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Income tax-free trust is too good to be true

Q: My father-in-law was talking about estate planning at dinner and said there was a trust that would protect a person's assets and make their personal income tax free. It sounds a little too good to be true and possibly illegal. Do you have any idea what kind of trust he was talking about, …

1 hour ago

ESTATE PLANNING: What does an executor do?

Q: I have been asked to act as an executor in someone's will. I'm not even sure what the executor does. Any advice?

October 18, 2014 2:44 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: What happens if I don't have a will?

October 11, 2014 12:25 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Prepare for the meeting

Q: We are ready to make an appointment with an attorney to plan our estates. What should we take with us to the meeting?

October 04, 2014 3:39 pm

Whatever their dream, plan for your kids

This past weekend, my family and I went to South Bend for the Blackhawk's training camp. While looking over a menu in a restaurant there, I heard my son Colin say to my wife, "There are sparklies missing from my sash." Without thinking I said, "Well that sucks," followed up quickly with, "Wa…

September 26, 2014 2:36 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Why have a power of attorney

Q: I recently completed my estate plan. I signed a power or attorney but I have no idea why I have it or what I'm supposed to do with it.

September 20, 2014 4:09 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: What happens if the person named executor dies?

September 13, 2014 4:23 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Prius or a Hummer?

Q: Some of my friends have trusts but my attorney hasn't suggested one for me. Which is better, a trust or a will?

September 06, 2014 4:01 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Home valuation after death

Q: I had my parent's home appraised for the court. I was given an appraised value, but my real estate agent told me there was no way that I could get that for the home. Which value should I use for the estate? Does it really make a difference since there isn't a death tax anymore?

August 30, 2014 12:07 pm


Q: Last week you wrote about the different ways to own rental property. It sounds like you prefer to use an LLC rather than a trust. Isn't there a way to limit liability and avoid probate? What if you own multiple rental properties?

August 23, 2014 5:24 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: You keep talking about probate and wills. Doesn't a will avoid probate?

August 16, 2014 3:20 pm

I have a will -- now what?

Q: I have completed my estate plan. I have a will and a power of attorney. What else should I do to make it as easy as possible on my kids? Should I give each of them a copy of the documents?

August 10, 2014 12:00 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Who's got the will?

Q: My mother's estate has been opened. However, we believe there is a newer will. We haven't found it yet, but we have found a letter where she mentions a newer one. How do I find out if she recorded the will? Will it list her assets in it?

August 02, 2014 7:30 pm


This weekend we are holding my dad's memorial service.

July 26, 2014 3:35 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Medical power of attorney for your children

Q: My brother and sister-in-law are going to watch our kids while we take a trip. Our estate plan is in place, but now I'm worried what will happen if one of the kids gets hurt while we are away. How do we authorize my brother to consent to medical care? Is this something we even need to wor…

July 19, 2014 11:12 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: Is there a way to give a power of attorney to my children without giving up the authority to do things for myself? I don't mind them helping out, but I still want to do things for myself as long as I can.

July 12, 2014 4:27 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Who needs a trust?

Q: When does a person need a living trust?

June 28, 2014 4:36 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Helping out with a loved one's education

Q: I don't have any children but I have some wonderful grandnieces and grandnephews. I send a check to the ones in college each semester to help out with expenses. However, some of them are much too young and I worry that I won't be available to help them out when it is their turn. How do I …

June 07, 2014 10:02 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: We just moved back to Indiana. Our wills were drawn up in Minnesota. Are our wills valid or should we have new ones drawn up?

May 31, 2014 11:22 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Saying goodbye to my dad

My father passed away this past week. He celebrated his 84t birthday on Monday and passed away Friday.

May 24, 2014 10:50 am

ESTATE PLANNING: 'Here's your next column'

"Here's your next column". That was the subject line on an email that my wife recently sent to me. Since I'm always looking for a topic for my column I excitedly opened the email.

May 17, 2014 3:14 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Changing the power of attorney

Q: I executed a power of attorney a few years ago. I want to change the person that I named to someone else. How do I change the person? Do I need to revoke the old power of attorney and then write a new one?

May 04, 2014 12:00 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: If I leave something to someone in my will, what happens if I give it away during my lifetime? Should I write a new will?

April 26, 2014 9:56 am

ESTATE PLANNING: National Healthcare Decisions Day

So I'm driving into the office this morning listening to National Public Radio.

April 19, 2014 4:13 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Planning for a pet

In last week's column I wrote about the importance of including your pet in your estate plan. Well, maybe importance is a bit or an overstatement. But it is important to consider what will happen to your furry, feathery or scaly friend should something happen to you.

April 12, 2014 3:58 pm

CONSUMER AFFAIRS: Death of a flamingo

 While surfing the web I found an article about a flamingo that recently passed away.

April 05, 2014 9:38 am

Serving as a trustee for someone else

Q: In regards to revocable living trusts where each spouse is the trustee for the other spouse's trust, what must be done when one spouse dies and when the second spouse dies? Is there anything of a legal nature?

March 30, 2014 12:00 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Understand how disclaimers work before using them

Q: My parents don't have wills. If I understand it correctly, that means that my brother and I will get half of the estate if one of them dies. If we don't want half of the estate, can't we refuse it and let it go to the surviving parent?

March 22, 2014 3:59 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Revoking a will

Q: I have an old will that I forgot all about. How do I revoke it?

March 15, 2014 12:34 pm


Q: What is a Lady Bird Deed? Can it be used to transfer ownership of our second home in Michigan to our family outside of probate?

March 08, 2014 9:56 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Joint ownership isn't always the solution

Q: I know you have said you don't like adding children as joint owners on bank accounts, but I can't remember why. It seems like adding a child on the account would be a good thing. Why don't you like it?

March 01, 2014 4:47 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: A loss isn't just financial

This past week marked the 28th anniversary of my mother's death. I attempted to make the traditional visit to her grave, but 3 feet of snow made it impossible to locate.

February 22, 2014 7:26 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: My dad passed away and we don't know what to do with the car. Can we sell it on our own or do we need to open an estate?

February 15, 2014 11:30 am

Catching up on readers' questions

Q: My will creates a trust for my children. Can I name the trust in the will beneficiary of my accounts and life insurance?

January 25, 2014 12:01 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Mom didn't fund the trust

Q: My mother has a revocable trust and I am now the trustee. It looks like the house is in the trust but nothing else. Shouldn't she have put everything into the trust? How do I get the assets into the name of the trust now?

January 18, 2014 12:03 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Television estate planning vs. the real world

I don't know about you, but I'm a huge "Downton Abbey fan."

January 11, 2014 2:01 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Ways to handle an advancement on an inheritance

Q: I am considering giving money to one of my children. How do I account for the money in the will? What happens if he pays me back before then?

January 04, 2014 11:03 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: How much can I gift this year? Does the amount go up in 2014?

December 28, 2013 9:48 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Who plans the funeral?

Q: What happens if a family can't agree about funeral arrangements for a parent? Who gets final say?

December 07, 2013 3:35 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: You said in a previous column most personal property owned by a married couple is jointly owned. How do you know for sure?

November 23, 2013 4:20 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Estate planning is more than wills, trusts

I've been following a tragic story involving a hunter in our home state. The hunter apparently fell out of his tree stand and severely hurt is back. While in the hospital, the family was told that the man would be paralyzed from the shoulders down and would likely never breath on his own aga…

November 16, 2013 11:13 am

ESTATE PLANNING: He's 50. I guess this is who he is going to be.

As an attorney, I'm required to attend a certain number of continuing legal education seminars each year to stay in good standing with state bar. This year I attended the Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute. Two days of Wills and Thrills.

November 09, 2013 3:27 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Spouses need to plan too

Q: My husband and I have been married more than 30 years but most of our property is in his name alone. I've tried to get him to add my name to the property or draw up a will, but he says it isn't necessary. He says I will get everything anyway, but I don't think that's true.

November 02, 2013 10:49 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Including a loved one in a jointly owned estate

Q: My husband and I own all of our assets jointly. How do I leave something to my family if I die before him?

October 26, 2013 3:00 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Don't expose shielded asset to creditors

Q: Since life insurance proceeds payable to an estate are no longer subject to inheritance tax, is it OK if a person doesn't name a beneficiary on a policy so it goes to the estate?

October 12, 2013 3:21 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: 'What do you mean I don't get it all? We were married'

"What do you mean I don't get it all? We were married".

October 05, 2013 2:43 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: End of life decisions merit serious thought

Pull the plug. It's one those phrases that has made it into daily lexicon. Sometimes it's the punch line in a sitcom. Other times it's phrased as a question asked during an uncomfortable conversation with a parent. Sometimes it's a statement made to an attorney who is trying to help a client…

September 28, 2013 3:56 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Know what you are doing

A while ago, I received an email from a reader who needed help with a trust administration. It appeared at the time that a trustee may not have doing what they were supposed to do.

September 21, 2013 3:01 pm

Understand the plan

I received a voice mail from a former client. The message indicated he needed to do some estate planning. He wasn't sure if he needed a living will or just a will, but he definitely needed something.

September 15, 2013 12:00 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Personal property after a spouse dies

Q: What happens to the personal property when a spouse dies. Do the kids have any rights to it? Does the will control where it goes?

September 07, 2013 12:52 pm
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