December 2

How Estate Planning helped Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was a literary genius whose books included “Great Expectations,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield.” His best received work however, was an eerie ghost story entitled, “A Christmas Carol.”

“A Christmas Carol” was first published in 1843. Since then, it has been adapted to radio, stage, screen, and television; and continues to be adapted even now, more than one hundred fifty years after Dickens’s death. Yet, if it weren’t for a bequest in his grandmother’s will, the world may have never experienced “A Christmas Carol” or have known the name Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens was born in a poor London neighborhood in 1812. His father, John was a naval clerk who dreamed of striking it rich. His mother, Elizabeth aspired to be a school teacher. Unfortunately, the Dickens family lived beyond their means and John was sent to debtor’s prison.

Charles; the second of eight children, was forced to leave school and go to work at a boot-blacking factory where he earned six shillings a week. He was twelve years old.

Charles did his best to provide what he could for the family. It proved bittersweet when his grandmother, Elizabeth Ball died in 1824. Elizabeth Ball bequeathed her son, John (Charles’s father) four hundred fifty pounds. The money was enough for John to be released from prison, Charles to be released from the factory, and for both of them to rejoin the family.

The inheritance didn’t solve all their problems, but it did offer a much needed reprieve at a time when a reprieve was needed most.

Three years after his grandmother’s death, Charles found himself leaving school again and going back to work. This time he was fifteen. Charles worked as an “office boy” at a law firm. In his spare time, he studied shorthand. A quick study, Charles utilized his newly acquired skill, left the law firm and became a freelance writer. The rest as they say … is history.

Charles Dickens is widely considered one of the greatest writers of the Victorian era. However, if not for his grandmother’s bequest, he may not have made it out of the factory and into legend.

For more information about wills, trust or other estate planning documents, please contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

September 6

Happy Grandparent’s Day!

Sunday, September 8 is National Grandparent’s Day!

Grandparent’s Day is a holiday celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day. Its purpose is to celebrate both maternal and paternal grandparents.

National Grandparent’s Day is what you might call an under publicized holiday. And yet, this year will mark its forty-first year of existence since being signed into law in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter.

So what is the purpose of Grandparent’s Day and how can you celebrate?

The entire point of Grandparent’s Day is to celebrate family. The goal is for grandchildren to honor their grandparents, and for grandparents to spend time with their grandchildren. Any activity that brings extended family together is perfect for the holiday. – For example, playing indoor or outdoor games, going to the zoo, spending time at the beach, enjoying a picnic, sharing a meal or going for a walk or hike.

Gift giving is not an expected part of Grandparent’s Day but it can be. The whole point is to celebrate family. – The only traditions that matter are the ones you create.

For those families separated by distance, you can still connect on Grandparent’s Day. You can send a card, letter, or package. You can plan to spend time together on Skype, FaceTime, or over the phone.

So from all of us to you, Happy Grandparent’s Day!

August 2

How Do I Help Mom?

How Do I Help Mom?
Your mom has everything in order. Years ago she entered into an estate plan which included a trust, durable power of attorney, last will and testament and health care documents. She named you to manage her affairs in the event she became unable to do so. That day has arrived. She needs your help. How do you help her now?
Health: The HIPAA form allows medical personnel to release information to you. The Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) authorizes you to make decisions regarding your mother’s health care. After your mother passes, the funeral home may need a copy of the AHCD if you choose cremation.
Finances: The manner in which your mother currently holds title to an asset will determine the document you will need to access and manage assets for her care.
• Assets held in your mother’s sole name. Title to checking accounts and vehicles is often retained in an individual’s name rather than transferred to a trust. For accounts that are not held in a trust, the durable power of attorney form gives you authority to act in regard to that asset. In addition, you may need to provide a copy of the durable power of attorney when you contact insurance carriers, the Social Security Administration or pension providers to enable them to speak to you on your mother’s behalf.

• Assets held in your mother’s trust. How you will take over as successor Trustee of your mother’s trust depends upon the terms of the Trust. If your mother still retains capacity, she may execute a resignation as Trustee and then you would execute an acceptance by Trustee. If your mother no longer has capacity, it may be necessary to obtain a letter from one or two doctors attesting to that fact. You will then execute an updated Trustee’s certification of trust which states that you are now the acting Trustee of the Trust. The Trustee’s certification of trust may then be provided to any institution where your mother holds title to accounts in the Trust, i.e. brokerage accounts, bank accounts.
This may be a very stressful time for you and your mother. It is strongly recommended that you seek the advice of a qualified estate planning attorney to ease the process.

May 31

Durable Power of Attorney Saves the Day

Durable Power of Attorney Saves the Day!
You and your car were just creamed by a garbage truck. Fortunately, you weren’t killed but your head is in a halo and your limbs are in casts. Who will be able to retrieve your paycheck from your employer and deal with health insurance and disability insurance companies? You entered into a contract to purchase a new home shortly before you met the garbage truck. However, the purchase of your new home is contingent on the sale of your current home. Will both sales fall through because you’re unable to sign documents? If you didn’t have a durable power of attorney form in place prior to the accident, you’ll be in a world of even bigger hurt.
This is a problem whether you’re single or married. Many married couples assume that their spouse can act on their behalf. This is not always the case unless you have taken proactive steps prior to your incapacity. A durable power of attorney form appoints an Agent you have chosen to act on your behalf. The “durable” in the title of this document indicates it may be used even if you are incapacitated. The Agent named in a well-drafted durable power of attorney form is authorized to act on your behalf with many different parties and institutions including but not limited to employers, insurance companies, lenders and escrow companies, banks and the like. An Agent in this case has very broad powers so it is important to choose your Agent wisely.
A durable power of attorney form is just one (very important!) document in an estate plan. For information the durable power of attorney, or other estate planning documents, please contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

OLDER OLDER 1 2 19 20