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Category: Of Legal Interest

The Importance of Selecting the Correct Beneficiary in Estate Planning

Michael J. Lanza's avatar

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Choosing the wrong beneficiary could seriously impact the implementation of your estate plan.

Our firm prepares estate plans for our clients that utilize wills and sometimes trusts to accomplish their goals.  In this process it is very important to make sure the appropriate beneficiary has been named on assets such as life insurance policies, bank accounts and retirement plans.  The wrong choice could defeat the goals you want to accomplish.  For example, you establish a trust that provides in the event of your passing you want your estate assets to be managed by a trustee of your choosing for the benefit of any child under the age of twenty-five.  A very reasonable planning tool to allow a child to gain more maturity until he or she inherit your assets free of any restrictions.  However, if your child is named as the beneficiary, for example under a life insurance policy, the insurance policy’s death benefit could potentially go directly to your child when your child is no longer deemed a minor or reaching the age of eighteen.  Your goal of having a trustee manage your child’s finances until twenty-five has been circumvented by simply… read more

Living Trusts:  Myths and Realities

Michael J. Lanza's avatar

Categories: Of Legal Interest Permalink

Living Trusts can be an effective estate planning tool, but not just to avoid probate.

As part of my practice I advise clients about estate planning.  Often times one of the first questions asked at the initial meeting with a client is if assets are placed in a Living Trust, can this avoid the costs, time and expense associated with probate.  While a Living Trust can be used as an estate planning tool in certain circumstances, it should not be used if the sole purpose of the Living Trust is to avoid probate.  The following article written by Connecticut Judge of Probate, Domenick N. Calabrese, does a good job discussing many of the myths associated with the benefits of a Living Trust.   

Trusts were once an estate planning tool used exclusively by the wealthy. Beginning in the 1960s, more and more middle-class Americans began using trusts in estate planning. Trusts are a means of ownership. In estate planning, trusts can be used for a variety of purposes, such as providing asset management for those who may lack the ability to properly manage assets themselves (usually children or young adults), avoiding probate administration,… read more

What exactly is Title Insurance?

Michael J. Lanza's avatar

Categories: Of Legal Interest Permalink

While a requirement by almost all lenders in a real estate closing, many consumers do not understand what it is and what it covers.


Our firm handles many real estate transactions for our clients and a lender requirement for just about any real estate purchase or refinance is that the client purchase title insurance.  The following is an abstract of an informational article published by CATIC,  New England’s largest domestic title insurance underwriter, and the company we use to provide title insurance to our clients.
Before the advent of title insurance as a commonplace part of the closing process, when a property owner or prospective property owner desired to obtain mortgage financing, among the processes put into motion was the search of the land records to determine the status of title to the premises to be mortgaged. This search was performed by a lawyer or other title searcher who would examine the chain of title by running each applicable name through the indices until all instruments comprising muniments of title were put together, along with other items, such as liens, etc., which might affect that title. Should this title searcher find a break… read more

Don’t try to save money by having the minimum allowed limits of coverage for your auto insurance

Michael J. Lanza's avatar

Categories: Of Legal Interest Permalink

If you operate a motor vehicle don’t carry the minimum limits of insurance coverage. Remember your insurance doesn’t just protect you if you cause injury to another party, it also protects you from uninsured and underinsured drivers.

One of the first questions I ask a client who has been injured in an auto accident is what are the insurance limits on the client’s automobile policy.  Most important, the amount of coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.  These coverages afford protection when the driver at fault is not insured or does not have sufficient insurance to cover the damages that resulted from the accident.  In my experience about 25% of drivers that have caused my clients to suffer personal injury either have no insurance or are underinsured.

In Connecticut, you have legally met the requirements for auto insurance if you carry a policy that provides $20,000 of coverage per accident per injured individual up to an aggregate amount of $40,000 if the accident resulted in injuries to more than one person.  For example, if a person carrying this minimum policy coverage causes an accident injuring multiple persons, the total amount that this policy will pay out is $40,000 regardless of the seriousness of the injuries sustained by the parties.

This scenario recently played out with a client… read more