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Articles written by Jonathan J. David

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The costs of a trust vs. probate fees

Dear Jonathan: My financial advisor is pestering me to create a trust for the purpose of holding my assets for probate avoidance. However, I am really not interested in creating a trust and I am not all that concerned with having my estate being...

 

'What you got away with was in fact illegal'

Dear Jonathan: My mother, who is a widow, passed away several months ago. Thankfully she prepared a trust and transferred her assets to that trust so that there would be no probate to deal with at her death. While in the process of cleaning out her...

 

His kids, her kids – who will inherit what?

Dear Jonathan: My husband and I have been married for 10 years and it is a second marriage for both of us. We both have adult children from our first marriages. We have recently been talking about putting together an estate plan, but we are having...

 

Why a 'pour over' will can be a good idea

Dear Jonathan: My husband and I recently completed our estate planning. We were able to save a lot of money by downloading forms off the Internet. The forms were pretty straightforward and after doing our own research we feel very comfortable with...

 

Save your surviving spouse the extra grief

Dear Jonathan: My wife and I know the importance of each of us having a durable power of attorney for health care, so each of us has one. However, we own all of our assets jointly, so we know we don’t have a probate problem and we really don’t se...

 

Trying to avoid probate? Just a will alone won't

Dear Jonathan: My wife and I prepared wills several years ago. We thought by doing so that we were avoiding probate which was the main purpose why we prepared wills. However, a close friend of ours recently died and her estate is now being probated e...

 

So that's what those legal terms actually mean

Dear Jonathan: What is the difference between an executor and a personal representative? Jonathan says: There is no difference, they mean the same thing. Some states use the term executor and other states use the term personal representative. An...

 

A beneficiary deed helps avoid expensive trusts, costly probate

Dear Jonathan: My wife and I have a pretty modest estate. Basically, we have our home and a couple of bank accounts. We only have one child, a daughter, who will be the beneficiary of all of our assets. We know we don’t need a complicated estate...

 

Why you need a will in addition to a revocable living trust

Dear Jonathan: I recently updated my estate planning, which included a new will, as well as a revocable living trust. I decided to go with the trust because I want to make sure that my estate is not probated at my death. I recently read that if all...

 

Spare your eventual executor some stress

Dear Jonathan: I just completed the probate of my late brother’s will. I was the executor he appointed to act on behalf of the estate. This was not a pleasant experience and in fact was quite the opposite and made me realize that I don’t want to...

 

Giving it away tax-free and other legal advice

Dear Jonathan: I know that the annual gift tax exclusion for 2014 was $14,000. Is this amount being increased for 2015, or is it staying the same? Jonathan says: The annual gift tax exclusion for 2015 will remain at $14,000. Dear Jonathan: How much...

 

Separate trusts? Be sure you understand what you need

Dear Jonathan: Several years ago my wife and I completed our estate planning. At that time our estate was worth around $2 million and the exemption from federal estate taxes was only $1 million. Consequently, our attorney recommended that we prepare...

 

Intra-family loans and IRS interest rate rules

Dear Jonathan: If I loan my son $80,000 to pay off his mortgage, would either of us have an issue with the IRS? My son would repay the loan at a set amount each month. I would prefer not to charge an interest fee. Thank you for any advice you can...

 

The crucial basics of getting down to business about your business

Dear Jonathan: I am a widower and 50 percent owner of a small business which employs two of my children. I am at retirement age now however I am not ready to stop working quite yet. I am thinking that I should probably update my estate planning becau...

 

Passing on assets is easier with proper paperwork

Dear Jonathan: I am a widower. My only child, my daughter, is the sole beneficiary of my estate under my will. When I prepared my will, I did not prepare a trust because quite frankly I didn’t feel I had a large enough estate to warrant the cost....

 

Pay attention to advice to update documents

Dear Jonathan: My wife passed away last year just a few months after we had updated our estate planning documents. The attorney who prepared the documents on our behalf has recommended to me that I engage in yet another update of my estate planning...

 

Gift taxes now vs. estate taxes later?

Dear Jonathan: I am a widower. I am retired and financially set. In fact, I have been advised that it would be a good idea for me to reduce the size of my estate because it is larger than that amount which is exempt from estate taxes, which I believe...

 

Little questions, important answers

Dear Jonathan: What does it mean to have died intestate? Jonathan says: This simply means that a person died without making a last will and testament. If a person makes a last will and testament, then they will be deemed as having died testate. Dear...

 

Choosing a power of attorney for a 'control freak'

Dear Jonathan: I am an elderly gentleman who is not married and has no children. Because I have become increasingly aware of my own mortality, I have decided to engage in estate planning for the first time in my life. Interestingly, I am more concern...

 

Parents and grandparents lose right to make decisions for kids over 18

Dear Jonathan: I have a question about my grandson who is going off to college in the fall. A close friend of mine told me about something that happened to his granddaughter who started college a few months ago, and it really has me concerned....

 

Sticky insurance questions need action

Dear Jonathan: My wife and I have a living trust and recently after consulting with our attorney, we transferred our home, as well as our family cottage to our trust for probate avoidance. Last week as I was writing out a check for our homeowners...

 

Why you need all of these legal documents

Dear Jonathan: My husband died six months ago. We didn’t have much but everything we had we held in joint names. Consequently, upon the advice of a family member some time ago, we never bothered to prepare wills because we were told that the...

 

When doing it yourself can cost much more

Dear Jonathan: I am naming my sister as one of my beneficiaries in my last will and testament. I am signing the will at my home since it is hard for me to get out. I know I need to have two witnesses. My question is whether my sister can act as one o...

 

Gifting money? Tax info you need to know

Dear Jonathan: What is the annual gift tax exclusion amount for 2013? Jonathan Says: The annual gift tax exclusion amount, which is the amount a person can give to another without incurring a gift tax, is $14,000 for 2013. Dear Jonathan: What is the...

 

Get legal assistance when preparing for taxes on life insurance benefits

Dear Jonathan: Several years ago I purchased a 20-year term life insurance policy on my life with a death benefit of $3 million. The premiums were reasonable and since my wife and I had saved very little for retirement, I wanted to make sure that...

 

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