Author Archives: Aaron

Dallas attorney Aaron R. Miller’s professional background began with a successful career in corporate litigation, representing large companies in cases involving multi-million dollar disputes. What gave him the most professional satisfaction was helping people with whom he had developed personal relationships. A skilled attorney with a passion for many aspects of law, Aaron nonetheless found himself at a crossroads when he realized that with many years of practice in front of him, he did not want to continue a career involving such combative work. The Personal Family Lawyer® program was the perfect solution. The focus of Miller Law Firm, PLLC shifted from representing individuals and small businesses in legal disputes over business matters in both trial and appellate courts to estate planning, giving Aaron the opportunity to protect individuals and have a positive, direct effect in their lives. But rather than having a traditional estate planning practice, which is focused on transactions (such as the drawing up of wills and other documents), Aaron was drawn to the relational focus of the Personal Family Lawyer® program – having on-going contact with clients over the long-term, helping clients to protect themselves and their families by using such tools as the Kid’s Protection Plan™, helping them pass on more than just financial wealth with the Priceless Conversation™, and being the first person the client calls when they have a question or a change of circumstances. Aaron is one of only 70 lawyers to earn the designation of Personal Family Lawyer® by the Family Wealth Planning Institute, a national organization dedicated to providing affordable access to a lifetime relationship with a personal lawyer. As a Personal Family Lawyer®, Aaron only charges flat fees for his work and those fees are always agreed to in advance so there are never any surprises or fear about what anything will cost. Aaron offers his clients a unique membership program so they can call him on an ongoing basis to answer questions, address concerns, and explain legal jargon, without fear of incurring further expenses. It’s like having a lawyer in the family, without the drama, dysfunction, or judgment. Aaron’s clients love to know they have developed a lasting relationship with their personal lawyer, who they can turn to for objective trusted guidance before making any important family, business or financial decisions.

Sometimes being nice can hurt you.

iStock 000000443716XSmall Sometimes being nice can hurt you.It can be very difficult to talk to our loved ones who are very ill.  But putting off difficult conversations can cost them and you.  Not just in terms of money, but in terms of lost time and broken relationships with that loved one.

What do I mean?  Frank was a good guy.  He was not doing well, but his wife was doing even worse.  Frank talked to her about trying to get a power of attorney set up for her so he could help manage her assets.  She didn’t want to talk about it, and Frank, being a nice guy, didn’t want to push it.  After all, there was plenty of time.  He would bring it up from time to time, and she would shoot him down.  After a few years of this, Frank’s wife took a turn for the worse, and she was no longer legally able to sign a power of attorney.  The problem came when Frank was trying to qualify them both for govenermental benefits.  He had to make some changes financially, but was unable to do it because he lacked a power of attorney.  His alternative?  A relatively more expensive guardianship.  Not only is that something she would have handed to avoid, she could have done so by signing a power of attorney a few years ago when he first brought it up.
If you need help talking with your loved one about their documents, give us a call at 214-292-4225.  We do this every day and would be happy to talk with you.

Driving Home

The other night night I was driving south on Highway 78, when I saw someone driving straight towards me, going the wrong way on a one-way divided highway.

ID 100136671 Driving Home

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I had one of those full-body adrenalin flushes that thankfully only happen very rarely.  My body went on full “danger” alert.  I quickly pulled into the far lane and watched in shock as the car continued past me, still going the wrong way.

Unfortunately, that very real experience is often replayed here in my office.  I see people going the wrong way down a one-way street.  I want to stand on my horn, wave my arms and yell at them – all at the same time.

My office offers three free workshops every month to help people deal proactively with the inevitable “crashes” in life.  Give us a call at 214-292-4225 and we’ll reserve a seat for you.

What documents do I need?

I’m often asked about the difference between a General Durable Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney.

A General Durable Power of Attorney gives someone else the right to make legal and financial decisions for you, while you are living.  You have 5153d892e2542939c2b125f78c2136781a750 640 What documents do I need?the option of signing one, but not giving the power to act until after a disability, or signing one and giving the power to act immediately.  Some Durable Powers of Attorney give rather limited powers; some give the agent powers to do just about anything you yourself can do.  Upon your death, it is no longer valid.

A Medical Power of Attorney gives your agent the right to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  The Medical Power of Attorney, together with a HIPAA release and a Directive to Physicians (also known as a Living Will) are all part of a comprehensive disability plan.  The HIPAA release will allow your agents to have access to your medical records (so they can make decisions based on your medical information).  The Directive to Physician lets your doctors and your agent know your wishes if you are being kept alive by machines.

To get a better understanding about these documents, and other basic estate planning documents, I invite you to attend one of our free workshops.  Give us a call at 214-292-4225 to reserve your seat!

What is Estate Planning?

ID 10034756 What is Estate Planning?

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People are sometimes confused on estate planning.  And no wonder.  It seems like everyone, from their insurance agent, financial advisor, accountant, or attorney, wants to help with their “estate planning.”  And if you asked each one of those what estate planning is, you would probably get different answers.  While other professions focus on your finances, only lawyers can put together the documents you need for a comprehensive estate plan.

Why?  Because Estate Planning is more than just ensuring your finances go where you want after you die.  Estate planning is putting together a plan that answers these questions, Who Has Access?  Who has Control? And When?  And we ask those about our finances, and, the bigger question is what about ourselves?

What do I mean?  Well, while I am alive and well (when), I have control of myself and my stuff.  And whoever I say has access to my stuff.  But if I am no longer able to handle my finances because I am incapacitated (when),  then my wife will have control and whoever she says will have access.  Did I leave that to chance?  No, I have a plan in place to cover that.  But what happens if I die (when)?  Then she has control and access as well. If she remarries after I die?  Well, she will still have control, but new spouse certainly won’t have access to it. Again, I don’t leave this to chance, I have planned for it.  What if my wife doesn’t remarry, but dies?  Well, then a family member will have access and control, and they will protect the money for the benefit of my children, who are all minors.

An estate plan really comes down to access, control, and timing.

Want to learn more? Pick up the phone and call us at 214-292-4225.

 

A Team Approach To Estate Planning

In this video, attorney Aaron Miller discusses why it is important to have a whole team of professionals when you put your estate plan in place.

Hi I’m Aaron Miller attorney at law, and today we are going to talk The Team Approach to Estate Planning, Why it is important to involve all your Professional Advisors and Your Family in your estate plan.

When it comes to estate planning, a team approach ensures that you’re getting complete advice that encompasses the legal, financial, and health aspects your family will need as you transition from your working years into retirement.  Your team should consist of your elder law attorney, your tax advisor, insurance agent, banker, and financial advisor, as well as your family, and, if it applies, a qualified health care advisor. Here’s why.

Your elder law attorney is essential because they will make sure all of your legal documents are in order to protect you from having 3rd party interests control your assets and decisions.  Without the right legal documents and planning in place, you lose options and control over your affairs.

Your accountant can provide valuable information to your elder law attorney, such as when you purchased a piece of real estate and for what price, or how your business is structured. Aside from this, your accountant will need to know, particularly if you do any advanced estate planning or asset protection planning, the tax status of the trusts you’ve created and the tax consequences of the gifts that you’ve made.

Your banker, insurance agent and financial advisor can also provide important information to your elder law attorney, such as how your accounts are titled, cash values and beneficiaries of your life insurance policies, and values and beneficiaries of your retirement accounts and annuities. In addition, these professionals should be instrumental in making sure that your accounts are properly funded into your Revocable Living Trust and your beneficiary designations are updated to comply with the terms of your new or updated estate plan.

Involving your family in your estate plan from the beginning can promote harmony and avoid confusion and distrust later. If you keep everything a secret, then your estate plan will be more prone to challenges after you die since no one other than your attorney and professional advisors will understand your true intent. Also, involving your family in complex estate planning transactions from the beginning will give them peace of mind after you’re gone since they’ll already understand what was done and why. Your elder law attorney can assist you in creating an action plan that ensures all family members know their role and who becomes responsible for financial and health decisions.  This plan will eliminate confusion, bad decisions, and prevent discord.

Well those are the reasons why it is important to have a whole team in place for your family’s financial and legal affairs.  You can find more videos at aaronmillerlaw.com/resources/videos

This is Aaron Miller and thank you for watching.

5 Most Common Estate Planning Mistakes

In this video, attorney Aaron Miller discusses the five most common estate planning mistakes.

Hi I’m Aaron Miller attorney at law, and today we are going to talk about the 5 most common Estate Planning Mistakes People Make

When it comes to basic estate planning, these are the most things I run into the most.  Let’s talk about what they are and how you can avoid them when making or updating your estate plan.

Mistake #1 – Failing to Make an Estate Plan

When it comes to basic estate planning, the easiest thing to do for people is to avoid it.  The typical reasons why range from fear of death, to a belief that it is too expensive, to complicated family situations. Needless to say without an estate plan, you’ll be leaving your loved ones in the dark, and they can end up spending a ton of money figuring out what to do for you if you become disabled and what to do for themselves after you die. Avoid this #1 mistake. Begin your planning early, while you still have your wits about you.

Mistake #2 – Forgetting About the Little Things

I find that many people overlook making a plan for their personal effects, including jewelry, art work, and collectibles. They simply assume that their family will be able to agree on how to divide it all up. But in my experience, these things are what people argue over the most. Recently I visited with a friend who was involved in an estate where two sisters fought for over a year on who was to receive the family picture albums left in their mom’s house. They ended up spending over $2,000 on attorney’s fees fighting over 2 photo albums that had a simple resolution, had they stopped to think about duplicating the originals. Don’t let this planning mistake happen to you and your loved ones. Ask what everyone wants and then make a simple but smart plan for your “stuff.”

Mistake #3 – Failing to Fund Your Revocable Living Trust

I see this mistake over and over again – people who don’t understand the importance of properly funding their living trust. If you’ve taken the time and invested good money on creating a solid foundational estate plan, then don’t stop there, or your assets will0still end up in a court-supervised guardianship if you become disabled, and they’ll still have to go through probate after you pass away. Instead, take the time to have your attorney assist you in the funding process of your trust and update the beneficiaries of your life insurance and retirement accounts. Otherwise, plan will only be worth the paper it’s written on.

Mistake #4 – Choosing the Wrong Fiduciaries

When it comes to basic estate planning, this is another common mistake I see over and over again – people who choose the wrong people or institutions to serve as their Personal Representatives, Successor Trustees, Power of Attorney Agents, and/or Health Care Agents. In fact, choosing the right fiduciaries for your estate plan is just as important as creating the plan in the first place, since your plan won’t work as you intended if your fiduciaries aren’t capable of doing the jobs you’ve given to them. Avoid this estate planning mistake by working with your estate planning attorney to choose the right people or institutions for the right jobs.

Mistake #5 – Making Your Estate Plan Too Complicated

When it comes to basic estate planning, some people go over the top and make their plan so complicated that it will take several lawyers, accountants and a judge, not to mention thousands of dollars, to unscramble the plan and make it work. An overly complex estate plan will not only frustrate your loved ones, but it will also tie the hands of your fiduciaries since they won’t be able to do their jobs without seeking expensive professional advice. Avoid this mistake by working with your estate planning attorney to create a practical and common sense estate plan that will work as you intended but without the need for advice from multiple attorneys and accountants.

Well those are the top 5 mistakes people make with their estate plan.  You can find more videos at aaronmillerlaw.com/resources/videos

This is Aaron Miller and thank you for watching.