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Placer County Estate Law Blog

Charitable Donations Reduce Income Tax, Estate Tax

As we head into the holidays, you may notice more end-of-year nonprofit fundraising letters in your mailbox. That's because many people make charitable donations at the end of the tax year, knowing that they can deduct charitable donations from their income tax for a year in which they made a contribution. Besides year-to-year income tax reductions, however, you can use charitable donations as a way to reduce your estate tax. A person who donates to an approved charity at the time of death can have the amount of the donation subtracted from his or her estate, thus lowering his or her estate tax.

What is a "qualified" charity?

Should I Prepare a Will or a Living Trust?

After a lifetime of hard work to save up to take care of your family, all you will want is to be able to pass your estate on to your family and loved ones. However, what seems like a simple action can actually be a complicated process that may go awry if not handled properly. Legal fees, taxes and other unnecessary expenses may set you back unless you take these steps. 

Don't Forget Your Horse In Your Estate Plan

If your horse has been an important part of your life, don't forget to take him or her into consideration with your estate plan. Yes, it is a possibility that your horse could outlive you, and if that happens, you want to make sure that your horse continues to receive the best possible care. So how does this happen?

Make sure your instructions are clear

Write down what you would like to happen with your horse in the event that you die first. You can do this in a will, but after you die, a will has to go through probate, and during that time, your horse will still need food, shelter, water and care. You can make sure your horse is cared for in the interim period by creating a letter of last instructions providing practical instructions about how to care for your horse. This letter can specify, for example, who should take care of the horse, and important details about how you prefer that happen. A letter of last instructions is not legally binding, but it can be helpful in that it provides clear direction about your wishes instead of leaving loved ones to scramble to figure out care for your horse.

Planning ahead in parenthood

As a new mother myself, I understand the rush of emotion that comes with a new child in the house. You just want to relax and bond with your newest family member, but there are important matters to settle as you and your new bundle of joy get used to life together.

We've previously discussed the financial and legal matters that a new parent should set up before the birth, but there's also long-term planning for the "what if" and "just in case" scenarios. It's your job as a parent to always provide for your child, including when you can't be there to do it in person. By establishing guardianship and a revocable trust, you can help your children throughout life no matter what happens to you along the way.

A financial checklist for expecting moms

Your life is about to change. You are both excited and nervous. Having a baby is a lot of responsibility. Becoming a mom is something that you have always wanted. You've plotted out the nursery. You have a running list of baby names that you have narrowed down. Loved ones have slowly stocked you up on adorable onesies and soft blankets.

As your baby-bump grows, so does the checklist in your head. You know you have to get the house ready. You know you want to pack a hospital bag, and that some furniture for the nursery needs put together. You also know that you need to really think about your finances and securing the future for your baby.

Teachers: Remember to do your homework

A high school teacher who herself taught a class in personal finances once confessed that she did not have a will filed, did not know what would become of her house if she got sick, and wasn't really tracking her retirement funds.

The truth is, teachers spend so much time with other people's paperwork that they sometimes forget to get their own affairs in order. 

Do I need a lawyer when creating an estate plan?

Estate plans are not to be taken lightly. They control where your assets go or what should happen to you and/or your children if a tragedy occurs. Because your wishes depend so heavily on an estate plan, you need to make sure you complete the documents correctly. Otherwise, your property could be distributed or handled in a way that you would never have chosen.

Here are 3 reasons you should consider an attorney when creating your estate plan:

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