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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 slight differences in semantics shouldn’t make any...

 

New estimates on savings needed for health care in retirement

New research from the Employment Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) updates previous estimates of how much money Medicare beneficiaries are projected to need to cover health expenses in retirement, including premiums for Medicare Parts B and D, premiu...

 

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 that, the answer was easy. If it was less than $1...

 

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 was nominated for a number of other Oscars and...

 

Social Security celebrates Black History Month

Throughout the month of February, we honor African Americans by celebrating Black History Month. Created in 1926, this event coincides with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on Feb. 12 and Frederick Douglass on Feb. 14. African American communities...

 

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 was taking more than half of what you saved....

 

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 you are an accountant, I apologize because I know...

 

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 House.” It followed the travails of a group of...

 

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 attorney (POAs, for short). I mentioned in last...

 

'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 really helpful. Actually it passed two bills I...

 

Social Security experts answer your questions

Staff from Alaska’s Social Security office will be available for questions via videoconferencing at the following locations and times:     Kodiak Job Center, on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month (Oct. 11 and 25), 9 a.m. to noon. Kenai...

 

Invest carefully in precious metals, coins

There’s no shortage of commercials urging you to buy gold and silver and other precious metals. The idea is that it’s a smart way to diversify your portfolio and protect your retirement funds. But of course everyone’s situation is different....

 

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 the U.S. One reason is that many of those laws are...

 

You can still file and suspend Social Security

You probably heard that changes in the law now affect the way you file for certain benefits. These changes place limits on when voluntary suspension and reinstatement can begin for you and your family members who might also be entitled to benefits on...

 

Social Security experts answer your questions

Staff from Alaska’s Social Security office will be available for questions via videoconferencing at the following locations and times:     Kodiak Job Center, on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month (Aug. 9 and 23), 9 a.m. to noon. Kenai...

 

'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 didn’t even call when I had my heart attack.”...

 

Help out by becoming a representative payee

Your parents were there for you when you were born. They’ve been with you through the most important achievements of your life. Now it’s your turn to show them that they can count on you. As your parents get older, they may need help making...

 

Have you covered your digital assets?

“Digital assets.” It’s the latest buzzword. It means the ownership interest you have in your online accounts. To a lawyer, it is a subset of “intellectual property”. But what does it mean in terms of estate planning? Financial writers and e...

 

Native assets require special treatment

One of the things that makes estate planning interesting in Alaska is the high percentage of Native Americans here, compared to other states. Natives come from a different background culturally, which can be a little bit challenging but is usually...

 

What exactly does a will do?

“Avoid probate? I don’t have to worry about that; I have a will,” says the elder gent sitting across from me. “A will doesn’t avoid probate,” I tell him. A confused look comes over his face. “I still have to go through probate, even if...

 

Should you gift junior the house?

One of the questions every estate planner gets is, “should I just give my house to the kids while I’m alive, as opposed to having it go through an estate or trust?” It’s a simple question that, alas, doesn’t have a simple answer. Here are...

 

Social Security experts answer your questions

SStaff from Alaska’s Social Security office will be available for questions via videoconferencing at the following locations and times:     Kodiak Job Center, on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month (April 12 and 26), 9 a.m. to noon....

 

With estate planning, it ain't just about taxes

It was the mid-1980s. Ronald Reagan was in his second term, Tears for Fears was on the radio, and I was in law school in upstate New York, taking my first estate planning class. And what I learned was this: when it comes to estate planning, the...

 

Social Security experts answer your questions

Staff from Alaska’s Social Security office will be available for questions via videoconferencing at the following locations and times:     Kodiak Job Center, on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month (Feb. 9 and 23), 9 a.m. to noon. Kenai...

 

Help your Valentine plan for retirement

There are traditional ways to show your love on Valentine’s Day. You can buy a card that expresses your true feelings and give it to someone you care about. There are also heart-shaped boxes of assorted chocolates and bouquets of roses. A powerful...

 

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