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Author: Tessmer Law Firm

There are many internet sites, television and radio ads telling us how easy it is to write your own Will.  You may have even heard a family member (usually an old timer) talk about a hand-written Will but don't tell you about the dangers.  Please, we beg of you:  Don’t go the do-it-yourself route.   Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger wrote his own will – all 176 words – and you might assume that with his knowledge of the law, he got it right. Well, guess again. His family paid the price, owing over $450,000 in estate taxes and court fees that could...

Please, plan for disability.   Estate planning is not only about carrying out our wishes when we die. A good, thorough plan will take care of you while you are living. Durable Powers of Attorney and Medical Directives give your loved ones the authority to make medical and financial decisions for you in the event that you are incapable.  Even without a condition such as dementia or Alzheimers, simply aging can bring with it a loss of mental capacity and leave you unable to manage your finances or health care.   Don’t wait until it is too late to put these documents in place. The...

We cannot stress enough how important it is to have the appropriate Estate Planning documents for your individual needs.  There is no "one size fits all" formula. A simple Will is one thing, but there may be better options for you to consider. For example, would you want anyone to be able to look up how much money you had and who you left it to after you died? Whitney Houston probably did not, but she failed to establish a living trust. As a result, instead of her last wishes being private, her will was filed in probate court for all...

You've taken our advice, sat down and put your Will and Estate Planning documents in place.  That's great!  Now, were they reviewed for errors?  Are updates needed?   Take the case of Anna-Nicole Smith, who died from a drug overdose in 2007. She did the right thing and had a Will, but at the time of her death, it was found that it had never been reviewed and updated appropriately. Anna-Nicole’s Will left her entire estate to her son Daniel, who had died six months earlier. It did not mention her daughter, Dannielynn, who was born just three days after Daniel’s death....

Whether you're a famous billionaire or living paycheck to paycheck, everyone needs proper Estate Planning in place for the inevitable. And notice we say "proper" Estate Planning.  Every situation is different, and what works for one isn't what is needed for another. Also, hiring a qualified attorney to create your Estate Plan is a must, because this is an area where a silly mistake can cost your loved ones years in court and/or thousands of dollars.   Celebrities make the same Estate Planning mistakes as people with modest assets. It is only the dollar amounts that differ. This week, we bring you...

We have saved the best for last in our list of family law related films for this week's Tessmer Tips blog. This movie about a divorcing couple fighting over dividing their community property is one of our all-time favorites.   The War of the Roses is a 1989 dark comedy starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito as divorce lawyer Gavin D’Amato. In the movie, D’Amato tells the story of one of his clients, Oliver Rose (Douglas).   Oliver and Barbara Rose (Turner) are very wealthy and have been married for many, many years. Oliver is a successful partner in his law firm, while...

Divorcing parents should pay special attention to their kids. Don't get caught up in your own drama and forget that your children are struggling to cope, too. Our next family law movie shows us the destruction of a family through a teen's view. The Squid and The Whale is a 2005 arthouse film that won awards at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. In the movie, Bernard Berkman is a once successful novelist whose career has taken a downturn. His wife, Joan, has begun publishing her own works to widespread acclaim, which causes growing...

There is no question that divorce is painful under any circumstance. Sometimes a divorcing parent feels so hurt and angry, they want to lash out at their soon-to-be ex and they do that through their kids. This is central to the plot of our next recommended family law movie.   Mrs. Doubtfire is a 1993 comedy starring Robin Williams and Sally Field as Daniel and Miranda Hillard, a San Francisco couple with three children Daniel is a devoted and loving father, but is unreliable as a husband. After a furious argument, Miranda files for divorce and is awarded custody of the children at...

Today, we continue our movie recommendations with a great story about the struggle to produce a happy, blended family after divorce.   Stepmom is a 1998 film starring Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris. The movie tells the story of Luke and Jackie Harrison (Harris and Sarandon), a divorced couple struggling to raise their children, Ben and Anna, and create a new blended family. Luke is living with his new girlfriend Isabel (Roberts), who is several years younger. Isabel tries hard to befriend Ben and Anna. Ben seems comfortable and happy with her, but Anna completely rejects her. Anna and Jackie do...

We all love going to the movies! This week our Tessmer Tips blog will tell you about some movies we love that are about divorce, child custody and other family law issues.     Kramer vs. Kramer is a 1979 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, the movie tells the story of the divorce of Ted Kramer (Hoffman) whose wife, Joanna (Streep), leaves him and their young son, Billy. Kramer and son have a difficult time, but eventually learn to cope without Joanna and form a tight father/son bond....