ASK TOM: To Give or Not to Give Big Gifts?

A Time to Give: If one spouse has a catastrophic illness or is trending in that direction (say due to declining ability to keep track of things), it is a time to consider large gifts.  The gifts are expedient if there is no resource with which to pay nursing home care as the sick spouse becomes worse.  The well spouse can in that situation become impoverished.  Governmental benefits for nursing home care for patients in severe need require the property of both spouses to be used for the help of the ill spouse. A solution is to immediately make large...Read More

Ask Tom: What are the advantages and disadvantages of a pot trust?

What is a pot trust? A pot trust is a trust for children, who are still depending on their parents who passed away before the children reach adulthood. The purpose of a pot trust is so the trustee can determine the financial needs of the children who still haven’t made it to adulthood. Essentially the trustee decides who gets specific amounts of money and what they need it for. Say one of the children breaks their arm and he/she does not have the money to go to the doctor. The trustee is able to acknowledge the need of this specific...Read More

ASK TOM: What is a Living Trust?

One of the most common questions I hear when people are discussing planning their estate is, “Should I have a living trust?”  My short answer to you is, “Yes.”  In general, but not always, the approach for people who own their home and have some is investments is, “Yes.”  I will explain why, but first let’s look at the two other ways to leave the estate. The property passes by will. The property passes by its title terms, for example if the home is in joint tenancy, it passes to the surviving joint tenant, if any. The property passes without...Read More

ASK TOM: Are Prenuptial Agreements Really Necessary?

You are getting married — for the second time.  While everyone is congratulating you on finding love again, your children are encouraging you to complete a prenuptial agreement.  Why are your children so concerned about your new life?  Are they overreacting? Most children who have experienced a parent in a second marriage attest it is a time of happiness and excitement.  They want their parent to be happy, but there are many underlying concerns that can be a white elephant in the room during conversation.  For instance, children from a previous marriage may feel threatened their perceived “inheritance” will go...Read More

Ask Tom: What Should I Know About Wills and Probate?

Most of us have a basic understanding of Wills and Probate but sometimes that knowledge is as basic as Wills are good, Probate is bad.  While there is some validity to that thought process, here are a few misconceptions: If I die without a will, the probate process will take years.  The probate process, while time consuming, does not have to take years.  The biggest delay is the time given to creditors to file claims.  Once that time has passed, and the Personal Representative has paid legally enforceable bills and taxes, a final distribution can be made and the estate can...Read More
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