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Happy Thanksgiving Questionnaire

TurkeyIf you’ll see your parents (or your adult children) on Thanksgiving, you might want to leave ‘em a copy under their plate.

Dear ______________ (you fill in the blank),
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we want to let you know that we are thankful in advance that you’ll read this letter. (We know you won’t want to discuss this, but we really need to.) And we’re making it as easy as possible for you to fill out; just check the boxes you like. You can also add in any words you wish.

So:
☐ I don’t have a Will.
☐ I have a Will but I don’t have the faintest idea where it is. [Read more…]

Avoid the Asset Hassle, Courtesy of Uncle Pennybags

Piggy bankBeware the hassle assets. They are called that because if you inherit some, you will jump hoops, go down chutes and climb up ladders to get these assets into your name.

The corollary: if you own hassle assets now, do your spouse and estate recipients an enormous favor, and deal with these assets now, while you can. Prevent the legal zoo. We’ll explain how below.

Let’s contemplate your rich Uncle Pennybags, who has received huge royalties over the years as his picture has appeared since 1936 on millions of Monopoly boards, Community Chest and Chance Cards. (You thought it was Warren Buffett?)

Uncle Richie (as you called him) was a sophisticated investor; no Baltic Avenue for him in the real world.  Instead, he bought into companies which owned mineral rights in Georgia and oil well interests in Texas. He also bought a couple of shares in a company producing a Broadway musical. And yes, he had a part-interest in an assisted living facility on Marvin Gardens.

So when Pennybags died, his estate owned 1.6% of a Georgia partnership trying to sift kaolin out of dirt, 0.875% of a Texas venture owning a semi-dry oil well, and 3% royalties from whenever their musical was performed, whether in local high schools or foreign countries. [Read more…]

Three Reasons You Still Need a Will, Regardless of the Estate Tax

FamilyWe heard so much about the “Fiscal Cliff” a few months back, and after all that talk and all the headlines, for most people, the change in the Estate Tax didn’t really change a thing — you still need a Will. Here’s why.

1. The Estate Tax doesn’t decide who raises your children.
We hear it all the time: “I don’t have any assets so I don’t need a Will.” But you do have children, and the change in the Estate Tax isn’t going to name guardians to take care of them if something happens to you.

When both parents die, the Georgia Probate Court will look to see who the parents named as guardians for their children in their Wills. If there are no Wills, then the Probate Court decides who will raise them.

Even if you aren’t sure about the person you choose, you are going to make a better informed choice than a Judge who never met you, and won’t meet your children, your in-laws, siblings, and parents until the Probate Court hearing where they’ll be fighting it out. [Read more…]

Even You (Yes, You!) Can Create an Endowment

Money with bowYes you can.

We’ve given out the candy on All Hallow’s Eve. We’ve harvested and given thanks. Soon we’ll share good tidings of comfort and joy.

So this is a perfect time to consider a painless way to do something charitable. Actually, two painless ways.

One way is not going to cost you a penny more than what you are spending already.

The other way will cost you next to nothing.

Neither way will change your cash flow during your lifetime. And when you die, you’ll trigger a spectacular donation to the charity of your choice for any purpose you specify. Voilà: your personal endowment.

Here’s how this happens. [Read more…]

Questions are welcome.
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