Your family cabin, cottage, or vacation home may be one of your most significant financial assets. It is also likely to be the one with the most enduring memories and emotional ties. The property may have been in your family for decades with your children and grandchildren experiencing special family gatherings and having spent their…

A colleague of ours recently assembled a list of the top 10 estate planning issues. This list is a great tool to assure that key items are not overlooked. All of these issues deserve thoughtful consideration. They can also create major problems if not dealt with in advance. Probate: Court supervised administration of your estate…

For parents, it is difficult to watch children or grandchildren go through a failed marriage. But even worse might be the knowledge that money you left for their inheritance ends up in the hands of an ex-son or daughter-in-law. The good news is that you can take steps today to protect the assets passing to…

Just reading those words is enough to make you break out in a sweat. Even if it’s your business, and not you personally, or even if it’s someone in your family, notice of a lawsuit is among the most stressful events you’ll ever experience. You’ll no doubt go through the normal emotions – surprise, indignation,…

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…

For decades a debate raged in legal circles about which documents were better – wills or trusts. Members of the public didn’t really know the difference, but there was a perception that trusts were more complicated and expensive – and were primarily for wealthy people. Those who favored trusts told the story of Ellen. When…

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