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When Can You Destroy Financial Records?

The IRS has three years from your tax return filing date to audit your return, if it suspects good faith errors. (For example, your 2013 taxes were due by April 15, 2014. The IRS has until April 15, 2017 to audit your return for good faith errors). However, the IRS has six years to challenge…

setting up a trust

Changing Uses for Bypass Trusts

Every year, each individual who dies in the U.S. can leave a certain amount of money to his or her heirs before facing any federal estate taxes. For example, in 2013, a person who died could leave $5.25 million to his or her heirs (or a charity) estate tax free, and everything over that amount…

Mother and daughter

Your Statutory Right to Name a Guardian for Your Children

California gives parents the statutory right to name a guardian for their children.  If no guardian is named in your will or other estate planning documents, and tragedy strikes, it will be up to the Court to decide who will raise your children.  The Court may appoint someone that you would not have chosen yourself. This issue…

CA family

Coordinating Property Ownership and Your Estate Plan

When planning your estate, you must consider how you hold title to your real and personal property The title and your designated beneficiaries will control how your real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles and investments are distributed upon your death, regardless of whether there is a will or trust in place and potentially with…

The Best Time to Think About the End of Your Life

I received a very disturbing telephone call yesterday, which inspired today’s blog post. A woman whose brother lay dying in the hospital called to ask a few questions about what would happen to his estate after he died. She said he had a Will, in which he left everything to his children, and provided nothing…

6 Events Which May Require a Change in Your Estate Plan

Creating a Will is not a one-time event. You should review your will periodically, to ensure it is up to date, and make necessary changes if your personal situation, or that of your executor or beneficiaries, has changed. There are a number of life-changing events that require your Will to be revised, including: Change in…

Overview of Life Estates

Establishing a Life Estate is a relatively simple process in which you transfer your property to your children, while retaining your right to use and live in the property. Life Estates are used to avoid probate, maximize tax benefits and protect the real property from potential long-term care expenses you may incur in your later…

Considering Online Estate Planning? Think Twice

The recent proliferation of online estate planning document services has attracted many do-it-yourselfers who are lured in by what appears to be a low-cost solution. However, this focus on price over value could mean your wishes will not be carried out and, unfortunately, nobody will know there is a problem until it is too late…

Top 5 Overlooked Issues in Estate Planning

In planning your estate, you most likely have concerned yourself with “big picture” issues. Who inherits what? Do I need a living trust? However, there are numerous details that are often overlooked, and which can drastically impact the distribution of your estate to your intended beneficiaries. Listed below are some of the most common overlooked…

Acting as an Executor – What’s Involved?

An executor is the person designated in a Will as the individual who is responsible for performing a number of tasks necessary to wind down the decedent’s affairs. Generally, the executor’s responsibilities involve taking charge of the deceased person’s assets, notifying beneficiaries and creditors, paying the estate’s debts and distributing the property to the beneficiaries….

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