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Thursday, February 1, 2018

How Does The New Tax Law Impact Estate Planning?


The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” that President Trump signed into law last month still has a lot of the country scratching their heads, trying to figure out if their taxes will be going up or down. One thing that is clear is that the new law makes a big change to estate taxes.

According to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, about two-thirds (65%) of those surveyed feel they understand how the tax law might affect them and their families at least somewhat well. Before sitting down to look through the legislation, we would have put ourselves in that camp too. But the deeper into the weeds we got, the more we realized there was a lot in the bill that we did not know was there.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Should You Withdraw Your SS Benefits Early?


Should you withdraw your Social Security benefits early?

You don’t have to be retired to dip into your Social Security benefits which are available to you as early as age 62.  But is the early withdrawal worth the costs?

A quick visit to the U.S. Social Security Administration Retirement Planner website can help you figure out just how much money you’ll receive if you withdraw early. The benefits you will collect before reaching the full retirement age of 66 will be less than your full potential amount.
Read more . . .


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Playboy Founder Parents From Beyond The Grave


As you probably heard, Hugh Hefner, the magazine mogul and vanguard of the sexual revolution, died last fall. At first all we knew about his estate plan was that he would laid to rest in the crypt next to Marilyn Monroe, his first cover girl, which he purchased for $75,000 back in the 1990s. Now some other details have emerged, and they are pretty intriguing.

Although the “Playboy lifestyle” involves a certain amount of partying, it is no secret that Hef was not a fan of those who partied to excess or relied on drugs to have a good time. After becoming addicted to prescription amphetamines and mourning the loss of his secretary and confidant, Bobbie Arnstein, who committed suicide after a drug arrest, Hefner lived a substantially substance-free lifestyle.


Read more . . .


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Preparing to Meet With an Estate Planning Attorney


Preparing to Meet With an Estate Planning Attorney

A thorough and complete estate plan must take into account a significant amount of information about your assets, your family, your property, and your wishes during and after your life.  When you make your first appointment with an estate planning attorney, ask the attorney or the paralegal if they can provide a written list of important information and documents that you should bring to the meeting.  

Generally speaking, you should gather the following information before your first appointment with your estate planning lawyer.

Family Information
List the names, birth dates, death dates, and ages of all immediate family members, specifically current and former spouses, all children and stepchildren, and all grandchildren.

If you have any young or adult children with special needs, gather all information you have about their lifetime financial needs.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

Estate planning is important for everyone. We simply don’t know when something tragic could happen such as sudden death or an accident that could leave us incapacitated. With proper planning, families who are dealing with the unexpected experience fewer headaches and less expense associated with managing affairs after incapacity or administering an estate after death.

If a person fails to do any planning and becomes involved in a debilitating accident or passes away, each state has laws that govern who will inherit assets, become guardians of minor children, make medical decisions for an incapacitated person, dispose of a person’s remains, visit the person in the hospital, and more. In some states, the spouse and any children are given top priority for inheritance rights. In the case of incapacity, spouses are normally granted guardianship over incapacitated spouse, though this requires a lengthy and expensive guardianship proceeding.

Today, many couples are choosing to spend their lives together but aren’t getting married for a number of reasons. However, most states don’t recognize unmarried partners as spouses. In order to be given legal rights that married couples receive automatically, unmarried couples need to do special planning in order to protect each other.

In general, unmarried individuals need three basic documents to ensure their rights are protected:

  1. A Will – A will tells who should inherit your property when you pass away, who you want your executor to be, and who will become guardians of any minor children. These issues are all especially important for unmarried individuals. In most states, an unmarried partner does not have inheritance rights, so any property owned by his or her deceased partner would go to other family members. Also, the living partner may not necessarily the biological or adoptive parent of any minor children, which could lead to custody disputes in an already very difficult time.  Therefore, it’s critical to nominate guardians for minor children.
     
  2. A power of attorney – A power of attorney (for financial matters) dictates who is authorized to manage your financial affairs in the event you become incapacitated. Otherwise, it can be very difficult or impossible for the non-disabled partner to manage the disabled partner’s affairs without going through a lengthy guardianship or conservatorship proceeding.
     
  3. Advance healthcare directives – A power of attorney for healthcare, informs caregivers as to who is responsible for making healthcare decisions for someone in the event that a person cannot make them for himself, such as in the event of a serious accident or a condition like dementia.  Another document, called a living will, provides directions on life support issues.

In the the end, It’s imperative that unmarried couples establish proper planning to avoid undue hardship, expense and aggravation.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Did Santa Bring Your Family A Furry Friend?


Jolly Old Saint Nick must run one heck of an animal adoption agency at the North Pole. Each year he delivers new furry friends to good boys and girls around the world... and then counts on their parents to make sure the new pets are well taken care of! 

Housebreaking or litter training and obedience school are the first order of business, but once those tasks are accomplished, it is time to consider more long-term issues.
Read more . . .


Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Most Important Person To Remember In Your Estate Plan


Most people who come to me seeking estate planning advice want to ensure their loved ones are well taken care after they are gone. This is an admirable and important goal, but it should not be the number one focus of an estate plan. The central aspects of an estate plan should actually focus on taking care of the plan’s creator.

The following post will cover the two most common parts of an estate plan, which both happen to have the creator’s interests at their heart.

The Advance Medical Directive

Whether you call it an advance medical directive, a power of attorney for health care, or a living will, you are talking about the same thing.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Important Issues to Consider When Setting Up Your Estate Plan


Important Issues to Consider When Setting Up Your Estate Plan

Often estate planning focuses on the “big picture” issues, such as who gets what, whether a living trust should be created to avoid probate and tax planning to minimize gift and estate taxes. However, there are many smaller issues, which are just as critical to the success of your overall estate plan. Below are some of the issues that are often overlooked by clients and sometimes their attorneys.

Cash Flow
Is there sufficient cash? Estates incur operating expenses throughout the administration phase. The estate often has to pay state or federal estate taxes, filing fees, living expenses for a surviving spouse or other dependents, cover regular expenses to maintain assets held in the estate, and various legal expenses associated with settling the estate.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Living Trusts and Probate Avoidance


Living Trusts & Probate Avoidance

You want your money and property should go to your loved ones when you die, not to the courts, lawyers or the government. Unfortunately, unless you’ve taken proper estate planning, procedures, your heirs could lose a sizable portion of their inheritance to probate court fees and expenses. A properly-crafted and “funded” living trust is the ideal probate-avoidance tool which can save thousands in legal costs, enhance family privacy and avoid lengthy delays in distributing your property to your loved ones

What is probate, and why should you avoid it?

Probate is a court proceeding during which the will is reviewed, executors are approved, heirs, beneficiaries, debtors and creditors are notified, assets are appraised, your debts and taxes are paid, and the remaining estate is distributed according to your will (or according to state law if you don’t have a will). Probate is costly, time-consuming and very public.

A living trust, on the other hand, allows your property to be transferred to your beneficiaries, quickly and privately, with little to no court intervention, maximizing the amount your loved ones end up with.
Read more . . .


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Why Estate Planning Like A Royal Is A Bad Idea


It wasn’t too long ago in the grand scheme of human events that it was common for the first son of a noble family to inherit everything when his parents passed away. Younger sons would be expected to marry well, join the military, or take religious orders. And daughters would inherit nothing. If no sons existed or survived, a brother or nephew would inherit, a la Downton Abbey. That was just the way things were, and there was nothing to be done about it.


Read more . . .


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Guardianship Gone Wrong


There are over 1.5 million adults under the care of a guardian in the United States. Usually the guardian is a family member or friend, but sometimes a professional guardian is hired instead.
Read more . . .


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477 Viking Drive, Suite 410 , Virginia Beach, VA 23452 | Phone: 757.301.9500
5425 Discovery Park Blvd., Suite 101, Williamsburg, VA 23188 | Phone: 757.301.9500