Category Archives: Estate Planning

The SECURE Act: The elimination of the stretch IRA and how it impacts conduit trusts

Our recent post about the SECURE Act addressed many of the provisions of the new law and discussed how these provisions will impact most taxpayers. In today’s post, I’d like to follow up with a discussion about how the SECURE Act affects the applicable rules in one specific area unique to families with substantial IRA assets: the elimination of the stretch IRA and its impact on conduit trusts. Read more »

Add an Advance Directive to your New Year’s Resolutions

Saying final good-byes to loved ones is one of the most difficult parts of the human experience. These good-byes can be infinitely more difficult when the one saying good-bye is saddled with the responsibility of making end-of-life decisions for someone who can no longer communicate his or her wishes. The legal system has come up with a document to help give incapacitated individuals a say in these decisions. Most states call this document the Living Will or the Advance Directive. It is the most depressing multiple choice test you will ever take, as it poses a variety of end-of-life situations and asks the signer to indicate their wishes for each situation. This document is often combined with a medical power of attorney, depending on which state you live in. Read more »

Tom Petty: Beneficiaries Who “Won’t Back Down”

Perhaps the most appropriate musical ode to disgruntled estate beneficiaries that I’ve ever heard is the late Tom Petty’s I won’t back down. This track was the first single off of his 1990 album, Full Moon Fever, and has been a fan favorite since the day it was released. The single opens with the narrator defiantly telling the world, “I won’t back down, no I won’t back down. You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down.” One of the more frustrating things about the time I spent practicing law was dealing with beneficiaries who must have constantly had Tom’s song playing in the back of their heads as they wasted attorney’s fees trying to settle some ancient score with a sibling, stepchild, or other beneficiary.    Read more »

What can we learn from Chris Cornell of Soundgarden about arranging provisions for your heirs?

Chris Cornell was the greatest singer of his generation (in my humble opinion). The power and emotion Chris poured into his performances took Soundgarden from a local Seattle grunge outfit to a worldwide phenomenon — the first grunge band to sign a major record deal and sales of over 25 million albums. His soaring vocals were also critical to Temple of the Dog and Audioslave, two of his other extremely successful projects. When Chris took his own life two years ago, he left behind a legion of loyal fans, a group of close friends, and a financial dispute that has turned into a legal one. Read more »