Up until a few years ago, a common estate-planning technique included the use of irrevocable trusts to own life insurance intended for the payment of estate taxes. Properly arranged, this method allowed the policy’s benefits to be used to pay the estate taxes of the person who died without the policy being included in the estate when the estate-tax liability was calculated. Today, this is still a useful technique but not nearly as prevalent. We still have an estate tax. But the threshold for being exposed to the tax has increased so much that only the very wealthy need to be concerned.
Some Americans who are planning their estates for the first time or are revisiting their current estate plans are confused regarding whether trusts remain an important estate planning tool. Given the significant changes in the law of late, their confusion was addressed in a recent Cincinnati.com article titled “Trusts remain useful tool in estate planning.”
Mention a trust, and the first thing most people think of is a spoiled kid living off an inherited fortune without having worked a single day in life. As a result, most people don’t know very much about trusts, and they assume there’s little need to have even a basic understanding of this useful estate-planning tool. In many situations, though, trusts can be the best way to achieve your financial goals, especially if they involve making sure that you and your loved ones are taken care of when you’re unavailable to do so yourself.
This was the subject of a recent article by the Motley Fool titled “5 Things You Didn’t Know — but Should! — About Trusts.”
Here are a few takeaways from the article:
AARP says to head off bickering over your personal possessions, consider supplementing your will with a letter of instruction, an informal document that you can draft yourself. Where there’s a will, there’s a way—and sometimes an ugly family feud. Families are consumed with grief when a loved one dies, but unfortunately certain legal and organizational tasks that arise can’t be ignored or put off for long. But you can ease the burden on your loved ones by making some simple preparations in addition to a will.
To get in front of hard feelings and potential conflicts over your personal possessions, think about adding a letter of instruction to your will. This is an informal document you can draft which isn’t legally binding, but can be a helpful guide for your family. It gives your family more detail than what is usually in a will.
Most people struggle to plan their financial futures beyond the next decade, while those with money and foresight are likely to think well in advance about what they want to leave their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. But what about planning for eternity? It seems too long to contemplate. Yet in the last several decades, states have begun competing with one another for the business of perpetual trusts, which are designed to last forever, or at least 1,000 years in the case of Wyoming. And people have been putting their millions and billions into them, eschewing traditional trusts, which typically end after 100 years. (more…)
Today’s families are a lot different than Ward and June Cleaver. There are more families today with non-traditional situations than ever before. It is very common in my profession to have clients with same sex marriages, second marriages with assets and children from a prior marriage, as well as families that may look traditional, yet marriage was never on the agenda. Financial and estate planning for everyone is important, but if the situation has any of the variables referenced above, planning is a must.
A recent article in The Patriot Ledger, titled “Estate planning for non-traditional relationships,” takes a practical look at a common personal, financial and legal challenge. (more…)
People in their 20s often do not think that they need to worry about estate planning. They plan to live much longer, so they believe there will be time to get an estate plan later. However, you never know when tragedy can strike, so it is important that 20-somethings get estate plans.
Younger adults normally do not think anything bad will happen to them. They are “bullet-proof,” so to speak.
They do not seriously imagine that they could pass away at any time.
This leads many young adults to delay their estate planning until they are much older. Unfortunately, if a tragedy does happen, this leaves the estates of many young adults in a bad situation.
Important lessons about estate planning can often reach the general public through issues over celebrities’ estates. 2014 has been a busy year for such lessons.
Americans are fascinated by the lives and deaths of celebrities. When a celebrity passes away, the public wants to know how his or her estate will be distributed. (more…)
During this festive time of year, dwelling on estate planning may seem like a bit of a downer. Yet the end of the year is as good as time as any to take stock of your personal finances and also make sure you have done some proper estate planning. Having your affairs in order will lift a huge burden off your family that would otherwise face a big emotional and financial toll in probate court should something happen to you. (more…)
When you’re over 50 and facing divorce from a long-term marriage, coming to a settlement agreement that will safeguard a comfortable financial future is complicated. “Till death do us part” isn’t the case for many Baby Boomers today. “Gray divorces” are occurring more than ever before — the rate for adults ages 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010, according to research from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio. “There are no ‘do-overs’ after you agree to a settlement,” the article says. “After 50, you’ll have fewer years to recoup from financial errors, so it’s essential to get this right.” (more…)
What you don’t know about Social Security benefits can hurt you and your spouse for the rest of your lives. Here are three traps to avoid when taking your benefits.