Category Archives: Wills and Living Trusts

Wills versus living trusts. What is the difference between a will and a living trust?

Common mistakes when writing a will

Business ClipartEveryone is going to die; that’s a fact.  And everyone should have a will.  That’s another fact.  If you die without a will, the probate court will decide what happens to  your assets; you won’t.

My father died about 15 years ago.  He left a will he had prepared himself, typed on his old electric typewriter and had a few friends sign as witnesses.  I don’t know how he decided what to put in the will and the wording to use.  All I know is that after he died, when I tried to probate the will, there were some problems with it and it took a while to get them resolved.

If you don’t want to go to an attorney to have a will prepared that you know will be written properly, you should at least be aware of some common mistakes that you should avoid.

I recently came across a blog on that clearly describes 10 of the most common mistakes.  You should definitely read it so you don’t make the same mistakes my dad did.

For further information about wills, trusts, probate and end of life planning go to

Probate – More public than ever!

ancestry just announced that they’ve made a new addition to their site.  When you search for someone, you will not only see facts about their life but may see a copy of their will and probate records.  Ancestry claims that “probate records often document family relationships over multiple generations. Wills can also give insights into your ancestor’s lifestyle and personality: J.P. Morgan left large bequests to his librarians; Louisa May Alcott asked that her papers be burned.”

Do you want everyone to see the details of your estate?  If not, you should think about meeting with an attorney and preparing a trust.  That way, everything will be confidential.

For more information about wills, trusts, probate and estate planning, go to

What happens to your casino rewards when you die?

If you’re a member of a casino loyalty program, there may be a great deal of money or comps in your account. When you die, does the account die with you?

An article by Mr. A.C. Casino explains that every Atlantic City casino handles the transaction differently. For example, Bally’s, Caesars, Harrah’s Resort and Showboat Casino-Hotel will transfer any reward credit balance to a surviving spouse or domestic partner. That spouse or partner will have to provide your reward’s card, your personal identification and proof of your death. Any reward credits will still expire on their preset expiration date; it will not be extended.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has a similar policy but all of their comp dollars expire six months after they are earned.

The Tropicana Casino and Resort also has a similar policy but spouses need to link their accounts. Once that’s done, with proper documentation, any remaining dollar balance will be transferred to the surviving spouse’s account.

Golden Nugget, Resorts Casino Hotel, Revel Casino Hotel, Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort consider the account closed when someone dies and the balance in not transferable.

If you don’t know what the policy is for your casino of choice, and you maintain a high balance in your loyalty account, you might want to contact that casino and ask. Don’t leave money on the table if you can avoid it.

And be sure to keep your loyalty card account number, PIN and casino host’s name and contact information with your access codes in a place where your spouse or next of kin can find them.

For more information about estate planning or keeping track of your assets, go to

Another actor did it wrong. Do you have your plans in place?

Julie Garber, in her weekly blog, wrote about another person who did it wrong.  When actor Paul Walker died in a terrible car crash on November 30th, 2013, he left an estate estimated to be worth at least $45 million.  However, he had done no estate planning and left no will.  He was only 40 years old and probably thought he had plenty of time to get his affairs in order.  His parents, ex-wife and girl friend of seven years are now fighting over who should inherit.

According to California intestate laws, the entire estate should be inherited by his daughter, Meadow.  Since she is only 15, someone needs to be responsible for managing to estate until she turns 18.  Her mother is her guardian but is not necessarily the one who will control the money on her behalf.  Since her parents believe they should manage the estate, the case will have to go to probate court.

And what about his long term girlfriend, Jasmine?  She won’t see a penny.

Have you done estate planning?  Is all of your paperwork in order?  Or are you, like Paul Walker, leaving a mess for  your loved ones?

For more information about estate planning, go to

What is the most important part of estate planning?

When you do your estate planning, you probably think the most important part of this planning is your Living Will or your Last Will and Testament.  They are very important but they are not the most important thing.

I recently read an article by Julie Garber on and she said the most important part is to select the right person to do each of the jobs your estate plan will require.”  After thinking about it, I agree.

When selecting a person to be your healthcare agent or guardian for your minor children or personal representative, be sure that this is a person who has your best interests at heart.  Also, verify that this person has the time as well as the skills to perform the needed tasks.  And, finally, select someone who you think can make wise decisions.

If you have name someone who declines to accept this position, and the backup person you’ve named also declines, a judge will make all of the decisions for you and your family or will find someone who is willing to do so; this person may not be someone you would have chosen and may not do things the way you would have wanted them done.

Think about it carefully and choose wisely.

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