Do You Need to Amend Your Advance Medical Directive Due to the Coronavirus?

One of my clients recently asked an important question about advance medical directives and whether amending this important legal and medical document is warranted in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. For context, my client has an advance medical directive stating that they do not want to be put on a ventilator. However, my client expressed a desire to be placed on a ventilator if they are infected with COVID-19. This prompted my client to ask – is it necessary to amend my advance medical directive in light of different treatment wishes for the Coronavirus? Answer: it is not necessary to amend an...

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Your Estate Plan Could Help Grow – or Ruin – Your Family Fortune

Most Americans have heard the names “Rockefeller” and “Vanderbilt.” The two families are firmly embedded in American culture through academia (e.g., Vanderbilt University), real estate (e.g., Rockefeller Plaza), charitable organizations, politics, etc. The progenitors of these now-iconic names were John D. Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt. Both men enjoyed incredible success in different areas of the business world which resulted in substantial fortunes. Both men left vast sums of money to their loved ones. However, the ways in which their fortunes were distributed between descendants varied greatly, which led to two completely different outcomes that highlight just how important proper estate...

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Personal Pain Fuels Desire to Protect Your Family Through Effective Estate Planning

This month marks the 10th anniversary of my father’s death.  He lived with dementia for seven years caused by a form of Parkinson’s called Lewy Body Disease. My father’s illness was one of the main reasons I decided to re-focus my legal career and specialize in estate planning.  Another attorney helped draft my father’s estate plan. The attorney took the traditional approach of getting legal documents executed, but with very little counseling or follow-up. The result? A family left in the dark. We did not know my father’s wishes or preferences regarding his health care or what should be done if...

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Must-Know Info on How Charitable Deductions Work

You need to itemize in order to claim your charitable deduction The latest tax act raised the standard deduction single filers to $12,200 and joint filers to $24,400. It appears the big increase in standard deduction has had a negative impact on the percentage of taxpayers who make charitable contributions because you are unable to deduct the contributions if you decide to go with the standard deduction rather than opting for itemization. Determining whether to itemize or not depends on your specific situation so you will need to consult an experienced and knowledgeable tax advisor. As a general rule, the interest...

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Income Tax-Free States May Be Worth Considering for Residency in Retirement

There are a number of states – such as Florida, Nevada and Texas - that do not tax income that have received an increasing amount of interest after the new federal tax law passed in 2018 capped state and local tax (SALT) deductions at $10,000. There are currently nine states that do not tax the income of residents. States with No Income Tax Below is an overview of the states with no income tax, according to Fox Business. Alaska In addition to not having an income tax, Alaska has no sales and use tax, generally. Though, local jurisdictions have the right to levy sales and...

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Death and Credit – Important Info You Need to Know

When a family member passes away, there are certain steps that should be taken to alert the passing to the major credit reporting agencies and to assess whether a freeze, or lifting a freeze, on their credit is needed. Swift action is important when it comes to a decedent’s credit. Why? Because if the major credit reporting agencies, along with the financial institutions where your deceased family member had open checking accounts, saving accounts, retirement accounts, etc. are not timely notified, your loved one’s accounts would remain open and could heighten the risk of identity theft and other issues. Suffice it...

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Time to Re-Brand “Do Not Resuscitate”

Stories of hospitals being subjected to civil litigation for failing to intervene or, alternately, for wrongfully intervening to resuscitate a patient using advanced life support are quite common. These unfortunate incidents typically have at their core three central figures:   A dying patient; The dying patient’s family; and A healthcare professional who misunderstands the meaning of the term: “do not resuscitate.” What Does “Do Not Resuscitate” Actually Mean? The term “Do Not Resuscitate” (also referred to by its acronym DNR) means that a patient should not receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of cardiopulmonary arrest. This is a situation where the patient...

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Pros and Cons of a Revocable Transfer on Death Deed for California Residents

The California legislature enacted a law in 2016 that offered residents an alternative to keep their homes out of the costly and inefficient probate process. This alternative is known as a “revocable transfer on death deed.” This type of deed is sometimes referred to as the “poor man’s trust.” Why? Because it is a less costly way to transfer real property to a named beneficiary without having to create a full-fledged trust. Limitations to a Revocable Transfer on Death Deed There are some limitations associated with transferring real property through this type of deed. For example, the only forms of real property that qualify...

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Dying with Debt – Who Is on the Hook to Pay It Back?

Debt is something many American grapple with. In fact, the average U.S. household with credit card debt carries close to $7,000 in revolving balances, or balances carried from one month to the next, according to NerdWallet. Given the prevalence of debt in our society, an important question needs to be answered: "If you die with an outstanding debt (whether it be a credit card, personal loan, student loan, mortgage, etc.) who or what will be responsible for paying it back?” The laws pertaining to debt after death vary by state so there isn't a single answer to this question. Nevertheless, in general, people...

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