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Yes, you know you own your home, but do you know how?

Over the weekend our firm helped with the Sunnyvale Public Library's seminar series Aging in Place. The series focused on educating the public about common concerns for aging and retiring homeowners. Based on the feedback, one big realization for many attendees was few of the homeowners knew how they owned their property.

Retirement Account Planning

If you haven't received a letter or email from the company in control of your retirement account and/or 401(k) account, you may soon. John Oliver's HBO show (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver) did a recent spotlight on fees related to managers of retirement accounts, resulting in follow-up articles from other media sources like TIME, Forbes, and CNBC. Many in the industry have been quick to respond with updated fee disclosures and policies, hopefully leading to people getting in contact with their company to review their policy agreements and updating their accounts.

Calling "Dibs" On The Collection: Heirlooms Are Worth Passing On

Collecting has long been a popular hobby in the United States. Whether your collection includes a set of 1898 Trans-Mississippi U.S. stamps, a 1928 Ford Model A, a 1913 Liberty Head nickel, or a more esoteric find like an Alpha Black Lotus (from the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering) you are in good company. These items are valuable for both sentimental and monetary reasons, so they can be the most disputed parts of a person's estate.

Maintaining Your Estate Plan As Your Life Changes

A common mistake when it comes to Estate Planning is the idea that: "If I've done it once, I'm set." A plan may be flexible for some things, but there are certain big life changes that require an update to your estate plan in order to ensure your wishes will be carried out.The biggest change most people experience is a growing family. A spouse, kids, nieces and nephews, and close friends are often the first answers to questions like "who gets my stuff" and "who will take care of my affairs when I can't." The people you trust and care for the most in your 30s are often not the same as in your 60s. While there is limited legal protection for unmentioned children, these rules do not protect everyone. Any time you add people to your circle of loved-ones, it is a good time to consider updating your estate plan to include them.

Bowie's Last Request: Who decides where you are buried or cremated?

January 2016 was a rough month for many celebrity families as we lost a number of rock-stars and actors. While the Tabloids ran all sorts of stories, one in particular has a good lesson everyone can learn about their own Estate Plan.David "Bowie" Robert Jones passed on January 10th. The New York Times reported he was laid to rest by cremation on January 12th in New Jersey. Unfortunately, it took until January 29thfor his Will to be filed in Court. Among the details was the fact that Mr. Bowie specifically asked that he be cremated in Bali according to a specific local tradition.

The I.R.S. Does Not Text You Asking For Money: What You Need To Know About Tax Season Scams

With Tax Season quickly approaching, so to is the time Con Artists start pretending to be tax-collectors. Being prepared for Tax Season goes beyond just filing your taxes. Knowing how the I.R.S. and your State's Tax Department normally make contact helps keep you and your family safe from these scams.

When visiting at holiday time

If you're like most Americans, you don't get to see your elderly loved ones as often as you'd like.The holidays offer an opportunity to visit with parents and grandparents. Given that 1 in 10 older Americans are abused and neglected, the National Center on Elder Abuse wants everyone to know what they should be looking for when visiting elderly loved ones to ensure that they are aging with respect and dignity. Click here to view the "Home for the Holidays" pamphlet to learn what to look for.

Don't Keep Secrets and Don't Be Left in the Dark

Do you know where your assets are? Many people don't. So long as there is regular income and some money in the bank, we do not bother to take a complete inventory very often. There are some people who remain completely unaware of their situation, depending on someone else to manage things for them. One-half of a married couple often winds up making the majority of financial decisions - handling investments, taxes and legal matters. If he or she leaves, dies or becomes incapacitated, the partner may be ill-prepared to carry on.

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