Many commentators and clients today voice a concern with avoiding probate.  While this blog is not intended to address the desire or merit in avoiding probate, we will highlight some of the potential traps for clients who seek to avoid probate without recognizing the possible ramifications. Continue Reading The Dangers and Pitfalls of Transfer On Death and Payable On Death Accounts

In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, you may be looking to make a charitable donation to support relief efforts. With dozens of organizations accepting donations, it can be difficult to know (1) whether you are donating to a reputable organization and avoiding scams, and (2) if your donation will be tax-deductible. Continue Reading Avoid Scams and Ensure Tax Deductions When Donating to Hurricane Relief

An often-overlooked step in the estate planning process is determining how you want the world to celebrate your life and determining your final resting place.  If not addressed, conflict may occur because different loved ones have different opinions.  Continue Reading Who Determines How to Celebrate Your Life and the Disposition of You When You Die?

Previously published in Philadelphia Bar Association Probate and Trust Law Section Newsletter, June 2017

What parent wants their hard-earned money getting distributed to a former daughter/son-in-law or a creditor of their child? In our estate planning practice, we have yet to meet such a parent.  Thus, we often recommend our clients (parents or grandparents) establish and fund a trust for the benefit of their children (or future generations).  One of the many benefits of establishing an irrevocable trust (in Pennsylvania or New Jersey) is that if properly managed the assets held in the trust are protected from creditors – Inclusive of a divorcing spouse.  Our family law colleagues have begun to erode this protection such that in some jurisdictions, an irrevocable trust with a spendthrift clause may become subject to equitable distribution or included in the calculation for alimony.  This article examines several recent divorce court cases in which one of the divorcing parties was the beneficiary of an irrevocable trust.  It concludes with some insight and recommendations for drafting and administering an irrevocable trust so that the trust assets do not become the property of the non-beneficiary former spouse. Continue Reading A Shifting Landscape – The Impact of Divorce & Other Litigation on Irrevocable Trusts


A simple gift you can give to your family is letting them know where to find your original will. While it is possible to probate a copy, it is much more difficult and time-consuming.  During the initial mourning period, people may find it overwhelming to face the many tasks required of those left behind.  After the end of life celebration, the legal and financial administrative bureaucracy kicks in and knowing where to find the will allows this process to start with one less headache.  Sharing the location of your original will does not mean you must reveal the contents of the will.  While disclosing the content is recommended for numerous reasons that we will explore in future blogs, it is not required.  What is necessary, however to ensure your wishes are fulfilled is knowing where your will can be found. Continue Reading Where is my Loved One’s Will?

Business agent planning with a retired couple their future investments.

April 16, 2017 marks the start of National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD) (, a week-long, nation-wide event which exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance healthcare planning.  The theme for 2017 is “it always seems too early, until it’s late.” Continue Reading National Healthcare Decision Day: Have you had the conversation?

Will contests are a sad reality and while there is no guarantee, with proper planning a contest may be avoided.  A will contest occurs when a disgruntled potential beneficiary of an estate challenges the validity of a Will.  A will contest is more likely to occur in blended families, same-sex relationships, when a child is disinherited or when the children are not treated equally.    The following are a few points that will help safe guard against a disgruntled potential beneficiary. Continue Reading Proper Estate Planning May Prevent a Will Contest

Internal Revenue Service Temporarily Holding Off on Issuing New Regulations
The Internal Revenue Service is temporarily holding off on issuing new rules while evaluating the impact of executive orders from President Trump.  It is anticipated that no new rulings will be forth coming until Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sets up his tax team.  The executive order requires two regulations to be identified for elimination whenever any new regulation is proposed. The IRS anticipates continuing to issue routine updates such as for interest rates and mileage deduction allowances. Continue Reading Tax Tips

A recent survey found that nearly 50% of individuals with children do not have a Will and over 40% of individuals over the age of 55 do not have one.  Whether a person is 18 or 98 with net assets of $200,000 or $20 million, an estate plan is one of the best gifts we can give to our families.  I like to think of an estate plan in terms similar to building our home – everyone wants a solid and complete home.  Continue Reading Getting Your House in Order: Estate Planning is for Everyone