Articles Posted in Estate Planning

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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.

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_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

AdobeStock_69821783-300x206By Paul T. Czepiga

Let’s set the stage. You are a professional service provider and are concerned about professional liability exposure. Or you are engaged in a business that is high risk and you are worried about being sued.

So your lawyer said put all your assets in your spouse’s name.

Well, that generally works. But the solution creates its own problem, which is shown by the following example of a married couple. Continue reading

AdobeStock_57691850-300x287By Paul T. Czepiga

You have just gone through a long and insightful process to get your affairs in order. You met with your financial advisor, accountant, insurance agent, and attorney. Part of this process included creating a living trust in your estate planning documents. The trust could be for a minor child until age 40 or maybe even for their lifetime, or a trust for your spouse. You named a trustee, more than one actually, because you needed an alternate trustee in case the first one you named in the document couldn’t or didn’t want to serve, either initially or later on.

But what if it turns out the trustee you named ends up not being the best choice?

If you are still alive and the trust document allows for amendment, you can change the trustee. But what if change might be warranted, but the document does not allow you to change it or you have died and can’t change it? Continue reading

Dollarphotoclub_87265157-300x200For most of us, debt is a way of life. We finance our cars and homes, we use our credit cards to pay for holiday gifts and vacations. We borrow money to send our kids to college. Even if we use credit wisely, we still may end up with a pile of debt at the end of our lives.

So who is responsible for paying it?

That depends on the situation. Continue reading

AdobeStock_61297585-300x200By David Green
Contrary to popular belief, a Will or Last Will and Testament, isn’t always written in stone.

Quite frequently, disputes arise over the contents of a Will and the parties who are at odds must seek outside help to resolve the issues. Because there are often conflicts of interest around such disputes, it’s important for each party Continue reading

tree-of-love-4-1330924-m-250x300Finding love for the second time is a beautiful thing, but amidst all the fireworks and violins, it’s important to be aware that second marriages typically create the need for some fairly in-depth estate planning.

To ensure wedded bliss and family harmony far beyond the wedding day, it’s critical to proactively address how your nuptials will affect your financial liabilities, existing benefits, and distribution of your assets to loved ones.

1.      Communicate Like a Pro

The first step to ensure success in such matters is to have open and comprehensive conversations with your spouse and your family. You must clearly articulate your wishes and your concerns, and you must also provide a forum in which family members can share their thoughts and concerns. Continue reading

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