What is a Will Vs. a Living Will?

Wills vs Living Wills

Have you ever been confused by the term Living Will?  Is that the same thing as a Will?  How do I make sure my property goes to my heirs or devisees when I die?  Is that what a Will does?  Or how do I make sure people don't keep me alive when I'd rather be allowed to pass away peacefully? What do we call these legal documents under Utah Law?  

Writing Your Own Obituary | Will Lawyers in Lehi

Working with a will lawyer in Lehi can bring up some uncomfortable feelings.  Those of us in this area of law are very aware of the fact that many people avoid important planning for this very reason.  After all, there aren’t a whole lot of people who want to contemplate their own demise, let alone the feelings of those left behind.

Writing your own obituary can actually be kind of a cathartic experience that helps with the estate planning process.  It gives you an opportunity to reflect on your own life, as well as to help shape how you will be remembered.  It also takes some of the burden off of those who are left behind that might not be up to writing such an intense piece in the middle of grieving.  You can write your obituary and have your will lawyer in Lehi keep it in your file so that it is ready to go when it is needed.

What to Include

Planning for the Family Cabin

Many Utah families have fond memories of spending time together at a "family cabin." Whether it's up at Sundance, Bear Lake, Heber, Park City, or any other number of beautiful locations throughout the country, a family cabin often is a repository for a wealth of happy memories. Because of these frequently strong sentimental attachments to vacation homes, those who own them often want to ensure that the cabin stays within the family and will continue to be used over generations to keep family members close to one another. However, harmonious use of such properties can often go quickly awry without proper "cottage planning."

What is "cottage planning?" First and foremost, it is recognizing that a family cabin is a much different asset than a typical asset passed on through a traditional trust-based estate plan. Once you recognize that, then cottage planning can focus on designing and implementing a plan for the successful transition of a cherished family vacation property to future generations. If done properly, you can greatly increase the chances that the family cabin will stay within the family and be used for its intended purpose - to maintain and strengthen family relationships.

Unfortunately, many family cabin owners never think about the numerous pitfalls that lurk in the shadows when it comes to passing on the family cabin.

Gary Coleman: Utah’s Own Celebrity Estate Battle

Blog Post by:  Melissa C. Platt, Esq.

Utah has turned Hollywood as the latest celebrity estate battle is playing out right here in Utah County. Actor Gary Coleman, child star of the smash 1970’s television sitcom, “Diff’rent Strokes,” died in Provo late last month after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Best known for asking, “Whatchu talkin’ bout, Willis?”, Coleman moved to Utah and met his future wife, Shannon Price, during filming for the 2006 comedy, Church Ball. Coleman and Price married in 2007 and then divorced in 2008, although the couple remained close and continued to live together in Coleman’s Santaquin home until Coleman’s death.

In fact, it was Price who called 911 after Coleman fell in his home and hit his head. In the call, she repeatedly refers to Coleman as her “husband.” And it was Price who ordered that Coleman be taken off life support.

Did You Hear the Story About Howard Hughes and the “Mormon Will”?

Blog Post by:  Melissa C. Platt, Esq.

The majority of Americans (2 out of 3) don’t have a will, according to a study done by Consumer Reports. So, what happens to the property of all those people who die without a will? Well, Utah (and most every state) has “intestate” laws that say who gets a person’s property if the person died without a will. What if you don’t agree with what the law says? Too bad. What if you have no idea what the law says? Doesn’t matter. Think it’ll be okay if you just tell people what you want done with your property? Sorry, the laws—and not your unwritten wishes—control, even if everyone knew what your wishes were.

“Estates without wills are almost always more difficult, complicated and expensive than those with one,” write legacy expert attorneys Andrew and Danielle Mayoras. So, why are so many people willing to just leave the outcome of their legacy up to the laws of the state—especially when it usually takes a greater emotional and financial toll on their loved ones? I have my list of theories, and towards the top of that list is, “Fear.”

How Much for a Simple Will?

Blog Post by:  Melissa Christensen Platt, Esq.

This is by far the most frequently asked question we get, and I cringe every time I hear it (or variations of it) because I know the answer will be unsatisfactory to the person who has just asked the question and to me as well.

The biggest problem with this question is that it is impossible to answer directly. Why can’t a respectable estate planning attorney just quote you a fee right off the bat? Because estate planning is not “one size fits all” or even “one size fits most,” so estate planning fees can’t be one size fits all either. The question assumes that a will (or a trust) is right for everyone.

It’s kind of like walking onto a car dealer’s lot and asking, “How much for a car?” The answer will depend on whether you want an SUV, truck, van, or sedan, whether you want to buy used or new or lease, whether you want all the options or a stripped down model, and so on.

Are Bill Gates & Warren Buffett Walking Dead Men?

Many of my clients have heard me quip about how Bill Gates and Warren Buffett should be worried beginning New Year’s Day, 2010 because of the large target that Congress has placed squarely upon their backs. Now, to be honest, there is most likely no actual, physical threat to their lives because they have probably done appropriate estate planning. But this quip helps me to illustrate a point about Estate Taxes. On New Year’s Day 2010 – unless something happens within the next few weeks over in Washington D.C. – the Estate Tax or “Death Tax” will go away in a puff of smoke. In other words, as the laws currently stand, any one individual who dies in 2010 owning over $3.5 million worth of property will not have to pay Uncle Sam 1 red cent in estate taxes.

For the sake of illustration, let’s assume that Mr. Gates died “intestate” (i.e. without any wills or trusts in place) and that he wasn’t married.

CNBC Interview with Fellow Personal Family Lawyer, Alexis Neely

Fellow Personal Family Lawyer, Alexis Martin Neely was recently interviewed on CNBC's "On The Money" program on the essentials of estate planning.  Her advice here is solid.


Estate Planning: Who Needs It?

I am frequently asked by friends and neighbors the following question: "Do I really need an estate plan? I'm not a Rockefeller, after all." My typical response is: "You already have an estate plan. You just need to study it and decide if you're comfortable with it."

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