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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Monday, March 30, 2020

Don’t Gamble Your Estate Plan with an Online Will!


Downloading a Will from the internet seems tempting – it’s quick, inexpensive, and you just fill in a few blanks.  However, signing a Will that you bought online is like playing poker with a blindfold on—you won’t know if you’ve bet correctly until it’s too late.  I’ve counseled many clients who were shocked to learn that a loved one’s online Will was invalid.  An invalid Will is treated like there is no Will at all, which ends up costing family members thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and tying up the Estate in administration.

There are three major problems that can happen with an online Will:

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Being Prepared: Groceries, Toilet Paper, and Other Necessities

I was a Girl Scout from the ages six to ten. During that time, I sold cookies, found out that I did not like camping outdoors, but most importantly, I learned a motto that stayed with me throughout my life: “Be Prepared”. The 1947 Girl Scout Handbook explains the motto this way: “A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency.”

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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Should You Consider Medicaid Planning?

If you or a loved one has been turned down for long-term care insurance, cannot afford the premiums for the long-term care insurance, or believe that you will apply for Medicaid in the future, then you should consider Medicaid Planning.

When you apply for Medicaid, any gifts or transfers of assets made within five years of the date of application are scrutinized and subject to a penalty. This is referred to as the “lookback” period. That penalty is based on the dollar amount of the transferred assets divided by the average monthly private patient care rate, the resulting number translating to the amount of days or months that the applicant is ineligible for Medicaid.

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Estate Planning for the Chronically Ill

In the United States, six out of ten adults in the United States have a chronic disease, and chronic disease is the leading cause of disability and death. While many healthy adults view estate planning as a contingency plan, adults with a chronic illness approach estate planning with higher urgency. While preparing their plan, adults with chronic illnesses should assemble a “team” of advisors.

An attorney can draft important financial and health documents, such as your:

  • Will or Revocable Living Trust: Expresses your wishes regarding your property after you pass away;
  • Durable Power of Attorney: Appoints an agent to make your financial decisions if you cannot do so;
  • Medical power of attorney: Appoints an agent to make your medical decisions if you cannot do so;
  • Living Will: Expresses your preferences for life support;
  • HIPAA Authorization: Allows family members to know your protected healthcare information;
  • Out of Hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate Order: Informs paramedics not to use a cardiac defibrillator if your heart stops.

These documents will enable you to empower a trusted person or group of people to care for you when you are unable to do so.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

What is Settlement Planning?

Personal injury lawsuits can include years of litigation, so when a plaintiff receives a settlement in a personal injury case, he or she might believe that everything is resolved. However,

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

A New Year – Take Time to Review your Estate Plan

When was the last time you reviewed your estate plan? 

Once you have completed estate planning documents, it is easy to move on and forget to come back to them for updates.  Periodically, it is a wise to review your estate plan to ensure your documents reflect your current wishes.  This is especially true if you have had a significant life event occur since your documents were created. 

Some life events that may require an update to your will or trust include, but are not limited to:

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Family Business: Preserving Your Legacy for Generations to Come

Your family-owned business is not just one of your most significant assets, it is also your legacy.  Protect both by implementing a transition plan to arrange for transfer to your children or other loved ones upon your retirement or death.

More than 70 percent of family businesses do not survive the transition to the next generation.  Ensuring your family does not fall victim to the same fate requires a unique combination of proper estate and tax planning, business acumen and common-sense communication with those closest to you.  Below are some steps you can take today to make sure your family business continues from generation to generation:

  • Meet with an estate planning attorney to develop a comprehensive plan that accounts for issues related to both the transfer of your assets and estate taxes.
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Friday, August 3, 2018

Preparing Your Family for an Emergency During School Hours

Every family should establish a clear plan to handle an emergency that occurs during school hours.  Unfortunately, many parents mistakenly believe that filling out the school’s emergency card is sufficient.  Sadly, this practice falls far short of what is truly necessary to protect your children in the event something tragic happens to you during the school day.

The emergency card only gives permission for certain named individuals to pick up your children if they are sick, but does not authorize them to take short-term custody if one or both parents are killed or become incapacitated.  Without having alternate arrangements in place, children in this situation would likely end up spending at least some time with social services.
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Thursday, July 12, 2018

What Does the Term "Funding the Trust" Mean in Estate Planning?

If you are about to begin the estate planning process, you have likely heard the term "funding the trust" thrown around a great deal. What does this mean? And what will happen if you fail to fund the trust?

The phrase, or term, "funding the trust" refers to the process of titling your assets into your trust, such as a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust is a common estate planning document and one which you may choose to incorporate into your own estate planning. Sometimes such a trust may be referred to as a "will substitute" because the dispositive terms of your estate plan will be contained within the trust instead of the will. A revocable living trust will allow you to have your affairs bypass the probate court upon your death, using a revocable living trust will help accomplish that goal.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Why New Parents Need an Estate Plan

Becoming a new parent is a life changing experience, and caring for a child is an awesome responsibility as well as a joy. This is also the time to think about your child's future by asking an important question: who will care for your child if you become disabled or die? The best way to put your mind at ease is by having an estate plan.

The most basic estate planning tool is a Will, which enables you to determine how your assets will be distributed after death. Without this important estate planning tool, the state's intestacy laws will govern how your assets will be distributed. In addition, decisions about who will care for your minor children will be made by the court. For this reason, it is crucial for new parents to have a Will and to designate who you want as guardian for your minor children.

In this regard, selecting guardians involves a number of important considerations. Obviously, it is important to name individuals who are emotionally and financially capable of raising a child. At the same time, a Will can also establish a trust that provides funds to be used to provide for the child's needs. Ultimately, guardians should share the same moral and spiritual values, as well as childrearing philosophy of the parents.

In addition to naming guardians in your Will or separate designation of guardian document, it is also critical to plan for the possibility of incapacity by creating powers of attorney and advance medical directives. A durable power of attorney allows a new parent to name a spouse, or other trusted relative or friend, to handle financial affairs. Further, a medical power of attorney designates a trusted person to make medical decisions in accordance with the parent's preferences.

Finally, new parents should also obtain adequate life insurance to protect the family. The proceeds from an insurance policy can replace lost income, pay household and living expenses, as well as any debts that may have been owed by the deceased parent. It is also important to ensure that beneficiary designations on any retirement accounts are up to date so that these assets can be transferred expediently.

In the end, having a child is a time of joy, but also one that requires careful planning. The best way to protect your family is by consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you navigate the process. 

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