AdobeStock_142240831-300x200It may seem odd to ask young parents to think about estate planning, but starting a family is actually the perfect reason to address some really important questions. After all, becoming a parent isn’t just about choosing names and picking out nursery colors. It’s about being wholly responsible for someone else—a child—for life.

While it’s difficult to even contemplate the unthinkable, it’s imperative that new parents plan for every possibility to ensure that their children are protected, cared for, and financially secure.

Since it may be a while since you traveled this road, here is an overview of the estate planning details young parents should address.

Dollarphotoclub_88177383-300x300By Colleen E. Masse

As everyone knows, Connecticut had quite a year with its budget.

If you qualify for one of the Medicare Savings Programs – Qualified Medicare Beneficiary, Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary, or Additional Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary – this budget will affect you.

SocialSecurityWhat happens to your husband’s or wife’s Social Security benefits if he or she dies? Are you entitled to them as the surviving spouse?

In general, yes.

If your spouse who has passed had paid into Social Security long enough, you may be eligible to collect his or her benefits. These are known as Survivors Benefits.

AdobeStock_113836857-300x200It’s so confusing! HIPAA, Health Care Directives, Powers of Attorney. How does one differ from the others?

A HIPAA Authorization, a Health Care Directive, and a Health Care Power of Attorney can easily be confused because all three have to do with your permission about your medical care and medical information.

Plus, both health care directives (aka living wills) and health care powers of attorney are known as “advance directives,” which only adds to the confusion.

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The point of having an estate plan is to define your wishes about what happens to your money and property after you die. But an outdated estate plan can ruin those plans – in ways you may not be aware of.

What can happen if you don’t review and update your estate plan?

Here are the top three consequences of dying with an outdated estate plan and examples of how they can happen.

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Assigning and updating beneficiary designations for your retirement plans, life insurance policies, and annuities are tasks that notoriously get ignored. While the process itself is usually pretty straightforward — putting someone’s name on a form — the consequences of your choice can be fairly substantial. Don’t wait any longer!

Who to choose as beneficiaries

You can name any of the usual suspects as a beneficiary — your spouse, children, or other relatives. You can also name friends, trusts, charities, and even various institutions like colleges, universities, libraries, and so forth.

AdobeStock_102656552-300x200Most people are aware that there are steps you should consider to protect your assets from being liquidated to pay for long-term care. And to protect your heirs from the burden of heavy estate taxes upon your passing. However, are you aware of the related risks associated with the capital gains tax?

What is the capital gains tax?

The capital gains tax is levied on the profit you earn from the sale of an investment or property. When you sell an asset that has appreciated, the capital gain is defined as the difference between the “basis” (what it cost you to acquire the asset) and the selling price.

Bidding on a homeBy Peter J. Smith

Your spouse just passed away, and everything your spouse owned had a joint or beneficiary designation. All of your spouse’s assets go to you without having to go through probate first.

End of story, right?  Not exactly.

Did you know that you still have to file paperwork with the probate court?  At the very least, a Connecticut estate tax return must be filed, even if no tax is due.  Not filing can cause problems for you down the road, and here’s why. Continue reading

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