The SafeEstates Blog

January 13, 2020

Assessing Life Changes for 2020

With the new year arriving, it’s a great time to re-assess the needs of your family and life circumstances. Have there been any deaths, births, large purchases or sales, or any other large life changes in your family? Perhaps you added a grandchild or sold a house, then it is the perfect time to update your estate plan, your health or life insurance benefits. Most companies offer an open enrollment for the new year, so it’s worth checking with your employer or agent to see where you can get additional benefits or tax savings. Your estate plan can be revised...

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January 2, 2020

Leaving A Legacy

Most of our goals focus on one-year, five-year and ten-year time spans. We don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about the legacy we want to leave to our family, friends and community. You probably know this story. Oseola McCarty quit school in 6th grade to care for her aunt. She earned her living doing laundry in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She never owned a car. She never married and had no children. She died from cancer in 1999 at age 91. Ms. McCarty is remembered because with the help of an attorney and bank trust officer she established an irrevocable trust with her life savings; at her death the...

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December 10, 2019

What Christmas Is As We Get Older

I attended a seminar on Music Copyright Law recently. I wanted to know more about songs, sound recordings, masters, mechanical royalties, performance royalties, licensing, synchronization and the other ways songwriters and artists are paid. Although music law is not our practice area, we are alert to the concerns of songwriters, authors, and other creatives with protecting and preserving their work in their estate plans. The seminar made me appreciate current copyright protection laws. Did you know American publishers reproduced Charles Dickens’ novels as quickly as they were published in London, without permission or payment to the author? I also realized why publishers love new Christmas...

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November 22, 2019

Substantive Tip: Charitable Giving in 2019

As we near the end of 2019, many of us will find opportunities for charitable giving. In the past, an income tax deduction made charitable giving attractive. Beginning in 2018, the standard deduc tion doubled. As a result, many taxpayers no longer itemize deductions; they get the full standard deduction whether or not they make a charitable gift. The standard deduction for 2019 is $12,200 for singles, $24,400 for married couples. For seniors, the standard deduction for 2019 is $13,850 for singles, $27,000 for married couples. Two strategies can help you turn charitable gifts into income tax deductions. First, bunch your charitable giving in one calendar...

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November 7, 2019

A Legacy of Hospitality, Charity and More

When hotel magnate Barron Hilton died September 19, 2019 at age 91, the lead story was his pledge to follow his father’s example by giving 97 percent of his wealth to the humanitarian work of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. In round numbers, Barron’s $3 billion gift was projected to increase the foundation’s endowment to over $6 billion. The foundation’s mission is to relieve the suffering, the distressed, and the destitute. That’s a big way to spell relief! The legacy of this remarkable family is worth reviewing. Conrad Hilton was born in 1887, served in the first New Mexico State Legislature in 1912,...

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October 4, 2019

Have All the Heirs Been Accounted For?

How do you know when you should update your existing will? We have a client who called us from Florida. His cousin’s employer called and notified him that his cousin had passed away from a sudden heart attack. The good news is that his cousin executed a will before she died. Unfortunately, she executed it ten years earlier and the Personal Representatives and all of her named beneficiaries had predeceased her! The cousin had no living spouse, child, grandchild, parent, sibling, nephew, or niece - nada! So, what does this mean for our client’s cousin’s (the decedent’s) estate? Fortunately, all was not lost. There are laws that dictate...

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September 1, 2019


Many of you know I am a first-time grandparent. Our twin grandsons, Leo and Eli, are thirteen months old. All my friends who are grandparents tried to describe what it is like; their enthusiastic exclamations of joy, happiness and satisfaction fall short of how truly wonderful grandparenting is. Maybe this photo will come close. Grandparents Day is September 8, 2019 (the Sunday after Labor Day). You may know advises celebrating Grandparents Day throughout the year and provides ideas on how to “DoSomethingGrand.” Here are a few ideas for celebrating Grandparents Day if you are a grandparent or have a living grandparent. Cook...

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August 13, 2019

Ross Perot – 1930-2019

I remember very clearly in 1986 listening on the radio to an NPR interview with Ross Perot while I was driving to a noon Rotary meeting. At the time, Perot was a director and the largest individual shareholder of General Motors. The radio journalist asked, “Mr. Perot, as a director, you are entitled to a new GM vehicle every 6 months. Why are you still driving your 5-year old Oldsmobile?” Perot responded in his Texarkana twang, “When I buy something, I intend to use it.” Over the past 30 plus years I have applied that quote to a broad range of decisions. I may not remember...

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July 3, 2019

Independance Day Reflections

This month we celebrate our nation’s birthday, July 4, 1776, at age 223. Independence Day reminds Americans we enjoy unique freedoms: speech, religion, guns, due process, trial by jury, and more. Our freedoms are often threatened but still in place. God bless America! Did you know Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and died on the same day, July 4th, 1826? The date was the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Declaration. The coincidence was described as a “visible and palpable” manifestation of “Divine favor” by the sitting President at the time, John Quincy Adams....

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June 15, 2019

Substantive Tip – Handwritten Wills

You may recall when Aretha Franklin died last August, her four sons believed she had no will. By law, in the absence of a will, the four sons would share equally in her very large estate. Recently, several handwritten (holographic) wills have been found in her home, upsetting the peaceful relations among the sons. Some of the wills were found in a locked cabinet; others were found under the sofa cushions. The most recent will, dated 2014, will be considered by the court at a hearing on June 17. If valid, the 2014 will changes the executor and changes each child’s share of the...

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