The Dangers of "DIY" Estate Planning

By | COVID-19, Estate Planning, Healthcare documents, Preparedness | No Comments

In response to fear, anxiety, and the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are scrambling to create hasty estate plans, including end-of-life directives.  According to a recent online article, several companies have seen a spike in creation of online, Do-It-Yourself (“DIY”) wills, powers of attorney and health care documents.

When bad things happen, fear can motivate us to take action. Although fear is a great motivator,  rushing to put together a hasty DIY plan could result in unexpected consequences.

In 2016, my grandfather was scheduled for surgery and was told by his doctor that his healthcare documents were outdated, and that he would need to execute new documents. Fear and urgency made him rush to put together new estate planning documents and healthcare directives.

Instead of seeking the advice of a qualified estate planning attorney, my grandfather completed fill-in-the-blank forms online. The online “package” consisted of a statutory healthcare directive, a statutory Living Will, Medical Treatment Plan, Special Power of Attorney, and a Last Will and Testament.

To most people this would seem like a pretty straight forward and comprehensive plan. However, by filling out this DIY package, my grandfather completely unraveled his intended estate plan, which caused additional delay and resulted in expensive litigation.

Through the DIY package, my grandfather unintentionally gave the entire estate to his then current wife, which contradicted his previously established trust, letters, notes, and other documents evidencing his intent to distribute 50% of the estate to his wife and 50% equally to his children.

At Morris Hall, PLLC we have been helping families plan for life’s uncertainties for 50 years. During this novel time, our entire Morris Hall team remains ready to serve you. We encourage you to take action and create an estate plan that brings peace to yourself and your family. Don’t let fear paralyze you or cause you to make hasty decisions. We want you and your family to avoid the unnecessary costs, delay, and uncertainty that result from DIY estate plans.

Call to schedule a phone or video consultation with one of our qualified and caring attorneys to have your current estate plan reviewed or to establish a new estate plan that accomplishes your goals.

 

Call 888-222-1328 or email us at info@morristrust.com

 

William “Bill” Morgan Joins Morris Hall

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

PHOENIX –Morris Hall is proud to announce the addition of William A. Morgan to its practice.

Bill practices in the areas of sophisticated estate planning and administration, estate tax, and income tax planning for families and their businesses. His wide-ranging representation and advocacy of clients has afforded him considerable experience before the IRS and multiple state tax agencies. Bill has advised and assisted clients in all stages of estate and tax planning, from designing, drafting and implementing estate and gift plans in partnership with clients and their advisors, to administering the plans through multiple generations, including preparing estate and income tax returns.

Bill received his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University, and then obtained his Juris Doctor and Master of Laws in Taxation from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. Bill is an active member of the State Bar of Arizona and of the State Bar of Massachusetts.

Bill will focus on serving the Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and East Phoenix areas.

Welcome, Bill!

Bill Morgan
(602) 249-1328
7600 N. 16th Street, Ste. 105
Phoenix, AZ 85020


Morris Hall, PLLC, has offices throughout Arizona and New Mexico, including Phoenix, Tucson, Oro Valley, Mesa, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, Scottsdale, Carefree, Surprise, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces. Celebrating its 50th year, its sole commitment to estate planning matters has helped thousands of families meet their long-term estate and financial goals. The firm is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA).  AAEPA is an organization serving the needs of legal professionals concentrating on estate planning. Through the AAEPA’s comprehensive training, educational programs, and state-of-the-art estate planning techniques, the academy fosters excellence among its members and helps them deliver the highest quality estate planning services to their clients.

Estate Planning and COVID-19

By | Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Healthcare documents, Life Care Planning, Uncategorized | No Comments

Estate Planning and COVID-19  -  Preparing for the Coronavirus

By now, many people throughout the world are aware of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). It first appeared in Wuhan, China in late 2019, and was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019. Since that time, it has made its way into the United States, and is the cause of much disruption to the everyday living we’re accustomed to.

COVID-19 is serving as a wake-up call to many people to get their estate plans in order. No matter who you are, it is crucial to know the answer to the following question: who will handle my bills, taxes, and other financial obligations if I become ill or temporarily incapacitated?

Regardless of health or wealth, everyone should have these three basic estate planning documents:

  • Property Power of Attorney. This document allows your agent to pay your bills and make other time-sensitive financial decisions during your incapacity.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney. This document allows your agent to work with medical professionals to make health-related decisions on your behalf if you were unable to do so.
  • HIPAA Form. This form authorizes those you designate to access your protected health information.

Taking simple precautions will allow you to sleep easier and help you weather this and future storms of uncertainty.  If you would like to discuss these, or other estate planning documents that are right of you, please contact our offices for a complimentary consultation.  Our office is currently not accepting in-person consultations as an abundance of caution.  We are happy to consult with you via telephone or video-conference to help ensure your health and safety. Please call our offices at 888-222-1328 or schedule a meeting online by clicking here

While there is presently no vaccine for COVID-19, the CDC has provided the following recommendations regarding prevention:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Estate Planning Attorney, William Morgan.

About Morris Hall, PLLC:
Morris Hall, PLLC has focused its legal practice on estate planning for 50 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 estate planning matters. 

 

Morris Hall, PLLC

Offices in AZ and NM  888.222.1328 

How Proper Estate Planning Can Protect What is Important to You

By | Asset Protection, Estate Planning, Uncategorized | No Comments

There is a better way to plan, whether you have no plan, are planning with a Will, or are planning with a Trust, we want to make sure your plan works for you.

One way to plan is with a living trust. A trust is a legal document that not only controls the distribution of your assets after you are gone, but also provides protections to handle your affairs if you are incapacitated. A trust can also shield assets from lawsuits, creditors, it can protect the inheritance your beneficiaries receive in the event of a divorce or bankruptcy.  Not all trusts are created equal. With proper estate planning, the attorneys at Morris Hall, can put a plan together that protects what is important to you.

Morris Hall, has been providing quality legal services since 1970. Our goal at Morris Hall is to make sure our clients have the peace of mind in knowing that their legacies and loved ones are protected.

When you meet with an attorney at Morris Hall, we will discuss your individual needs, address your concerns, and tailor an estate plan custom to your wishes. Our job as attorneys is not to simply be scriveners, our job is to listen and provide feedback and guidance. As counselors, we are trained to listed to our clients, address their concerns as well as provide guidance and help them address risks that they may not have considered.

Let me give you a real-life personal example. My grandfather, had his estate plan written by a local attorney who also happened to be a member of his church. For those who may not know, once you successfully obtain your license as an attorney you can practice in ANY area of law. This particular attorney happened to focus his practice on DUI/DWI cases not estate planning. My grandfather told this attorney he wanted his estate to be split equally between his wife (my grandfather was remarried and his wife was his second wife) and his five kids. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong, since this attorney did not focus his practice on estate planning, he was not familiar with all the nuances that go into a proper estate plan. So as opposed to counseling my grandfather, the attorney acting as a scrivener drafted the plan exactly as outlined by my grandfather. Below is a copy of the portion of the document (names have been redacted to protect the identities of the parties).

Well, my grandfather’s good intentions to provide for his children and his wife were quickly unraveled. After my grandfather passed away his estate became a nightmare to administer. Since the trust directed that the assets be split equally between the surviving spouse and his kids, his wife now owns her home 50% with her five step children. And not only that, one of the kids is getting divorced and the other one has filed bankruptcy and their soon to be ex-spouse and creditors now can try to attach their claims to this interest in the property they inherited.

Had my grandfather sought the advice of an attorney who practiced in estate planning he could have received better advice to protect what was important to him. An experienced estate planning attorney would have recognized this issue and drafted the trust in a way to provide for the surviving spouse and children in a way that would not have required them to have a 50/50 interest in the residence. An experienced attorney would have also spotted the issues with the children (one who has been divorced 4 times and the other who has filed bankruptcy and has several creditors) and drafted a trust that would have protected their inheritance.

Moral of the story is that anyone can draft a will or a trust BUT only an experienced estate planning attorney can draft a PROPER plan to adequately address your needs and protect what is important to you.  

 

Contributed by Morris Hall, PLLC Estate Planning Attorney, Lisa Y. Wynn.

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.  Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Carefree, Tucson, Oro Valley, Prescott, Flagstaff, Sedona and Surprise.  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.

Phoenix trust lawyers

Can a Trust Help Keep My Gifts Private?

By | Probate | No Comments

or most people, one of the primary motivations for creating an estate plan is to ensure that their estate assets are distributed according to their wishes after they are gone. Most people also use a Last Will and Testament as the estate planning tool of choice to achieve that goal – at this in their initial estate plan. As your estate and your family grow, however, you may recognize the need to expand your estate plan as well.

Read More
living trust attorneys

Charitable Trusts Explained

By | Charitable Giving | No Comments

Are you a philanthropist at heart? If so, giving is likely part of every aspect of your life. You undoubtedly have several charities or causes that are dear to your heart and to which you devote both time and money on a regular basis. If so, you also probably wish to include those causes in your estate plan as well. Including outright gifts to your chosen charities is one simple way to accomplish that goal; however, it is neither the only way nor the best way for most people to incorporate charitable gifting in their estate plan.

Read More