I’m sure most of you are glad the tax filing deadline has come and gone, although I suspect there are plenty of you that have postponed the inevitable with an extension.  Either way, just getting through the April deadline seems to remove much of the anxiety surrounding taxes in general and can allow us to


This article is the final installment in a three-part series on estate planning. In part one, we touched on the basics of estate planning – why we all need to put an estate plan in place. We also discussed the attributes of the will and the trust, the two most foundational documents in an estate plan. In part two, we walked through the history of estate and gift taxes from antiquity to present day. Taxes due at death were often used to raise revenue to pay down debt from one-time expenses like wars, but over time they became more ingrained in the tax code. Simply put, governments recognized the inevitable death of each of its citizens as a regular and predictable opportunity to tax the transfer of property from the decedent to his or her beneficiaries.


After almost twenty years in the financial services industry, I can tell you firsthand as an attorney that estate planning is the most overlooked, misunderstood and procrastinated piece of the financial plan for most families. I can also tell you from experience why that’s usually the case: most people think putting together an estate plan is a lot more complex, costly and time-consuming than it almost always turns out to be. In fact, with just a little focus of time and resources, a family can save itself thousands of dollars and countless hours of time wasted in picking up the pieces after the death of a loved one because a viable estate plan was never put in place.

This article is part one in a short series on the aspects of estate planning. Today, we’ll touch on the very basics and will feature two important documents – the will and the trust. In a few follow-up articles, we’ll take a deeper dive into issues regarding taxes, gifting, beneficiaries, and we’ll look at which ancillary documents, in addition to wills and trusts, round out the “basic set” of estate planning documents for most families.

Who is the beneficiary of your 401k or IRA?

This oversight could cost your loved ones dearly.

Something seemingly so easy as to declare the beneficiary of your 401k has caused heartache for many unsuspecting heirs, who are unintentionally left with nothing.

Take the case of Ben Langford, who worked at a privately owned company for 25 years. He named his wife of 38 years the beneficiary of his 401k account in the event he died before her. As it turned out, however, she died first.

Consequently, Ben smartly updated his account, naming his three grown children as the co-beneficiaries of his account.

Importance of Estate Planning

Estate Planning is one of the most important steps that any person can take to ensure that their property and their health care wishes are honored, and that loved ones are provided for in their absence (either death or incapacitation).