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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

AdobeStock_129036669-300x200This is the second installment of a two-part series about the realities of and remedies for sibling rivalry over family inheritance. For more about what causes and complicates sibling rivalry, read Inheritance: The #1 Cause of Adult Sibling Rivalry.

In part one of this series, we learned just how prevalent and problematic sibling rivalry can be when it comes to dealing with issues of inheritance. Luckily, the secrets to avoiding these kinds of conflicts can be universally applied.

The Ameriprise research that indicated 70% of sibling conflicts arise over these kinds of issues also showed that — happily — 61% of siblings will attempt to talk through the issues. Unfortunately, Continue reading

AdobeStock_32607232-300x225This is the first in a two-part series about the realities of and remedies for sibling rivalry over family inheritance.

“Mom always liked you best,” Tommy Smothers used to say. Those five words make up one of the most recognizable catch phrases of the inimitable Smothers Brothers. Coined in the early 1960s, it captures — in a humorous way — the rivalry that is an almost ubiquitous part of growing up with siblings.

Most of the time, such rivalries fade over the years, becoming fodder for family ribbing around the holiday table. But when the passing of a parent drives siblings into the unfamiliar territory of dealing with an inheritance, those rivalries can rear their ugly heads in unexpected and sometimes heartbreaking ways.

AdobeStock_79789853-300x199While the American Healthcare Act or ACA (also known as Obamacare) has so far escaped the repeal-and-replace hatchet, the debate over how to restructure healthcare in this country is far from over.

One of the most controversial elements of that debate is Medicaid. Despite the broad news coverage on this topic, there is still a great deal of misunderstanding about what Medicaid is, who uses it, and how it’s spent.

Not just for the unemployed and the poor

AdobeStock_67245954-300x200By Carol Frances

It was a mystery. Every evening around 5 o’clock, my mom would change. She’d become resistant, paranoid and sometimes belligerent. She would even hallucinate – claiming to have watched me from the window as I marched in a parade!

A few hours later, and certainly the next day, she would be back to her happy, easy-going self.

AdobeStock_19241426-300x200Our need for sleep changes throughout our lifetimes, but maybe not as much as we once thought. Contrary to popular belief, adults 65 and older do not require less sleep than they did at 35 or 50. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep a night for adults of all ages.

Unfortunately, many adults over 65 do sleep less than the 7-9 recommended hours, which can be detrimental to overall health. Here’s what to know about sleep and how to improve sleeping habits.

What happens when you don’t sleep enough

AdobeStock_142240831-300x200Multiple generations living under one roof may seem like a concept from a time gone by or a practice from another part of the world, but it is actually a growing trend here in the states.

Before WWII, approximately 25% of Americans shared their homes with three or more generations. After the war, the percentage of multigenerational households began to decline and bottomed out at a meager 12% in 1980.

Today, however, the numbers of families choosing to combine households across two or more generations is on the rise. Continue reading

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Of all the things we do in taking care of our aging parents, dealing with their household stuff might be the most cumbersome. After all, when the end finally comes, it’s up to us to sort, store, sell, toss, donate, and clean everything until the home is empty.

This is no small task, especially in a time of grief. Where to start?

Here are some options for dealing with your parents’ items that won’t be finding a new home with family members. Remember that the more time you have, the more money you can make for the estate. Continue reading

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