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Latest Blog Posts

Estate Planning (Wills and Trusts) and Disability

Posted on: August 17th, 2016
A car accident, sudden illness, workplace injury or chronic medical condition can force you to re-evaluate the core assumptions you used to plan your future and set up your estate plan....

How often do you need to update your estate plan? As often as your Resume?

Posted on: July 15th, 2016
A resume is a 'snapshot' of your experience, skill set, and education which provides prospective employers insight into who you are and how you will perform. Imagine not updating that resume for 5, 10, or even 15 years. Would it accurately reflect who you are? Would it do what you want it to do? Likely not. Estate plans are similar in that they need to be updated on a regular basis to reflect changes in your life - and to do what you want them to do. ...

The importance of funding your revocable living trust - the Michael Jackson Issue

Posted on: May 14th, 2016
While Jackson created a trust to care for his children and other family and friends, he never actually funded it. The result? Embarrassing and seemingly endless probate court battles between family members, the executors, and the IRS....

2016 update for Federal and Montana estate taxes, gift taxes, and generation-skipping transfer taxes

Posted on: March 31st, 2016
The Internal Revenue Service has released the official inflation adjustments that will affect 2016 federal reporting for estate taxes, gift taxes, generation-skipping transfer taxes, and estate and trust income taxes. Remember, that although Montana does have an state estate tax, its computation is broken. Thus in reality Montana does not have a state estate tax. ...

2016 Estate Planning Update -- Trust Wills and Tax

Posted on: December 15th, 2015
The Internal Revenue Service has released the official inflation adjustments that will affect 2016 federal reporting for estate taxes, gift taxes, generation-skipping transfer taxes, and estate and trust income taxes. These changes will affect the way your accountant and your attorney help you plan as 2015 comes to an end....

Lifetime QTIP Trust

Posted on: November 16th, 2015
Estate planning for couples in a second or later marriage who have disproportionate estates can be tricky. One solution for allowing the well-to-do spouse to maintain control of their assets but keep their other half happy is the Lifetime QTIP Trust....

Current Estate Planning Framework

Posted on: September 25th, 2015
state planning has truly evolved over the past 20 years. In fact, today's estate planning is more complicated than ever before....

Estate Tax Closing Letters - Taxpayers Must Request

Posted on: August 19th, 2015
Due to the increased volume of federal estate tax return filings in order to make the 'portability election,' the IRS has announced that estate tax closing letters will only be issued upon request by the taxpayer. This change in IRS policy started on June 1, 2015....

3 Common Myths and Misconceptions about Estate Plans

Posted on: June 30th, 2015
Like any other complex subject, estate planning has its share of myths and misconceptions. Understanding the top three estate planning myths will help you to create and maintain a plan that will work the way you expect it to work when it's needed. Estate Planning Myth #1 - You Don't Need an Estate Plan Because Your Spouse Will Inherit Everything Estate Planning Myth #2 - You Don't Need an Estate Plan Because Your Family Knows Your Final Wishes Estate Planning Myth #3 - Once You've Created Your Estate Plan, It's Done ...

Three Estate Planning Mistakes Farmers and Ranchers Make

Posted on: May 26th, 2015
Farming or ranching is more than a means of livelihood - it is about preserving a legacy and unique way of life. Unfortunately, many farmers and ranchers fail to make an estate plan. The farm or ranch that has been passed down for generations then ends up being sold and converted into non-agricultural use, cutting the legacy short and ending the family's unique lifestyle choice....

Is a Revocable Living Trust right for you?

Posted on: April 28th, 2015
Revocable Living Trusts instead of Wills have become the basic building block of estate plans for people of all ages, personal backgrounds, and financial situations. But for some, a Revocable Living Trust may not be necessary to achieve their estate planning goals or may even be detrimental to achieving those goals....

Three Simple Asset Protection Tips Anybody Can Use

Posted on: April 16th, 2015
Unfortunately, in our litigious society, liability risks are not unique to physicians. Business owners, board members, real estate investors, and retirees need to protect themselves from a variety of liabilities too....

Justin M. Bryan is lecturing on the Probate Process From Start to Finish on March 25, 2015

Posted on: March 3rd, 2015
Justin M. Bryan will be lecturing in Billings, MT on the Probate Process in Montana. ...

Some Issues to Consider when Naming a Successor Trustee

Posted on: February 2nd, 2015
Today many estate plans contain irrevocable trusts that will continue for the benefit of a surviving spouse's lifetime and then for the benefit of the next generation. Since these trusts are designed to span multiple decades, it is crucial to choose the right succession of trustees....

Should Updating Your Estate Plan Be a 2015 New Year's Resolution?

Posted on: December 29th, 2014
With 2015 right around the corner, it's time to start thinking about your new year's resolutions. It doesn't matter whether you have an estate plan or don't, one important item to add to your list is getting an estate plan checkup. Don't Have an Estate Plan? If you don't already have an estate plan, then getting one in place should be at the top of your 2015 new year's resolutions. If you do have an estate plan, then reviewing said plan might need to be at the top of your 2015 new year's resolutions. ...

Periodically Review Beneficiary Designations

Posted on: November 24th, 2014
It is critically important to review your beneficiary designations as your life changes because your beneficiary designations may overrule or conflict with the plan you have established in your will or trust. ...

Is privacy of your estate plan important to you?

Posted on: October 24th, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area of planning that many people overlook is ensuring that their final wishes remain private, and for many Montanans privacy is extremely important. ...

Estate Planning: Do you have an AB Trust Plan?

Posted on: October 15th, 2014
If you're married and you haven't had your estate plan reviewed since before January 2, 2013, by an experienced estate planning lawyer, then pull your documents out of the drawer, dust them off, and take a closer look at their trust provisions. Do they contain terms such as 'Marital Trust,' 'QTIP Trust,' 'Spousal Trust,' 'A Trust,' 'Family Trust,' 'Credit Shelter Trust,' or 'B Trust'?...

Discretionary Trust's -- Protection for Your Beneficiaries

Posted on: October 6th, 2014
Leaving your hard-earned assets outright to your children, grandchildren or other beneficiaries after you die will make their inheritance easy prey for creditors, predators, and divorcing spouses. Instead, consider using discretionary trusts for the benefit of each of your beneficiaries....

Probate Avoidance Through Use of a Revocable Living Trust

Posted on: August 18th, 2014
If it is your goal to avoid probate and you've set up a Revocable Living Trust, congratulations! You're definitely on the right track. But...you're only half way there. Many believe because they took the time to create a Trust, their estate will automatically avoid probate. Unfortunately, this is a false sense of security....

Why probate takes so long.

Posted on: August 7th, 2014
Probate can be easily avoided, but most estates are dragged through the process. Why? Many people fail to create an estate plan, so probate is required. And - others plan with just a Will, so probate is required. In Montana, the probate process is fairly streamlined, and should not necessarily be avoided. However, the process does take time and can drag on for months - or even years. Here are some of the most common reasons why probate takes so long:...

Pitfalls of Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship

Posted on: July 22nd, 2014
Owning property as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship is easy, common, and often disastrous. Sadly, children - both minor and adult - are often disinherited....

Every Adult Needs and Estate Plan

Posted on: June 19th, 2014
If you're reading this, you need an estate plan. Why? The short answer is 'Everyone, age 18 and older needs an estate plan.' It doesn't matter if you are old or young, if you have built up considerable wealth or if you are just entering adulthood --you need a written plan to keep you in control and to protect yourself and those you love. ...

Portability and Estate Planning

Posted on: May 27th, 2014
Surprising to most people, the federal estate tax is a voluntary tax. Estate planning attorneys used to say, 'You only pay if you don't plan.' Now, portability provides both an alternative and a back up plan to lifetime tax planning. This means you might be able to minimize or even eliminate federal estate taxes even if you didn't plan. ...

Trust Administration at the Death of the Grantor

Posted on: May 8th, 2014
Upon the death of a trust maker the Bryan Law Firm, PC offers legal services to your successor trustee. The trustee is responsible for seeing that the assets of the trust are distributed properly and in a timely manner. An overview of the valuable guidance we provide includes:...

Social Security Benefits are an Important Aspect of a Comprehensive Estate Plan

Posted on: April 16th, 2014
What you don't know about Social Security benefits can hurt you and your spouse for the rest of your lives. Here are three traps to avoid when taking your benefits....

Estate Planning - Guardian's of minor children

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014
Parents with minor children need to name someone to raise them (a guardian) in the event both parents should die before the child becomes an adult. While the likelihood of that actually happening is slim, the consequences of not naming a guardian are great....

Estate Administration - Probate and Trust Administration

Posted on: March 19th, 2014
If estate planning is the process of designing a playbook, estate administration occurs when the playbook is put into action. The process begins with an event that triggers a provision in your estate plan, such as incapacity or death. The plan becomes 'executory', meaning that the individuals you designated in your plan documents must step into action and execute according to your instructions. This estate administration is often in the form of a trust administration of a trust or probate of a will. ...

Bryan Law Firm, PC handles Trust Administration

Posted on: March 12th, 2014
The trustee is responsible for seeing that the assets of the trust are distributed properly and in a timely manner....

Reminder to file annual report

Posted on: March 7th, 2014
Reminder: all Montana corporations and Montana LLCs need to file their annual report with Montana Secretary of State. Also, Montana Corporations need to maintain their corporate formalities. ...

Importance of Proper Investment Planning and the Team Approach

Posted on: February 14th, 2014
Most investors are familiar with the magic of compounding interest but they often fail to realize that when the portfolio loses money, the math of compounding works against them. That's because when a dollar is lost, it is not just a dollar but a compounded dollar that is lost, so the investor must regain more just to break even. ...

Long Term Care Insurance as Part of your Estate Plan

Posted on: January 21st, 2014
Health care has been the topic of discussion lately, but the greatest threat to your financial health is long-term care. This is the kind of care you need if you are not able to perform normal daily activities (such as eating, dressing, bathing and toileting) without help, and it is expected that you will need this help for an extended period of time, often for the rest of your life. ...

Family Estate Planning Meeting

Posted on: December 30th, 2013
You've made the hard decisions, your documents are signed, your trust is funded, a business succession plan is in place. Congratulations, you've finished your estate planning. But have you, really? Have you explained your planning to your family?...

Justin M. Bryan and Mark A. Bryan are presenting at a NBI Trusts 101 Seminar

Posted on: December 4th, 2013
Justin M. Bryan and Mark A. Bryan attorneys with the Bryan Law Firm, PC located in Bozeman Montana Will be presenting at a NBI seminar titled Trusts 101. ...

Does a Trust actually cost more than a Will?

Posted on: November 5th, 2013
It will probably cost more initially to set up a well-drafted living trust than to have a will prepared. A true cost comparison should include not only the expense to establish the will or trust, but also what it will cost should you become incapacitated and after you die. ...

How to choose a Trustee

Posted on: September 12th, 2013
When you establish a trust, you name someone to be the trustee. Here at the Bryan Law Firm, we believe that trustee choice is important. A trustee basically does what you do right now with your financial affairs--collect income, pay bills and taxes, save and invest for the future, buy and sell assets, provide for your loved ones, keep accurate records and generally keep things organized and in good order....

Estate Planning for Unmarried Partners

Posted on: July 1st, 2013
Estate planning is creating a set of instructions that specify how property is handled after death, and how property and health care decisions are handled during a period of incapacity. Proper estate planning is important for everyone. But for unmarried partners--opposite sex or same sex--it is critical. This article will address some issues for unmarried partners to consider for after-death estate planning. ...

Estate Planning -- The Most Important Love Letters You'll Ever Write?

Posted on: June 20th, 2013
Many Americans have the misperception that estate planning is simply preparing for one's death and is only necessary for the affluent. To the contrary, estate planning is as much about passing values to loved ones as it is about passing material possessions....

The Value of Having a “Plan” in Estate Planning

Posted on: June 6th, 2013
All too often, estate planning is viewed as a transaction: a will, a living trust, powers of attorney, etc. But the best planning happens when the professional can get to know the client on a deeper level, to uncover hopes, dreams and aspirations. It becomes more about family and values, and it becomes a process instead of a transaction....

Bryan Law Firm, P.C. Business Exit Planning

Posted on: May 13th, 2013
Business Exit Planning...

Team Approach to Estate and Business Planning

Posted on: May 7th, 2013
The Bryan Law Firm believes estate planning is not simply the documents prepared by an attorney, nor is it the insurance and financial plan recommended by a financial advisor. Properly done, estate planning encompasses at least the legal and financial elements, but it may include more, as estate planning often points out the need to plan in other areas....

Which is Better for Me a Will or a Trust

Posted on: April 23rd, 2013
Some factors to consider when choosing between a will and a trust. ...

Which is Better -- Trust or Will

Posted on: April 17th, 2013
Which is better Trust or Wills...

How to Leave Assets to Minor Children -- Bryan Law Firm, P.C.

Posted on: April 7th, 2013
Every parent wants to make sure their children are provided for in the event something happens to them while the children are still minors. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives often want to leave some of their assets to young children, too. But good intentions and poor planning often have unintended results....

Bryan Law Firm, P.C. Alaska Community Property trust for Montanan's

Posted on: April 1st, 2013
In 1998, Alaska enacted a state statute that allowed for non-Alaska residents use a trust to elect community property status for their non-Alaskan property. Thus, Montanan’s can have their real property (i.e. homes and ranches located in MT) and their personal property treated as community property....

Bryan Law Firm, P.C. Protecting College Age Children by Proper Planning

Posted on: March 26th, 2013
Once a child turns 18, parents lose the legal ability to make decisions for their child or even to find out basic information. Learning you cannot see your college student's grades without his/her permission can be mildly frustrating. But a medical emergency can take this frustration to a completely different level....

Protecting Your Children Through Proper Estate Planning

Posted on: March 19th, 2013
I believe that most Montanan's want to make sure their children are provided for in the event something happens to them while the children are still minors. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives often want to leave some of their assets to young children, too. But good intentions and poor planning often have unintended results....

Estate Planning for Young Families

Posted on: March 12th, 2013
Many young families put off estate planning because they are young and healthy, or because they don't think they can afford it. But even a healthy, young adult can be taken suddenly by an accident or illness. And while none of us expects to die while our family is young, planning for the possibility is prudent and responsible. Also, estate planning does not have to be expensive; a young family can start with the essential legal documents and term life insurance, then update and upgrade as their financial situation improves. A good estate plan for a young family will include the following:...

ATRA

Posted on: March 12th, 2013
Montana's and the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012. ...