Author Archives: Paul S. McConnell

Simple Wills and Lawyer Lingo

Most clients I meet with regarding their Will start the conversation saying something like: “This is really just a ‘simple Will’”. From that, I’m supposed to expect that everything in their estate will be “routine”. I can tell you from having met with many clients, that their “normal” or “routine” is likely anything but. Each …read more

Don’t Write On It!

Wills are often written once and forgotten for years. People seem to believe wills have a “shelf life”, after which they expire. It isn’t true. The last Will you wrote, even if it was 50 years ago, is still your Will and still governs your estate. It becomes awkward when this happens, since many of …read more

Probate

“Probate” has become a word mixed with mystery and distrust. As a consequence, one of the statements I hear most often from my clients is, “I/we want to avoid probate”. The fear of this word has led many people to invest in expensive, overly complicated trusts, change their account ownership, transfer title to their homes …read more

The Tsunami

A Harley-Davidson motorbike, washed out to sea by last year’s terrifying Tsunami, made an astonishing journey across the north Pacific from Japan, landing on a remote, Canadian beach this week. The miracle story, complete with a Tsunami-survivor owner, made headlines for one reason – it is an improbable piece of good news, even if a …read more

If It’s Community Property – Why do I Need a Will?

Have you ever heard of “urban myths?” Those are the stories that we’ve all heard and believe to be true, that turn out to be false. Perhaps the most persistent myth in the area of estate planning is that community property passes automatically to the surviving spouse, so husbands and wives don’t really need Wills …read more

Life Insurance Surprise

For most of us, a surprise is a good thing. For an estate planning/elder law lawyer, they are dreaded. Most people think (properly) of life insurance as a safety net for their family. Young families have gotten the message and usually protect their children by buying low-cost coverage to be sure their children are protected …read more

Do it yourself?

There are many tools now available for self-help legal services, especially when it comes to will drafting. One popular website charges a modest fee, less than a lawyer would cost, and I’m often asked, “so why should I pay you to do what I can do myself?” We can all agree, the stakes are very …read more

Living Trust Concerns

     Do you have a large red or green binder labeled “Revocable Living Trust”? If so, you should pay attention to this post. A few years ago a handful of organizations began using a high pressure sales approach to marketing expensive trusts called “Revocable Living Trusts.” They promised to save taxes, attorneys’ fees and to …read more

What happens if I die without a will?

The estate law (called the law of intestacy) in your jurisdiction governs the distribution of your estate. It is inflexible and may lead to results radically at odds with your wishes. Further, the state will assign a guardian of its choosing. Finally, your children will not benefit from a trust should you die without a …read more