Divorce and Estate Planning

We’d all like to think that once you have made a will and possibly done some other estate planning, that you’ll never have to worry about doing it again.  If an estate plan is done right AND you have no major life changes, that may very well be true.  I recently had a couple come see me who had done wills back in 1981.  They had them updated (amended via adding codicils) back in 1997.  And, for the most part, the wills were still pretty applicable today.  So, 1981 to 2018, with a minor updating in 1997 – I told them that they pretty much got their money’s worth out of those wills.  However, their life was pretty stable – they remained married that entire time and their children were already born when the wills were first drafted.  So, that was a relatively stable 37 years of their life.  Ironically, it wasn’t a change in their own marriage that led them to get a new set of wills done in 2018 – it was a situation in one of their children’s marriage that necessitated the new wills.  In this case, they were concerned about […]

By | January 11th, 2019|0 Comments

¿Por qué los niños universitarios necesitan un poder notarial vigente?

Ana Ballesteros, W M Law Paralegal

En las próximas semanas, los padres con hijos universitarios van de un lado a otro preparando y haciendo todas las compras que los hijos necesitan para llevarse a la universidad: ropas, artículos para los dormitorios, libros.  También intentamos enseñarlos esas lecciones de último minuto. Pero, hay algo que usted también debe añadir a su lista de cosas que hacer: poner en marcha un poder notarial.

¿Por qué un niño con destino a la Universidad necesita un poder notarial? En primer lugar, estos estudiantes universitarios tienen ahora 18 años de edad o más y legalmente nosotros, los padres, puede que no podamos protegerlos rápidamente en momentos cruciales si no planeamos con antelación.  Cuando eran niños y pasaba algo, íbamos a rescatarlos y legalmente podíamos hacerlo porque éramos sus guardianes. Una vez que el niño cumple 18 años, los padres ni siquiera pueden acceder a sus calificaciones universitarias o registros de salud sin el permiso del niño adulto.

Los padres no quieren nunca pensar en lo  “impensable”, pero ¿qué pasa si su hijo está en un accidente, o experimenta una condición médica mientras está ausente y es incapaz de tomar decisiones o hablar por sí mismo? ¿Quién comunicará sus […]

By | August 22nd, 2018|0 Comments

Why Do College-Bound Kids Need a Power-of-Attorney in Place?

By Ana Ballesteros, W M Law Paralegal

As parents race around the next few weeks to buy their college-bound children dorm items, clothing, supplies and teach them last-minute life lessons, there is one more item they should add to their to-do list:  put in place a power of attorney.

Why would a college-bound child need a power of attorney? First of all, these college-bound students are now 18 years of age or older and legally we parents may not be able to protect them quickly in dire moments if we do not plan ahead.  When they were kids and something would happen, we would come to their rescue and were legally able to do so because we were their guardians. Once that child turns 18, parents cannot even access their college grades or health records without permission from the adult child.

Parents do not want their minds to wander to the “unthinkable” but what if their child is in an accident, or experiences a medical condition while away and is unable to make decisions or speak for themselves? Who will communicate their wishes? What if decisions need to be made quickly?  These situations do occur and in some cases require drawn-out legal procedures.

So, […]

By | August 10th, 2018|0 Comments

Fideicomisos de Medicaid ó Miller fideicomisos ó fideicomisos de ingresos calificativos


Cuando se trata de necesidades de atención médica, siempre tratamos de retrasar lo inevitable, prepararnos para nuestras necesidades futuras. El costo promedio de por mes para un centro de cuidado de ancianos es de aproximadamente $6.000 más visitas hospitalarias y gastos de medicamentos costosos.

La forma en que Medicaid trabaja es que ellos pueden ayudarle a pagar sus gastos, pero sólo si sus ingresos demuestran que usted no tiene suficiente dinero para pagar la atención que necesita. Entonces, ¿qué sucede cuando sus ingresos se califican pero su cónyuge también trabaja, y lo pone por encima del requisito de ingresos de Medicaid? ¿o qué sucede si sus ingresos se califican pero usted tiene su casa pagada y tal vez algunos activos adicionales como un ira/401 (k) o una casa de vacaciones?

Medicaid puede poner gravámenes en su propiedad después de que ya no necesite el programa de asistencia o que usted haya fallecido. La mala noticia es que si usted no toma medidas de protección, puede perder todos los bienes que usted adquirió trabajando duramente.  La buena noticia es que hay un instrumento especial que usted puede crear para proteger sus activos y asegurarse de que puedan pasarse  a su familia como usted […]

By | May 25th, 2018|0 Comments

Three Key Suggestions to Avoid Disputes in your Estate Planning Process

By Doug Sisson, W M Law Paralegal

Your beneficiaries’ fondness of one another may be out of your control, in life or death. With that in mind, the following tips and considerations will help you avoid future litigation, or at least minimize it to avoid that steep attorney bill many fail to account for:  “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” – Robert Frost

  1. Plan when you are healthy 

When you fall ill, all of you mental and physical resources should be devoted to getting better, not drafting an estate plan.  One should devise an estate plan and ponder their family dynamics while you are well and of sound mind.  If you wait until you fall ill to draft your plan, it may be poorly drafted, or may not be completed at all.  Devising a plan while you are well also relieving the burden from family members who may be left guessing your final wishes or medical decisions.

  1. Seek quality independent legal advice free from undue influence

Online resources (such as this blog) can aid in a rough idea of what you will need, but not much more than that.  DIY estate plans can also create a huge liability as they […]

By | March 14th, 2018|0 Comments

Discussions With Family Prior to Estate Planning

By Ana Ballesteros, W M Law Paralegal

Estate Planning can be a difficult conversation to have with your love ones. People generally do not like to think about what would happen if a loved one were to pass away either suddenly or expectedly. What would happen to the house? The cars? How would the sentimental things get distributed? The purpose of an Estate Plan is not only to ensure that the transition moves as peaceful as possible without having any fights between siblings or step-family members but also to give you peace of mind that your wishes are being respected. Here the 5 things to talk about with your family when preparing for your Estate Plan.

How to plan your Estate Plan: The reason for an estate plan, is to ensure that your belongings do not go through probate. A death is already difficult, not to mention having to go through a legal process for your family to keep what already belongs to them, your legacy. Talk to them about what will need to be included and what you think is best to pass on right away. If you do not feel comfortable letting them know what each will get, you do […]

By | February 22nd, 2018|0 Comments

Two Misconceptions about Estate Plans

By Doug Sisson, W M Law Paralegal

Misconception #1 – Estate Planning is only for old people

Accidents happen, unless you are immortal…  A living trust is an important tool to safeguard a single person or family of any age.  Think of a trust as your “invisible buddy” that can speak for you when you are unable to. A living trust not only guards your assets, it guides your loved ones and keeps them from guessing as to your intentions. Another valuable tool is managing money should you leave your estate to a young person or even a minor child. With a trust you can appoint a person to manage the trust until your children (or grandchildren) are of an age you decide.

Misconception #2 – Estate Plans are for the Ultra Wealthy 1% of the Population

If you own property, you need an estate plan. A Revocable “Living” Trust is a very versatile tool to help divide and protect your assets and leave instructions for your own healthcare as well as others. A living trust can benefit you in many of the following ways:

  • Avoiding Probate: Probate litigation is a costly and lengthy process your loved ones will want to avoid.
  • Avoiding Taxes: A […]
By | January 30th, 2018|0 Comments

Holiday Discussions You NEED to Have

By Jeff Wagoner, W M Law President

Well, it’s the holidays, and likely be spending time with your family (for better or for worse!).  Oftentimes, the discussion will center around the kids in the family, the local sports teams and maybe even a little bit of politics.  You might even discuss health issues and concerns, especially regarding the senior members of your family.  Although we like to think happy thoughts during the holidays, I would suggest that spend at least a few minutes with your family members discussing your estate plan and your desires for healthcare decisions in the event you aren’t able to make them for yourself.  It doesn’t have to be a downer and it doesn’t have to bring tears to everyone’s eyes.  But, it can provide a great deal of relief and call into mind the more important things in life, especially at a time when everyone is busy with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

If you have an estate plan, you likely have made designations of certain family members who you want to make decisions for you in the event that you cannot.  Generally, these decisions take two forms:  financial or property decisions and then […]

By | November 28th, 2017|0 Comments

“Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Settle Up the Estate of a Deceased Family Member Who Had Very Little Property?”

By Jeff Wagoner
W M Law President
We often have initial consultations with people who are faced with wrapped up the estate of a loved one who recently passed away, but that person really didn’t have much property.  Here’s an example:  Uncle Joe never married and had no children.  He passed away last week.  He rented an apartment (with 6 months remaining on the lease), drove a car worth $10,000 with a $6,000 loan on it, had a checking account with $1,000 and a savings account with $250 in them, had a pet dog, worked a part time job, drew Social Security of $1,100 per month, had some furniture, clothing, household goods, a couple of TVs and other inexpensive electronics and an old motorcycle that didn’t run.  Oh, and he also has $12,000 in credit card debt.  The family is looking to you to “just take care of everything.”  You are, after all, “the responsible one.”  But, what do you do and where do you start?
First off, you know you need some help – you can’t just expect the bank to give you the money from the accounts and what are you going to do about the titles to the car and […]

By | August 30th, 2017|0 Comments

Are You Ready to Travel?  Really?!

It’s summer time and that means summer vacation time!  Yahoo!  So, let’s pack up the suitcases and the kids and the car and head out.  If you’re like me, in the weeks prior to a vacation, you make a checklist of all of the stuff that’s got to get done before you can leave:  have the mail held at the post office, stop the newspaper delivery, arrange for someone to mow the lawn, arrange for a friend to stop by your house and check on it every couple of days, turn up the thermostat, etc.  So, you spend a lot of time planning and organizing and getting all of your ducks in a row so that you can go on vacation and enjoy leaving your normal worries behind.  Right?  But, are you truly prepared?  Although we hate to think about it, accidents do happen on vacation.  If you are traveling with your spouse, an accident could end up leaving your children without both parents.  We don’t want to think about it, but it happens every day, multiple times around the United States.
In 2016, there were 40,200 traffic deaths in the United States.  In addition to being safety conscious this vacation […]

By | July 7th, 2017|0 Comments