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Estate Planning

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Do you own property as joint tenants? Have you considered the planning pitfalls of this way of owning property? Ownership as joint tenants is so pervasive in our society that we don’t look at its downsides. In joint tenancy, each person owns the entire asset, not a part of the asset. This legal fiction of two or more people owning 100 percent of the same asset is derived from the full name given to joint tenancy: joint tenancy with right of...

Blended families by nature bring more people to the table.  The following are only a few of the big challenges we face when planning for a blended family. Your Ex-Spouse A major concern for most divorces is the need to disinherit your ex-spouse. While married to your ex-spouse, you most like designated him/her as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, a pension plan, 401(K) plan, or similar retirement plan, which was provided by your employer.  If you fail to update your beneficiaries...

Many parents purchase life insurance, sign a will, or prepare a trust to ensure the well-being of their children. The majority of life insurance proceeds are left outright to children and other beneficiaries without a single word of instruction. This kind of planning is a travesty. Minor children cannot own property. Leaving life insurance proceeds or any other kind of property to minors is futile. Doing so leaves it directly to the probate court, under whose direction it will stay for...

The headline reads: Michigan mother-of-two 'stole $200,000 from life insurance policy her teen daughters received when their father died' The headline leaves us asking, “how did this happen and why would a mom do this?” After reading the story, we learn that the mother was divorced from the father and then the father passes away leaving his minor children as the beneficiary on the life insurance policy. Since minors cannot inherit until 18, a conservator was appointed to manage the money. In...