Forget the Big List: Try One Resolution This Year 

Posted by on Dec 16, 2019 in Legal News |

So, here’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions: they don’t always work out. Whether it’s a new diet, exercise plan, or attempt to become more organized, it’s not always easy to get a huge list of resolutions straightened out. Let us present to you a new idea: just one resolution. You can make the resolution to get your finances in order. This broad scope is not only going to be a huge accomplishment; it also will have a lot of long-term benefits.

The Problem with the Big List 

A New Year’s resolution list can operate somewhat like a “To-Do” list, though it’s couched in more goal-achieving language. If you’ve always disliked to-do lists, fear not: Harvard Business Review is on your side. Harvard Business Review did a study on the effectiveness of to-do lists and found that they “don’t work.” Your brain can really only handle seven options before it mentally checks out. When it does check out, you end up ticking off the easy things on the list for a quick dopamine rush, avoiding the bigger projects. 

An alternative to this is a different way to set goals: scheduling their completion at a certain time. So, if you choose to get your finances in order, you can schedule appointments with an estate planning attorney or sign up for money-management classes. This way, you avoid the to-do list rut and actually set yourself on a path to success.

What “Finances” to Get in Order

“Get your finances in order” can mean a lot of things. Whether you’re trying to cut spending or pay off bills, financial health involves a lot of different, occasionally unpleasant things. We’d all rather buy a fun gift for ourselves than pay off an overdue bill. However, financial healthiness is a goal that will involve some hard work.

Asset Protection 

One part of achieving financial health is asset protection, and this doesn’t have to be painful at all. Setting up an estate plan will allow you to decide where you want your assets to go after you die. It also allows you to set up end-of-life and sick care for yourself in the event that you become unwell. Another type of asset protection can involve setting up a trust for loved ones, thereby providing for their financial health too. That’s the beauty of this goal—it helps protect other people as well.

Figure Out What the Issue Is 

When it comes to achieving financial health, we usually have to figure out first what the problem is. Luckily, most of us probably have some sense of where the financial health issue is. If you don’t, go look at your bank account. That will tell you what you’ve been spending money on, whether it’s Amazon purchases or other needless spending. This will help you recognize where you need improvement. You can always talk to a financial advisor about getting yourself in check. Remember, this goal is more of a long-term one. 

Long- vs. Short-Term Thinking 

Just like the common goals of losing weight or eating healthy, achieving financial wellness is one of those goals that isn’t going to have immediate, drastic results right away. Often, you can simply chip away at problems until they become manageable. But that is a good start, in and of itself. Estate planning, especially, is a financial tool that will pay off in the long-term.

Hopefully, we’ve convinced you to give our way a try. Instead of big, exhaustive New Year’s list, which can seem daunting at worst and a throwaway item at best, try just one New Year’s resolution that will have long-term impacts: improving your finances. 

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How Grandparents Can Protect Their Assets 

Posted by on Dec 14, 2019 in Legal News |

As a grandparent (or a loved one of a grandparent), you know how much you love your grandkids. You want to be able to provide for them, at least in part, whether that involves time, attention, or even money. If you want to protect your assets and help your grandchildren out later, you can do so through the establishment of a trust. In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of establishing a trust for your grandkids. This is by no means an exhaustive look—it’s more of an overview—but it’ll get the basics down. 

What is a Trust? 

Essentially, a trust is a legal construct. It is a three-party relationship between you, your grandchildren, and a trustee. You transfer nominal title of the property to a trustee, who then transfers actual title of the property to your grandchildren at an agreed-upon time period. Sometimes, grandparents will choose certain milestones to release property or money to their grandchildren (eighteenth birthday, college graduation, etc.). Or, they’ll set aside money to be transferred when the grandchild is attempting to meet a specific goal, like buying a home or starting their own business.

How Do I Set One Up? 

Trusts aren’t too difficult to set up. An attorney will need to work with you to set one up, and you also might have to involve your bank to discuss investment options or other financial planning considerations. What is for sure is that you’ll need an attorney. An attorney will help you decide how you want to structure your trust. For example, if you set up a gift trust, you will not be able to revoke it and reclaim your money. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, there are other types of trusts you can create. However, the bottom line is that you will need a lawyer.

Types of Trusts


If you’re leaving money or assets to just a few grandchildren, you may consider setting up an individual trust for each grandchild. Grandparents usually put equal amounts of money into every grandchild’s trust. Again, this is dependent on what works best for your family size. A family pot type of trust is another option.


The family trust fund is another option. If you have a lot of people in your family (and thus a lot of beneficiaries), you might start a large fund and have your trustee distribute assets at certain times or upon certain occasions. This pot of money, so to speak, is a single trust for all your grandchildren and their descendants. Note that these trusts require the trustee to have a lot of discretion, so make sure you are okay with that. 

What Do These Include? 

Don’t worry—these trusts are not a free for all. You can set up your trust with instructions and rules that govern the disbursement of the money. For example, you might set up a milestone distribution program as discussed above, or you could set aside money to pay for college tuition. Involve your trustee in these discussions. 

Protecting the Trust

Last, but certainly not least, is the idea of protecting your trust.  Grandchildren don’t always behave according to plan. There might be substance abuse issues or similar problems that would caution a reasonable person to hold back on fund distribution. Again, this is where discretion to the trustee comes in handy. You can leave instructions with him or her to hold back on disbursing funds in the event of an issue with the proposed beneficiary.   

An estate planning attorney will help you work out the nitty-gritty. You will need to talk to your family and work with them to decide how you want to structure your trust and what specifications you need to think about. It goes without saying, but every family is different. Your family has its own set of challenges, and structuring a trust with those in mind will be a great long-term benefit.

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Gifts Are Good—A Secure Financial Future is Better

Posted by on Dec 11, 2019 in Legal News |

Let’s be honest: one of the best things about the holidays is the presents. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, gifts are bound to be at least a small part of the celebrations. When it comes to holiday spending, let us introduce another idea. While you can’t exactly wrap a “secure financial future” in a shiny box; you can still make that one of your gifts this year. Here’s how. 

Keeping Track of What Really Matters

When you get past the gifts and decorations, what really matters is family. You’ve probably been planning a family get-together over the holidays for some time now. We all want to catch up with relatives we don’t see often. So, as family is certainly one of the biggest reasons we’re all celebrating, it makes sense that a gift should include whatever benefits family most. And a secure financial future is one of the best ways to benefit your loved ones.

Benefits of an Estate Plan 

With an estate plan, things are not uncertain. You can divvy up where your assets will go after you pass on, and you will save your family the immense time and headache that comes from probate court (where people without an estate plan or only a partial one go). In probate court, a judge will divide up your assets, paying off your creditors first. Your family may not get anything. Through estate planning, you can use financial tools and trusts to transfer property to your family that creditors likely will not be able to touch. 

Who Can Set One Up?

Anyone can set up an estate planning appointment. You can set one up for your parents or grandparents, or you can set one up for yourself. Sometimes, people believe that they don’t need an estate plan because they don’t have much of an estate. That’s simply not true—you don’t to be millionaire (or even have a fraction of a million dollars) to get your affairs in order and plan for the future. Think about setting up an appointment for a loved one or for yourself.

Things to Think About

When you’re considering setting up an estate plan, it helps to go through your assets and family individually. This isn’t a small project. Estate plans also include directives for end-of-life and sick care. An estate plan can also include the appointment of a power of attorney. Make sure you talk with your family to keep them included in the estate plan. This is another reason why the holidays are the best time to take action. You’re already with your family, so that may help you get your bearings on how you want your estate plan to look.

Think in the Long Term 

Luckily, big project though it is, an estate plan is not a one-and-done deal. You and your attorney will create an estate plan together, but that certainly won’t be the end of the road. Families change over time, as do family dynamics. What you want at one point might not be what you want at another. Maybe you will decide to change your power of attorney or add on a new person to receive an inheritance. Again, this is a long-term process. While it doesn’t have to be arduous (and it usually is not), you don’t have to worry about getting it 100% complete the first time you take a crack at it.

Hopefully, we’ve managed to convince you (at least a little) of the benefits of including your loved ones in an estate plan this year. While this might not seem flashy, it is a gift that will last a lifetime—and beyond.

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