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on December 13, 2009
I began to read "Estate Planning Smarts" while visiting my elderly mom in Florida, the night before our first appointment with an elder care lawyer. Believe it or not, I couldn't put it down! Who would have thought that a book on estate planning could be such a page turner!

I stayed up reading most of the night, secure in Deborah Jacob's expert and compassionate guidance through the difficult terrain of estate planning and financial management. A lawyer myself -environmental but not trusts/estates-, I was impressed by how Ms. Jacobs managed to explain a complex area of law with comprehensiveness and clarity, and her focus on easy to use checklists.

When my mom woke me up in time for our 8 am departure, she was dismayed to hear I had stayed up reading a book until well after 3 am. When we had our meeting with the new lawyer, I used much of what I had learned the night before, particularly chapter 6 on trusts. Afterwards, I showed my mom - who was thrilled with both the new lawyer and her daughter's sage input during the meeting,- Deborah Jacob's book. She was similarly wowed, but still doesn't understand why I couldn't have started reading it earlier.

I cant begin to say enough about how useful this book is for everyone from the general public to legal and financial professionals. It made me better informed for our meeting with the lawyer and gave me incredibly useful checklists that I will be using with mom's financial adviser. Awesome is the word that best describes this action-oriented book. It's a ray of sunshine and clarity, and like my mom said to me, read it as early as you can.
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on December 11, 2009
This is a terrific book--the perfect guide for anyone who cares about their loved ones, financial security, or personal legacy. And who doesn't? As Jacobs explains in this highly readable book, estate plans aren't just for the rich. Many of us have more assets than we realize: a home, a retirement plan, life insurance, and family keepsakes. With the recession, it's more important than ever to preserve those assets for ourselves and loved ones.

The tax rules affecting these simple assets are more complex--and unforgiving--than most people realize. Many workers, for example, name their "estate" as the beneficiary on retirement plans. That's a mistake even my highly educated father made. Jacobs explains that this designation raises income tax bills for your heirs--even if your estate is small enough to escape the estate tax. Savvy planners name their heirs directly as beneficiaries of the retirement plan, leaving more money for the heirs and less for Uncle Sam.

"Estate Planning Smarts" is full of tips like this. And Jacobs presents her advice clearly, compassionately, and pragmatically. She guides readers through the human side of estate planning, as well as through the financial aspects. Sidebars offer interesting examples, while a detailed glossary explains puzzling terms. Jacobs even includes advice on how to find a lawyer, and she directs readers to other books, websites, and software.

This book is a treasure! Buy it and pass your own treasure on to the people and causes you love.
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on February 18, 2010
Estate Planning Smarts eases the reader into a subject that is often difficult by focusing on an underlying purpose of estate planning: taking care of yourself and those you love. In this context, the Ms.Jacobs discusses the documents and tools that make-up an estate plan, the estate tax, and different assets and family situations that affect planning. All the while, the book uses language that both a lay person and an estate planner can understand and appreciate.

Ms. Jacobs divides the book into chapters by relevance to the reader, making it easy to find a particular topic or read the entire book without feeling overwhelmed. Each chapter is further subdivided by descriptive headings so as to give the reader a roadmap for that particular topic. Within each chapter, colored blocks set-off useful "to-do" lists, real-life examples, charts, and tables. The back of the book contains a 20-page glossary of estate planning terms and a list of resources for further understanding and action. Updated chapters to the book will be provided online at [...], insuring that the reader stays up-to-date.

Deborah Jacobs uses her prior years experience of writing in this field to create a book that really is practical, user-friendly, and action-oriented. Because the book uses an easy-to-read format, explains complex topics simply, and prompts the reader to think about and organize for effective estate planning, Estate Planning Smarts is a great book for estate planners to make available to new clients in need of a basic information.
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on March 24, 2010
"Estate Planning Smarts" is a basic guide to the concepts of Estate Planning.

Please be aware of the following:

1) This book is NOT an in depth guide to the intricacies of Estate Planning.

2) I recommend that you buy four to five books to understand the concepts of Estate Planning. This would be Book One of the five books. The goal is to understand the intricacies of Estate Planning and be knowledgeable before consulting your Attorney.

3) When you become knowledgeable, from the books and on line sources you consult,
only then consult your Attorney to make certain that everything is legally correct.

Note: Once again, "Estate Planning Smarts" is only a basic book on this topic. You will for a certainty need other reference books and other resources.

Good luck to all!
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on November 19, 2011
Over the years, I have received very conflicting advice from financial planners and attorneys about how best to title assets, name beneficiaries, and structure an estate plan. I bought this book in order to make sense out of the differing and confusing advice I was receiving. What I found was a very easy to read, thorough, logically presented, enjoyable, and action-oriented overview of the importance of estate planning, decision making guidelines for wills and inheritance, the tax system, protecting and providing for partners and children, trusts, retirement accounts, life insurance, health care and education, protecting one's homestead, gifts to family & charities, asset protection, and a host of other critical topics that affect us all (regardless of income or assets). Interestingly, I learned that the likely reasons for the differing advice I've received is not that some was necessarily right and some wrong but, rather, that the best way to do things depends on a complex mixture of (differing) state laws, continuous changes in federal tax laws, specific individual circumstances, and even getting the balance right between minimizing tax liability and maximizing asset protection from creditors. The information I learned from this book will now help me to make the best decisions for my particular circumstances by knowing the right questions to ask, by being aware of the complexities involved, and by understanding why it is so important to work closely with an attorney (not just a financial advisor) who is an expert in estate planning in my particular state. Overall, essential reading while we still can!
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on April 17, 2010
This book is a very good introduction to estate planning for the average person. It is well thought out, and has very practical advice for the average person. Some of the best advice is for families, especially those with young children.

The author stresses the point repeatedly that parents must be prepared to provide for their children and make their final wishes clear. Otherwise family bickering can make a difficult time even harder when loved ones are forced to speculate what the wishes of their deceased loved ones were.

I would reccommend this book to anyone who wants practical advice on estate planning and is not sure where to start.
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on December 2, 2010
This is an excellent introduction to estate planning and administration. It is pitched at a much higher level than the comparable "dummies" book, yet it remains easily accessible. This books is especially important given all the shifts taking place in estate taxation, developments the author updates deftly on her website. Reading this book now will help you avoid enormous difficulties as well as unnecessary legal expenses later. Highly, highly recommended.
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on March 11, 2010
A wise man realizes he isn't immortal. "Estate Planning Smarts: A Practical, User-Friendly, Action-Oriented Guide" is a guide for those who want to plan a wise will to be followed after they pass on, to help with the chaos that is normally associated with inheritance. From the power of attorney, to caring for one's children in the future, charity, legally evading the taxman, and more, "Estate Planning Smarts" is a choice pick for those who plan for the worst wisely.
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on February 1, 2010
This is an excellent book worthy of anyone in the Financial Services Business to give away to clients. In addition, it is a valuable resource and a wealth of information that has been simplified and a comfortable read to learn about Estate Planning. The author makes sure that this subject matter is in a constant change and instructs the reader how to adapt to changes in the future.
Lee Scher
Financial Representative of Guardian Life Insurance Company
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on March 22, 2013
This book clearly articulated the issues I should consider in developing an estate plan, with a lot of good information about what should go into a living trust. But it didn't go the next step and actually help me develop such a trust. If it did, it would have saved me substantial fees, because it is much less expensive for an estate planner to review an estate plan than it is for him to write one. Corrections are easy - starting from scratch is hard.

So, if you want to do your own estate planning (which would be foolish if no expert reviewed it when you were done), this is not the book for you - or maybe it is not the ONLY book for you.
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