Phoenix office: 1850 N. Central Ave., Suite 2400, Phoenix, Arizona 85004 | Sun City office: 13250 N. Del Webb Blvd. Suite B Sun City, AZ 85351

Sharon Ravenscroft Estate Planning Blog

Welcome to my blog covering all things estate planning, family estate planning. business planning, wills, trusts & probate.

Sharon is a Shareholder of The Cavanagh Law Firm, P.A. which has offices in Phoenix and Sun City, Arizona. Sharon was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona.


Sharon received her B.A., cum laude, in 1984 from Wellesley College and her J.D. in 1987 from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where she was a staff writer on the international law journal.


Simplifying the challenges related to family asset and estate legal issues is her focus for her clients.

Get the Most from your Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney authorizes the person of your choice to help you with your medical care. You can also make sure that person can help you with your mental health care. If you are older, you might be concerned with temporary dementia or capacity issues. No matter your age, your health care power of attorney needs to cover having the
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Estate taxes for someone who lost a spouse in 2010?

For those whose spouse died in 2010, if the deceased's estate did not use all of the $5 million exemption, then the remainder can carry over to the surviving spouse. So if the deceased spouse's share of the estate was worth $2 million, then the unused estate tax exemption of $3 million can be used by the surviving spouse and added to the surviving
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New Estate Tax Law

There is estate tax is now unified with the gift tax-- $5 million per person. However, it applies only for 2011 and 2012. Couples need to keep their option to have an an irrevocable trust when the first spouse dies, just in case Congress does not extend the unified credit and the $1 million exclusion from 2002 comes back. For the estate of anyone
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Estate Tax Exclusion is $5 million per person

For 2011 and 2012, the estate tax exclusion will be $5 million per person and $10 million per couple. It appears that the new law also allows for the exemption to apply to anyone who died in 2010 if the estate wants to have the step up in basis. It appears also that one spouse can use another spouses exemption to some extent in a portability
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New Tax Law Passed by the House and Senate

Well finally we have some new tax law -- if the President signs it. It appears that the estate tax exclusion will be $5 million for just two years -- but we need to wait to see what the law is when it is finally signed. The two year period may be good for income tax issues and the economy but for estate tax issues, the uncertainty continues.
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Tis the Season To Remember Family

This is the season to visit family. This is also a good time to think about which family members would you rely on to take care of your finances if you became ill. Also consider which family members would be most helpful with your doctors and health care providers. Even if you are married, you need an alternate to your spouse-- in case you both
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Small Funding Errors Frustrate Trusts

Once you have a trust, be sure all of your accounts are titled in your name as trustee of your trust. If you want to keep your name on the account for some reason, then at least fill out a "pay on death" or "transfer on death" form with your financial institution and list the trust. You do not want your loved ones to be short on cash or not have
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Have you provided for your loved ones?

Many of us with grown children, rely heavily on our friends and want to leave a legacy to our friends as much as our children and family. To do this, we can use a trust or even pay on death designations on accounts. "POD" accounts are useful but could create confusion if a friend is listed as a POD but our Wills leave everything to our family. Be
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Should my powers of attorney be immediately effective?

Yes, your financial powers of attorney should be effective upon signing and if you become incapacitated. You want to have your named financial agent to be able to help you without a doctor having to declare you incapacitated. Once someone is declared incapacitated they lose the legal right to change their documents or handle their affairs. It may
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Do you take care of the Grandchildren or Children?

Many of my clients wonder if their trust should provide for their grandchildren directly or just their children. If the children are responsible then it is a good idea to leave assets to the children and let them take care of their children (your grandchildren). If the grandchildren are very young, then money will have to be left in trust. This
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