Tamara D. Block, Attorney at Law
Timely Topics and Discussion
There are so many New Year’s Resolutions and whatever you decide to conquer, will be great! One idea is to get more organized with your home files. Maybe papers are in random places throughout your home, or in one giant folder in a drawer or maybe just in a drawer. Now would be a good time to go through your files, organize and see what important documents need updating! Check out this site on setting up a home filing system. https://www.thespruce.com/organizing-a-home-filing-system-264825
Homemade Apple Cider! This sounds delicious. I also think you could also find other ways to spice up the recipe. Be creative! It's always comforting to cozy up with a warm beverage that soothes the soul. https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a28224491/homemade-apple-cider-drink-recipe/
Here are some really great ideas on how to decorate your home for Thanksgiving. https://www.thespruce.com/decorate-your-home-for-thanksgiving-4153453
What is your favorite decor? Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.
As we look ahead to 2021 what do we need to know regarding estate planning? Depending on the outcome of the election, certain tax laws may change, which means how you plan for your estate could also change. Right now, the federal estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions are $11,580,000 for individuals and $23,160,000 for married couples with a tax rate of 40%. These exemptions are slated to increase in 2025. However, the tax rate could increase to 55% and a lower exemption as soon as 2021. So, what does this mean? It means, in anticipation of these changes you may want to maximize the benefit of using the current higher exemptions and get your estate in order by the end of 2020 as some say the exemption could go as low as $5,000,000. Minnesota residents also need to consider the Minnesota estate tax which currently is at $3,000,000 per person and you cannot share $6,000,000 per couple. If there isn’t proper planning the initial $3,000,000 exemption when the first spouse passes away may be lost. For more information: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/looking-ahead-to-2021-with-a-focus-on-61595/
Here are some fun ideas you can do with decorating your home or place of work with pumpkins. I love the idea of creating a pumpkin bowl to hold treats or apples! How creative! Have some fun with pumpkins and remember to keep the seeds so you can roast them for a delicious snack.
The leaves are changing and temperature is dropping. I love enjoying the fall colors by warming up with this delicious coffee drink. If you need a little "pick-me-up," try this fall pumpkin spice coffee recipe! If you don't like coffee, I bet it is still delicious without the caffeine kick. You can also substitute the dairy with a non-dairy option, and add non-dairy whipped cream! Make your favorite fall drink and enjoy the beautiful colors that surround you.
Beginning two months ago, I only felt I could do serious blogs, serious Facebook posts, etc. Now, I feel that if I only keep up the seriousness until the pandemic is over, I may never be able to make light of things again! So, here is something that one of the financial advisors I work with shared with me the end of February before the pandemic hit. It isn't funny, but it is very sarcastic ... The Top Five Reasons to Die Without a Will:
1. The court dan do a better job deciding how to disburse your assets that you can. For instance, in talking to a client this morning, she discovered that if she doesn't have a contingency for one of her children predeceasing her, her assets would go to her ex-husband. I don't think that was her intention.
2. The court can choose a better personal representative to handle your estate during probate, which will happen if you don't have a will, than you can. Enough said!
3. The court can choose a more caring guardian for your minor children than you can. Not to mention, those children could be in the foster care system until that decision is made.
4. The government will use your estate tax dollars more efficiently than your favorite charity would use a charitable bequest. Yes, Minnesota still has a low threshold for estate taxes when you take in to consideration your life insurance, equity in your home and your retirement plans, so without careful planning you will be paying a tax on some assets you were already taxed on.
5. And, Finally, your grieving loved ones will be better off looking after your affairs without your will. Keep in mind, you are not doing a will for you, it is a gift to your family. It is the last thing they will remember about you and it can leave a lasting impression!
It is hard to keep our spirits up these days, but I am learning to put things in perspective. Every morning I get up to my grandmother’s graduation picture - she was my mentor growing up. But now, even though she’s been gone for ten years, she gives me strength every day in these uncertain times. In her 88 years, this is what she saw - living in a sod house on the prairie she saw a locust plague that even ate their clothes; a measles epidemic; the great stock market crash; the depression; the dust bowl; WWII; the Cold War with the Bay of Pigs; a president’s assassination; 9-11; and many more national and personal tragedies and losses. And she always survived and came out the other side. We will too - optimism and strength is what will get us there!
Thanksgiving is a time where you get notes, e-mails and all sorts of thank yous sent your way. I had the opportunity recently to express my gratitude in an unexpected way. This year, I was introduced to a gentleman in his 30's who was taking care of his wife with terminal cancer. He wanted to be sure that everything was taken care of in case he passed away - to not add more stress to her situation. In addition, he wanted to be sure it was taken care of so that when she passed he didn't have to think about it again. With that relationship, I have received a number of referrals from a support group that he belonged to.
In meeting with one of my prospective clients from that group, she said that meeting with so many of the group's members must be depressing. I thought for a moment and said sometimes yes and sometimes no, but that I can't get much more positive out of it than negative. When working with these clients, I am able to make one part of their situation a little bit easier. I may not be able to cure what is physically ailing them, but I can give them peace of mind that the legal piece will be taken care of.
However, there is one additional benefit that comes from working with these clients. I learn that every day is a gift. It isn't just words - I truly see that every day is a gift. Sometimes that means taking the day off from work, pulling my son and his friend out of school and going to a Twins baseball game.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving with your loved ones, truly live like every day is a gift - happy holidays to you and yours!