Sunday, July 31, 2016

DIY Estate Planning Drawbacks

Finding tips, guidance and assistance for estate planning has never been easier via the internet. Such do-it-yourself wealth management planning is relatively inexpensive, fast to find, and seemingly simple to pull off. Nevertheless, there is a risky downside to transferring hard-earned accumulated wealth to your heirs without professional guidance, sometimes resulting in unseen mistakes and unintended financial consequences, experts warn. “Oftentimes, it is a client’s loved one’s urging them to meet with me based on knowledge that the client drafted the estate plan themselves,” says Dana Rifai, an estate planning attorney with Burke, Costanza & Carberry in Merrillville. “Do-it-yourself estate planning clients want to ensure that the estate plan was done correctly and will be effective upon the client’s passing.”

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Estate Planning for Those Approaching Life's End

If you (or a loved one) are entering hospice or close to life's end, you may need to act quickly to prevent unnecessary legal, tax costs on your estate. Planning is also critical to provide peace of mind for both you and your family. Here are some of the key concerns to consider. Immediately effective durable powers of attorney for financial matters are needed to be sure that the plan can be implemented without the necessity of obtaining a doctor's letter later. The person handling your financial affairs under a power of attorney is called your attorney in fact. If you trust your attorney in fact to handle your affairs if you are incapacitated, then you should be confident in their actions while you are competent. Note that you can monitor your attorney in fact if you are competent. On the other hand, you cannot monitor them if you are incapacitated.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Asset Protection Trust State Comparison

Now more than ever with the federal government focusing on U.S. taxpayers moving money outside the country, the trend will be towards using domestic asset protection trusts—not offshore trusts—says Peter Gordon, a trust lawyer in Wilmington, Del. Understand that setting up a DAPT is a preemptive strategy. “If you’ve already got problems, setting up a DAPT isn’t going to fly; the idea is to do it before you have problems,” says Gordon. Interested? Here’s help in deciding what state to set one up in.

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Is Revocable Trust Protecting Your Assets?

Everyone should be concerned with asset protection, which involves taking legal steps to keep assets safe from creditors or civil judgments against you. It is especially important for the wealthy as they have more assets at risk and could be more frequent targets of large lawsuits. Unfortunately, in my experience, people tend to confuse certain tools used for estate planning — which is the process of determining what will happen with your assets when you die — with asset-protection tools. That can lead to large gaps in asset protection. The most commonly misunderstood tool is the revocable living trust.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Why do estate planning?

Ask anyone why they do estate planning and you’re likely to get a variety of answers. But at its root, the answer to the question: “Why do estate planning?” was answered best by one of my partners who said, snickering: “If you love your family, do you really want to leave them with a mess?” Estate planning is one of the easiest and most desirable things to postpone. It’s an investment of time and money in something that’s generally intended to be relevant at a time in your life you’d rather not think about. Without judging our own importance too substantially, it’s still very fair to say that our passing will leave those we care about with a fair amount of adjustment. For some, it’s far worse — it can leave a devastating financial and emotional void for those who rely on us.

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Tips to find a lawyer

Few people enjoy hiring lawyers. But when trouble strikes and a lawyer is actually needed, it can be difficult to pick the right one. The cost of legal services varies widely, from as little as $50 an hour to as much as $1,000 "or more." With such a wide range of prices to choose from, the first factor people should look at is price. Something closer to that $50 mark than to the $1,000, and as far away as possible from that ominous "or more." All other things being equal, though, what specific qualities should one look for when choosing between two lawyers charging equivalent prices for their services?

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Estate Plan And A Wealth Transfer Plan Differences

Unfortunately, only about 45% of adult Americans have estate-planning documents. Generally as one accumulates more assets as well as gets older, the probability of having estate-planning documents increases. When you die without a will or trust, the State where you reside has laws that determine to whom your assets will go. This may or may not be what you want. But since you did not have your wishes recorded properly, you do not get a choice.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Talking to Parents about Wills and Estate Planning

Recent study surveyed more than 1,200 parents aged 55 and older, along with one of their adult children at least 25 years old, on topics that range from elder care, estate planning, and the ability to cover living expenses in retirement, to see if parents and kids were in agreement. This year, the survey included new questions about the role children play as parents get older, which revealed that four in 10 families "disagree on the role their child will play as parents age." Overall, while 93 percent of parents didn't find becoming financially dependent on their children acceptable, only 30 percent of children said the prospect of their parents becoming financially reliant on them was unacceptable. Communication about wills and estate planning was also lacking. More than 27 percent of the children that parents expected to be executor of their estate weren't aware of it. The study found that 55 percent of parents assumed that their oldest child would be their executor.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Financial planning is important for seniors who want to donate to Charity

It’s important for people who donate to charities to have a “joyful giving experience,” says Stephanie Bowers, CEO of Western Washington University Foundation. “People want to see their gifts make a difference, want to see something change,” she says. But questions arise. What makes charitable giving meaningful? How can people with limited resources make a significant impact? What will have the most effect when there are so many choices — not only of where to donate, but how and when? The answers involve more questions.

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Large Tax Bill? Consider Charitable Planning

When the thought of filing your income tax return brings you an intense feeling of dread, it may be time to consider leveraging charitable giving to purposefully mitigate your tax exposure during a high-income year. Charitable lead annuity trusts, private foundations, and donor advised funds are three legacy planning techniques which may help you to accomplish both your philanthropic and tax objectives. Charitable Lead Annuity Trust. A Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (CLAT) is an irrevocable trust that provides for a “lead” charitable interest in the form of an annuity payable to one or more charitable organizations, or a private foundation, for a fixed term of years.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Estate Planning can decrease expenses

Like so many things in life, leaving loose ends when it comes to your estate planning can lead to failure to achieve the desired end result—more money left to your family, friends or choice charities. It can cost your estate dearly, and sometimes no amount of time or money can rectify the problems left by half-hearted efforts. Here are some steps you can take to minimize your future estate costs. And if your estate attorney never discussed these topics, it might be time for a legal checkup or a second opinion. 1. Update your beneficiaries. At the time of your death, a lot of your estate may not pass by your will. With retirement plans, life insurance and transfer on death (TOD) accounts, you can name a beneficiary to receive these accounts once you pass away.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Don't shed assets for Medicaid eligibility

Live long enough, and you may face a difficult transition: You need nursing home care, but your assets will run out long before your life ends. If you have no assets, Medicaid will pay for nursing care, but only once you’ve used up most of your own resources.

Scrambling to qualify for Medicaid can be difficult and leave your spouse or heirs with less than you had hoped. That’s why the best time to plan for the possibility you will outlive you assets is years or even decades before your money runs out.

Almost all Americans, regardless of income or assets, are eligible for Medicare to cover their health care in retirement. While Medicare covers doctor visits, treatments, hospitalization and drugs, it does not pay for long-term care. Medicare will cover a short-term stay in a nursing home for rehab, but it will not cover any type of long-term care.

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