your lives.

 It takes a team of advisors to pull together all the details to be sure that your plan is ready to spring into action when you need it. Most people need these core players on their team:

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A New Paradigm: Planning for State Estate Taxes

Posted On 2/5/2014

Not much more than a decade ago, taxpayers would flock to estate planning seminars to learn about ways to reduce or eliminate the federal estate tax. With the rise of the federal estate tax applicable exclusion amount (the amount that can pass free of estate tax) to $5,340,000 ($10,680,000 for married couples) in 2014, fewer than two out of every thousand deceased individuals will pay a federal estate tax. Many more estates, however, will be subject to a state estate or inheritance tax. For some estates that own real property or businesses in multiple states, it is possible that state estate tax may be owed to more than one state.

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Planning for Children with Special Needs

Posted On 1/15/2014

Adult children with disabilities often qualify for government assistance. Some of these assistance programs are needs based. Others are not. Many adult disabled children receive Supplemental Security Income, or “SSI.” Qualification for SSI requires that the child have less than $2,000 in countable resources and have income below guideline levels (in addition to being found to be unable to engage in gainful employment by the Social Security Administration). The maximum SSI benefit will be $721 per month in 2014. While it may seem that the loss of a maximum of $721 per month in income would not be significant in some circumstances (for example, if replaced by an inheritance), many other needs based government assistance programs are tied to eligibility for SSI. For instance, the eligibility for Medicaid coverage for a special needs person is often tied to eligibility for SSI, as is the ability of the child to reside in a group home or some other assisted housing arrangement. For many disabled individuals, the loss of Medicaid coverage would be devastating because they have no other way to obtain health care coverage due to their pre-existing conditions (unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, has done little to remedy this situation at this time).

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Six Questions Women Have About Estate Planning

Posted On 1/9/2014

Among Americans 65 and older, 42% of women but just 14% of men are widowed. Women’s longer life expectancy, combined with their tendency to marry older mates and their lower lifetime earnings means they are far more likely to see their living standards compromised in retirement if proper estate planning isn’t done.

But while estate planning concerns and involves everyone, in many cases it affects women more profoundly. It is women who most are often widowed and women who usually have the last word about which of a couple’s assets ultimately go to family, charity or the taxman.

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How Life Insurance Can Fund Your Charitable Legacy

Posted On 1/3/2014

May people might think it is beyond their means to leave a testamentary charitable gift (a gift made after you die) and would be surprised to learn that you don’t have to be wealthy to leave behind a substantial charitable legacy. One way to accomplish this is with an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT). All you need is enough income to set aside a little extra money each month. The great news about this approach is that it comes with estate and income tax benefits.

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This New Year, Resolve to Plan Your Estate

Posted On 1/3/2014

The New Year brings with it a renewed outlook and fresh resolutions. We vow to get organized, eat healthier, and lose those last stubborn 10 pounds. But many of us overlook one simple and practical resolution that could have a profound effect on our lives, not to mention the lives of those we love. What’s that resolution? Create a basic estate plan.

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Five Tax DON’Ts Before 2014

Posted On 12/20/2013

As we approach 2014, it is time to review the last several months and think about what can be done in an effort to lower your taxes for 2013. Here are five tax tips to consider before year-end.

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Is Estate Planning One of Your Resolutions for 2014?

Posted On 12/20/2013

While it may seem hard to believe, New Year's is only a few weeks away, meaning it may be time to start thinking about your resolutions for 2014. While you may be thinking about shedding a few pounds, quitting smoking or finding a new job, there is perhaps another item you want to add to your resolutions: creating an estate plan.

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Gifts to Minors: Sharing Your Wealth the Smart Way

Posted On 12/4/2013

One way to reduce your estate tax bill is to give money away during your lifetime. If you are a parent or a grandparent, giving to the children in your life is a great way to accomplish this. By doing so, you can help your children or grandchildren build their financial futures, with tax savings as a natural by-product. With a top estate tax rate of 40%, this by-product can be quite significant.

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Be Prepared With Year-End Tax Strategies

Posted On 12/4/2013

As the year draws to a close, tax season might be the last thing on your mind. But even if you’re more focused on holiday cards than tax returns, it’s worth taking a few moments to consider whether some end-of-year planning could result in a lower income tax bill next spring.

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Planning for Adult Children with Special Needs

Posted On 12/4/2013

Adult children with disabilities often qualify for government assistance. Some of these assistance programs are needs based. Others are not. Many adult disabled children receive Supplemental Security Income, or “SSI.” Qualification for SSI requires that the child have less than $2,000 in countable resources and have income below guideline levels (in addition to being found to be unable to engage in gainful employment by the Social Security Administration). The maximum SSI benefit will be $721 per month in 2014. While it may seem that the loss of a maximum of $721 per month in income would not be significant in some circumstances (for example, if replaced by an inheritance), many other needs based government assistance programs are tied to eligibility for SSI. For instance, the eligibility for Medicaid coverage for a special needs person is often tied to eligibility for SSI, as is the ability of the child to reside in a group home or some other assisted housing arrangement. For many disabled individuals, the loss of Medicaid coverage would be devastating because they have no other way to obtain health care coverage due to their pre-existing conditions (unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act, or Obama Care, has done little to remedy this situation at this time).

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Tax Court Says Taxpayer Cannot Have It Both Ways

Posted On 11/22/2013

Joseph “Pop” Preuschoff acquired the Preuschoff Ranch, a 2,345 acre cattle ranch in Madera, California in the early 1900s. Joseph had a daughter, Mary Valen Alen. Mary had a son, Joseph. Joseph inherited a 13/16th interest in the ranch at his mother’s death. Joseph married three times and had six children, four by his first marriage and two by his second marriage. His Will left his four children by his first marriage small gifts and left the bulk of his estate, including the ranch, to his two children from the second marriage, Shana and Brett, who were ages 18 and 14 at the time of his death. Joseph’s third wife, Bonnie, was named executor and trustee of the testamentary trusts for Shana and Brett. Bonnie received just over $800,000 in specific gifts as her share of the estate. Shana and Brett described Bonnie as a very dominant person with whom they had a tumultuous relationship.

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Why Choose a Living Trust?

Posted On 11/7/2013

As you research your estate planning options, you’re sure to hear a lot about living trusts. In recent years, the living trust has become such a popular tool that it forms the cornerstone of many people’s estate plans.

What are the benefits of a living trust and why would you opt for one as part of your estate plan?

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More Bang for Your Buck: Education Planning with Deferred Annuities

Posted On 11/7/2013

College costs have been steadily rising for years, and there does not appear to be an end in sight. If you are a new parent, you might want to grab some smelling salts: according to current estimates, the total cost for a four-year public university education for your little bundle of joy could top $200,000.

 

Faced with this financial reality, parents and grandparents are looking for ways to get the most bang for their education bucks. One option is to combine two existing strategies: the education trust and the deferred annuity.

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What Is Long-Term Care?

Posted On 10/21/2013

What Is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care involves a variety of services designed to meet a person's health or personal care needs during a short or long period of time. These services help people live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform everyday activities on their own.

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Long Term Care Costs: Scope of The Crisis

Posted On 10/21/2013

The most frequent questions we hear from worried clients and their families when it comes to long term care are: Will I lose my home?  Can I keep any of my income?  Is it possible to reduce (or even eliminate) my nursing home or in-home care bills?  My loved one is already in a nursing home- Is it too late to qualify for benefits?  Because we heard this concern from so many clients, we decided to look into it and see what the real numbers were.

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Special Needs Trusts for Children with Down Syndrome

Posted On 10/15/2013

Every year, about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States. Over their lifetimes, many of these children will contend with serious medical conditions including heart defects, gastrointestinal problems, visual or hearing impairment, dementia, and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, the costs associated with Down syndrome can be astronomical and many of those with the condition receive public benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

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Next Generation Planning for Your Family Business

Posted On 10/15/2013

If you’re like many small business owners, you’ve poured your heart and soul into launching your business and making sure it thrives. The idea of allowing your enterprise to fade away after you die may be unthinkable. After all, in many ways, your business is your legacy.

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New Rules for Same-Sex Couples

Posted On 9/19/2013

Bruce and Bill were married under the laws of New York, where same-sex marriage is legal. Bruce was offered an executive position at Wal-Mart and the couple moved to Arkansas. Same-sex marriage is banned by a state constitutional amendment in Arkansas. Thus, Bruce and Bill’s New York marriage is not recognized by the state of Arkansas and they are considered legal strangers under Arkansas law.

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The Tipping Points That Turn Us Into Caregivers

Posted On 9/16/2013

One in every three American households includes a caregiver, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving. Each daughter or son, wife or husband, niece, brother or friend follows a unique and often heartrending path. It may start by taking a mother to the doctor’s office or physical therapy or helping her pay bills, but then it typically escalates into more intense tasks such as feeding, bathing and dressing.

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ESTATE PLANNING CAN PREVENT OR LEAD TO ELDER ABUSE

Posted On 9/4/2013

"Estate planning" refers to the ordering of your affairs so that you will be taken care of during your life and the your assets will be managed if you become incapacitated, and your assets pass as the you wish after death. Estate planning devices may include wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, and joint tenancies.

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Does Your Estate Plan Include Digital Assets?

Posted On 9/3/2013

As we move further into the “electronic age,” we seem to spend more of our lives online. Many of us have an ever-expanding digital footprint using accounts that store sensitive personal and financial information. These may include email accounts, website domain names, online banking accounts and passwords, and countless personal and business documents stored in the cloud.

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James Gandolfini’s Will: 3 Lessons for You and Yours

Posted On 9/3/2013

When Sopranos star James Gandolfini died unexpectedly at the young age of 51, his estate plan sparked a media firestorm. Experts have scrutinized and criticized his plan, and news reports have covered its details. What led to this flurry of attention? The fact that he left behind a Will, which made his estate planning choices public record.

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How Much Health Care Reform Will We See By 2014?

Posted On 8/29/2013


In 2014, we were supposed to see profound health care reform per the 2011 Affordable Care Act – but how much of that reform will roll out on time?

The federal government has already conceded that it can’t enforce the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act by 2014. On July 2, the Obama administration gave businesses with 50 or more employees a 1-year reprieve from having to provide affordable health insurance to full-time employees (people working 30 or more hours weekly).1,2

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Estate of Hurford: a Taxpayer’s Tale of Woes

Posted On 8/2/2013

Gary and Thelma were conservative with their estate planning, eschewing strategies such as irrevocable life insurance trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, and family limited partnerships in favor of a revocable living trust with standard estate tax planning provisions. At the time of his death, Gary’s and Thelma’s joint estates were in excess of $14 million. Gary’s Will distributed his share of the joint estate as follows: (1) Gary’s share of the couple’s two residences to be distributed outright to Thelma, (2) $650,000 (the amount that could be passed free of estate tax in 1999) to be distributed to the “Bypass Trust” and (3) the balance of Gary’s estate to be distributed to a “QTIP Trust” (a QTIP, or “qualified terminal interest property” trust is a special trust that benefits the surviving spouse and qualifies for the unlimited marital deduction). Because of the unlimited marital deduction, there was no estate tax due upon Gary’s death, but Thelma’s estate of more than $13 million would be taxable upon her death.

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I’m a Trustee! Now What?

Posted On 8/2/2013

It is an honor to be named the successor Trustee of a loved one’s Trust. As the name implies, you’ve been given a position of trust and responsibility, and it means that your loved one thinks highly of your skill and ability, not to mention your integrity. So, what does a successor Trustee do?

 

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U. S. Supreme Court Rules DOMA Unconstitutional: Estate Planning for LGBT Couples Just Got Easier – and More Complicated

Posted On 7/17/2013

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in U. S. v. Windsor (“Windsor”) that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal protection of persons that is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. DOMA is the federal law which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. Section 3 disallowed federal recognition of a same-sex marriage which is valid under a state law. DOMA was enacted by large majorities in both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. It is directly applicable to over 1,000 federal statutes and regulations.

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What Marriage Equality Means Financially

Posted On 7/17/2013

When the Supreme Court voted to repeal Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on June 26, it opened financial doors previously closed to same-sex couples. Unfortunately, not all of these doors may open in certain states. A major complication must be resolved: while the high court’s opinion stated a legal principle, it didn’t say exactly how it should be applied.1

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Fair Does Not Always Mean Equal

Posted On 6/6/2013

 “It’s not fair!”

 

Parents hear this protest all the time, and it often comes from children who confuse being treated fairly with being treated equally.

 

One of the challenges of parenting is figuring out how to be fair to your children when, often, that doesn’t mean treating them exactly the same.

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Estate Planning is Essential for Same-Sex Couples

Posted On 6/6/2013

You might not realize it, but you already have an estate plan. Even if you’ve never created a Will, never set foot inside an estate planning attorney’s office, and never given estate planning a second thought.

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President’s Budget Proposal for 2014: Greater Estate Taxes, Income Taxes May Be in Your Future

Posted On 5/9/2013

On January 2, 2013, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which extended a majority of the “Bush Tax Cuts” and fixed the amount that can be passed free of gift, estate, and generation-skipping tax for 2013 at $5.25 million per person. This amount is set to increase in the future, based on annual cost of living increases.

 

In his budget proposal for 2014, President Obama proposes to fix the amount that can pass free of tax at the levels which had been allowed in 2009. In other words, there would be a $3.5 million exclusion for estate tax purposes and a $1 million exclusion for gift tax purposes. He also proposes to raise the estate and gift tax rate to 45%. Portability of the unused estate tax exclusion of a deceased spouse, a key provision of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, remains in effect under the President’s proposal. The change would become effective in 2018 and there would be no so-called “claw-back” for those who transferred assets under the existing law.

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Eighteen: The Magic Number?

Posted On 5/9/2013

Ask the parent of an eighteen-year-old whether their child is an adult, and you’re likely to get a wry smile. Eighteen-year-olds like to think of themselves as adults, but parents tend to look at their young adult offspring and see…teenagers.

 

Legally speaking, however, your child’s eighteenth birthday is a huge milestone. This is when your child reaches the age of majority in most states, and magically – literally overnight – transforms from a child into an adult. You might look at your eighteen-year-old and see an average teenager, but the state sees a grownup. In the eyes of the government, your child is capable of registering to vote, managing their own money and other assets, and taking charge of their own decision-making – whether you agree with those decisions or not.

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How a Pet Trust Can Protect Your Furry Friends

Posted On 5/9/2013

If you have a pet, you know firsthand the bond that can develop between humans and animals. Many of us consider our pets part of the family. But have you considered what would happen to your furry or feathered companion if something were to happen to you? Over 500k pets are abandoned each year due to the death or disability of their owner. These pets could have been protected with just a little planning.

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Planning for Retirement Assets Can be Difficult

Posted On 4/4/2013

In IR-2013-35 (March 28, 2013), the IRS reminded us that in most cases seniors who turned age 70½ during 2012 need to start taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from their IRAs, 401(k)s, and other retirement plans by April 1, 2013. The April date only applies to persons who are taking their first RMD. For all subsequent RMDs, the senior will need to take the distribution by December 31st of that year. Of course, seniors who do decide to delay their first distribution to the year following the year they turn age 70½, two distributions will need to be taken – the one by April 1st (for the previous year) and a second one by December 31st (for the current year). Generally speaking, seniors taking RMDs will use Table III, otherwise known as the “Uniform Table,” to determine the amount of their RMD each year.

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Protect Your Right to Make Medical Decisions

Posted On 4/4/2013

There is a common misconception that as long as you’re healthy, there’s not much need to think about who would make medical decisions on your behalf, should you be unable to make them. When you are healthy, you discuss your health care concerns with your doctor and are able to express your own wishes.

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Is an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust Right for You?

Posted On 4/4/2013

Irrevocable trusts are a common estate planning tool, and they provide valuable benefits in a variety of planning situations. For example, irrevocable trusts can be used:

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Five Things Every Woman Should Know About Estate Planning

Posted On 3/13/2013

Not long ago, wives were “silent partners” when it came to estate planning. Husbands were the ones in charge of long-term planning and major financial decisions. In fact, estate planning attorneys often advised wealthy men to leave their assets in trust for their wives, so that a trustee other than their wife could manage and preserve the family fortune. It was assumed that a widow would not have the skill or the experience necessary to responsibly manage the money she inherited from her husband.

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Summary of Estate and Gift Tax Law Changes for 2013

Posted On 3/4/2013

On January 2, 2013, the President signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (the “Act”) into law.  The Act mostly brought us back from the fiscal cliff for the federal estate and gift tax laws.  Below is a summary of some of the more important provisions of the Act and of certain additional changes in the estate and gift tax laws that are effective in 2013.

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What to Expect at Your First Estate Planning Consultation

Posted On 3/1/2013

Your first meeting with an estate planning attorney may seem a little daunting, especially if you’ve never consulted an attorney before. There’s no need to worry, however. This meeting is just a conversation in which your attorney will find out about you, your family, and your goals. After you’ve shared this information, your attorney will be able to recommend a range of estate planning tools, helping you tailor a plan that meets your needs.

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Avoiding Pitfalls in Estate Planning – Making it Work for You

Posted On 2/26/2013

Even with recent revisions to the Federal Estate System, many people are still rightfully concerned over costs when their assets pass to their heirs; hence the motivation to do estate planning. In spite of the best intentions, even the most sophisticated estate planning tools can go awry due to some simple oversights. After 30 years of working with clients, I have compiled a list of the top 10 most common pitfalls:

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Why Women Hold the Keys to Successful Estate Planning

Posted On 2/26/2013

Some people still assume that, when it comes to financial and legal matters, women are not key players. However, this is entirely inaccurate. Women are most likely to be highly involved and greatly affected by estate planning. In recent generations, women have taken on a larger role in the financial arena. The number of women in the workplace has tripled in the last fifty years. Meanwhile, the real median income of women has increased by sixty-three percent, while that of men has declined by six percent in the same period. This income shift changes the family dynamics and gives women a greater voice in financial matters.

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Five Reasons Why You Need an Estate Plan

Posted On 2/9/2013

One of the biggest myths about estate planning is that it is something only wealthy people need because the only reason for having an estate plan is to minimize estate taxes. The truth is, estate taxes are only a tiny piece of the estate planning puzzle – and every adult needs an estate plan. Here are just a few non-tax reasons to plan:

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How the American Taxpayer Relief Act Will Affect You

Posted On 2/9/2013

With the fiscal cliff looming, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 on January 1, 2013. This law averts a number of the automatic tax increases set to take effect at the beginning of this year.
 
If you’re among the 77% of Americans who are affected by the end of the Payroll Tax Cut, you’ve likely noticed a slight decrease in your paycheck. The social security payroll tax returned to 6.2% this year; last year it was 4.2%. Here, in a nutshell, are some of the other provisions the American Taxpayer Relief Act has in store for the public:

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More Reasons for Clients to Review Their Estate Plans

Posted On 2/9/2013

Last month, we let you know that Congress let the United States go off the fiscal cliff, only to come to the rescue in the early morning hours of January 2, 2013, with the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (“ATRA”). To review, ATRA makes most of the provisions of the previous estate tax law permanent. The amount that can be passed free of gift tax and estate tax is indexed for inflation, with the figure set at $5.25 million for 2013. The maximum gift and estate tax rate was increased from 35% to 40%. Finally, ATRA makes the portability of the first deceased spouse’s unused applicable exclusion amount permanent.

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2013 Tax Law Update for the Advisor

Posted On 1/22/2013

The New Year rang in significant changes with the American Taxpayer Relief Act. The biggest change was the repeal of the sunset provision on the existing law, as well as a few other items.

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We Dodged the Fiscal Cliff – How the New Tax Bill Affects You

Posted On 1/7/2013

In case you haven’t heard, the New Year brought a new law recently signed by the President. To avoid the country from falling off the “fiscal cliff,” the “American Taxpayer Relief Act” was approved on New Year’s Day.

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Three Ways the IRS Rewards Your Generosity

Posted On 1/3/2013

Giving generously to charity has many advantages, some obvious, and some not so obvious. First and foremost, your donation helps to support your favorite cause. Giving also makes you feel great, and if you itemize deductions on your tax return, gifts to qualified charities may result in an income tax deduction.

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Three Simple Steps for Managing a Windfall

Posted On 1/3/2013

We’ve all dreamed of suddenly becoming wealthy by winning a lottery jackpot, receiving an unexpected inheritance, or some other happy accident. However, few of us consider what steps we would take to manage a windfall.

 
Without careful management, your dream come true could quickly turn into your worst nightmare. What steps should you take to ensure that you stay out of trouble – and that your windfall is there to enhance your lifestyle for many years to come?

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This New Year, Resolve to Review Your Estate Planning Options

Posted On 1/3/2013

The holiday whirlwind is over, you’ve packed up the decorations, and life is settling into its familiar routine. Your thoughts are likely turning to the coming year, and the things you’d like to accomplish over the next twelve months.

 
Maybe you have ten pounds to lose. Perhaps you want to learn a new language, or set aside more time for family and friends. No matter what your resolutions are this New Year, there’s one item that you should add to your list: take a fresh look at your estate plan.

 

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What You Should Know About Seminars on Wills & Living Trusts

Posted On 1/3/2013

Have you ever been invited to an estate planning seminar to learn about wills and living trusts? You might have been hesitant to attend, fearing you’d be faced with a “hard sell” or asked to spend lots of money for services you don’t really need. Or you might have wondered why you should go to a seminar when you could just search for estate planning information online.

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The Estate Tax Ball is About to Drop!

Posted On 12/20/2012

There are only a few days left before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st and the tax law changes. Or will it?

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Tax Alert! Special Gifting Opportunities

Posted On 11/5/2012

If you think only the super-rich need to worry about estate and gift taxes, you may want to think again. As of January 1, 2013, individuals with estates larger than $1 million might once again be subject to these federal taxes.

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How Low Interest Rates Can Influence Your Estate Plan

Posted On 9/4/2012

We all know that low interest rates can create excellent opportunities to buy or refinance real estate. But did you know that a low interest rate environment can have an impact on your estate planning options as well?

The four corners of a solid, basic estate plan remain the same no matter the economic climate. Interest rates do not determine the effectiveness of a Living Trust, Pourover Will, General Durable Power of Attorney, or a Healthcare Power of Attorney.

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Why Everyone Needs an Estate Plan

Posted On 9/4/2012

Estate Planning. To many people, it sounds complicated and foreign, something only the wealthy or the elderly need to worry about. It is often not at the top of the priority list for single people or for young couples. Even parents with young children, who know they should at least have a Will, tend to think of estate planning as somehow beyond their reach.

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Planning for the Worst-Case Scenario

Posted On 8/23/2012

Estate planning is one of those things that’s easy to put off. We don’t like to think about death – particularly our own – so we put it out of our minds. “What’s the worst that can happen?” we ask ourselves. We’d like to think that the answer to that question is that, even if we didn’t create an estate plan, we’d be off the hook. We’d be gone, so we wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences.

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What Does It Mean To Be a Trustee?

Posted On 5/9/2012

If a family member or friend has chosen you to serve as Trustee of their Living Trust, you’ve been given a great honor. It means they believe you are honest and responsible and they have a great deal of faith in your abilities and your personal integrity. It also means that you have an important, and sometimes complicated, job to do.

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A Quick Guide to Basis

Posted On 5/9/2012

The word basis can have a lot of different meanings. When we’re talking about taxes, though, it has one very specific definition. Basis is the yardstick used by the Internal Revenue Service to determine how much tax you pay on an asset when you sell or otherwise dispose of it. Sell property for more than your basis, and you have a gain that might result in a tax bill. Sell property for less than your basis, and you may be able to claim a tax loss.

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Estate Planning for Blended Families

Posted On 5/3/2012

Developing an estate plan with blended families is essential for maintaining any kind of control over the distribution of assets upon your death. With the rise in divorce and remarriage, blended families can regularly extend to as many as three and four marriages.

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Preparing for the Unthinkable

Posted On 4/11/2012

Nobody thinks they will be in an auto accident, have a heart attack, have a stroke, or a myriad of other unexpected, sudden incidents. Those are events that happen to other, unfortunate people – not to us.

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Double Disclaimer Saves Millions in Estate and GST Tax

Posted On 3/6/2012

Often parents do not consider the potential future success of their children in structuring their own estate plan.  Giving a child with an estte of $5 million an inheritance of $1 million would result in an estte tax of $308,00 in 2012 and $2,595,000 in 2013.  In such circumstances, it may be better to "skip" the child's generation and pass on the parents' wealth to grandchildren.  This strategy can save hundreds, sometimes millions, in estate and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax for the family as a whole...

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Your Family Deserves More Than an Estate Plan

Posted On 1/22/2012

We all want to do our very best to provide for our families, both during our lifetimes and after we’re gone. That is why we work hard, manage our finances carefully, and take estate planning seriously. The estate planning landscape has changed significantly in just a few years, and the opportunities are better than ever for those of us who want to leave a true legacy for our loved ones.

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AGING PARENTS: ASKING THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

Posted On 12/20/2011

Adult children often find it difficult to think about the possibility that someday one or both of their parents won't be self-sufficient. As a result, many families are unprepared to handle the issues and challenges that arise with aging parents.

The best time to talk about financial and health issues is when your parents are well and independent. And for many families, the holiday season, as everyone gathers together, provides a good opportunity to carry out this important task. So gather your siblings, set a date and consider reviewing the following questions with your parents.

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Home For the Holidays? It May be Time to Talk Elder Care

Posted On 12/20/2011

The over-the-river-and-through-the-woods trip to grandmother's house is prime time to also assess Mom and Dad's health before a crisis occurs, aging experts say.


It's really best to have early conversations with parents about what they need and want so they can age in place. It's really best to have early conversations with parents about what they need and want so they can age in place.

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Tracing Your Family Medical History: Are You at Risk?

Posted On 12/19/2011

You know you got your curly hair from your grandmother, and your prominent nose from your dad. These aren't the only things you may have inherited from your family, however. Many medical conditions, including heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, alcoholism and Alzheimer's disease have also been shown to be passed down through families.

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Need a Speaker?

Posted On 12/13/2011

Need a dynamic professional to motivate your group and celebrate a special occasion, i.e. Mother's Day, Father's Day, Church Anniversary, Revival, Pastor Anniversary, Annual Meeting, Club Meeting, Conference or Convention? Caprice L. Collins, Harvard educated attorney, financial advisor, educator and civic leader, is available to speak at your meetings.

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Five Estate Planning Myths

Posted On 11/3/2011

Estate plannng.  It's on everyone's "should do" list, but it rarely seems to make it to the top of the "to do" list.  Maybe that's because esttae planning is surrounded by myths and misconceptions.  People this it's only for the wealthy, or only for the elderly. The Trust is, everyone needs some form of estate planning, because estate planning is life planning.

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Federal Court Denies Annual Exclusions - Compliments of the American Academy of Estate Planing Attorneys

Posted On 10/7/2011

The Internal Revenue Code provides for the “annual exclusion” of present interest gifts of up to $13,000 per year per donee. This gifting strategy is an effective way for a person with a taxable estate to reduce the size of his or her estate without consuming the $1 million lifetime gift tax applicable exclusion amount. For instance, a married couple with three children, each of whom also have three children, could make $312,000 in annual exclusion gifts per year ((2 x 3 children = 6 annual gifts) + (2 x 9 grandchildren = 18 annual gifts) x $13,000 per donee = $312,000).

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The Estate Tax Is Not the Only Consideration in Estate Planning

Posted On 10/4/2011

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, only the wealthiest one out of every 400 estates owed an estate tax in 2009.

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Getting Value Out of Giving with Charitable Trust

Posted On 10/4/2011

Americans are givers. In 2010, we gave more than $290 billion to our favorite causes, with the vast majority of charitable giving, $212 billion, donated by individuals or household donors.

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Boomer Time Bomb

Posted On 10/4/2011

With legions of baby boomer starting to retire, a growing number of American will soon need some kind of long-term healthcare, whether from a nursing home or from an in-home health aide. A new survey by the SCAN Foundation and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, however, finds that Californians are woefully underprepared for the cost of such serviceds. The survey is a wake-up call to the public, as well as a warning signt to lawmakers who want to pull the plug preemptively on a new federal insurance program for long-term care.

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Set the Stage for Medi-Cal Eligibility

Posted On 9/20/2011

Incapacity planning is a broad area of law that covers how you are cared for if you become physically or mentally unable to care for yourself. The type of care could range from simple tasks like buying groceries, paying bills, and handling financial matters to more important decisions such as selling real estate or gifting assets to your children.


Within the realm of incapacity planning, there are also arrangements that deal specifically with deci-sions regarding steps taken to obtain Medi-Cal benefits. A Trust with “Medi-Cal triggers” comes into play by allowing your Agent to move forward with decisions that you would have handled yourself, if you were still legally competent to do so. The types of decisions required in this area of planning can vary. For instance, you may outline instructions for a nursing home stay or the repositioning of as-sets to allow you to qualify for Medi-Cal while preserving assets for the next generation if you are single, and while protecting your spouse’s financial independence.

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There’s No Time Like the Present to Review your Plans

Posted On 9/14/2011

It’s imperative to review your estate plan periodically, especially...

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Your Heirs Will Lose Money If You Don't Take These Steps Now...

Posted On 8/12/2011

If your spouse and/or other heirs cannot quickly figure out your financial affairs after you pass away or become incapacitated, you won’t just leave them frustrated—you might leave them with less money. Accounts and other assets could be overlooked…and financial penalties could be incurred, such as those for not taking required distributions from tax-deferred retirement accounts.

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Top 10 Reasons for Periodic Estate Planning Review

Posted On 8/1/2011

Some people think that estate planning is a once in a lifetime project. But, as John F. Kennedy said, “change is the law of life.” Periodic review of an estate plan is essential to ensure that your plan continues to accomplish your goals in the most effective manner.

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Will Money Rip Your Family Apart?

Posted On 7/26/2011

It’s a sad fact that families are routinely torn apart by failure … the failure to create an estate plan. Without one, you fling the door open wide to welcome probate, family jealousy, opportunistic lawyers, creditors and crippling taxes into your family’s life.

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The Estate That Would Not Die

Posted On 7/18/2011

The litigation surrounding the publicity rights of the remainder beneficiary of the estate of Marilyn Monroe illustrates some of the problems with probate administrations and how a trust can help avoid some of these entanglements.

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Trustee: an Honor and a Responsibility

Posted On 7/15/2011

You are named as Successor Trustee in your parent’s, siblings, or other loved one’s Trust. This is an honor and a responsibility. Of course, it is an honor because they have chosen you to carry out the wishes closest to their heart. It is a responsibility because the actions you make can have serious legal and tax consequences.

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Choose Your Estate Planning Practitioner Wisely

Posted On 7/7/2011

What comes to mind when you think of estate planning? Perhaps the ideal image is a family relying on an experienced, trusted attorney to guide them through the ups and downs of life, helping them work out the legal issues surrounding illnesses, deaths, and other major life events.

What most of us don’t think about when we consider estate planning is an unqualified, or even unlicensed, individual producing cookie-cutter estate plans that may or may not work as intended. However, this and do-it-yourself software/websites are faces of the estate planning industry.

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Look After Your Spouse Even After You're Gone

Posted On 7/7/2011

You and your spouse have worked hard to save for your golden years. But have you planned for a long, secure retirement if one of you outlives the other? Study after study shows that women tend to fall behind men when it comes to planning for retirement, and there are myriad reasons for this situation. 

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Asset Protection Planning in Litigious Times

Posted On 6/20/2011

In our ever increasingly litigious society it is essential to protect yourself from potential creditors. The article examines asset protection techniques in maintaining insurance to the use of asset protection trust.

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Tough Times Could be Tougher

Posted On 6/9/2011

With tough economic times, people often look to hold others accountable for their difficulties. Which is why lawsuits tend to rise as the economy sinks. In fact, a 2010 survey of corporate law departments shows increased expectations for litigation. So, what can you do to protect yourself?

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Doing It Yourself Can Sometimes Lead to Disaster

Posted On 6/2/2011

A growing number of consumers are attempting to prepare estate plans themselves. They use paralegal services or companies such as LegalZoom.com, LawDepot.com, and Nolo.com for the preparation of important legal documents such as Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney. They are using similar means for the creation of business entities such as corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies. This type of self-help can often lead to unintended consequences and results. It can also lead to beneficiaries incurring legal fees (in order to unwind the mess) far in excess of what it would have cost to hire an experienced estate planning attorney to handle the matter in the first place.

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Short and Sweet is Not Always Better

Posted On 6/2/2011

When you compare a do-it-yourself Living Trust with one that was prepared by a qualified estate planning attorney, one of the first things you’re likely to notice is that the attorney-prepared trust is long. And it might not be so easy to read.

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Don’t be Fooled: Estate Planning Isn’t Just for the Wealthy

Posted On 6/2/2011

Maybe it’s the word “estate” that throws so many of us off, but there is something about the idea of estate planning that calls to mind the Warren Buffets and Bill Gates of the world. This tends to lead those of us who are not among the mega-wealthy to believe we’re off the hook.

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Puppy Love: Planning Your Estate With a Pet Trust

Posted On 5/26/2011

We love our pets. Each year, Americans spend billions upon billions of dollars to make sure that our dogs, cats, and assorted other animal friends are well taken care of. The American Pet Products Association estimates that in 2010, Americans spent more than $18 billion on pet food, more than $11 billion on medications and supplies, and more than $12 billion on veterinary care.

Increasingly, pet owners are not just worried about providing for our pets during our lifetimes, we want to ensure that they get all the love and care they need after we’re gone, too. This is evidenced by the fact that an increasing number of states have passed laws allowing pet owners to establish trusts for their pets.


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What are the Odds?

Posted On 5/26/2011

What are the Odds your family will need estate planning?  Well, anyone who will die someday needs to plan for that eventuality—that is everyone!  In addition, anyone who will ever be disabled or incapacitated needs to plan for that eventuality, as well.  Even for those in their 20s and 30s, the odds of at least a 3-month disability prior to age 65 are over forty percent.

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Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Posted On 5/26/2011

What is “wealth?” Upon hearing this question, your thoughts might run first to material possessions: money, real estate, and other assets. However, when you really think about it, your true wealth is much more than just your accumulated assets. It encompasses the financial and the non-financial, and many people would argue that the most important elements of true wealth are all those things that don’t show up on a balance sheet, things like your life experiences, your faith, your values, your work ethic, and your family history.

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Practical Strategies for Protecting Your Privacy

Posted On 5/26/2011

We all have areas of our lives that we prefer to keep out of the public eye. At the same time, each of us experiences intrusions into our privacy, both large and small, during our lifetime and even after death. For instance, those telemarketing calls that always seem to come just as you’re sitting down to dinner are not just a nuisance; they are also an invasion of your family’s privacy. On a larger scale, the charitable contributions you choose to make aren’t necessarily private; a charity must reveal the sources of direct contributions made to it. And, to the surprise of many people, if you’re not careful, the details of your financial affairs may be revealed through a public probate process and may become public knowledge at your death.

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Estate Planning Without a Crystal Ball

Posted On 4/5/2011

One of the primary reasons for planning your estate is to make sure that your assets go where you want them to after you’ve passed away. If you’re a parent, it’s likely that you’ll want to use your estate plan to make sure your children are provided for. Many people choose to use their Will or their Living Trust to leave a lasting legacy to a favorite nonprofit or charitable cause.

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Help! My Attorney No Longer Practices Law

Posted On 3/7/2011

Deb was like most of the rest of us. She was responsible. She took care of herself and her family, got an eye exam once a year, and visited the dentist every six months. She also made sure that she had an estate plan in place and even reviewed and updated it regularly. Imagine her surprise when she discovered that the estate planning attorney she had relied on for the past ten years was retiring!

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IRA Changes for 2011

Posted On 3/1/2011

What’s new? Every year brings changes in tax law, and some of these revisions always seem to affect IRAs. Here is a look at some of the new wrinkles for 2011.

You can’t defer income resulting from a Roth IRA conversion in 2011. If you converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2010, you could opt to divide the income resulting from the conversion between your 2011 and 2012 federal tax returns. (If you did go Roth in 2010, you have until October 17, 2011 to choose this income deferral option.) You don’t have this choice in 2011 - the income can’t be deferred to a future tax year.

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Remarriage Protection: Protecting Your Children’s Inheritance

Posted On 2/16/2011

Increasingly, Americans do not remain with their first spouse for life. According to a 2001 study by the National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 20% of first marriages face “disruption” (defined as separation or divorce) within the first five years. One-half of all first marriages face disruption within the first 20 years of marriage.
After disruption of the marriage, most people remarry. 75% of divorced women remarry within ten years. This trend toward multiple marriages has resulted in millions of “blended” families. While each family is unique, blended families bring even more challenges for estate planning. Each spouse may have children from prior marriages and the two spouses may have children together. Spouses may come to the marriage from different financial positions.

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Parenting Your Grandchildren? You Need a Solid Estate Plan

Posted On 2/2/2011

Most grandparents act as caregivers for their grandchildren to one degree or another. For some, it may be watching the little ones while mom and dad enjoy a much-needed evening out, while for others caring for grandchildren may be a long-term arrangement.
According to data collected in the 2010 census, 4.9 million children under age eighteen live in grandparent-headed households. Most of these children live in multi-generational homes, including their grandparents plus at least one parent. However, in 20% of these grandparent-headed households, neither parent is present in the home and the grandparents are responsible for meeting the needs of the children.

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What to Expect When You’re Inheriting

Posted On 2/2/2011

At some point in our lives, we all dream of receiving an inheritance. We envision buying a new car, finally being able to afford private schools for the kids, or maybe even taking a trip around the world. But the reality of inheriting money or property often differs from our dreams.

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Congress Passes New Estate Tax Law as Part of Compromise Package

Posted On 1/12/2011

President Obama signed The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010” (“TRA 2010”) into law on December 17, 2010. At long last, the enactment of TRA 2010 brings certainty to the estate tax, but only for two years. At the end of the two-year reprieve, the law will revert to the tax law as it existed in 2001 ($1,000,000 applicable exclusion amount and maximum 55% marginal estate and gift tax rate) unless Congress takes further action between now and then. With many Republicans and Democrats proclaiming themselves to be deficit hawks, Congress will have to find a way to pay for the estimated $68 billion in lost estate tax revenues (savings to taxpayers) over its two-year lifespan.

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One Big Happy Family: How to Avoid an Estate Dispute

Posted On 1/7/2011

Picture this: at the end of your long, fulfilling life, surrounded by your extended, loving family, you say goodbye and peacefully leave this world. And then... your family declares war on each other. Suddenly, family members are unhappy with the contents of your estate plan, and old rifts between loved ones reopen, possibly never to heal. Where do the disagreements end? In litigation, where your estate is dissipated and everyone walks away unhappy.

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Helping Your Parents Through Their Twilight Years

Posted On 1/5/2011

Your parents were watching over you, smiling and encouraging, as you took your first tentative steps. As a teenager, they handed you the keys as you took the car out on your own for the first time. They were there with guidance and advice, sometimes requested and sometimes not, as you left childhood and navigated young adulthood.

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ARE YOU PREPARED TO PAY FOR LONG TERM CARE?

Posted On 12/29/2010

70% of people currently over age 65 will require some long term care someday. That is the estimate of the U.S. Administration on Aging, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.1 Will Medicare or private health insurance pay for it? The short answer is “no”. In the decades ahead, baby boomers will reach their seventies, eighties and nineties. With aging parents of their own, some are learning how much long term care really costs. Some are still unaware.

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How the New Estate Tax Exclusion Affects Your Estate Plan

Posted On 12/28/2010

On December 17th, Congress revised the estate tax with a new law, TRA 2010, that sets the exclusion amount at $5 million per person for 2010 – 2012. However, this temporary adjustment to the estate tax exclusion disappears in 2013, and returns with an exclusion of $1 million per person. Read more about how the estate tax revision under TRA 2010 will affect your estate plan, regardless of whether you have a taxable estate.

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How the New Estate Tax Exclusion Affects Your Estate Plan

Posted On 12/28/2010

On December 17th, Congress revised the estate tax with a new law, TRA 2010, that sets the exclusion amount at $5 million per person for 2010 – 2012. However, this temporary adjustment to the estate tax exclusion disappears in 2013, and returns with an exclusion of $1 million per person. Read more about how the estate tax revision under TRA 2010 will affect your estate plan, regardless of whether you have a taxable estate.

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END-OF-THE-YEAR MONEY MOVES

Posted On 12/15/2010

Here are some things you might want to do before saying goodbye to 2010.

 

What has changed for you in 2010? Did you start a new job – or leave a job behind? Did you retire? Did you start a family? If some notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and the next one begins.

Even if your 2010 has been comparatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can plan to save some taxes and/or build a little more wealth.

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CHOOSING A FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL

Posted On 12/15/2010

Credibility and compatibility both matter. When it comes to the “alphabet soup” of financial industry designations, some of them carry more clout than others. Some of the most respected professional designations are Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). These designations are earned only after thorough examinations and a required curriculum of college-level studies in financial planning applications, retirement, insurance and estate planning fundamentals and other topics. Real-world experience must also complement this course of study.

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HATTERING THE MYTH THAT WOMEN AREN’T GOOD WITH MONEY

Posted On 12/15/2010

Why do we cling to the myth that women don’t understand money as well as men? If you look at the personal finance books out right now, some of the titles might convince you that women need “special help” when it comes to figuring out saving, investing and budgeting. The current self-help tomes include Prince Charming Isn't Coming … SHOO, Jimmy Choo! The Modern Girl's Guide to Spending Less and Saving More … Does This Make My Assets Look Fat? … Girl, Get Your Money Straight … A Purse of Your Own: An Easy Guide to Financial Security.
 

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The Return of the Estate Tax: Planning for 2011

Posted On 10/12/2010

With the end of 2010 rapidly approaching, the question that is occupying the estate planning world is “what will happen to the federal estate tax?” The short answer is that no one knows exactly. In fact, no one expected the situation to reach its current status without a resolution. However, this doesn’t mean that you should wait for Congress to take action before you do your estate planning.

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With Taxes on the Rise, Charitable Remainder Trusts May Again be an Important Tool

Posted On 10/4/2010

A recent Wall Street Journal article stated that Democrats are deeply divided on whether to extend the Bush Tax Cuts that will be expiring at the end of 2010. It appears likely Congress will wait until after the mid-term elections to take any action on the matter. Without Congressional action, income tax rates will rise and the estate tax will return in 2011.

Prior to the Bush Tax Cuts, the marginal personal income tax rates were 39.6%, 36%, 31%, and 28%. After the Bush Tax Cuts went into effect, the marginal rates dropped to 35%, 33%, 28% and 25% respectively. The legislation also increased the child tax credit and eliminated the marriage tax penalty.

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Economic Update For The Week of September 20, 2010

Posted On 9/22/2010

According to the Labor Department, the Consumer Price Index rose 0.3% in August while the Producer Price Index advanced 0.4%. You can chalk up the increase to energy prices, especially summer gasoline prices: consumer energy costs rose 2.3% last month, and energy costs for producers went up 2.2%. Yet core CPI was flat in August, while core PPI increased just 0.1%. Over the last 12 months of data, core CPI and core PPI have respectively risen 0.9% and 1.3%.1,2

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2010 Is Last Year to Take Advantage of the Two-Year Spread

Posted On 9/15/2010

On May 17, 2006, President Bush signed the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act (TIPRA) into law. Currently, the law provides that a taxpayer can convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA only if the taxpayer's modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) does not exceed $100,000 and is not a married individual filing a separate return.

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KCET Appoints Attorney Caprice L. Collins as Member to Their Community Advisory Board

Posted On 9/8/2010

Attorney Caprice L. Collins was appointed a member of the Community Advisory Board by KCET, the flagship public television station in Los Angeles which has the largest geographic reach in California.

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Estate Planning: It’s About More Than Taxes

Posted On 9/8/2010

In 2010, contrary to a lot of people’s expectations, Congress allowed the one-year repeal of the estate tax to occur as provided in legislation that had been passed a decade earlier. Even if there had been no estate tax repeal, only a tiny number of people would have owed federal estate taxes. According to The Estate Tax: Myths and Realities, a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, updated in 2009, the estates of only 0.24% of people who died in 2009 were expected to owe any estate tax at all. That’s fewer than 1 in every 400 people!

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Home Comforts: Maximizing Your Most Valuable Asset

Posted On 9/8/2010

If you’re like many Americans, your home is your single most valuable asset, both emotionally and financially. It’s where you raise your family and where you find shelter from the harsh realities of the outside world. Your home matures with your family, reflecting the stages from a young couple’s house full of hopes and plans for the future; to a busy family’s home, full of noise and activity; to a home filled with blessed peace and quiet. In addition to being the center of your family life and possibly your most significant financial investment, your home can offer you benefits in terms of taxes, estate planning and asset protection.

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Rental Property: The Next Generation

Posted On 9/3/2010

A humorous take on how families pass on businesses or rental property, is reflected in this quip: Avenge your children; give them equal shares in your business. Certainly, what can seem like a generous, wonderful thing can be rife with conflict and imbalance, if you don’t take steps to implement the appropriate legal framework.

 

Rental Property owners face unique challenges surrounding how to preserve the family real estate and business. This report focuses on the legal and management issues of transferring after death the business of rental properties, and steps you can take to ensure the smooth transition with ease and accuracy.

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How Long Term Care Insurance Can Help Protect Your Assets

Posted On 7/22/2010

As baby boomers leave their careers behind, long term care insurance will become very important in their financial strategies. The reasons to get an LTC policy after age 50 are very compelling.

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Tax Saving Benefits of a Life Insurance Trust

Posted On 7/7/2010

Many people have Revocable Living Trusts. They allow for the management of assets during their incapacity, avoid the necessity of probate at death, and usually save money in the post-death administration process. However, some people have an additional specialized trust, an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust or “ILIT.”

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Funding is Critical to Estate Planning

Posted On 7/7/2010

Everyone knows that planning is part of estate planning. When Ted and Emily met with their attorney, they discussed their family’s needs and the legacy they wanted to leave. Ted and Emily and the attorney created an estate plan designed to achieve their goals via a Revocable Living Trust as the way to get there. After the documents were prepared, they set up the appointment to sign or “execute” the Trust and other documents, including the Property Power of Attorney, the Health Care Power of Attorney, and a Pour Over Will. After that, they were done, right?

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When Harry Met Sally: A Lesson in Preventing Family Discord

Posted On 6/21/2010

The American Declaration of Independence begins "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . ." While this may hold true for people and their rights, all Trusts are definitely not created equal.

 

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FOR MOTHER’S DAY MONTH, TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR RETIREMENT FUNDS

Posted On 5/28/2010

What many a Mom needs, according to research, is a thoughtful look into her future. Only about 57% of Americans are on course to have adequate savings for retirement, according to the Center for Retirement Research. And the most vulnerable are women, because they earn less, spend savings on medical care for older husbands and can expect to live longer than their spouses.

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A New Tax and Retirement Opportunity in 2010

Posted On 5/18/2010

We all know the importance of saving for retirement.  However, thoses earning above $100,000 have had one retirement saving opportunity denied them: the Roth IRA.

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Selecting an Estate Planning Attorney – Wisely

Posted On 5/10/2010

When you plan your estate, you are putting together your road map to your legacy. Your estate plan determines who will be entitled to your assets, how they can use them, and the protections which they and the assets you leave them may have from creditors, divorcing spouses, etc. The attorney whom you select to assist you in creating that plan is integral to its success. That is why you need to choose wisely.

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Top Reasons to Do Estate Planning—What are You Waiting For?

Posted On 5/4/2010

People have many different reasons to do estate planning. Some people plan diligently and well in advance of any urgent need. Other people procrastinate and plan only when things are thrust upon them. What are you waiting for? Here are some of the top reasons which estate planning attorneys say motivate their clients to plan or update their existing plan:

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Special Children Require Special Estate Plans

Posted On 4/20/2010

As you undoubtedly know, meeting your children’s needs requires a lifetime commitment. This may involve more extended thought than you might have initially anticipated. As parents, you are responsible for taking care of your children in many different ways: physically, financially, and emotionally to name just a few. For many parents, most of these responsibilities officially end or are largely reduced as the children mature into adults. But if you’re a parent of a child with special needs, the concept of lifetime commitment is even more real to you.

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The Special Child: Helping Parents Plan

Posted On 4/15/2010

As tough as it is to consider, all parents have an obligation to plan for the unthinkable: that death or disability may render them unable to care for their children. Parents of children with disabilities have a special challenge. Here's important information that your clients need to know.

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Dos and Don’ts of Managing an Inheritance

Posted On 4/13/2010

An inheritance is a bittersweet thing. On one hand, the circumstance which brought about the inheritance is the death of a loved one. On the other hand, your loved one valued your relationship with them enough to think of you and try to make your life better. Here are some pointers to consider when dealing with inheritances.

 

First, think carefully of what you want to do with the money. All too often, inheritances are squandered on meaningless items. Do something with the money that will have a lasting impact on your life. Doing so honors your loved one and their memory.

 

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NEW TAX PERKS FOR NONQUALIFIED ANNUITY OWNERS

Posted On 4/13/2010

More options. On January 1, 2010, owners of nonqualified annuities were allowed some new tax benefits. On that date, the Pension Protection Act (PPA) of 2006 was fully implemented and brought about dramatic and interesting changes for those who had started annuities with after-tax dollars. At the start of 2010

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DEATH & TAXES

Posted On 3/30/2010

As we move into April 2010, we are in the fourth month without a federal estate tax. That’s right. Anyone who died so far in 2010 will have no federal estate tax owned by his or her estate.

 

Or maybe not! Some Senators and Representatives have indicated that estate tax legislation will pass in 2010 and that it might be retroactive to the beginning of the year. If such legislation is passed, it’s likely to be challenged and a lengthy court battle will ensue.

 

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When Father Time Catches Up With Our Parents

Posted On 3/29/2010

We all expect it to happen eventually—our parents getting older. Not just older chronologically, but physically and mentally older as well. It's a difficult and sometimes painful process to realize that our parents are in fact aging. With each passing year, your parents, too, may be showing more obvious signs of time gone by. Even the spryest of spry eventually start to slow down and need more help than they did before.

 

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Protect Yourself & Your Loved Ones From Financial Abuse

Posted On 3/11/2010

If it could happen to the heiress Brooke Astor, it could happen to anyone. Anthony Marshall, Astor’s son, is on trial in New York, accused of misusing his aged mother’s nearly $200 million fortune prior to her death at age 105 in 2007 – and tricking the Alzheimer’s patient to altering the will in his favor.

 

Marshall’s guilt remains in dispute. But there’s no doubt that systematic theft from elderly Americans by disreputable financial advisers and family members, among others, is on the rise. Total losses are estimated to be in the billions each year.

 

Some victims never realize that they are being robbed, while others do not wish to press charges against family members or feel powerless to stop the thefts.

 

Seniors suffering from dementia or living in isolation are at the greatest risk-but anyone can be a target. Good news: There are ways to prevent a loved one – or yourself – from becoming a victim of elder financial abuse.

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What Keeps a New Mom Up at Night Besides the Baby?

Posted On 3/9/2010

The birth of a new baby is a wondrous, joyous event. Henry David Thoreau said that “every child begins the world again.” Your world certainly began anew with your new baby!

 

It was a long path and it all seemed to happen so fast! But, it seems like there are still so many decisions to be made now and as your baby grows from infant to toddler, to school-age, to young adult. And, who would make those decisions if something happened to you?

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How to Avoid Estate Planning Minefields

Posted On 2/1/2010

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

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Preserving Grandma’s Legacy

Posted On 2/1/2010

When you were younger, grandma’s attic held such fascination for you. The hat boxes and old clothes were great fun when playing dress up. There were old records of “Big Band” music. It was like travelling back to an earlier time.

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Grandparent's Guide To 2nd Generation Planning

Posted On 1/26/2010

One morning you wake up and ask yourself, “Where has the time gone?” Your babies are now adults and likely parents themselves. You have done your job of raising responsible adults with lives of their own. You have taught them right from wrong, how to treat others, and many other important life skills. Although they are off on their own, you still worry and want to protect them from all of life’s uncertainties.

 

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Preserving Your Independence

Posted On 1/14/2010

As we get older, it often seems that time accelerates. It seems the children were in diapers just yesterday. But, now they’ve left home and they have kids of their own. Where does the time go?

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Planning After a Breakup

Posted On 1/14/2010

Nobody plans to break up. When a couple marries, they dream of their lives together and the special times which they will share. They think of the shared holidays and the family which will grow from their love. Their lives become intertwined emotionally, financially, and legally.

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Rental Property: The Next Generation

Posted On 10/19/2009

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Michael Jackson's Death - Why YOU Need Your Estate Planning Documents in Order

Posted On 6/29/2009

The sudden death of Michael Jackson serves as a reminder to everyone that, no matter your age, you need to have your estate planning in order. The pop superstar died on Thursday, June 25th at 50 years old. The media is speculating as to how his estate will be handled and the future of his young children. No public statement has been made in regard to his personal planning and the media and the nation will wait anxiously to see how this unfolds. If Michael Jackson prepared a Trust the public will most likely never know the details as it will be held private, however, if he had a Will it becomes part of public record. In the state of California, a Will needs to be presented within 30 days. Jackson's assets, royalties and the amount of debt he had accumulated most likely will lead to lengthy battles over his estate.

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American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys Recognized by Money Magazine Again

Posted On 5/29/2009

Carolyn Bigdas article "Rethink Your Legacy" in the June issue of Money Magazine explores the five questions you should be asking regarding your estate. The article recommends the American Academys website, www.aaepa.com, as a source to find a qualified estate planning attorney. The Associate Director of Education at the Academy, Steve Hartnett, was also interviewed in the article and lent his expertise to one of the five questions. This is the fifth mention of finding a quality attorney on the American Academys members list by Money Magazine in the last 21 issues.

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Recognized by <i>Money Magazine</i> Again


First African American Firm to Conduct Estate Planning Seminars at Sea

Posted On 2/2/2009

Attorney Caprice Collins and the Collins Law Group celebrated their First Annual Client Appreciation Cruise in August. Interest for the client cruise was kicked off during the law firm's 25th anniversary party last November and this culminated into an overwhelming successful cruise in August. In celebration of the law firm's 25th anniversary and as a way to thank their special clients for their wonderful support, the law firm offered this unique opportunity on the high seas.

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Consumer Reports Recommends American Academy

Posted On 1/29/2009

The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys was recommended in the January 2009 Consumer Reports Money Adviser newsletter. The article “How to Avoid Inheritance Feuds” focuses on techniques for avoiding conflict after a loved one passes away.

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Money Magazine Recognizes American Academy!

Posted On 12/26/2008

In the January 2009 issue of Money Magazine, Walecia Konrads article entitled "Keep It In The Family" focuses on making sure the wealth youve worked so hard to accumulate will go to the people you love.

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American Academy Mentioned Again in Money Magazine!

Posted On 3/18/2008

Robert Armstrong, President of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, was interviewed by Money Magazine senior writer Penelope Wang for her article "A Midlife Money Checkup" in the March 2008 Issue.

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American Academy Recommended by Nationally Syndicated Talk Show Host

Posted On 12/20/2007

The John Tesh Radio Show recommended the American Academy as a resource for finding an estate planning attorney. The segment focusing on money and finance originally aired in September 2007 and was repeated in December 2007.

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American Academy Mentioned in Money Magazine

Posted On 10/25/2007

The September issue of Money Magazine has an article entitled,"20 Timeless Money Rules." Rule 17, Exiting Gracefully, is particularly significant because it emphasizes the importance of putting together your estate plan. The recommendation of Money Magazine is that you search for a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys: "To find a lawyer, ask friends and colleagues for recommendations or get referrals online at the website of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (aaepa.com)."

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Attorney Caprice Collins to Speak at the Caregiver Wellness Day

Posted On 6/23/2006

We are proud to announce that Ms. Collins will be a guest speaker for the Caregiver Wellness Day event Sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. Ms. Collins presentation will be in two parts. First, Ms. Collins will be a part of a rotating roster of speakers that will interact with event participants by facilitating a concise discussion with participants based on your area of expertise. This portion of the presentation will take place at 10:00 am to 11:30 am. Second, Ms. Collins has agreed to be the Alzheimer’s Keynote Speaker for the event. The topic for Ms. Collins keynote address is entitled “Understanding the Legal Process While Providing Care for Someone”. This portion of the presentation will take place at 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. Ms. Collins presentations will take place on the following date, time and location:

Date: Friday, June 23, 2006
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
(Includes concise discussions & Keynote Address)
Location: Four Points Sheraton Hotel-Culver City
5990 Green Valley Circle, Culver City, CA 90230

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Attorney Collins Receives Honoree Award by The Black Business Association

Posted On 3/25/2006

The Black Business Association presented Ms. Collins with a Keynote Honoree Award at their Salute to Black Women Awards Luncheon and Conference on March 25, 2006. Their mission is to honor outstanding African-American women who are making valuable contributions in our nation and those who are making history as leaders of Southern Californias most influential black women organizations.

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Attorney Collins Receives Woman of the Year Award

Posted On 3/20/2006

On March 20, 2006, Caprice L. Collins was recognized as Woman of the Year in a formal ceremony on the floor of the California Assembly. One of State Legislature's largest events, the celebration honors 80 remarkable women who have made sufficient contributions to their respective Assembly districts. Following the ceremony, Attorney Collins representing the 51st District, joined First Lady Maria Shriver at a special reception at the California State History Museum. The museum features a special exhibit on extraordinary California women, including photographs and biographies of the 2006 Woman of the Year honorees.

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Attorney Collins Raises Over $1.5 Million Through Seminars for Non-Profit Organizations and Faith Based Institutions

Posted On 3/8/2005

Since January 2005, Attorney Caprice L. Collins has assisted numerous non-profit organizations in receiving over $1.5 million in charitable bequests. Since the beginning of the year, Attorney Collins has made dynamic presentations on Estate Planning and Charitable Giving topics to churches, employee groups, support groups, civic organizations and other non-profit organizations including Holman United Methodist Church, City of Angels Church of Religious Science and the American Cancer Society.

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Medi-Cal Planning and Long Term Care Options Seminar presented on February 26, 2005 was a Success!

Posted On 2/26/2005

Attorney Caprice L. Collins, Barry Rosenfeld of Wealth Planning Partners and Mark Jansen of Money Guard made an exciting presentation on how to avoid losing your home and assets to Catastrophic Illness and Nursing Home Expenses; avoid Conservatorship If You Become Ill Or Incapacitated; Reposition Your Assets So that If Long Term Care Is needed, you’ll be entitled to Government Assistance More quickly and the New Options in Reverse Mortgages & Long-Term Care Insurance Thank you to all of those who attended the Seminar at the Proud Bird Restaurant. The event was attended by over 40 Clients, Health Care Professionals and Social Workers.

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