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Articles written by Kenneth Kirk

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Alaska is a Filial Responsibility state? Really?

You can’t believe everything you read online. You knew that already, right? For instance, I don’t know how many times I have seen a list online, showing all the community property states, and Alas...

 

The stuff you don't get can hurt you

One of the biggest problems with DIY estate planning (where you get a kit, or a program, or a form, and “do it yourself”) is that the stuff you don’t understand can ruin everything. But then,...

 

With estate planning, you gotta know the territory

You can bicker, bicker, bicker You can talk, you can talk You can talk all you wanna But it’s different than it was. I love a good musical, and one of my favorites is The Music Man. And the...

 

An attorney is the guardian of a person's voice in court

Adult guardianship cases are kind of a big deal. And sometimes, they’re difficult. On one side you have the Respondent. This is typically someone who has some kind of dementia, mental health issue,...

 

That lawyer stuff at the end of the will

When you last signed a will, you might have noticed that after the main part of it, there was a bunch of added legal stuff. This is about that all-important added legal stuff. (Wait, you have signed a...

 

The patient, the surrogate and the pulled plug

This is a subject which, for a lot of people, is going to touch on some very personal, and perhaps painful, circumstances. Some years back, I was involved in a case involving termination of life...

 

The new tax laws: Less of the same

Last month, I promised that I would cover the estate planning consequences of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” in this month’s column. At the time that previous column was due, the final version of...

 

Old Blue Eyes did it his way (the right way)

I was hoping this month's column would be about the changes to the tax code and how that effects estate planning. No such luck -- the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is still pending in Congress, subject to...

 

A little problem with a common form

Forms can be helpful. And dangerous. Back in the days when I did a lot of trial work, I encouraged the court system to develop forms that people could use for simple matters. I saw a lot of folks who...

 

Come not between the dragon and his Roth

I really wish they hadn’t called it an IRA. Back in 1997, a senator named William Roth pushed through a law which allowed for a different type of retirement account. Up until then, if you wanted to...

 

What we can learn from cracked ribs

Let me tell you a story. I promise I will eventually flounder my way to a relevant point. A few years back, on a cold winter day, I was out walking my dogs. At one point the boy dog suddenly began...

 

What's mine is mine, what's yours is ours

Remember 1987? If you lived here in Alaska, you might remember that it was the absolute nadir of the recession. Oil prices had dropped, jobs had gone away, houses had been abandoned. Generally...

 

Trust me, it ain't a trust if it ain't a trust

“I’m just gonna leave everything to Bubba,” says the gent across from me. “That's certainly doable,” I tell him. “But what's the reason you’re disinheriting your other kids?” “I’m...

 

The unexpected grandchild and your will

I grew up in the '70s. Back then, young people tended to sow their wild oats fairly indiscriminately. Sometimes, one of those wild oats sprouted. Those of you with grayer hair than mine, or at least...

 

Those Flowers for Algernon moments

I am going to begin this column with more than just a spoiler alert. If you have never read the short story “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, put down this paper immediately. Go buy it, or...

 

Medicaid and Medicare: Same thing?

You like potato, I like potahto You like tomato, I like tomahto Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto Let’s call the whole thing off! The point the Gershwin brothers were making, I take it, was that...

 

Smaller sized estates may still require probate

Here’s another question I am asked regularly: how small does an estate have to be before it does not have to go through probate? Back when I was starting out, and in fact for quite a few years after...

 

Learn from this late actor's mistakes

If you go to the movies very often, you might have heard of an actor named Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was quite a talented character actor, he even won an Oscar for portraying Truman Capote, and he...

 

Sizing up inherited IRAs and income tax

When I first discovered the estate tax (or if you like, “death tax”), way back in the 1980s, the rate could be as high as 55 percent. That’s right, once you got above a certain level, Uncle Sam...

 

Your estate plan needs some wiggle room

Doing your own estate planning is not a good idea. There are a lot of mistakes people make when they try, and they usually don’t realize it. One example is what I call the “illiquid estate.” If...

 

When Dickens and Prince come together

This month’s column is about the novelist Charles Dickens, and the artist formerly known as Prince. Yes, there is a connection. Bear with me. Dickens, as you may know, wrote a novel called “Bleak...

 

Legal power of attorney not perfect, but beats the alternatives

Winston Churchill once said that democracy was a crappy system, until you consider the alternatives (I’m paraphrasing of course). When I hear that, it reminds me of the controversy over powers of...

 

'Disposition Directive' is a new legal must-have

All right, I gripe about the legislature as much as the next guy. On the other hand, I am also happy to give credit where credit is due. And this last session, the legislature passed a bill which is...

 

Sorry, joint tenancy is not allowed in Alaska

We Alaskans pride ourselves on being independent. But despite our “we don’t give a darn how they do it Outside” attitude, most of our state laws are the same as just about everywhere else in...

 

'No contest' clause may not be your answer

“And another thing,” says the client across from me, tapping his finger on the desk for emphasis, “I don’t want Junior to get anything. He’s an ingrate who broke his mama’s heart, and...

 

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