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Financial Planning

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 

Could You Become Too Affluent for Social Security?

By | Financial Planning, Other, Retirement Planning | 6 Comments

Social Security has been in our country since 1935, and for some, a resource that has been counted upon at retirement.  Currently there is consideration being given to reducing the amount of Social Security that is paid out.  Congress is evaluating the use of a means test to do so.   No one knows if means testing will become a reality, but the discussions that are taking place warrant further exploration and understanding.

A means test is simply a process of looking at income, and based on certain criteria, determines if social security is needed.  For example, one plan being considered would reduce Social Security by $1,000 per month, for every $1,000 of income that is non-Social Security income received over $55,000.

The idea of the means test was originally based upon some language found in the 2015 US budget proposal. The proposal was aimed toward reducing the aggressive Social Security claims, occurring when some are claiming benefits.

A means test could have the greatest impact on those in the middle class.  Hardworking individuals, professionals, and small business owners could be hurt significantly by this proposed evaluation.

The facts are, we do not know if and when means testing will actually be enacted.  The best solution however, is to plan now.   Start saving and protecting your investments for the future.  Morris Hall can help with that process.  We're happy to discuss this with you and advise as to the best processes and procedures and a way to hold your investments, as well as how to invest them.
dan-morris Contributed by Morris Hall PLLC Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Senior Partner Dan R. Morris.

What Morris Hall, PLLC can do for you:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have hundreds 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, Green Valley, Prescott, Sedona, 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.

Rental Property and an LLC

By | Business Planning, Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Other | No Comments

Farmers Insurance runs ads with the tag line “What you don’t know can hurt you.”  That message resonates with me as I work with clients developing their personal asset protection plan.  The most common asset protection issue that I come across involves rental property.

Many of my clients have rental property.  They find it a good income source, and a way to “save” for retirement, especially when that mortgage is paid off.    My clients are looking at the rental property in the positive, but what they don’t know can hurt them.

With a rental property, there is the liability risk (the risk that you will owe someone else money) because there are tenants (i.e. other people) in that house.  There are certain duties that the homeowner/landlord owes to his or her tenants.  If those duties are breached (you did not do something you are supposed to), and that tenant is hurt, you may owe money.

A lot of the landlord-clients that I work with have a vetting system to pick “good tenants” (it seems they have a good sense of people-picking).  But the liability risk goes beyond just the tenant.  Like most people, your tenants will have other people over, usually friends and family.  Those visitors create the same risk as the tenants.

Do you have a plan in place if something happens on your rental property?

The first line of defense will be an “Umbrella” insurance policy.  That will provide a certain level of protection, however, what if the claim is denied?  Or if the injury compensation exceeds the policy limit?  Are your other assets at risk?  The short answer: yes.

A way to insulate, or protect your other assets from the liability risk created by the rental property, is to have that rental held in a Limited Liability Company (LLC).  An LLC is a legal entity created under state law to run a business.  As the name of the organization indicates, it limits (or reduces) the liability (or money owed) of the owner of LLC (you).

Having an LLC is not enough.  A well drafted operating agreement is crucial to keeping the protections as high as possible.  You will also need to follow corporate formalities to further reduce the ability of an injured person (i.e. the plaintiff) to lay claim to your personal property.

If you have a rental property (or properties), you should call today to talk with one of our attorneys to determine whether an LLC is the right structure for you.

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

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.

 

Planning is for Everyone

By | Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Other, Planning Ahead: One Week at a Time, Will | No Comments

I have talked before about everyone having an estate.  This just means we all have something.  And once we know that we have something, then the next logical thought is that we all have something to plan for.

And you may be saying that you have your plan in place.  So I will say “Kudos!” You are better than 70% of Americans.

But what about your parents?  What about your adult children (keep in mind that “adult” is 18 years and older)?  Have you talked to them about getting their plan in place?  What about your friends and neighbors?  Don’t you want to share the relief and peace of mind you have by getting your estate properly planned?

And I know that estate planning (i.e. death and taxes) is not an easy subject.  “So, have you given any thought to dying, and the impact it will have on your loved ones?”  That sentence just does not roll off of your tongue.

But remember, everyone has an estate, so you don’t have to get into any details.  You can simply talk about how good you feel but talking with your Morris Hall attorney and getting your affairs in order.  You just need to open the door with those positive feelings.

 

Planning is for everyone.  The plan content differs by the needs and goals of the individual.  As you know, the first step is meeting with one of our attorneys.  We can’t call your parents, or your kids.  We can’t call your friends and neighbors.  But you can have them call us, and they can have what you have – a great estate plan and peace of mind.

jim-plitzContributed 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, 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.

 

Things aren’t Always like they Seem

By | Estate Planning, Estate taxes, Financial Planning, Other | No Comments

When we see our neighbor in his brand new high-end car, we may be a little envious.  I know that I work really hard, and I have always driven used, economy cars.  I find myself thinking that it is not fair.  But things aren’t always like they seem.

I find the story of the two angels who were visiting earth very après pos.  The story reads that two angels visited earth, and their first night came across a rich man’s family.  The family was rude, did not share a meal, and made the angels sleep in the basement.  But while in the basement, the elder angel patched a hole in the wall.  The next night, the angels spent the night with a poor farmer’s family; they were most hospitable, shared what little food they had, and let them sleep in their beds.  But in the morning, the farmer’s milk cow, their only source of income, lay dead.

On its face, this seems unfair.  Why would the elder angel help the rich man but allow such a bad thing happen to the poor man?  But things aren’t always like they seem.

It turns out, there was gold in the hole in the wall.  The angel effectively hid it from the rich man.  And the cow was sacrificed because Death had come for the farmer’s wife, but the angel gave the cow instead.  Things aren’t always like they seem

In my neighbor’s case, the expensive car has wreaked havoc on their finances.  This has caused a major rift in their marriage, and there is discussion about divorce.  My envy is no more.

When planning your estate, things aren’t always as they seem.  We want to plan for things, such as lawsuits and divorce, even though it may not appear, right now, that those are issues.  We want to make sure that your wishes are carried out, regardless of what the reality of the situation is or becomes.

Our experienced estate planning attorneys will help you develop a plan that goes beyond what our perceptions are today.  Call us today, so we can build your plan to handle things that are not always like they seem.

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

What the Attorneys of Morris Hall 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.  The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits.  Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, 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.

Paralysis by Analysis

By | Estate Planning, Estate taxes, Financial Planning, Other | No Comments

There is an old saying in the business world: Paralysis by analysis.  It basically means that the business does not take action because it is over thinking the issue.  This occurs because the issue is outside the realm of the business’ knowledge base or that there are several variations to the issue that make it appear to be more complicated than it really is.  Or, in the majority of cases, the business simply fears what it does not know.

In my practice, this Analysis Paralysis occurs all of the time.  The complexity of estate planning and the fear of death lead people to procrastinate and put decisions off for a “later date”.  Unfortunately, in some instances, that later date does not come.

I had a prospect meet with me regarding the passing of his wife.  He was a nice man, but dealing with his wife’s passing was a massive weight.  Their plan was simple, and worked for the first death – there was nothing that he needed to do.  Except, as I explained, that now he needed to plan.  But he was not ready.  He said he would call me in a few months, and he would put his plan together.

I learned two months later that he had died.

I met with another lady whose dad had recently passed.  She told me that “dad had promised the house to her.”  I asked if there was a plan that said that.  She replied that nothing was written.  So I had to tell her that it does not matter what dad “promised”, it only matters what is written.  So unless her 12 siblings agreed with that distribution, there was nothing that could be done.

It is important to make educated decisions about your plan.  However, if you were to wait until you understood every last nuance, the plan would never be put into place.  We have spent countless hours in classrooms and practice, devoting our entire practice to estate planning, to get to the levels of understanding that we provide to you.

So don’t be frozen because of over-thinking.  Take the first step and build that momentum.  Please call us for a free consultation, so we can help you put your plan in place.

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

Why Choose Morris Hall:
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, MH 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 two 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 MH.  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 assets are left outside of my trust?

By | Attorney David Eastman, Estate Planning, Estate taxes, Financial Planning, Other | No Comments

The general rule is you do not want to have assets outside the trust that would exceed the probate threshold amount.  Today that amount is $75,000 for personal property and $100,000 for real property.

Although there is nothing wrong with having your checking account in the name of your trust, some individuals like to have just their name on the face of the check. You can have your individual name on the check even if the account is in the trust, or you can simply choose to leave a small checking account outside of the trust.

Another asset that can be left outside the trust are vehicles.  Once again you want to be aware of the value of all vehicles left outside the trust.  If the combined value of all vehicles exceeds the $75,000 probate threshold amount then you need to get some of your vehicles transferred into your trust.

Other assets which are not generally owned by the trust are IRAs and pension plans. What’s important is to coordinate the appropriate beneficiary designation with your overall estate plan. This is a complex area of planning and must be based on each person’s individual family circumstances and size of estate.

Scottsdale and Glendale Estate Planning Lawyer David Eastman - VA Accredited AttorneyContributed by MH Arrowhead, Scottsdale and Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Partner, David T. Eastman.

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, Cave Creek, 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.

Can you outline the rules for “Sports”?

By | Elder Law, Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Other | No Comments

One of the key elements when you utilize a revocable living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan is the funding of your assets to that trust (funding involves the re-titling of your accounts from your name to the name of the trust).  And lately, this is where many of our clients are coming up with questions and issues because of conversations with their bank (I am using “bank” as a generic term in reference to all financial institutions).

You see, many banks require certain paperwork to be completed in order to make your requested re-titling change (seems everybody wants questions answered on their own letterhead).  And the forms they have created are trying to be a “one size fits all” solution.  And that just does not work.

When that banker hears “trust”, she is falling back on the day or two of training from her legal department.  But what she does not understand is there are many types of trusts, and there are different rules when dealing with these different types of trust.

It would be like me asking you to give me the rules for “sports”.  Your response should be, “which sport?”  Since each sport has a different set of rules – hockey, baseball, soccer, football…  A form that tries to capture data for sports will either be overly burdensome or simply asking the wrong questions.

And that is the issue with the banks’ forms when it comes to trusts.  Most of the time, it asks the wrong or inappropriate questions, confusing our clients.

Thankfully, MH’s clients have on-going support, so they can ask us for clarification and we can guide them through the bank’s forms, providing only the information required by law.  And we do this for all of our clients at no additional cost!

Maybe one day, the banks will figure out what is actually required to re-title an account into our clients’ revocable living trust, but until that happens, we will be there, supporting our clients and giving them the clarity and direction they deserve.

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

Why Choose Morris Hall:
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, MH 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 two 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 MH.  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.

Avoid Gridlock

By | Estate Planning, Estate taxes, Financial Planning | No Comments

MH Partner Theron M Hall JR, recently recorded a segment about how you can avoid Gridlock with your estate planning.

Click through to see it for your self

http://youtu.be/ijH2lJIOIBw

Mesa, Arizona Estate Planning Attorney Tim HallContributed by MH Mesa and Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney and Partner, Theron M Hall Jr.

Why Choose Morris Hall:
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, MH 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 two 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 MH.  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.

On the Road

By | Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Other, Planning Ahead: One Week at a Time | No Comments

As I sat in the passenger seat of our family car, I found myself reflecting back on the past 15 years or so.  Why?  I have been teaching my son to drive since he received his learner’s permit in October.  Where has the past few years gone?  How did he get to be so tall? Maybe he does know more than me?  Beside me, now sits this amazing young adult - with a lead foot!  While teaching the rules of the road has provided moments of frustration, for both of us, it is the start of certain freedoms in my young son’s life.

First comes the driver’s license, then the voter’s registration and being legally deemed an adult, then, for some, it will soon be off to college.  As our children get older and become independent, we cannot lose sight of one important item-they do not become adults until 18.  If something were to happen to my son’s father or me, as a minor, he would become a ward of the state.  It is easy for us to remember that our children need a guardian when they are much younger, but it may not be as prevalent when they are teenagers and less dependent on us.  I think we often forget that even at 16, they are technically minors, regardless of how independent they are and how well they drive.

I am thankful that I have plans in place just in case something unexpected were to happen.  My estate plan lists who would become his guardian, someone I trust and have pre-approved (so to speak), avoiding the state and courts deciding such sensitive and important matters.  Provisions are also included for him financially, so his dreams of attending college can still be realized.  Don’t take the risk of assuming that nothing is going to happen to you.  Plan while you are able for all of the things that you are not expecting.

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, Cave Creek, 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.