Our posts about Estate Planning

Asset Protection and Estate Planning Considerations for Business Owners

When you form a corporation around your business, you limit your personal liability. In other words, a corporation can protect your personal assets from the liability of a business lawsuit.

But what happens if you, the individual, are sued? The value of your business will be considered a personal asset and could very well be included in a judgment.

So not only do you need to protect your personal assets from your business liabilities, you need to protect your business from your personal liabilities as well.

Many business owners make the mistake of believing that a standard Trust will protect all of their assets. However, this is often not the case, especially for those who are business owners themselves.

You also need to know that a standard trust may not…

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Use your Estate Plan to share what you love with those who share the passion

Do you find peace on long hikes, slow bike rides or gardening? Do you love books or films, collect coins or stamps? What hobbies are you passionate about?

Whatever those loves, you likely shared them with some of the people close to you.

Those friends you hike with, bike with, or enjoyed the intricacies of coins with… These are people with whom your friendships are special.

As you create you Will, after going over your financial assets consider using your Estate Plan to go beyond — to pass your belongings to the great people you shared those hobbies with.

You can use it to say thank you to the people who have touched your life—by sharing something of that hobby or passion with.

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Client Spotlight – The Blantons

Eloise and Dr. Carlton Blanton — both graduates of Los Angeles’ USC — learned and recognized the value if having a great School Principal at early ages.

Knowing that a great principal is an important key to having a worthwhile school and motivated students, they have taken action to help find and build such principals.

The newly created Dr. Carlton and Eloise Blanton Endowed Scholarship at USC Rossier will specifically support students who aspire to be school principals. Their endowment of $160,000 to USC Rossier will support the studies of students who, as the Blantons put it, “€œhave resiliency, bounce back from adversity, are good listeners, and are highly motivated.”€

The Law Offices of Joe Girard is proud to be the legal counsel and trust advisors for these fine philanthropists for ten years now. Having helped them to plan their estate and build their wealth we continue as consultants on most of their legal and estate planning matters.

We invite you to read the entire article at

How to Prepare to Care for Aging Parents

If you are the child of parents who are currently over the age of 65 you’ve probably given a little bit of thought to the day when one (or both) of your parents may need Long Term Care.

Understandably, most adult children prefer not to think about the day when their parents may not be able to care for themselves, but in some cases it simply cannot be avoided, especially if your parent is already showing early signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

If you are concerned about your parent’s future, there are steps you can take now to make the transition to giving and receiving care later easier on both you and your parents.

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Support for Caregivers of Blended Families

We frequently help divorced or remarrying couples update their estate plans to protect their new blended families, so we know just how significantly the stress of divorce, family upheaval, and tighter finances can impact a family, and how those effects can last years into the future.

We have seen first-hand how the effects of divorce can continue to make waves 20 or even 30 years down the road — not just for the divorced couple, but for their grown children now acting as caregivers.

Adult children of divorced parents often find themselves …

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Don’t overlook memories as an important part of an Estate Plan

When thinking about an Estate Plan most people think primarily about their large financial assets: Real property, bank accounts, investment accounts, family businesses, etc.

Often though, the most heart-wrenching family rifts and disputes are not over the money, but over the little things that have little or no monetary value.

Your parents’ wedding rings, grandma’s heirloom candlesticks, mirror, or locket… These are the items that end up costing families more in harsh words, hurt feelings, and legal fees than any expensive property or valuable bank account.

These are the items that have a high emotional value — but many parents or grandparents don’t consider this when making out their Wills or Trusts.

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If you suspect a Will has been tampered with

The question of will forgery or undue influence of a Testator is not a common question, but one that does come up periodically in any Estate Planner’s office. The movies have given people certain expectations when it comes to a death in the family and probating a will: a book-lined office, the entire family assembled for a formal reading of the will, shocked and angry reactions as a loved one’s fortune goes to an unknown and unlikely character…

This Hollywood portrayal may be generally off base, but the basic premise is based on the very real feelings that come with the death of a loved one: helplessness, confusion, familial bonds, and sometimes even betrayal.

A Will doesn’t have to be forged for there to be strong feelings of anger or suspicion when the contents end up being different than the family was led to expect. And while forged or secret Wills may not be as common as the movies would have us believe, they aren’t completely unheard of either.

So what should you do if you suspect that the Will of a loved one has been forged or tampered with?

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Don’t let your valuable antiques end up in a yard sale

Have you seen Antiques Roadshow — the PBS TV show in which antique experts travel around the country to critique and appraise antiques brought in by local people? If so, you’ve seen people bring in an old knick-knack they found in grandma’s attic and discover it’s worth hundreds or thousands of dollars!

Now imagine that for every person who makes this valuable discovery on the show, there are at least three people who sell their own unrecognized treasure for a few dollars at a yard sale. It’s painful to consider, isn’t it?

How can you ensure that your family recognizes the value of your treasures?

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When is the Best Time to Plan Your Estate?

The estate tax laws of the past few years have been so inconsistent that many people are still “waiting for things to even out” before they create (or update) an estate plan. This wait-and-see approach seems perfectly reasonable on the surface; after all, nobody wants to spend hard-earned money creating an estate plan only to have it rendered obsolete within a year. Our firm is here to let you know that there’s bad news and there’s good news…

The bad news is that estate tax law doesn’t appear to be settling down any time soon. We all know the estate tax was repealed in 2010, and then reinstated in 2011. And now, as this article from AARP mentions, “federal estate tax rates are slated to change again in 2013, unless Congress decides otherwise.” Furthermore, there are quite a few other mercurial tax laws that have a significant impact on estate planning, including the capital gains tax and the gift tax, to name just two. Both of these factors mean that the future of estate planning is still cloudy.

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Baby Boomers Hurting Their Chances At Retirement

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, many Baby Boomers are no longer worried about when they will be able to retire, but if they will be able to retire at all. In many cases the reason for this worry stems not so much from any kind of selfish inability to save, but from a tendency to be too generous.

In addition to a growing trend (hinted at in the WSJ article above) of Baby Boomers tapping their own retirement funds to help pay for the care of their elderly parents, this article in USA Today warns of the all-too-common danger of Boomers shorting their own retirements to pay for their children’s college educations.

“People are willing to go to extreme measures because they value a college education so highly… Among parents who are planning for their children’s college, 24% say that they tap their retirement accounts. And that doesn’t reflect people who reduce or halt retirement contributions [to make tuition payments.]”

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Getting Started With Your Estate Planning

You’re either visiting our site because you know estate planning is the right thing to do or you’ll see why it’s important as you read our pages. But it’s one thing to know you need this and it’s another to actually get your Estate Plan in order. Estate Planning can feel overwhelming.

This is understandable, but we’re here to help. Meeting with us and speaking with us will take the edge off. It will help you to know what is best for you to do and will help you get started. If you choose to work with us, we’ll be with you every step of the way to determine your needs and work them out the best way for your situation. You don’t need to plan anything at all to come meet us. You certainly don’t need to stress.

But… for those of you who feel more comfortable planning ahead, here are some steps you can take to get started.

Write down your goals.

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To Tell or Not to Tell About Inheritance; Sharing Your Estate Plan with Your Heirs

The subject of inheritance is one that most people studiously avoid for a number of different reasons: superstition, fear, lack of knowledge, or a desire for secrecy.

Many adults were raised to believe that money was a private affair, and that talking about it was inappropriate; but beyond that, many people simply fear that if they talk about their estate plan with their heirs they will meet with resistance, disagreement, or in a worst-case scenario—their heirs will try to counter the estate plan with legal action of their own.

While in some families and circumstances these fears are justified, in most circumstances being silent about your estate plan can have disastrous consequences.

A refusal to talk about money or your estate plans with you children means that they will have a difficult time following your wishes in regards to your medical treatment or protection of your assets should disaster strike. Most adult children are actually eager to fulfill their parents’ last wishes, regardless of how it may or may not impact their own inheritance.

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6 things you might like to have on your first Estate Planning visit — but don’t have to have

You don’t need to have anything prepared before your first visit with us

Our first meeting with you will be to get to know you and your needs. We’ll discuss the things and issues that are most important to you and will be at the heart of your estate plan: your family, your assets, and your goals. You know your life. There’s no need to prepare for this meeting.


if you are a person who feels more comfortable preparing for a task on your own, you can consider these preparation steps.

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Who Owns Credit Card Debt After the Death of a Parent?

Administering the Estate of a deceased loved one can be complicated and emotional under the best of circumstances, but Executors who take on this overwhelming task may find themselves facing more than just the demands of relatives and heirs.

They may also find themselves facing the illegitimate demands of creditors. This article on The New Old Age New York Times Blog — Credit Card Debt That Outlives Mom — warns readers to “Be wary of collection agencies that try to convince you that you are responsible for payment on a card owned solely by a deceased parent.”

After the death of a parent, children and heirs often receive calls from debt collectors looking for someone — anyone! — to pay off the debts of the deceased, even if the heirs have no obligation to do so.

In most situations relatives are not required to pay the debts of the deceased from their own assets.

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