Name Legal Guardians For Your Kids For Free at This Website

One of the hardest things to do as a human being is to acknowledge our mortality. Some people even seem to think that if they ignore their eventual death, it will not happen. This is risky behavior for anyone, but particularly for those who are parents of young children. If parents are the victim of an untimely death or disabling accident, and have not already taken appropriate action, a court will step in and decide who will take care of their children.

Fortunately, the laws of every state allow parents to designate who they want to take care of their children if they no longer can themselves. This is perhaps the most important decision anyone can make for their children. Children need strong guidance and love, especially after the loss or impairment of a parent.

And we know you do not want this decision left to a judge who doesn’t know you, or your family.You can take some easy steps today to ensure that your children are raised by a loving relative or family friend you choose.

On our website tylerhinz.kidsprotectionplan.com you can legally document who you want to raise your child, if something happens to you. It’s free, and easy. We’ve made it so there are no excuses.

This website will even guide you through the decision making process if you’re having trouble determining who you want to take care of your children. Do the right thing and name legal guardians for your child today.

Are You Leaving Your Retirement Account at Risk Due to Poor Planning?

You’ve spent your entire life building up your retirement account. It may even be the biggest asset you’ll leave behind for the people you love.
If that’s the case, you may want to consider creating a special trust designed specifically to receive your retirement account assets in the event of your death.

If you leave your retirement account to the people you love outright, simply by naming them as beneficiaries on your retirement account rather than through a special trust, here are the risks:

  1. Some studies indicate 80% of retirement account beneficiaries immediately liquidate the account and frivolously spend the assets (and on top of using the assets in ways you may not agree with, they also lose significant tax benefits for these assets you worked so hard to create);
  2. If your beneficiary is married and does not properly handle the retirement assets you leave behind, and then gets divorced, your hard-earned assets could end up in the hands of the future ex-spouse of your beneficiary;
  3. If you are in a second marriage situation with children from a prior marriage, you may be setting your spouse and children up for conflict after you are gone, due to the way you have planned (or not planned) for the passage of your retirement account.
  4. If your beneficiary is ever in a situation where he or she has creditors or may have to file bankruptcy, and you’ve left your retirement account to him or her without a special trust, your retirement account would go to satisfy those creditors first.

Here’s the good news, it’s not hard to protect your retirement account for your beneficiaries with the right planning. We use a variety of special trusts to ensure the retirement assets you’ve worked so hard to build up throughout your life are passed on to the people you love so they are totally protected from a future divorce, creditors, bankruptcy and so that they do not create conflict for your loved ones.

If you have a significant retirement account whose designated beneficiary is your spouse or children, or even your regular revocable living trust, call us to have your planning reviewed immediately.

This article is a service of Tyler S. Hinz, Personal Family Lawyer, who develops trusting relationships with families for life. If you’re ready to begin planning what you’d like to happen in case of unfortunate emergency, or even your death, Call our office today at (800)979-6170 and schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session today. We can help you make plans for how you want to provide for your loved ones when you can’t be there.

Prince’s Death Brings Estate Planning to the Forefront

The untimely death of superstar Prince has brought a surprising issue to American living rooms: estate planning. If current reports are correct that Prince died without a will, state law and the Court system will dictate who controls and inherits his sizeable estate. It is also likely that taxing entities will take a bigger bite out of his estate – costing his family millions, unnecessarily —  before anyone inherits anything.  All of this could have been avoided and there’s an important lesson here for you and your family.

Prince died on Thursday, April 21, at the age of 57, in Carver County, Minnesota. He had one half-sister, Tyka Nelson. He also had six half-siblings. Prince was predeceased by both of his parents and two of his half-siblings. He was divorced twice and had no living children.

Ms. Nelson recently filed documents with the Carver County probate court, asserting that she believed that her brother died without a will. She also asked that the court appoint a special administrator to handle Prince’s affairs until a personal administrator was appointed. A judge appointed a banking affiliate to serve in this role temporarily.

When a person passes away without a will, they are said to have died “intestate.” When this happens, state law directs the distribution of the person’s property, known as the “estate” through a process called probate. And, it’s up to the Court to decide who controls the estate.

If Prince indeed died without a will, these statutes will result in his siblings dividing his estate, including his half-siblings. This may or may not be what Prince would have wanted, had he made provisions himself.  And, his estate is likely to be overseen by a paid executor, instead of a family member or friend he would have chosen.

So, what does this mean for you?

Just like Prince, if you do not plan for your death, your family will get stuck in Court and could end up in conflict as well.  It’s an unnecessary expense to your family, causes additional heartache and grief, and is totally avoidable.

Let Prince’s death be an inspiration to you to leave your loved ones with a legacy of love, not a big mess to clean up. We can help.

If You Don’t Trust Your Kid With Money Then You Need a Trust

While most parents have the best intentions when it comes to teaching their children about handling finances wisely, sometimes the lessons don’t take.  In addition to concerns about spendthrift behavior, some children experience problems with substance abuse or have mental issues that make giving them access to wealth a problem.  This is where a trust can be a parent’s best friend.

Trusts allow you to put controls on the distribution of your wealth.  For example, you could elect to make partial distributions at predetermined ages throughout a child’s life, or select a trustee who will make the decisions on regular intervals of asset distribution.  A trustee may also be a good choice to manage the assets and make investment decisions that are better suited for those with the professional capacity to do so.

Trusts can also protect your heirs from a divorcing spouse or creditors.  In the case of a special needs child, a trust can be set up to provide supplemental financial support that doesn’t disqualify them for important government benefits. One of the most commonly used trusts is a revocable living trust, where you transfer assets into a trust that you control while you are still living.

After your death, those assets pass to your heirs outside of probate (an unnecessary, expensive and totally public court process).  This helps your heirs avoid the hassle and cost of going to Court and doesn’t tie up the assets, which are generally frozen during the probate process unless protected by a trust. Since trust laws are changing all the time, it is best to get professional legal advice for the help you need in ensuring your assets are protected for the future benefit of all your heirs.

One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation.  Call our office today at (800)979-6170 to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.

Estate Planning for Blended Families

The term “blended family” has become commonplace in our society and refers to a family where one or both spouses were previously married and have children from the prior marriage. In some instances, the new couple goes on to have children of their own. With children, stepchildren and ex-spouses involved, estate planning can get quite complex.

When you are trying to take all the different interests involved with your blended family into account, you need help to ensure you provide for everyone adequately. And to ensure you avoid conflict after your death or incapacity, as that’s quite common in blended family situations.

Without a well-crafted estate plan to establish how you want your surviving spouse and children to receive your assets, the distributions made pursuant to the law (or a poorly drafted plan) could lead to tremendous conflict among your loved ones and significant unintended consequences. To create a comprehensive estate plan that achieves the results you want, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced lawyer.

Deciding how to divide your wealth and assets between your surviving spouse and your biological children can be difficult. If you are close with your stepchildren or you have adopted them, you must take their interests into account as well. This means that you may need to address issues such as child custody and support once you are gone. You will also want to avoid mistakes such as:

  • Your children being unintentionally disinherited (by everything going to your spouse)
  • Your children’s inheritance being postponed until your spouse dies (that’s often the fastest path to family conflict)
  • Your ex-spouse making a claim on your estate

Family fighting or litigation over your estate or to gain the authority to act

With so many issues to consider, it is necessary to make these decisions while you are healthy and you have the time to create the best strategy for drafting your estate plan whether you have a lot of money or not. If you want to take action to protect your blended family, contact us to schedule an appointment. Let us help minimize the chance of family conflict and ensure your wishes are carried out when you are gone.

Pets in Your Will

I spent a part of the weekend at my parent’s home, and for those of you that don’t know my parents live out in the middle of nowhere and have an excessive amount of animals and pets. Growing up we always had, at a minimum, 7 dogs running around the property. At the moment my parents only have 6 dogs, but they make up for their lack of dogs with 5 horses and a cat that refuses to leave the guest room closet. Most people consider their pets to be a significant part of the family, and if it matters to you then it makes sense to put in place some planning mechanisms to ensure that your pets are taken care of should anything happen to you.

For those of us who have pets that would be left behind after we die, there may be a desire to make arrangements for their well-being. Making provisions for pets in your will can only be done through the establishment of a trust. Pets are considered property and, as such, cannot be left money or property directly.

A trust is an entity that is established to receive and hold money and property for the benefit of designated beneficiaries which can be people, pets, organizations or other entities. There are two trust options for pet care.

Traditional Trust

With a traditional trust, you name a trustee to administer the money, and also appoint a caregiver for your pet. In your will, you designate money or property to be received by the trust. If life insurance proceeds are to be used, you would designate the trust as the beneficiary of the policy. Remember, you can divide up life insurance proceeds between multiple beneficiaries in the event you have other people or organizations you want to benefit.

Statutory Trust

A statutory trust can be specified within your will. It is a statement that indicates you are leaving money or property “in trust” to your pet. In this situation, however, the probate court is then responsible for appointing persons to serve as trustee and caregiver.

Another Option

A pet protection agreement is a less formal option for providing for your pet. This is a simple agreement with another person to care for your pet after your passing. This could also be used in cases of incapacitation, just as you would execute a power of attorney for other affairs. This option makes sense if, for example, your pet’s life expectancy was limited, and not much money is in consideration.

Additional Tips

Trusts for pets can be easy to establish, but there are some things to consider, such as the following:

  • They make the most sense for animals with longer life spans such as horses and birds;
  • There is usually no need to leave an excessive amount of money;
  • Name a successor beneficiary for funds left after your pet dies, preferably not the caregiver;
  • Ensure the willingness of the trustee and caregiver to serve in those roles;
  • Name successors for the trustee and caregiver;
  • Do not make the trustee and caregiver the same person; and
  • Provide detailed instructions of your wishes for the care of your pet.

This article is a service of Tyler S. Hinz, Personal Family Lawyer®. We believe in developing trusting relationships with families for life.  If you’d like to ensure your family stays out of Court and out of conflict if and when something happens to you, Call our office today at (800) 979-6170 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session, during which we can review your wishes.|

Legal Strategies to Avoid Guardianship

As senior citizens continue to age, the likelihood increases that they will become physically or mentally incapacitated. Hopefully, people in such a situation have family members who step in and help keep their affairs in order. That is not always the case, however. If no one steps in to help, courts may be petitioned to appoint someone–a guardian–to look after that person’s very existence. This often happens when a person becomes incapacitated by illness and cannot make decisions.

What Can I Do?

For medical situations, a medical power of attorney – a document that identifies a person of your choosing (your agent) to make decisions for you in the event of your incapacity – should be executed. Your agent can be family member or friend. The key is to make sure it is someone you trust.

A power of attorney can also be used to appoint someone to deal with non-medical issues. This document can be set up to either take effect immediately, or only at such time as you are unable to make your own decisions. The former is known as a “durable” power of attorney, while the latter is a “springing” power of attorney. The durable power of attorney is the more effective of the two in that it requires no consideration of whether a person lacks the capacity to make decisions.

Also, consider setting up a trust to administer your assets as you age. Unlike a power of attorney, with a trust, the trustee has sole control of your assets. And there are further legal steps you can take, such as establishing a limited liability corporation or a family limited partnership to manage your assets.

All of these processes will prevent the need for a court to appoint a guardian for you if you become incapable of managing your own affairs. Those of us who are in our senior years should recognize the increasing chance of the need for someone else to make decisions. And those of us who have elderly parents or loved ones should help them think about these issues. The time to plan for potential incapacity is now. Once someone becomes incapacitated, it’s simply too late.

 

This article is a service of Tyler S. Hinz Personal Family Lawyer®.  One of the main objectives of our law practice is to keep families out of court and out of conflict through thoughtful estate planning. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ where we help you be proactive in avoiding guardianship and appointing people you trust to take care of you and your affairs if you later become unable to do so.  Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and identify the best strategies for you and your family.

 

Divorce After 50: Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Retirement

Beyond the emotional impact that divorce can have on couples of any age that decide to split, it can have a potentially devastating effect on the retirement plans of those who divorce later in life. Divorce after 50 usually results in a loss of income for both parties, which can mean working longer to fund a single retirement.

An article put out by Forbes.com from a couple years ago pointed out some common mistakes made by those over 50 who are divorcing that can ruin retirement plans:

Choosing the house over other assets. For many people, choosing the family home in a divorce is more of an emotional than a rational choice. If the housing bust of the last few years has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t count on a house as a nest egg. Plus, a house is likely to cost you more as well in property taxes, maintenance and unexpected expenses like a roof or furnace replacement. So don’t automatically sacrifice retirement assets for a house until you weigh the costs.

Forgetting to consider the tax implications of retirement assets. If you decide to divvy up retirement savings by one of you taking the 401(k) and the other taking the Roth IRA, you need to realize that these are not equal distributions. Withdrawals from a 401(k) or traditional IRA will be taxed during retirement, while withdrawals from a Roth IRA are not taxed during retirement. Therefore, the payout from the Roth IRA will be larger over time.

Rolling over a spouse’s retirement account into an IRA after the divorce. If you are under the age of 59 1/2 at the time of your divorce, you have a one-time opportunity to withdraw money from an ex-spouse’s 401(k) or 403(b) without having to pay the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty as long as those funds have been allocated to you under a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). If you do a rollover and need to tap the account early, you will have to pay the tax penalty. And while it may be tempting to dip into retirement savings now, remember that you are eroding the nest egg that needs to last you for 20-30 years in retirement.

If you would like to have a talk about retirement planning, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.

Why DIY Estate Planning is a Bad Idea

America is a nation of do-it-yourselfers, but building a deck and creating a legally valid estate plan are two entirely different things – and a less-than-perfect deck won’t devastate your family’s financial future or the relationships among the people you care about most.

The prevalence of online legal services has led many people to believe that they can create legal documents cheaply and those documents will be just as effective as if they had visited an estate planning attorney. And this is why that is wrong:

No legal advice – these sites are little more than document mills that churn out the same generic forms over and over. They are not attorneys and cannot advise or warn you if you make a mistake. Plus, who will be there for your family when something happens to you if you’ve used an online document drafting service? Think your family doesn’t need an advisor to support them when you are gone? Think again.

Consider this: Erica’s father was killed in a motorcycle accident. Dad didn’t leave much behind, but he did leave an estate plan prepared by a trusted family attorney. Had the family attorney not been there for Erica and her brother, they would have taken what dad did leave and drowned their sorrows in a European backpacking trip. Thanks to this family attorney, though, Erica and her brother now have a healthy trust fund set up for them for life with the proceeds of a successful wrongful death case. Leaving it to your family to know what to do after you’re gone is a big
mistake for the people you love.

One size doesn’t fit all – your family is different from everyone else’s family. Just like every state has different inheritance laws, every family has different situations. An online form will not help you protect a special needs child or relative, or protect a child’s inheritance from creditors or a nasty divorce. An online form cannot tell you how to protect assets from taxes or help you achieve your goals.

It’s also important to keep in mind that an online form cannot keep your family out of conflict during a time of grief. Even if you’re not leaving behind many assets, whatever you do have will be subject to distribution between the people you care most about. Some of the biggest disagreements aren’t about loads of money, but about the little things and those little things aren’t going to be dealt with well with form documents.

Save now, pay later – you may think you are saving money by using an online service to create your will or trust, but it is impossible to make a fair comparison since the services provided are entirely different.

An estate planning attorney creates an entire plan tailored to your individual needs in a legal document that will stand up in court, and advises you on ways to cut taxes and save for retirement and long-term care. No online service does that.

In addition, your trusted adviser is going to be there for your family when you cannot be. The people you love will need someone to turn to after you are gone. Do you want them to be stuck figuring out who that should be during their time of grief? Or do you want to leave behind the gift of having taken care of things well during your lifetime and a trusted adviser to hold their hand when you no longer can?

We invite you to take advantage of our specialized legal services for families with a Family Wealth Planning Session. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about designing an estate plan that fits the needs of you and your family.

WHY ESTATE PLANNING IS FOR LIFE, NOT DEATH

We know that no one likes to think about death, especially their own. Which is why many people procrastinate when it comes to estate planning. Because it’s for when you die, right? Wrong! When done with a Personal Family Lawyer, creating an estate plan makes your life better. Here are some of the things that estate planning does for you while you are
alive:

  • Gets you thinking about the real meaning of your life, what you want to pass on beyond your life and what’s most important to you to do now;
  • Gets you thinking about how you want to be cared for at the end of your life and lets you name someone to make those good decisions for you;
  • Has you think about your money, who you want it to go to, how you want it handled, what you want it to do in the world after you aren’t here;
  • Names someone to care for your children in case you can’t;
  • Helps you minimize taxes;
  • Lets you provide for a special needs child or other loved one without disrupting their governmental benefits;
  • Protects your assets from divorce – yours or your children’s – as well as lawsuits and creditors;
  • Enables you to gift portions of your estate to your children or charities while you are still alive in a tax-advantaged way that inspires wealth creation instead of depletion;
  • Helps you plan for your own long-term care in a way that won’t deplete your estate

Of course, having an estate plan also offers you peace of mind that you have done what you could to protect loved ones and pass on your assets efficiently after death. Having an estate plan in place before you pass guarantees that:

  • Your personal property and assets will pass to the people you want to have them
  • You spare your family the expense and pain of having to go through the probate process
  • Your minor children are provided for in the way you choose, with a guardian named to raise them with your values and a trusted adviser in place to manage their finances until they come of age
  • Your assets are protected for your heirs by setting up a trust with a distribution option for when they reach adulthood (or other milestones of your choice)
  • Beneficiaries have been named for retirement and other financial accounts as well as life insurance policies so the assets in these accounts go to the people you choose
  • The financial privacy of your family is protected

If you haven’t already, take the time to consider the many benefits of completing your estate plan. A well-crafted estate plan is more than just a stack of legal documents, it spells out how you will pass on your values, beliefs and your money to the people you love. Contact our office to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk and discover the many benefits of having your estate plan in place sooner rather than later.