Betty had been a client for over 15 years. Her only daughter and her husband were deceased. Betty had two grandchildren whom she cared for deeply. Betty is a very smart woman and over the years she had come to rely heavily on her estate planning attorney for guidance. So much so, that she would…

Have you ever considered what happens to your family pictures and all of your other digital assets after you die? It seems that traditional photo albums are fast becoming a quaint practice of earlier non-digital generations. Today, most holidays, summer vacations, travel, graduations, weddings, and other important events are memorialized in digital photos and video…

For many business owners, the family business represents the largest asset of the estate. And when next-generation family members are involved in the business, estate planning and business succession planning are intricately related. John Jenkins owned two successful businesses. The first was a beer distributorship operating in five states. The second was a group of…

Some of the greatest family memories are built around family vacations. And those memories seem to be magnified when vacations are held at the same location every year, such as a family vacation home. It’s not unusual for families to keep those homes for decades, to be shared and enjoyed by each subsequent generation of…

In 2005 a trust beneficiary filed a law suit against her trustee (her father) claiming that her father illegally transferred $2 billion of her money to a trust for another beneficiary. The case was settled for just under $1 billion. The father and daughter in this story are members of the Pritzker family (Hyatt Hotels,…

Jenny and Bill recently met with their attorney for a review of their estate plan which had been prepared several years ago. They were in their mid-60s and had been very happily married for 39 years. They had three children and seven grandchildren who were all doing well and living productive lives. Bill and Jenny…

Groucho Marx is the poster child for what can go wrong with estate planning. At the end of his life Groucho was placed under legal guardianship, against his will, by a California Court. Last year, there was a disagreement over health care decisions for Casey Kasem, the beloved host of “American Top 40”. How does…

Contrary to the way many people discuss estate planning, it is not an event. It’s not accurate to say, “I’ve completed my estate plan.” Estate planning is not something you do once and forget. Your plan must change and grow throughout your lifetime, or it is unlikely to work when it is needed most! Most…

When people consider estate planning, they often list “avoiding probate” as one of the reasons they need to have a plan. But when you ask “what is probate?” they usually don’t know, but they know it’s “bad”. That message has been impressed on them for many years through books, seminars, and advisors. An estate plan,…

Today it is common practice to use a revocable living trust as the foundation of an estate plan. One of the reasons professionals recommend trusts is so that their clients can avoid the time delays, costs, and publicity of probate. Indeed, a trust that is fully funded (i.e. all assets are under trust control) does…

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