Time Flies

By | Celebrity Estates, E-Alert, Estate Planning, Other | No Comments

As April showers are springing into May flowers, I realize how quickly life moves.  It seems only yesterday that we were taking down the Christmas tree, and now we are quickly moving into summer vacations.  The way time slips past, I realize more and more the importance of what I get to do for a living:  I get to help people and their families plan and prepare for life’s most difficult times.  As an estate planning attorney, I get to mitigate the harshness of dealing with death or incapacity, and allow the families to concentrate on what is most important – the people.

I was flipping through an article about some of the famous people who have died in 2015.  It is an amazing list, some very influential people in their respective fields, from Andrew Lesnie to Stuart Scott to Ernie Banks.  One of the things I noticed was that death does not have an entry age.  Unfortunately, we are all prone to that one moment that takes us from this life.  The question becomes what have you left for your loved ones to deal with?

Losing someone is hard enough without the hassles and headaches of dealing with that person’s estate, if not planned properly.  Proper planning is important at every age because it means that you have the plan to handle your specific set of circumstances and goals to make it easier on your loved ones if you were to become incapacitated or pass away.

The good thing is that you each have the power to get the legal advice and put a proper plan in place.  But it is up to you.  You have to make the call.  You don’t have to, and you shouldn’t “wait until you retire”.  Time moves quickly, and life is unpredictable.  Take the few moments to get your plan in place, so you will be able to enjoy life with the peace of mind you deserve because you did more than leave your loved ones an inheritance.  You left them a legacy.

 jim-plitz Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces estate planning attorney, and partner, James P. Plitz.

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall, PLLC Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

The King’s Estate – B.B. King, That Is

By | Estate Planning, Estate taxes, Guardianship, Healthcare documents, Living Will | No Comments
SAN RAFAEL, CA - FEBRUARY 26: B.B. King performs at Marin Center on February 26, 2014 in San Rafael, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/WireImage)

SAN RAFAEL, CA - FEBRUARY 26: B.B. King performs at Marin Center on February 26, 2014 in San Rafael, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/WireImage)

Even before blues legend B. B. King passed on May 15, 2015 at the age of 89, dark clouds hung over his estimated $10 million estate.

King is survived by eleven of his children, though King granted Power of Attorney to his longtime business manager, Laverne Toney.  About a month ago, one of King’s daughters, Patty King, filed elder abuse charges against Toney.   Ms. King alleged her father needed medical attention and pleaded with Toney to have her father taken to a hospital.  When Toney allegedly refused, police and paramedics were called to the scene..

Three of King’s children, Patty King, Karen Williams, and Rita Washington, had previously filed elder abuse and robbery charges against Toney back in November, claiming Toney had appropriated $20-30 million from their father, had been withholding his medication while on tour, and stolen several Rolex watches and other jewelry valued at $250,000; those charges were ultimately dismissed by the court.

Shirley King, another of King’s daughters, has taken to Facebook throughout this ordeal to publicly voice her outrage at Toney for his poor treatment of her father and allegedly keeping friends and family from seeing King in his final days.

Toney maintains that all of these claims against him are false, the desperate attempts of King’s children to dog-ear as much of their father’s money and future music royalties for themselves.

This is not the legacy that most of us hope to leave behind, and Mr. King’s Estate has not even been opened yet.

There is no amount of fame or money that can protect us from the issues that can arise around the settling an estate. Millions of dollars and good intentions cannot take the place of good, thorough estate planning.  Creating an estate plan can be an uncomfortable thought experiment that many avoid until it is too late.  Plus, once we begin creating an estate plan, many select their agents for Powers of Attorney or Executors based on our current predicaments – when we are able-bodied, in control of many of our affairs, and perhaps have not fully considered whether those we have selected will continue to honor our wishes and best interests when we are no longer there to watch over them.  The simple truth is that it can be hard for all of us to imagine the world without us in it.  Proper consideration and a thorough estate plan can help to minimize these sorts of ugly exchanges among your loved and trusted ones, if not prevent them altogether.

For once we pass, our plans are set in stone, and at that point, as the song goes, the thrill is gone.

 

Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC, Heidi Harris.

 About Morris Hall, PLLC:
At Morris Hall, PLLC we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 45 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects.  We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

 

 

8 Estate Planning Things to Do Before You Travel

By | Attorney David Eastman, Estate Planning, Healthcare documents, Other, Planning Ahead: One Week at a Time, Preparedness | One Comment

Does your estate plan (or lack thereof) come to mind every time you board a plane or embark on a long drive? That’s because when we travel, many of us are reminded of our own mortality and the remote but real possibility that we might not return due to death or illness.

Before any trip, most of us create a “to-do list” of things we have put off and want to take care of before we leave. Here, then, is a checklist of estate planning things to do before your next trip. Taking care of these will help you travel with peace of mind, knowing that if you don’t return, you have made things much easier for those you love.

1. Have your estate planning done. If you have been procrastinating about your estate planning, use your next trip as your deadline to finally get this done. If you don’t have an attorney, ask friends and acquaintances for referrals. If you aren’t sure about some decisions, your attorney can help you. If money is tight, start with what you can afford (a will, power of attorney, health care documents) and upgrade to a living trust when you can. Be sure to allow adequate time to get your estate plan completed in advance of your trip.

2. Review and update your existing estate plan. Revisions should be made any time there are changes in your family (birth, death, marriage, divorce, remarriage), your finances, tax laws, or if a trustee or executor can no longer serve. Before you travel is a perfect time to do this. Again, be sure to allow enough time to have the changes made.

3. Review titles and beneficiary designations. If you have a living trust and did not finish changing titles and/or beneficiary designations, now is the time to do so. Some assets should not go into your trust, so check with your attorney and make sure those are as they should be. If a beneficiary has died or if you are divorced, change these immediately. Also, if your beneficiary is incapacitated or is a minor, setting up a trust for this person and naming the trust as beneficiary will prevent the court from taking control of the proceeds.

4. Review your plan for minor children. If you haven’t named a guardian who is able and willing to serve and something happens to you, the court will decide who will raise your kids without your input. If you have named a guardian, consider if this person is still the best choice. The person you name when your children are small may not be the best choice as they get older. This person may also change his/her mind, move away, become ill or die, so name at least one back-up in case your first choice cannot serve. Select someone responsible to manage the inheritance.

5. Review and update incapacity documents. Everyone in your family over the age of 18 needs to have these: 1) Durable Power of Attorney for Heath Care, which gives another person legal authority to make health care decisions (including life and death decisions) for you if you are unable to make them for yourself; and 2) HIPPA Authorizations, which give written consent for doctors to discuss your medical situation with others, including family members.

6. Review and update your insurance. Before you travel is an excellent time to do this. Check the amount of your life insurance coverage and see if it still meets your family’s needs. Consider getting long-term care insurance to help pay for the costs of long-term care (and preserve your assets for your family) in the event you and/or your spouse should need it due to illness or injury.

7. Organize your accounts and documents. This is an excellent thing to do before you travel, and it will make things much easier for your trustee/administrator. It used to be that we could just point to a file cabinet and say everything was “in there.” But now so much is done online that there may not even be a paper trail. Make a list of ALL of your accounts, where they are located, and the user names and passwords, then review and update it before each trip. Print a hard copy in case your computer is stolen or crashes and let someone you trust know where to find it. Clean up your computer desktop and put your financial and other important files where someone can easily find them. Make a back-up copy in case your computer is stolen or crashes, and let someone know where to find it. Be sure to include on your master list any passwords that might be needed to access your computer and files.

8. Talk to your children about your plan. You don’t have to show them bank and financial statements, but you can talk in general terms about what you are planning and why, especially when any changes are made. The more they understand your plan, the more likely they are to accept it—and that will help to avoid discord after you are gone. You can also talk to them about your values and the opportunities that money can provide.

dave-eastman  Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Arrowhead, Phoenix and Scottsdale Estate Planning Attorney and Partner, David T. Eastman.

Why Choose Morris Hall, PLLC:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall?  First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters.  Also, Morris Hall is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones.  We are one of only three firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership.  If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with Morris Hall.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

 

The IRS is nice?

By | Attorney Andrea Claus, Attorney David Eastman, Estate taxes, Trust Administration | No Comments

Did you know the IRS is nice?  It must sound as strange to read as it is to write.  But in this one instance the IRS does a very nice thing for the loved ones of a person who passes away:  There is a step-up in cost basis for all assets included in the decedent’s estate.

The easier way to understand it is that if the person who dies owns something, capital gains is effectively wiped out.  That’s right, capital gain tax will be zeroed out as of the day the person died.

Even better is that for married couples in New Mexico and Arizona, the same thing happens when we lose our spouse – the entire estate (all of our assets) are “stepped-up”.  This is because the IRS treats community property differently than separate property (Arizona and New Mexico are two of the nine community property states in the country).

But there are traps for the unwary.  We have clients who have given property to their adult children, trying to “make things easier”, and what ends up happening is when that property is sold, the kids are stuck with a large capital gains tax bill.   The gift was not only the property, but also the cost basis in that property.

Setting up your estate plan is, in part, getting your wishes documented. But it is also to take advantage of the laws and privileges that are on the books.  Come in and discuss your goals and our team of experienced estate planning attorneys can help create your plan to work within the law, and even to let your loved see that the IRS can be nice.

jim-plitz    Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC  Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces Estate Planinng Attorney and Partner, James P. Plitz.

   About Morris Hall, PLLC:
At Morris Hall, PLLC we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 45 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects.  We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

Self-Directed IRAs – the Lurking Danger

By | E-Alert, Retirement Planning | No Comments

IRAs are a great way to defer current income tax into the future.  By contributing to your IRA, the amount contributed is not taxed today.  The tax is deferred until the time you start withdrawing (Currently the government forces a withdrawal when you are 70 ½ years old).

The government likes that you are saving for your golden years, so there are statutes that limit the ability of a creditor (bankruptcy or lawsuit) to reach into your IRA to satisfy your debt.  That is a good thing!

However, those of you who have decided to utilize a self-directed IRA may not realize that those protections may not be there.  The statutes don’t go away; however, if the investments you make have a liability risk, the fact that the investment is in an IRA does not shield the asset, and potentially you personally, from that risk.

For example, if you decide to use your Self-Directed IRA to purchase a rental home, the risk that the tenant, or a visitor of the tenant, sues you lurks.  If that tenant slips and falls due to your negligence as a landlord, the fact that the investment is in your IRA does not prevent the prevailing tenant from getting at the rental home.  Further, there are arguments that the tenant, if the rental home asset is not enough, can reach to your personal assets to satisfy the claim.

There are ways to avoid those risks.  Protecting your investments through the use of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a good way to reduce your exposure to those lawsuits.

Come in and talk with one of our estate planning attorneys to see what is the best structure for your investments.

 

jim-plitz Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces Estate Planning Attorney and Partner,

James  P. Plitz.

 

 About Morris Hall, PLLC:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 45 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects.   We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa,  Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in  Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

What Is Your Exit Plan? If You’re In Arizona and New Mexico, You Need One!

By | Business Planning | No Comments

I recently read an article in Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star about the need for an exit plan. As an Arizona estate planning attorney, I am very familiar with the need for all business owners to plan for the time when they can’t, or don’t want to, run their businesses.

Mimi, the owner of my favorite Tucson corner café, needs to plan for who will run the café if she were to become seriously injured. Who would Mimi’s husband depend on to keep the business profitable while Mimi is recovering?

John, my auto mechanic in Sonoita, should have a plan so that Carl, his business partner, can buy out John’s interest in the business when John passes. Will Carl have enough cash to pay for the business? Will Carl have enough cash to hire someone to replace John in the shop?

John and Mimi should do what Tom, my dry cleaner did with his business. Well before Tom wanted to retire, Tom created a buy/sell agreement with his key employees. The agreement provided that if and when Tom wanted to sell his business, he would sell the business at a fair price and terms, determined at the time of the sale by a formula in the buy/sell agreement and by the fair market value of the business at the time of sale. Tom and his key employees ran the business for as long as Tom wanted to be involved, with Tom teaching his key employees how to keep the business successful after Tom left.

When Tom decided it was time to retire, he didn’t hesitate to sell his business to his key employees. Since they had already agreed on the terms of the sale, the transfer of the business went as smoothly as the hum of Tom’s new sportscar.

So, what is your exit plan? For your business? For your life? If you don’t have one, are you going to wait until you are seriously ill, or worse? Better yet, come and see us, the experts at Morris Hall, to talk about your exit plan. But do it now, before it’s too late!

About Morris Hall:

At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, powers of attorney, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation. 

Go Red for Women

By | MH Cares, Other | No Comments

 

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States.  One in three women will die of stroke or heart disease each year.  A major part of the prevention of this terrible disease is being aware. Knowing what to do, how to identify risks and implementing the plan allows each of us to live longer and healthier lives.

 

The American Heart Association strives for this awareness.  President Obama has declared February as American Heart Month.  And one of the first events is this Friday, February 6thNational Wear Red Day.

 

Help spread the awareness.  All you have to do is wear red.  Put on that red dress, don that red blazer or accessorize with the red tie or purse.  Show your support of this wonderful cause.  Show your support of all those people who have overcome and now survive and thrive.  Show your support of all those families who have lost a loved one to this dreaded disease.

 

Show your support by wearing red.

 

In my role as an estate planning attorney, I get to see all the good that people do for these great causes.  And I see the impacts that this support has on the families of those affected.

 

Let us all join together and wear red.

 

Contributed by MH Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces Estate Planning Attorney, James P. Plitz.

 

About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years.  Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects.  We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

MH: Proud Sponsor of Channel 8 Arizona Collectibles

By | Attorney Andrea Claus, Attorney David Eastman, Other | No Comments

 

MH is proud to be a Premier sponsor of the 8 AZ PBS Show "Arizona Collectibles"!

 

Eight, Arizona PBS invites collectors throughout Arizona to apply for an opportunity to attend a weekend evaluation event, where they can meet with professional appraisers and possibly showcase their antiques.  Filming will be April 11th and 12th and the second season premiers in fall 2015.   If you would like to attend, visit AZ PBS here.

Did you miss a show in the first season?  Eight, Arizona PBS is running encore shows every Thursday at 7:30 pm and 10:30 am on Saturdays.

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