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Vermont Estate Planning Blog

Monday, February 11, 2019

Wills: Not as Powerful as You Think


Without question, the most common misunderstanding about a Will is that it avoids probate.  THIS IS FALSE.  It’s almost the same as believing the bank will accept your Monopoly money.

Imagine this: your uncle passes, and you are named Executor in his Will.  Can you take a copy of that Will to his bank and access his funds?  Not unless you are the Hulk using your super strength to open the bank vault at night!  The Will on its own carries no legal authority.


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Monday, February 11, 2019

Lawyer Joke

Two little girls were having a heated argument about who had the better dad. One girl declared, “My dad’s a carpenter and builds buildings.”   Her friend replied, “Well, my dad’s a lawyer and makes loopholes.”

 



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Monday, February 11, 2019

New Numbers for 2019

Estate/transfer tax

Vermont estate tax exclusion:

$2,750,000

Federal estate tax threshold:

$11,400,000

Federal gift tax exclusion (annual):

$15,000

Vermont Medicaid

Community Spouse Resource Allowance: $126,420

Minimum Maintenance Needs Allowance (spousal allocation): $2,114

Home Equity Limit (singles): $585,000

 



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Monday, September 10, 2018

Tip Corner


 

Freezing Credit: A new federal law effective 9/21/18 permits consumers to freeze their credit, free of charge.  For more information, visit:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/06/free-credit-freezes-are-coming-soon-0

 



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Monday, September 10, 2018

Lawyer Joke

Lawyer Joke

 

Q: What do you have when a lawyer is buried up to his neck in sand?

 

A: Not enough sand.

 





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Friday, August 31, 2018

Estate Planning: Not a Game of Hide and Seek


Games are usually a lot of fun, but you don’t really want to play hide and seek with your estate planning documents.  After you have signed and implemented your plan, you may want privacy, but you should not hide your documents from everyone.  If you excel at concealing, it may not be found when needed.  How and with whom you share will depend upon the document and your goals, but here are some considerations:

Will—while this document has no effect until after death, it has zero effect if never discovered; you can store the original:

¨ In a fire-proof safe at home. if someone else knows location and its key

¨ In a safe deposit box at a bank, if someone else has joint access and a key to the box; without a surviving joint owner, no one will be allowed in the safe deposit box after your death without Court authority; if the joint owner cannot locate a key, there will likely be additional procedures and costs involved in accessing the box

¨ At the Probate Court in the county in which you live, for a modest fee (currently $30); however, if you move out of the county or update your will, it will be necessary to either retrieve your original will or replace it with the updated version

 

Trust—a revocable living trust is effective during your lifetime, and the Trustee may need to produce a copy of it, or a Certificate of Trust, when managing its assets.
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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lawyer Joke

Q: Why don’t lawyers play hide and seek?

A: Nobody wants to look for them.

 



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Monday, February 19, 2018

Tip Corner

New estate/transfer tax numbers for 2018:

Federal estate tax threshold:

$11,290,000

Vermont estate tax exclusion:

$2,750,000

Annual gift tax exclusion:

$15,000

 



Read more . . .


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Estate Planning: Taxation of Life Insurance


Life insurance plays a vital role in many estate plans.  Proceeds can provide essential funds to replace lost earnings, pay debts, finance college tuition expenses, or even cover estate tax liabilities.  However, there is confusion about the taxation of these life insurance proceeds.  Contrary to common belief, insurance benefits are taxable to the estate of the insured.   For many Vermont estates, it is inconsequential because they total under $2,750,000.
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Monday, February 12, 2018

Elder Law: Legal Capacity ≠ Memory


Can you remember what you had for breakfast yesterday morning? Or what you wore last Friday?  Details involving routine tasks elude many of us, but does that define our legal capacity?  While that may provide clues, it is not an absolute ingredient in the test for legal capacity.  In fact, there is no “bright line” test for capacity.  It is a grey area and does not equate to passing a memory test.

Accordingly, individuals suffering memory impairment or even diagnosed forms of dementia are not automatically deemed legally incapacitated.  While medical providers are generally concerned with diagnosis and treatment, a legal assessment of capacity focuses on a person’s functional ability to engage in and understand a particular transaction.
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Friday, September 15, 2017

Elder Law: What Do You Know About Hospice


According to national hospice utilization data, Vermonters appear to avail themselves of hospice services at a lower rate than residents of other states.  While there are likely many reasons, education should not be one.

Hospice is an end-of life care model of coordinated services and support for patients and their families.  The focus is on quality care, comfort, and pain management, not treatment.  Individuals enrolled in hospice receive compassionate care from an interdisciplinary team that may include medical providers, spiritual advisors, therapists, social workers, and volunteers.


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