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Bay Area Estates and Tax Law Blog

The divorce-estate planning link: be mindful of it

Kudos to any couple that has the foresight to execute a well-considered estate plan during marriage, especially married partners with children. Despite their best intentions, many spouses don’t get around to crafting a strategy that addresses life’s core concerns and safeguards against the downsides.

Sound and timely estate administration protects assets, helps ensure their future distribution and lawfully minimizes tax outlays. It also designates trusted parties to act on behalf of planners concerning key financial and health matters during periods of incapacity or upon death. Among other things, such appointments grant powers of attorney to responsible third parties over money matters, end-of-life considerations and crucial issues concerning children’s best interests.

Don’t hesitate to ask your would-be estate planner tough questions

If all lawyers in a select practice area were the same, choosing legal counsel would hardly be a chore, would it? An individual or family seeking assistance would merely need to highlight the first name on a list and pick up the phone.

Real life is not that simple, though, as we all know. The reality underscoring any attorney list is that competencies vary among practitioners. So too do important things like passion, sustained focus and a commitment to securing best-case results in every client matter.

Why communicate with estate planning counsel during divorce?

It’s quite likely that most divorcing California residents will want to secure help from an experienced family law attorney. After all, there is often a lot to think about and manage when a marriage comes to an end, ranging from child-centric matters (e.g., custody and support) to marital asset distribution.

The role of proven legal counsel in that process can be centrally important. Notably, too, the same is often true concerning the input of another professional. We duly note on our website at the Bay Area Law Offices of Connie Yi that “if you are divorcing, be certain your divorce attorney is not the only attorney you receive legal advice from.”

No estate plan is forever viable: when to update key documents

Many people feel justifiably proud -- as well as relieved – following their completion of a sound and comprehensive estate plan.

And they should, obviously. Knowing that key life objectives have been promoted through the execution of a tailored and well-crafted legal strategy is immensely comforting to legions of individuals and families.

Understanding adult children and sources of conflict

Trying to create a conflict-free estate plan is difficult, and it's not just the plan you have to think about. Sure, it is important to avoid potential conflicts over issues like unequal bequests or the division of sentimental assets, and you need to keep that in mind when drafting your plan. But it also goes beyond that.

What you really need to think about is why adult children don't get along with each other in the first place. The family dynamics are very important. Often, these conflicts really come to a head during the estate administration process, but that does not mean they're new. They could have been lurking beneath the surface or even overtly influencing your heirs' relationships for years. They just become more obvious when there is money on the line.

IRS offshore tax program now gone: What has replaced it?

Hope and horror. Those two extremes coexisted in a concededly strange way in the details of a long-tenured Internal Revenue Service program that was just recently terminated.

That initiative was termed the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program. We occasionally spotlighted the OVDP in past blog posts. Most recently, we noted in our September 17 entry that the longtime IRS mainstay was set for imminent closure.

A continued look at ABLE and its utility as an estate planning tool

We spotlighted the ABLE program in our previous blog post. We noted in our December 11 entry that this federal government initiative can provide valuable benefits for disabled individuals and their families.

ABLE does so by enabling eligible claimants to make non-deductible contributions into accounts that let them grow tax-free. Account holders can apply distributions from savings vehicles (also without tax consequences) toward a wide-ranging list of so-called “qualified disability expenses.”

What is an ABLE account, and might it be relevant for your family?

First of all, let’s get that ABLE acronym straight.

The ABLE Act is federal legislation that was passed back in 2014 during the Obama presidential administration. The commonly used shorthand designation does have a formal tag, which is Achieving a Better Life Experience.

What can you expect in a candid sit-down with estate planning counsel?

We alluded to year-end resolutions in our immediately preceding blog post, noting in our November 27 entry that many good-faith planners resolutely try "to stay on top of important things in life."

We get that many individuals and families find that hard to do when it comes to estate planning. The age-old perception that the subject matter is simply for "old" and relatively well-heeled people and all about death and taxes can be hard to shake.

Scratching off that year-end list: Time to talk estate planning?

Kudos for you if you’re a good-faith planner who truly does try to stay on top of important things in life. Perhaps you have some sort of to-do list that you periodically adjust and try to stay tracked in on throughout the year.

Many people do, of course, whether on a computer spreadsheet or a scratched-through index card that follows them around in a shirt or blouse pocket from day to day.

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