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Sharon Ravenscroft Estate Planning Blog

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

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 provis...

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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 are...

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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 ac...

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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 s...

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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 b...

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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 cou...

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Estate Planning and Step-Children

If you have step-children, then you most certainly want your spouse to have a Will. If your spouse dies without a will, then one-half of the community property will go to the step-children, not the surviving spouse. If the assets are held "with right of survivorship" or a death designation, then the surviving spouse can receive the assets. However,...

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Do you ever have problems communicating with your Doctor?

When we are sick and needing information from our health care provider, sometimes it can be a real challenge to get our call in and get a response back that is helpful. It is that much more difficult if you are SO sick that you can barely call on the phone. This is the reason that a Health Care Power of Attorney is vital. You can give the legal aut...

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Does your Deed Realy Avoid Probate?

I find that many couples who think their deed to their home will avoid probate, find out too late that it does not. Even if the other owner is your spouse, you still need the deed to say it is owned "with right of survivorship." Otherwise, if one of you dies, the other will have to go to court and have it probated. In addition, title companies requ...

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