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Articles of Interest: Estate Planning

Estate Planning


Avoiding Scams Concerning Living Trusts

Not everyone will benefit from a living trust and not everyone who offers them is reputable.

Do I Really Need a Living Trust

Tips of living trusts for seniors from National Consumer Law Center

Avoiding living trust scams for advocates from National Consumer Law Center


10 Common Estate Planning Questions

10 common estate planning questions


Guide to Choosing an Elder Law Attorney

This resource explains the unique qualifications of an elder law attorney and how to locate one.


Role of the Power of Attorney for Property

article written by Attorney Janna Dutton, JD, CELA


Managing Someone Else's Money

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published three helpful resource guides.

-Help for Represenative Payees and VA Fiduciaries

-Help for Trustees Under a Revocable Living Trust

-Help for Agents Under a Power of Attorney


Brochure Regarding Powers of Attorney

This brochure provides very general information on powers of attorney. Click here to download the publication.


Keeping Track Of Your Will

Once you've taken the step to create a will and get your estate plan in order, you need to figure out what to do with the will itself. It is important to keep track of the location of your current will as well as any old wills.
Where to keep a will

The safest place to keep the original copy of your will is in a bank safe deposit box, but it may not always be the most practical. If the will is in safe deposit box, it may be difficult for your family to access the box after you die. A better option may be to keep it at home in a fire-proof safe. Just make sure your family members know how to open the safe.

Some attorneys may keep the original copy of the will. But if you leave the will with your attorney, make sure the attorney receives updated contact information from you when you move. That way if the attorney moves offices or retires, he or she will know where to find you and you will know where your will is.

If you do use a safe deposit box or your attorney's office, you may want to keep a copy of your will at home with your other financial documents. It is usually not a good idea to give a copy to family members or friends because you may want to change the distributions at some point and may need the will back.

What do you do with an old will?
Once you have written a new will, your inclination may be to destroy the old will, but this may not be a good idea. If, for some reason, your new will is invalidated, the court may be willing to reinstate an old will rather than allowing your estate to pass intestate (according to state law). It is likely that your old will adheres more closely to your wishes than an intestate distribution. If the will is destroyed, it cannot be reinstated.

Making changes to a will
If you want to make changes to a will, do not mark up the will by hand, even if you have only small changes to make. A court could take a marked-up will as a sign that you intended to revoke the will. If you want to make a change, contact an attorney who can draft an amendment to the will (called a codicil).


Is My Will Still Valid If I Move to Another State?

Among all the changes you must make when you move to a new state—driver's license, voter registration—don't forget your will. While your will should still be valid in the new state, there may be differences in the new state's laws that may make certain provisions of the will invalid. In addition, moving is a good excuse to consult an attorney to make sure your estate plan in general is up to date.


Legal Planning for Living with a Chronic Medical Condition

In 1900, most people died younger from communicable diseases and after relatively short illnesses. Today, we are more likely to die older from one or more chronic conditions and after an extended period of illness. The decisions involved with planning for disability associated with chronic conditions can be difficult to make. Recognizing that developing a plan is the goal and that plans can (and should) be revised over time may help you assume a proactive role when it comes to legal matters. Click here to read an article, written by Janna Dutton, Certified Elder Law Attorney, regarding this important topic.