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Here is another presentation that I have given to groups and churches.  It examines the consequences of not having the proper documents in place.

http://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dgjs8z3d_5cmdpn4gw

A great article from Money Outlook on planning for your children’s financial future.

http://money.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?264238

Here is an article from Forbes.com about celebrities such as Jimi Hendrix, Princess Diana and Sonny Bono and the mistakes they made with their estate planning; or lack thereof. 

http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/27/princess-diana-hendrix-personal-finance-financial-advisor-network-estate-planning.html?boxes=HomepageFAN

That should not be the question.  With gifting, you not only benefit yourself, you potentially save future generations from a heavy tax burden.  In addition to a reduction in taxes, by reducing the size of your estate, you generally reduce the amount of probate costs and legal fees if an estate has to pass through probate. 

Gifting is exactly what is sounds like:  giving a gift to a spouse, a family member, a friend or even a charity.  It is an estate planning tool that can used to reduce the total amount of an estate to avoid taxes and probate fees.  Each person can give $13,000 a year to anyone they want to tax-free.  The number of people who receive a tax-free gift of $13,000 is unlimited.  Married couples can combine their amount to $26,000 a year.

Gifting is mainly used by people with large estates.  However, anyone can leave a charitable gift at anytime and even include a final charitable gift in their will or trust.  I always suggest to my clients to leave a gift to a charity… no matter the size.  Even a small gift of 1% of their total estate left to the American Cancer Society, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, American Red Cross, Salvation Army or any number of other charities can go a long way in helping to prevent disease, mentor children and care for those in need.  Consult with your estate planner to find the perfect gifting avenue for you and your family

There are situations arising in which spouses are being left out due to the repeal of the estate tax.  Well intended estate planners have drawn up wills and trusts with language referring to the estate tax… but what if the estate tax is not there?  Estates can pass by the spouse and solely land on the children.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/money/bal-bz.ambrose26jan26,0,3386257.story

Everyone’s New Year’s resolution should be to keep his/her financial house in order. In reality, most Americans do not get passing grades when it comes to personal financial planning. We could all do better. This year, resolve to take small steps to control personal finances.

There are a few main areas of personal financial planning. These are estate planning, taxes, risk management, debt management and investing.  Rick Bloom at Bloom Asset Management details how to handle your personal financial planning in 2010.

http://www.hometownlife.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20101070593

Many families have now been “blended” together through remarriages and are increasing in number.  These families typically include children and grandchildren from prior marriages.  An estate planner needs to take extra special care in planning for these families.  There are some complex issues that arise. 

Estate planners need to ensure that certain children and grand-children are not unintentionally disinherited.  Additionally, current spouses sometimes need protection from existing descendants and many times the assets need protection from former spouses.  Premarital agreements, or prenuptial agreements, can also protect assets for descendants when a family becomes “blended”. 

Estate planning for blended families can morph into the more important goal of asset protection.  Trusts are always an appropriate tool to ensure assets are protected and pass to intended heirs.  Ensure that your entire family is taken care of when you plan for your estate.

The estate tax only applies to individuals who are worth more than $3.5 million and families worth more than $7 million.  However, with the estate tax dead, the capital gains tax will affect everyone.

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3038

This is very troubling for millions of families who would not have had to pay taxes as the value of their estates were less than $3.5 million.  Heirs will now have to pay capital gains taxes no matter the total value of the estate.

  http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=amAp4mEjfjFQ

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