Category Archives: Estate Planning

Burt Reynolds’ Will: a Model Estate Plan

Prime time television in the 1980s was largely built around dudes in cool vehicles who saved the day every week in their assigned time slot. Michael Knight and Kitt (Knightrider), Stringfellow Hawke and his supersonic stealth helicopter (Airwolf), and Thomas Magnum and his Ferrari (Magnum P.I.) filled my formative years and taught me all about life’s important lessons. When it came to the coolness factor, none of these guys could hold a candle to Burt Reynolds and his ‘79 Trans Am (you know, the black one with the giant gold screaming chicken/firebird on the hood).   Read more »

The Queen of Soul Had No Last Will: What will that mean for Aretha’s estate and what could it mean for yours?

Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul” who collected 18 Grammy Awards and sang at concerts for three presidents (Carter, Clinton, and Obama), recently died at the age of 76. Ms. Franklin was twice divorced and is survived by four sons. These sons were named as interested parties in a filing with the probate court in Oakland County, Michigan in mid-August. The court filing indicated that Ms. Franklin, like many Americans, died intestate — without a Last Will. Read more »

The Estate of Anthony Bourdain: Probate = Public

The recent tragic death of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain was followed by a number of news stories that have become commonplace in this day and age of internet “reporting” on celebrities stories about the celebrity’s net worth based on documents filed in the probate court and not thoroughly researched. In Mr. Bourdain’s case, the headlines noted that the chef, whose net worth was recently estimated to be over $15 million, was only worth $1.2 million when he died.  Read more »

The Marital Penalty in the Tax Code

The U.S. Tax Code has included subtle penalties (and occasional benefits) for married couples for as long as there have been tax tables, phase-outs, and deductions — sometimes two people are better off filing as separate taxpayers, while sometimes couples get a little bit of a break when they tie the knot. The penalties are hidden in various places throughout the tax code and are most easily spotted when looking at the tax brackets a married couple filing jointly uses versus the same two incomes applied to the single filing table.  Read more »

What Does the Baby Boom Mean for Your Future?

One of the more frustrating aspects of the political climate in 2018 is that no one seems to be comfortable discussing the elephant in the room: Americans are living longer and having fewer babies. As a result, the commitment the United States has made to healthcare and retirement benefits for baby boomers is likely to lead to substantially higher taxes and/or significant cuts to entitlement programs in the United States over the next few decades. Read more »

Building Walls of Financial Protection

There has been a lot of talk about building walls lately. Regardless of whether you are in favor of building physical ones, you ought to consider building some legal and financial ones, as we are each surrounded by potential liability threats. While the odds of any of these liability threats becoming a liability claim are incredibly low (the odds are about 1 in 2,000 that someone will have a serious slip and fall in the shower, for example), the impact these events have when they do happen can be profound (especially if that person fell in a shower at an apartment that you rented to them). Properly constructed walls can shield assets and provide a level of protection from claims. Read more »

Practical Planning – Understanding Life Insurance

The basic purpose of life insurance is simple: upon your death, a policy will pay out a set benefit (income tax-free and occasionally estate tax-free) to your beneficiaries. When considering life insurance options, however, it can be difficult to determine the amount of coverage your family needs and to understand the terminology and costs/benefits of different policies. Read more »

529 Plan Changes – Should you use your 529 Savings Plan to pay for elementary or high school?

Families saving for future educational expenses were granted an unexpected gift from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: up to $10,000 of elementary or high school tuition and fees may now be paid (tax and penalty-free) from 529 savings accounts. (Previously, 529 plans were limited only to college expenses.) In this post, I will address how this change to the tax code affects residents of Oregon and Washington and will answer some of the questions we have been getting here at our office. Read more »