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Estate Planning Blog

News & Tips From The Law Office Of Libby Banks.

The Biden Tax Plan and Your Estate

With the advent of a new administration usually comes change. President Biden’s tax plan may affect your estate planning adversely. Here are a few key points of the plan. Estate and Gift Taxes May Increase: Arizona has no estate taxes. On the federal level, each person has an estate and gift tax exemption – the amount you can give away during life and at death before being taxed – that is currently $11.7 Million. Biden’s plan would reduce the federal exemption to $3.5 Million for estate taxes at death, and $1 Million for gifts made during your lifetime. The plan also proposes to...

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Picking Your Executor or Trustee

At some point your estate will be managed by someone other than you. If you are incapacitated, that person will step in to manage it to care for you, and on your death someone will wrap up your estate and distribute your assets to others. If you put an estate plan in place, via a Will or Trust, you decide who that person will be. If you don’t, the State of Arizona, via the legislature, has decided who that will be. Will the State’s choice be one you are happy with? When you establish a Revocable Living Trust, the person in...

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Pets, Trusts, And Your Estate Planning

Those of us with pets consider them members of our family. And like the rest of the family, we want to make sure they are taken care of when we can no longer do the job! The wealthy sometimes go to the extreme to provide for their pets. Leona Helmsley is one of the most famous examples, having left her entire $12 Million fortune to Trouble, her dog. The family sued, and the judge whittled Trouble’s share down to $2 Million. The widow of the Star Trek creator left $4 Million for their dogs, and $1 Million for the employee to...

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Estate Planning for the Blended Family

In first marriages, a couple generally have identical goals for their estate planning: take care of the surviving spouse for as long as he or she lives, then distribute what’s left to their children. But second marriages can be different. The blended family – his children, her children and sometimes their children as well – makes for more complicated planning. Each spouse may have separate assets as well as their joint, community assets. Both usually want at least some of their assets to go to their own children after they die. At the same time, they want to make sure the...

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Valentine’s Day and Planning for Those You Love

Valentine’s Day is February 14. It started long ago as a Roman festival and was later converted to St. Valentine’s Day by Pope Gelasius around the end of the 5th century. Much later, in the 14 th Century, it came to be celebrated as a day of romance. These days, we also give gifts to other family members we love to let them know just how dear they are to us. One way to show our family we love them is to get a Will or Trust in place. A proper estate plan makes it much easier on your loved ones if...

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Out With the Old, In With the New

As we start the New Year, I wanted to talk about older methods of estate planning versus newer, more efficient and cost-effective means of planning. Your estate is simply what you own. For most reading this article, that at least includes a home, a retirement account, bank accounts and maybe a brokerage account. In the not-so-distant past, planning for your estate at death meant preparing a Last Will and Testament. Today, we use the Revocable Living Trust more often. There are many benefits to using the Revocable Living Trust, but often people think that only the wealthy need a Trust. I think...

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New Year, New You?

If it’s one thing we might all agree on, it is that we are ready to say goodbye to 2020 and welcome a New Year! With the new year comes resolutions: goals for weight loss, for personal improvement, for career advancement, maybe even to put an estate plan in place. Often, though, our New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside before Groundhog Day. If we want this to be different, we must take a different approach. One way is to think of the resolution not as an ultimate goal to be achieved, but as habits to put in place that will lead...

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Talking to Your Executor (or Trustee)

The holidays are just around the corner, and when the family gathers, it can be a great time to talk to the person or persons you have chosen as your executor, personal representative, and/or Trustee. Is Your Executor Willing to Serve? If you are just beginning your planning, now is a good time to ask your chosen trustee if they are willing to serve. This is very important! You don’t want a situation to arise where the people you counted on to serve are saying they won’t. It is one of many ways to end up in an expensive court proceeding to get...

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How the Revocable Trust Works for You

The Revocable Living Trust is valuable for many estate planning needs, but one of the most obvious is the avoidance of all the time and expense of probate. I like to think of your Trust as your treasure chest. Your assets, the things you worked and saved hard to have – go into your Trust – into your treasure chest. While you are alive and able, you are taking care of the treasure chest as the trustee. If you can’t take care of your treasure chest anymore, either because of your death or because you are incapacitated, you have named a...

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