Penning Group Blog

The Penning Group blog is written and edited by the advisors and attorneys of The Penning Group, providing practical business, personal, and legal information. To view blog posts by category, choose a topic area from the sidebar menu.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Families Preserve Their Best Memories of the Family Cottage Through Succession Planning

Spring triggers the annual migration of cottage/cabin owners back to their summer homes after the long, cold winter – or, for those more fortunate, spending time at warm climate retreats. Spring also brings the excitement and anticipation for a new season of warm, muggy nights, fishing, watersports, campfires, and the constant coming and going of family members and guests at the family cottage.

As I reflect on the start of another summer season fresh with new inquiries about cottage law matters such as ways to protect and plan for the future of many family cottages,...

Read More...
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Background

Historically, the rules have been such that beneficiaries to a will or a trust are not bound or forced to present their claims pursuant to “binding arbitration clauses” that were drafted into a will or a trust by the decedent prior to his or her death. The rationale to not enforce arbitration clauses in wills and trusts was that only voluntary parties to a contract, where both parties were providing consideration, could be forced to abide by the terms of an arbitration clause in the contract. Based on the fact that in a will or trust situation there is no “consideration exchange” dealing with a will or...

Read More...
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

As life circumstances change (birth, marriage, divorce, death), it may become necessary to make changes to your estate planning documents. If estate planning documents are not kept up-to-date, they can become useless. The best way to make changes to estate planning documents is to either restate an estate plan in its entirety or make specific changes to documents like a will through a codicil or a trust through an amendment to the trust.

While it may be tempting to just take out a pen and make changes to documents by hand, this is not recommended. Changes will not be effective unless you use the same formalities as you did when drafting the original estate planning documents, such...

Read More...
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

As you plan this summer’s family vacation or trip, beware of the fact that most publically owned land, parks, attractions and recreation facilities are exempt from typical premises liability laws, providing a basis for injured persons to pursue damage claims against negligent property owners. This concept is commonly known as “governmental immunity.” Now I am not suggesting that you pass on taking in the spectacular sights and experiences at Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon based on the fact that, in the unlikely event that you are injured there, you might not be able to possibly pursue a claim for damages. We really can’t live our lives that way. However, common sense...

Read More...
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

One of the most significant tax advantages to owning a home comes at the back end of ownership, when you decide to sell it for a profit. A homeowner can exclude up to $250,000 of such profit from their federal capital gains tax. For married couples filing a joint tax return, the exclusion jumps to $500,000. This big tax break, however, does come with some basic requirements. It applies to the sale of only a “principal residence,” not a vacation home or investment property. With some limited exceptions for poor health, job changes and unforeseen circumstances, the taxpayer must have owned and used the home as a primary residence for at least two of the five years (the two years need to be...

Read More...