Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gun Trusts

Why Buy a Gun Trust?                                                   By:

If you're going to purchase a NFA weapon then the best way to do it is to purchase a Secure Gun Trust, then purchase the NFA weapon with the trust.  This offers you a multitude of advantages over purchasing a NFA weapon any other way.

Less Hoops to Jump Through in Your Registration with the ATF
Purchasing NFA weapons (aka Title II weapons) through a trust protects some of your personal information from being registered with the government.  If you register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE, aka ATF) as an individual you will have to submit a passport style photograph, and fingerprints with your application.  If you register with the BATFE to purchase NFA weapons with a trust you can simply skip this step.

If you register with the BATFE as an individual, you will have to ask the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in your area to sign a statement that certifies that you can own a machine gun, silencer, or other Title II item.   This requires you to put yourself out there with your local law enforcement as owning Title II guns, and depending on the area that you are in, a lot of the time you will simply be unable to get a CLEO to sign that certification for you.  With a NFA Trust, you do not need to submit a CLEO signature with your BATFE application.

The Secure Gun Trust is Attorney Drafted Specifically to Hold NFA Weapons 
Secure Gun provides you with a trust drafted by an attorney that was specifically designed to hold NFA weapons and pass them to your beneficiaries.  If you do not want your NFA weapons going through the court process known as probate when you die, then you can pass them through the complete privacy and seamlessness that a Secure Gun Trust provides.  Furthermore, because the Secure Gun Trust was designed specifically to hold NFA weapons, it was designed so that the weapons are held in trust until the beneficiaries are eligible to receive them.  Generic living trusts would have your NFA weapons pass to the beneficiaries upon your death, regardless of whether or not it would put the beneficiaries at risk of being in unlawful possession of a Title II gun.  This trust was designed with that specifically in mind.

A Trust is a Completely Private Document 
A trust has advantages over forming a corporation or LLC to purchase the NFA weapons.  A corporation or LLC is similar to a trust in that those entities do not have to submit a photograph, signature, or obtain a CLEO signature along with the BATFE form.  However, a corporation or LLC must be registered with the State, the registration documents are public, and they have reporting requirements.  A NFA trust is a completely private document that never has to report to anyone.

Protection for Your Beneficiaries and Other Who You Wish to Use the NFA Weapons

A NFA Trust allows you to list close friends, family, or anyone that you trust enough to be a Trustee.  A Trustee will be legally entitled to use and possess NFA firearms.  If you registered a NFA firearm as an individual, you are basically the only person that can touch the NFA firearm.  A NFA Trust offers protection to your loved ones who you choose to list as Trustees.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

10 Estate Planning Mistakes

Avoid these 10 Common Estate Planning Mistakes

As a Family Lawyer I see many of the same estate planning mistakes made time and again by people who either fail to plan properly or who use “do-it-yourself” estate planning websites or forms in an effort to save money.  

Without professional guidance, this can cause more problems for your heirs and end up depleting estate assets by far more than what you could potentially “save” by doing it yourself online.

A qualified estate planning attorney or Family Lawyer can help you avoid these 10 common estate planning mistakes:

1.  Failure to leave any written documentation of your assets, including a list of your online accounts and passwords
2.  Failure to let family members know where to find important estate planning documents
3.  Failure to name a guardian for minor children or choosing a guardian who lives far away without planning for temporary, local guardianship (solved with a comprehensive Legal Guardian Plan for Children)
4.  Failure to name recipients for your personal possessions
5.  Failure to designate beneficiaries for retirement and other financial accounts
6.  Failure to name secondary beneficiaries
7.  Failure to name alternative trustees or executors
8.  Failure to properly fund or title assets to any trusts you have established
9.  Failure to update your estate plan as life circumstances change
10.  Failure to create an estate plan of any kind and instead leaving it to the court system to decide how your assets will be distributed

If you’d like to learn more about how to avoid common estate planning mistakes that could cost your heirs dearly, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Crazy Utah Laws

Since I am always posting and sharing crazy US laws that I find I figured I would share an actual news article I found talking about unusaul Utah laws. 

SALT LAKE CITY — The 2015 Utah legislative session came to a close Thursday, and several new laws were passed. While many of these new laws are prudent and useful, there are several current laws that are a bit strange that you may not have even been aware of.
Here are five strange Utah laws that you may not have realized were laws. And remember, most of these laws probably went into effect because someone attempted these actions.

Fishing with explosives or electricity

While most anglers are pretty traditional about using some variation of a line and hook to fish, others may have been more creative, thus prompting this law. You may not obstruct a waterway while fishing, according to the2015 Utah Fishing Guidebook. You may also not use “any chemical, explosive, electricity, poison, firearm, pellet gun or archery equipment to take fish or crayfish.”
So while fishing with dynamite seems like a good idea in the movies, it is illegal in Utah.
However, it is now legal to use a crossbow to take carp at any open water statewide. But you may not use a crossbow to take any other species of fish, the Utah Fishing Guidebook says.

Weather modification

Many people probably don’t think about attempting to alter the weather, but just in case you decide to try, just know that it is illegal without a license. Utah Administrative Code R653 states that in order to use “weather modification” or “cloud seeding,” a person must first obtain a permit from the Utah Division of Water Resources.
“Cloud seeding or weather modification means all acts undertaken to artificially distribute or create nuclei in cloud masses for the purposes of altering precipitation, cloud forms or other meteorological parameters,” according to the Utah Administrative Code.

Unfair discrimination of buyers of milk, cream or butterfat

Many types of discrimination can be legally penalized, but you may not know that in Utah, it is a class B misdemeanor to “unfairly discriminate” against buyers of milk, cream or butterfat, according to Utah Criminal Code 76-10-3005.
It is considered “unfair discrimination” for a business that buys milk, cream or butterfat to purchase those commodities at a higher rate or price in one community or city than in another community or city, in an effort to create a monopoly or destroy the business of a competitor.

Causing a catastrophe

If you have a night out on the town, just make sure you don’t “cause a catastrophe” — it’s illegal in Utah. A person is guilty of causing a catastrophe if they “cause widespread injury or damage to people or property using weapons of mass destruction, explosions, fire, flood, avalanche or collapsing a building,” according to Utah Criminal Code 76-6-105.
Causing a catastrophe can either be a first degree felony or a class A misdemeanor, based on if the person knowingly or recklessly caused the damage.

Riding with no hands

Remember when you were a kid and it was cool to be able to ride your bike without having any hands on the handlebars? Turns out, it is illegal.
“A person operating a bicycle or moped shall keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times,” according to Utah Code 41-6a-1112.
It is also illegal to carry a package or bundle if it prevents the use of both hands in operating the bicycle or moped. So forget about doing “no hands” in Utah.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Planning for the Blended Family

Balancing the needs of a multi-generational blended family with your own wishes can be a complicated task, especially when it comes to estate planning.  With a majority of Americans not only marrying once, but twice, three or even four times during their lives, it is a challenge that will come to many.
Even when blended family members get along, estate planning can be complicated. The potential for acrimony among family members can be so great that some people choose to avoid addressing the issue of who will inherit what altogether.  However, as any estate planning attorney will tell you, having no plan is not a good plan.
Overall, an effective estate plan for a blended family will ensure that:
·         Any ex-spouses do not inherit;
·         Yourown children are protected;
·         Your current spouse is provided for;
·         Any estate taxes are minimized.
Estate plans are as individualistic as the families they cover, so it is always advisable to consult with an expert before finalizing your plan.  Although there are a plethora of online resources and books on the subject, estate planning for the blended family does not make a good do-it-yourself project. 

A Family Lawyer can provide you with the individual attention you need to create an estate plan for your blended family.  If you’d like to learn more about estate planning for blended families, call or text our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why Get a Gun Trust Anyways .....

As a gun owner I’m sure you’ve heard of the benefits of having a gun trust, a trust designed specifically to have ownership of the firearms. Most people use the trust as a way to obtain firearms that are restricted by the harsh federal and state regulations. A gun trust will also make it easier for the loved ones upon the owner’s death and help them know what do with them without breaking the law.

Which Weapons Go In A Gun Trust
Usually a gun trust is used for weapons that are strictly regulated by two of the federal laws, the National Firearms Act of 1934 (aka NFA) and the revised version, Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968. The weapons involved are generally called NFA or Class II weapons. There is a broad variety that is included in this. For example: machine guns, grenades, silencers, short-barreled rifles (SBR) & short-barreled shotguns, which include sawed-off. All weapons in this category must have a serial number and be fully registered by the ATF/BATF. If the weapon has never been registered it is now illegal to possess and will never have the ability to be registered. If you ever want to sell or transfer a class II weapon you have to get approval from the ATF and pay a tax that ranges from $5-$200.
            Always make sure you check with your state and federal laws to see which types of class II are allowed.  

Benefits of a Gun Trust
A gun trust can save you time, money, and frustration in obtaining your weapon. It also allows more than one person to possess and use the weapon if it is held in the trust. This also allows the weapon to stay in trust after the owner’s death and avoids the common transfer rules. If the weapon stays in the trust the transfer procedure is skipped and the loved one inheriting can avoid paying the $200 transfer tax and all the filing.

A gun trust will protect the executor of your estates. If your executor does not know the laws on this you can name a trustee for this trust that will specially be in charge of the guns and know all the laws.

Like all other trusts this one will protect you from going through probate upon your death. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Difference Between a Will & a Trust

In this article I will explain the difference between a Will-based plan and a Trust-based plan so you can make an educated decision for your family about what is best for you and, ultimately, for them.

A Will-based plan is an estate plan that does not include a Living Trust to hold title to your assets.  If you work with us and choose our Family Plan, which is a will-based plan, your legal documents will include a Health Care Directive, Power of Attorney, a Will and, if you have minor children, a Legal Gaurdian Plan for Children.

A Trust-based plan is an estate plan that does include a Living Trust to hold title to your assets during your lifetime and to provide for ease of transfer of those assets in the event of your incapacity or death.  If you work with us and choose our Trust Plan or Wealth Plan, your legal documents will include all of the documents included in the Family Plan PLUS one or more Living Trusts.

So, what’s the practical difference?

The difference between a Will-based plan and a Trust-based plan is that without a Trust in place your family would have to go to Court to get access to your assets in the event of your incapacity or death.

Your Will indicates WHO you want to have access to those assets and how you want them distributed, but it does not keep your family out of the Court process.  Going through probate (or guardianship in the event of incapacity) is expensive, time-consuming, totally public and unnecessary.  And that’s what happens when you have only a Will in place and not a Trust.

When you have a Trust in place, there is a bit more work for you to do upfront because you need to make sure that all of your assets are owned in the Trust throughout your lifetime (or insurance assets are beneficiary designated to the Trust), but we help you with that or even do it for you.

And, with our regular review process or membership plan, we continue to make sure your assets are owned the right way throughout your lifetime, while also ensuring your plan stays up to date as your life changes, your assets change and even the law changes.

During your Family Asset Planning Consultation we will walk you through an assessment of whether a Will-Based Plan or Trust-Based Plan is right for you based on the specifics of your family circumstances, what you own now and where you are going in the future.  One thing you can be sure of is that we will help you make the right decisions every step of the way.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Adoption is Love!


Yesterday was a wonderful day! We got to help and witness a very special moment for this family. Daniel finally got to adopt his step-daughter! We are so excited for both of you! Thank you for letting us be a part of this!!!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

10 Adoption Myths

10 adoption myths debunked
By Whitney Barrell, Contributor
January 12th, 2015 @ 7:42pm
Elena Yakusheva/

The information that follows is applicable to domestic and foster care adoptions, rather than international adoption.

1. The birth mother/father can show up at any time and take the child — false

Once the adoption is finalized, the child’s adoptive parents are recognized by law. Post-adoption revocation is very rare, but these cases do gain publicity, which further perpetuates the myth. According to Utah law, the birth father can sign relinquishment papers at any time, including before the birth of the child. The birth mother may sign relinquishment papers 24 hours after the birth of the child. Most ethical adoptions are agreed on by birth parents who have made a very sacred decision that they feel is in the best interest of their child.

2. Birth parents are troubled teens and not to be trusted — false

On average, birth parents are in their 20s. Typically, birth parents choose adoption because they don’t have the means — financially, emotionally or otherwise — to parent the child. This factor doesn’t make a person dangerous or untrustworthy. Consider the amount of trust a birth parent gives an adoptive couple in order to choose them to raise their child.

3. Open adoption (where the adoptee has identifying information about their birth family, and the birth parents choose adoptive parents) is emotionally harmful to the child — false

Open adoption takes away the mystery. When adoptive parents are able to share information about the child’s birth parents and their history, the children understand their beginnings and they understand why a placement decision was made. According to a study completed by the Minnesota/Texas Research Project, birth mothers involved in open adoptions had lower levels of adoption-related grief and loss than compared with those involved in a closed adoption. The study points out "adopted adolescents was no different in levels of adjustment from the national norms. Level of openness by itself was not a major predictor of adjustment outcomes at Wave 2. However, relationship qualities, such as collaboration in relationships and perceived compatibility, were predictive of adjustment across openness levels."

4. Open adoption is like co-parenting — false

Birth and adoptive parents do not share custody. Adoption outlines distinct roles. Open adoption allows for the child to have an ongoing relationship (of some level) with birth parents. Some birth parents report having an aunt/uncle-like relationship with the child.

5. The racial background of most children in foster care is that of a minority — false

According to the most recent Kids Count data, 46 percent of foster children are white, 26 percent are black, 21 percent are Hispanic and the remaining 9 percent are multiracial.

6. Adoption is born of loss — true

Adoption is sometimes the best-case scenario for the birth parents, who aren’t ready to parent; the adoptive parents, who have sometimes been waiting many years to parent; and the child, who is provided a safe, stable home. Despite this, adoption occurs because of a loss — a child's loss of biological parents and the loss of connection to their history. As an adoption community we don’t do anyone any favors by glossing over this fact.

7. Adoption is expensive — true and false

Adoption from foster care can cost little to nothing. Information from the Child Welfare Information Gateway cites domestic adoptions can range from $5,000 to $30,000, and international adoption can cost $15,000 to $30,000. These fees are paid to social workers, attorneys and a small amount (as determined by each state) can be used for birth parent expenses such as rent, maternity clothes, etc. Birth parents are not paid for the adoption.

8. Adoptive parents must be “perfect” to pass the home study — false

Adoptive parents must prove that they can provide financially and emotionally for the child. They are asked about their relationships with family and spouse, employment, plans for when the child arrives and understanding of adoption. Most adoptive parents pass the home study process.

9. Waiting to tell my child he or she was adopted until they can understand is better for them — false

History has been a guide for us in this domain. Historically, adoptions were closed. Because of this, it was easier (and expected) for adoptive parents not share information about their child's origins at all — or if so, later in life. Due to the research on open adoption, we now know that children who are provided information about their birth family early on fare better in the long run emotionally.

10. If I don’t talk to my child about their racial identity (if it's different from my own) then it won’t be an issue — false

Children adopted trans-racially need special attention in order to achieve positive formation of their racial identity. Again, the Donaldson Adoption Institute has found “positive racial/ethnic identity development is most effectively facilitated by 'lived' experiences such as travel to native country, attending racially diverse schools, and having role models of their own race/ethnicity.”
Adoption has always been a way to build families, although in the past two decades, our understanding of best practices for all members of the triad has increased. As this understanding shifts, so does public misunderstanding. Adoption stories and experiences are as diverse as they come, because an adoption experience is a human experience.

Whitney Barrell, LCSW, holds a master's degree in social work from the University of Utah. She is an adoptive parent and works as a child therapist with a particular interest in attachment and adoption. Find out more

Friday, January 9, 2015

What a Will Won't Do

What a Will Won’t Do
There are a number of essential things a last will and testament can do for you, such as distribute family heirlooms and name a guardian for minor children, but there are some equally important things a will won’t do:

Diminish estate taxes – a will won’t help you decrease your estate taxes, but as your Family Lawyer, I can advise you on what kind of trust instruments can accomplish this for you. 

Provide long-term care – if you want to provide for someone with special needs or a person with long-term care needs, you will need to establish a trust or invest in a life insurance policy. 

Distribute some types of property – to distribute assets from a retirement or investment account or the proceeds of a life insurance policy, you must execute the proper beneficiary designation forms, which supersede instructions in a will.  If you own property jointly with someone else, your will won’t allow you to distribute that property.

Provide for pets – since pets cannot legally own property, you will either need to establish a pet trust or designate a caretaker and provide funds for the care of your pet after you are gone.

If you’d like to learn more about wills, living wills, advance health care directives, Power of Attorney for Health Care designations or any other aspects of estate planning, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Family Asset Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call today and mention this article.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Moral of the Story ....

I remember my grandmother telling me that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" - meaning that taking steps before there is a problem can reduce the amount of time you have to deal with that problem. 

Similarly, we all know that one day we will die. It isn't fun to think about, I know, but a LITTLE bit of planning ahead can save A LOT of headache after. Moral of the story.....get your estate planning done - sooner than later!