New & Notable Developments from

The Law Office of James A. Hyatt

This page of our website is designed to bring current news and information about us and about the important developments in areas that affect planning we do for our clients at The Law Office of James A. Hyatt.

Do I Still Need A Living Trust?

Most of my clients have a Revocable Living Trust as the centerpiece of their estate plan.  For many of them, a major reason they created the trust may have been the significant estate tax benefits it provided.  But as you may have heard, recent tax law changes have essentially eliminated the danger of an estate tax for more than 99% of us.  Thus, for most of my clients the Living Trust no longer provides any estate tax benefits.  So it is reasonable for folks to wonder if their Living Trust now serves any beneficial purpose and to ask:  “Do I still need a Living Trust?”

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“Stretch-Out Trusts” For Retirement Benefits

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and other retirement assets such as 401(k) and 403(b) accounts always present a special challenge when it comes to estate planning.  In addition to being subject to the estate tax, retirement assets are also subject to income tax.  While other assets like homes, bank accounts and investment assets pass to your heirs income tax free, a beneficiary of a retirement account will owe income tax on 100% of the amount inherited.

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Prepare Your Heirs

So, you have succeeded in putting your estate plan together – you have your Will, Trust, Powers of Attorney, and Medical Directives in place.  The beneficiary designations for your life insurance policies and retirement accounts are in place.  You review your estate plan periodically to make sure it continues to reflect your wishes and accomplish your goals.  All the legal documents necessary to implement your estate plan are complete.  But there is one further step you can take to make things easier for your loved ones if you die – prepare them for the eventuality.

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Does Your Living Trust Measure Up?

Over the past 10-20 years Living Trusts have become the estate planning vehicle of choice for many people. Such revocable trusts are frequently recommended by estate planning attorneys, financial advisers and CPAs.

Living Trusts come in all shapes and sizes – there is no “one size fits all” form that can be suitable for everyone. I am often asked by advisers and their clients to review Living Trusts that have been prepared by other lawyers (or sometimes by the clients themselves with the help of software or self-help books.) Here is a checklist of things..

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Why Your Living Trust May Be Obsolete

Over the last twenty years, Living Trusts have become the most popular form of estate planning. Living Trusts are very effective tools in facilitating most people’s estate planning objectives – providing for the management of property in the event of a disability and passing their estates in the most economical fashion.  But as we tell our clients, there are many reasons why you should review and sometimes update your Living Trust.

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The Ten Costliest Estate Planning Mistakes

Based on my 35 years of assisting clients with their estate planning and cleaning up messes left behind by those who died without having properly planned for their families, I have gathered together what I consider to be the most important lessons and advice that I can share.  My hope is that by sharing this essential information, more families can be spared the difficulties that can otherwise be avoided by proper planning.

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Estate Planning For Special People: What You Need To Know About Special Needs Trusts

Parents of children with disabilities and special needs face unique challenges in providing for the day-to-day needs of their loved ones.  When their thoughts turn to the issues that would arise if the parents were no longer around, the challenges become perhaps even more daunting. Consequently, estate planning for parents of special needs children requires much thought and preparation.

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