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Articles written by Kenneth Kirk

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A jug of wine, a living trust, and thou

I’m not much of an oenophile. Occasionally I might enjoy a nice glass of wine with certain foods, but I can’t tell the difference between a Merlot and a Bordeaux. But despite my lack of...

 

How much is that probate in the window?

Sometimes when we talk about a particular subject a lot, we take it for granted that people know certain background facts. I realized this recently when I was talking about the high cost of probate...

 

Still true, forsooth, after 400 years

Ask people their favorite Shakespeare play, and chances are they will name Romeo and Juliet, or perhaps Hamlet or Macbeth. A few of the cognoscenti might name something else, but they’re just...

 

Estate planning in the Trailerhood needs help

I liked Max Gruenberg. Max was a lawyer, and a long-time legislator. I did battle with him in both venues; as a trial lawyer, when we had cases against each other; and when he was in the State House...

 

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...

 

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