Do I Need a Trust?
How do you know if you need a trust? This question is even harder to answer when you consider the amount of bad advice people give. To help you navigate this question, this article discusses two common but unhelpful considerations and then a few less common but more helpful considerations.
Retirement Trusts after the SECURE Act
Tallgrass Estate Planning Attorney Riley Kern gave a continuing education presentation to the Oklahoma Bar Association's Estate Planning, Probate, and Trust Section on May 7. While the presentation was no intended for an audience of non-lawyers, we recognize that there are other attorneys who visit our site and might benefit from this information, and there are many non-lawyers who want to learn more than just the basics about the law.
Gift, Loan, or Advance: What's the Difference?
You've created an estate plan through a will or a trust, but you may still intend to make distributions to your loved ones during your lifetime. You may not have considered it, but these lifetime distributions can create some problems later on. To save time, money, and prevent suspicion, it is important that you clarify now whether these distributions are gifts, loans, or advancements.
Low Interest: The Right Time for Advanced Trust Planning
The IRS has announced new Section 7520 rates, the rates that are used to determine the values of certain important gifting and estate planning techniques, such as charitable gifts, private annuities, and transfers to charitable trusts and intentionally defective trusts. These planning tools are critical for reducing or eliminating estate taxes and creating asset protection during the grantor's lifetime.
How to Create 176 Trust Fund Tigers; or, What is a Pet Trust?
Whether you are the Tiger King or a "crazy cat lady," whether you have fields full of cattle or a backyard chicken coop, whether you breed pedigreed dogs or rescue mutts, or whether you keep snakes or tarantulas or other creepy-crawlies, you need to make provision for the care of your animals during your incapacity and after your death.
The Family Bank: Protect Assets, Reduce Taxes, and Create Generational Wealth
As we use the term, a "family bank" is an estate planning tool that allows you to remove assets from your taxable estate, to protect those assets from liabilities, and to preserve those assets over multiple generations while training each successive generation on important principles of financial management.
Planning after SECURE: 5 ways to make the most of it
Here's the punchline: Before the SECURE Act, non-spouse beneficiaries, like your kids, could inherit IRAs and 401(k)s and "stretch" out the required minimum distributions over their own life expectancy. This helped minimize the income tax consequences to the beneficiaries and allowed for continued tax-deferred growth inside of those accounts.
On Building or Burning Bridges
From time to time, we work with a "perfect" family - partners are in love and stable, kids all get along, everyone is healthy and financially responsible. But most of the time, somewhere in the family, there is tension, suspicion, addiction, financial liabilities, or any number of other relational, financial, or physical causes for concerns.
The Great Table Giveaway!
A little over 3 years ago, when we started down this beautiful, hopeful, uncertain path, we didn’t know how our informal, admittedly non-traditional, the approach would be received. We hoped that if we knew our stuff, cared about our clients, and stayed true to our vision, that we’d be able to do something helpful, maybe even special. And people, hundreds of clients, and over *1000* Facebook likes later, here we are!
The Real Reason People Don't Plan (hint: blame the lawyers)
Estate planning is unlike other areas of law - like criminal defense, family law, or personal injury - which demand immediate action because of a present crisis. Estate planning is about getting out ahead of a crisis, making things as smooth as possible down the road. Because of that, it's easy for all of us to procrastinate.
What even IS estate planning?
A little while ago we posted an explainer of what an “estate” even is. So, now that we’ve all read that, the next big question is, “What is estate planning?” Most people think of estate planning as “what happens to my stuff when I die.” But it starts far, far earlier than that.
Estate Planning Rewrites: Roger Rabbit
As a refresher for those who haven’t seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in a while: Part of Los Angeles is a cartoon animation called Toontown, filled with cartoon actors (“Toons”) who star in real live-action films and live amongst real people. Toontown is owned by businessman Marvin Acme, who is tragically murdered, and Roger Rabbit—one of the biggest Toons in the biz—is the prime suspect.
Hello. We're Tallgrass. Nice to meet you.
Please allow us to introduce ourselves. We are a team of attorneys who imagine a different way to work and help clients. We are a work in progress, just like you and your family. And here are a few things that drive how we work and where we're headed.
More Than One Way to Cover Your Assets
Like everything else in estate planning, asset protection isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition. What type of protection you need depends entirely on the type of asset you want to protect and the source of the potential threat - creditors, lawsuits, divorcing spouses, financial predators, remarriages, long-term care costs, income taxes, estate taxes, etc.
Two Ways. Choose Wisely.
Here's the #1 reason people do estate planning: to avoid lengthy and expensive court proceedings, like probate and guardianship. There are many other reasons, of course, but avoiding the time and cost of courts is foundational for the vast majority of our clients. In this post, we want to describe the two primary ways of doing just that, and why you might prefer one over the other.
Estate Planning for Farmers
Deciding how to distribute or divide the family farm, ranch, or land is not an easy task. Perhaps not all of your children want the farm, determining value is tricky, there are loan and subsidy programs to preserve, there are tax complications, and there are asset protection concerns.
Stop Caring So Much About the Joneses
A few months ago, my wife and I noticed a crack forming in the concrete floor underneath the carpet in our daughter's bedroom. What started as mild concern grew into real anxiety as we felt the crack grow larger within a few short days. We called a structural engineer to check the integrity of the house, a plumber to check for slab leaks, and a few different specialists to get estimates on repairs.
The Basics: What IS an estate?
We encounter a lot of misunderstandings and misinformation in our practice. One of the most frequent is also the most basic: What is your “estate”? If you’re not a billionaire real estate mogul or an heiress to a hotel fortune or Rich Uncle Pennybags (aka "Monopoly Man"), do you even have an estate?
How to Adult (at least a little)
"Adulting" is one of my favorite neologisms, even though it's been criticized harshly by some. If you're new to the word, you've still probably already figured out what it means. It's just a playful way to describe doing typically "adult" things that no one particularly likes to do but everyone has to - doing laundry instead of just buying more underwear, eating your vegetables instead of pizza rolls, actually going to the doctor, paying your taxes, changing a tire, etc, etc, etc. You get the gist.
Addiction: How Your Estate Plan Can Help
If someone you love struggles with substance abuse or other forms of addiction, it is essential that you discuss the issue with your estate planning attorney and find solutions that give you peace of mind and, when possible, provide responsible assistance to those suffering from addiction.
So, you're having a baby.
Was it planned or a surprise? Is it your first or your last? Are you having a girl or a boy? No matter what, I can tell you one thing. You're having a responsibility. I know you know that. I know you're reading or have already read all of the latest parenting books and mommy blogs (or avoiding them like the plague).
How to Host a Mortality Party. Yes, We're Serious.
A mortality party is a way to talk about planning for disability and death that makes the conversation less intimidating. Here's what happens:An individual or couple invites a group of people (more about that below) to their home or church or anywhere else that feels comfortable for them and their group.
Your Plan: Wisdom and Generosity
Less than a month until the filing deadline. Some of you show-offs have already filed your returns, and others (like me) are saying you'll get around to it "tomorrow." Not everyone will receive a refund, of course, but those who do should have a plan for how to use it.
Blended: Two Important Considerations for "Step" Family Estate Planning
Roughly a third to half of the families we work with are "blended," meaning some or all of the children - whether minors or adults - came into the new family with the spouses. Some families blend easily; others, not so much. Regardless, when it comes to estate planning, blended families have a few special considerations. If you are in a blended family, here are two things you need to discuss with your spouse and attorney.
The Basics: What's a "trust" and what does it do for me?
A thorough estate plan includes several important documents, but at the heart of the plan is either a trust or a will. Helping people understand the distinction between a trust and a will is one of the most important parts of my conversations with clients. Most people don't know the difference, or, more importantly, why the difference matters. But if you will invest 30 seconds skimming this post, you will know more about trusts than just about everyone else you meet.
Misconceptions: "I don't have much, so I don't need an estate plan."
Estate planning is not about how much stuff you have. It's just not. And yet, the sentiment "We don't have much" is a common response when the topic comes up. I want to take just a few paragraphs to let you know why you need an estate plan, whether you have millions or nothing more than a mortgage and a life insurance policy (or less).