Estate Plan

The Estate Planning Post Every Woman Should Read

Although it is typically couples who choose to establish their estate plans together; women are often the ones leading the discussion about guardianship of children while men are more concerned about financial planning. It is imperative however for women to be involved in every aspect of estate planning—even the financial aspects.

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Woman caring for her elderly mother

Tug of war, two businessman pulling a rope in opposite directions

Sentimental assets and your will or trust: when can someone challenge your wishes?

Many people believe that a simple statement in their will or trust such as, “tangible personal property should be divided as my heirs see fit” is enough to ensure their assets are properly or equitably dispersed after they pass. However, vague statements such as this can often lead to a host of potential conflicts.

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Woman Helping Senior Neighbor With Power of Attorney

Choosing a Durable Power of Attorney or Health Care Power of Attorney?

Here’s what you need to know. Some of the most requested documents in estate planning are those that assign a durable power of attorney and create a health care directive. California law provides the ability for you to make your wishes known well before tragedy strikes, leaving you unable to make financial and health care decisions for yourself.

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Senior Couple Getting Married In Beach Ceremony Looking At Each Other Smiling

What Are the Risks of Marrying Late in Life?

When you’re ready to get married, it is unlikely that you are “counting the costs” of marriage. However, when two people marry later in life, the financial costs can be significant. The older you are, the more likely you have acquired significant possessions, property, and assets. In addition, you may have children from previous relationships. It is important for couples to have difficult legal and financial conversations sooner than later.

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The Benefits of a Protective Trust

What does “irrevocable” really mean? It does not mean unchangeable, unamendable or that you’ve lost control of your assets or how they are invested, sold and/or refinanced. An irrevocable trust can be drafted so that you can have your cake and eat it too.

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Couple handshake with fiduciary at home

Asset Protection and Estate Planning Considerations for Business Owners

When you form a corporation around your business, you limit your personal liability. In other words, a corporation can protect your personal assets from the liability of a business lawsuit.

But what happens if you, the individual, are sued? The value of your business will be considered a personal asset and could very well be included in a judgment.

So not only do you need to protect your personal assets from your business liabilities, you need to protect your business from your personal liabilities as well.

Many business owners make the mistake of believing that a standard Trust will protect all of their assets. However, this is often not the case, especially for those who are business owners themselves.

You also need to know that a standard trust may not…

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Use your Estate Plan to share what you love with those who share the passion

Do you find peace on long hikes, slow bike rides or gardening? Do you love books or films, collect coins or stamps? What hobbies are you passionate about?

Whatever those loves, you likely shared them with some of the people close to you.

Those friends you hike with, bike with, or enjoyed the intricacies of coins with… These are people with whom your friendships are special.

As you create you Will, after going over your financial assets consider using your Estate Plan to go beyond — to pass your belongings to the great people you shared those hobbies with.

You can use it to say thank you to the people who have touched your life—by sharing something of that hobby or passion with.

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Client Spotlight – The Blantons

Eloise and Dr. Carlton Blanton — both graduates of Los Angeles’ USC — learned and recognized the value if having a great School Principal at early ages.

Knowing that a great principal is an important key to having a worthwhile school and motivated students, they have taken action to help find and build such principals.

The newly created Dr. Carlton and Eloise Blanton Endowed Scholarship at USC Rossier will specifically support students who aspire to be school principals. Their endowment of $160,000 to USC Rossier will support the studies of students who, as the Blantons put it, “€œhave resiliency, bounce back from adversity, are good listeners, and are highly motivated.”€

The Law Offices of Joe Girard is proud to be the legal counsel and trust advisors for these fine philanthropists for ten years now. Having helped them to plan their estate and build their wealth we continue as consultants on most of their legal and estate planning matters.

We invite you to read the entire article at

How to Prepare to Care for Aging Parents

If you are the child of parents who are currently over the age of 65 you’ve probably given a little bit of thought to the day when one (or both) of your parents may need Long Term Care.

Understandably, most adult children prefer not to think about the day when their parents may not be able to care for themselves, but in some cases it simply cannot be avoided, especially if your parent is already showing early signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

If you are concerned about your parent’s future, there are steps you can take now to make the transition to giving and receiving care later easier on both you and your parents.

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Support for Caregivers of Blended Families

We frequently help divorced or remarrying couples update their estate plans to protect their new blended families, so we know just how significantly the stress of divorce, family upheaval, and tighter finances can impact a family, and how those effects can last years into the future.

We have seen first-hand how the effects of divorce can continue to make waves 20 or even 30 years down the road — not just for the divorced couple, but for their grown children now acting as caregivers.

Adult children of divorced parents often find themselves …

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Don’t overlook memories as an important part of an Estate Plan

When thinking about an Estate Plan most people think primarily about their large financial assets: Real property, bank accounts, investment accounts, family businesses, etc.

Often though, the most heart-wrenching family rifts and disputes are not over the money, but over the little things that have little or no monetary value.

Your parents’ wedding rings, grandma’s heirloom candlesticks, mirror, or locket… These are the items that end up costing families more in harsh words, hurt feelings, and legal fees than any expensive property or valuable bank account.

These are the items that have a high emotional value — but many parents or grandparents don’t consider this when making out their Wills or Trusts.

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If you suspect a Will has been tampered with

The question of will forgery or undue influence of a Testator is not a common question, but one that does come up periodically in any Estate Planner’s office. The movies have given people certain expectations when it comes to a death in the family and probating a will: a book-lined office, the entire family assembled for a formal reading of the will, shocked and angry reactions as a loved one’s fortune goes to an unknown and unlikely character…

This Hollywood portrayal may be generally off base, but the basic premise is based on the very real feelings that come with the death of a loved one: helplessness, confusion, familial bonds, and sometimes even betrayal.

A Will doesn’t have to be forged for there to be strong feelings of anger or suspicion when the contents end up being different than the family was led to expect. And while forged or secret Wills may not be as common as the movies would have us believe, they aren’t completely unheard of either.

So what should you do if you suspect that the Will of a loved one has been forged or tampered with?

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Don’t let your valuable antiques end up in a yard sale

Have you seen Antiques Roadshow — the PBS TV show in which antique experts travel around the country to critique and appraise antiques brought in by local people? If so, you’ve seen people bring in an old knick-knack they found in grandma’s attic and discover it’s worth hundreds or thousands of dollars!

Now imagine that for every person who makes this valuable discovery on the show, there are at least three people who sell their own unrecognized treasure for a few dollars at a yard sale. It’s painful to consider, isn’t it?

How can you ensure that your family recognizes the value of your treasures?

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When is the Best Time to Plan Your Estate?

The estate tax laws of the past few years have been so inconsistent that many people are still “waiting for things to even out” before they create (or update) an estate plan. This wait-and-see approach seems perfectly reasonable on the surface; after all, nobody wants to spend hard-earned money creating an estate plan only to have it rendered obsolete within a year. Our firm is here to let you know that there’s bad news and there’s good news…

The bad news is that estate tax law doesn’t appear to be settling down any time soon. We all know the estate tax was repealed in 2010, and then reinstated in 2011. And now, as this article from AARP mentions, “federal estate tax rates are slated to change again in 2013, unless Congress decides otherwise.” Furthermore, there are quite a few other mercurial tax laws that have a significant impact on estate planning, including the capital gains tax and the gift tax, to name just two. Both of these factors mean that the future of estate planning is still cloudy.

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Baby Boomers Hurting Their Chances At Retirement

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, many Baby Boomers are no longer worried about when they will be able to retire, but if they will be able to retire at all. In many cases the reason for this worry stems not so much from any kind of selfish inability to save, but from a tendency to be too generous.

In addition to a growing trend (hinted at in the WSJ article above) of Baby Boomers tapping their own retirement funds to help pay for the care of their elderly parents, this article in USA Today warns of the all-too-common danger of Boomers shorting their own retirements to pay for their children’s college educations.

“People are willing to go to extreme measures because they value a college education so highly… Among parents who are planning for their children’s college, 24% say that they tap their retirement accounts. And that doesn’t reflect people who reduce or halt retirement contributions [to make tuition payments.]”

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Getting Started With Your Estate Planning

You’re either visiting our site because you know estate planning is the right thing to do or you’ll see why it’s important as you read our pages. But it’s one thing to know you need this and it’s another to actually get your Estate Plan in order. Estate Planning can feel overwhelming.

This is understandable, but we’re here to help. Meeting with us and speaking with us will take the edge off. It will help you to know what is best for you to do and will help you get started. If you choose to work with us, we’ll be with you every step of the way to determine your needs and work them out the best way for your situation. You don’t need to plan anything at all to come meet us. You certainly don’t need to stress.

But… for those of you who feel more comfortable planning ahead, here are some steps you can take to get started.

Write down your goals.

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