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Category: Estate Planning
Avoiding Estate Planning Mistakes: Common Pitfalls to Watch Out For

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: May 10, 2023

Estate planning is an essential process that involves making arrangements for the distribution of assets and wealth after death. Unfortunately, however, estate planning can often be complex, leading to mistakes which could create issues for loved ones in the future. Here we will outline some potential pitfalls you need to watch out for so as to avoid making estate planning errors.

Failing to create an estate plan

One of the most frequent errors people make is failing to create an estate plan. This can lead to confusion and disputes within family units, as assets may not be distributed as planned. To prevent this mistake from recurring, it’s wise to consult an estate planning attorney for assistance in crafting an in-depth estate plan.

Not updating your estate plan

Mistakenly failing to regularly update your estate plan can have serious repercussions. Changes such as marriage, divorce, birth or death in the family can have profound ramifications for it; reviewing it every few years or when significant events take place is recommended for optimal results.

Not considering the tax implications

Estate taxes have the ability to have a profound effect on both you and your beneficiaries, with failing to consider tax ramifications of an estate plan having serious ramifications for both. Therefore, it’s crucial that you seek assistance from an experienced estate planning attorney in creating a plan which minimizes tax liabilities as part of creating a lasting legacy for loved ones.

Not planning for incapacity

However, planning for incapacity should also be prioritized when considering future outcomes. This includes creating documents such as a power of attorney, healthcare proxy and living will. Failing to plan in this way could force family members into making difficult decisions on your behalf without guidance or input from you.

Not communicating your wishes

Finalizing an estate plan without discussing it with loved ones can cause confusion and disagreement after you pass. Therefore, it’s vital to discuss it so everyone understands your wishes and works towards fulfilling them together.

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The Importance of Powers of Attorney in Estate Planning

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: April 11, 2023

Estate planning is a complex process that involves making decisions regarding the management and distribution of your assets in case of death or incapacity. One essential element of estate planning is using powers of attorney, which allow you to appoint someone else to make decisions in your place if you become unable to do that yourself.

A power of attorney is a legal document that grants another individual (known as an agent or attorney-in-fact) the power to act on your behalf. The types of powers of attorney may vary:

  1. General Power of Attorney: This grants the agent broad powers to make financial decisions on your behalf, such as managing bank accounts, paying bills, and investing.
  1. Limited Power of Attorney: This grants the agent specific authority to carry out an action, such as selling property.
  1. Durable Power of Attorney: Maintains its effect even if you come to be incapacitated or not able to make decisions for yourself.
  1. Healthcare Power of Attorney: This grants the agent authority to make decisions regarding healthcare on your behalf in case you become incapacitated.

Powers of attorney are an essential element in estate planning, as they give your loved ones the ability to make important decisions for you in case of incapacitation or inability. Without this legal protection, family members may have to go to court in order to be appointed as guardian or conservator – a time-consuming, costly process that’s also emotionally draining.

Another advantage of powers of attorney is that they give you a measure of control over your affairs. By selecting someone trustworthy to act as your agent, you can ensure your wishes are carried out and your finances handled according to plan.

When creating a power of attorney, it is essential to select an agent you trust who is responsible and reliable, as well as willing to act in your best interests. Additionally, selecting an alternate agent may be wise in case the first choice becomes unavailable or unwilling to serve.

It is also essential to periodically review and update your powers of attorney. Life circumstances can change over time, and without an up-to-date estate plan in place, it could potentially fail. By conducting regular reviews of your estate plan, you can guarantee that all of your wishes are carried out and affairs are managed according to what you wish.

In conclusion, powers of attorney are an integral part of estate planning. They provide a way for someone to make critical decisions in the event you become incapacitated or are unable to make them for yourself, giving you some control over your affairs.

By carefully selecting an agent and periodically reviewing and updating your powers of attorney documents, you can guarantee that your wishes are carried out and managed accordingly. For assistance creating or revising your powers of attorney documents, reach out to The O’Brien Law Firm today; our knowledgeable attorneys can offer guidance and support in crafting an effective estate plan tailored specifically towards your needs and objectives.

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Estate Planning for Small Business Owners

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: March 20, 2023

Small business owners face unique challenges when it comes to estate planning. Unlike individuals who work for a company or have a regular job, small business owners must consider how their death or incapacity will affect their business. Proper estate planning can help ensure that a small business owner’s wishes are carried out and that their business is able to continue operating in their absence.

Planning Considerations for Small Business Owners

Business Succession Planning

Small business owners must plan for what will happen to their business in the event of their death or incapacity. This can include naming a successor to take over the company, setting up a buy-sell agreement, or creating a trust to hold the business assets.

Asset Protection

Small business owners must protect their personal assets from any liabilities associated with their business. This can include creating a separate legal entity for the business, such as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC), and ensuring that the business is adequately insured.

Tax Planning

Small business owners must consider the tax implications of their estate plans. This can include minimising estate taxes, avoiding probate, and ensuring that the business is structured in a tax-efficient manner.

Retirement Planning

Small business owners must plan for their retirement and ensure that their businesses will be able to provide for them during their retirement years. This can include setting up a retirement plan for the business and ensuring that the company is generating enough income to support its retirement needs.

Succession Planning

Small business owners must plan for the long-term future of their business. This can include grooming a successor to take over the company, ensuring that the firm has a solid management team in place, and creating a strategic plan for the future of the business.

Estate Administration

Small business owners must ensure their estate plan is properly administered after death. This can include naming an executor or trustee to oversee the distribution of assets, ensuring that beneficiaries receive their inheritances in a timely manner, and minimising the risk of disputes among heirs.

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How to Choose the Right Guardian

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: February 15, 2023

It can be extremely hard to transfer the responsibility of raising your children to someone else, but it is our duty to ensure our children will be in the best hands. That is why picking a legal guardian to look after the kids is necessary in case both parents die. You get plenty of time to think about who would be the best suitable option for your kids, and you can always change your mind because this decision cannot be rushed.

Not Making A Married Couple Your Priority

It is not necessary that you have to choose a married couple specifically to take care of your child because divorce can happen even among the best couples. There is always that question of whether your child will fit in with the rest of the children or not if the couple has any children of their own.

Grandparents Are Not a Great Choice

It is true that your parents did a great job raising you, but it should also be taken into account that they are old and may not be able to look after your children properly. It is also important to notice the relationship your kids share with their grandparents.

Close Family Friends

Your family friends are a better option, especially the ones having kids of the same age as your children. In this case, your children will connect easily with other children of the same age.

Taking the Opinion of Your Children

If your kids are old enough to make this decision, you can ask them whom they want to live with. You must ensure that your children have a good emotional connection with your chosen guardian.

Keep a Backup Option

If the person you chose refuses to take responsibility for your children, they can always go to their backup guardians. That is why it is very important to choose a good backup guardian for your kids in case the guardians reject the responsibility. All of these decisions would be hard to take, but every possible step should be taken to make sure that your children are in the right hands.

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Can My Spouse and I Draft a Joint Will for Estate Planning?

On Behalf of O’Brien Law Firm, LLC

Posted on: January 24, 2023

A joint will is often drafted by married couples to distribute their assets and properties. Couples usually have the same goals for the future and hence agree on a joint will. However, while it is possible to get a joint will for estate planning, lawyers mostly advise against it.

Joint will have specific rules that state if one of the spouses dies, the assets and estate automatically go to the surviving spouse. And when the second spouse dies, the estate goes to their children. Married couples find this way of estate planning easier and cheaper because they do not want two separate wills when they both have the same goals for the future.

Problems With Joint Wills

The most common problem that arises with joint wills is that they cannot be changed after one spouse dies. In most cases, the surviving spouse does not have the power to change or alter the will without the second spouse. Whatever happens after one spouse’s death, the rules of the estate plan will remain the same.

Even if the surviving spouse remarries, they cannot include their children from the second marriage in the joint will. Similarly, they cannot remove anyone from the inheritance or sell the estate or the assets. It does not matter if the spouse wants to sell some part of the estate to meet their living expenses during hard times; a ‘joint will’ cannot be altered.

The living spouse cannot add executors or beneficiaries in the joint will. The beneficiaries that were born after the joint will was decided cannot also be included. The time for inheritance is also fixed and cannot be changed if one of the spouses has passed away.

Apart from that, joint wills are not legal in some countries. Many courts and judges often separate the joint will for both spouses or declare the whole joint will invalid in some states. And in many cases, the assets and properties get tied up in the joint will for years. This can cause many problems for the living spouse.

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“From my initial consultation throughout the entire process, Mr. O'Brien and his staff handled my legal matters with the utmost professionalism and care. I am especially grateful for Crystal who patiently answered all my questions and put my mind to ease over and over. Thank you O'Brien Law Firm, LLC!”
– C.H.
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– C.H.

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