Six Questions to Consider When Selecting Beneficiaries for a Life Insurance Policy
Selecting a beneficiary for your life insurance policy sounds pretty straightforward. You’re just deciding who will receive the policy’s proceeds when you die, right? But as with most things in life, it’s a bit more complicated than that. It can help to keep in mind that naming someone as your life insurance beneficiary really has
Three Keys to Protecting Yourself from a Rogue Executor/Trustee
Unfortunately, sometimes a death in the family can bring out the worst in people. Indeed, family resentments sometimes simmer during a time of grieving – particularly when money and assets from the deceased’s estate are involved. If you are a beneficiary under a loved one’s estate plan, you may be under the assumption that those
Big “Life Changes” Often Mean Big “Estate Plan Changes”
Estate planning must be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that your plan still accomplishes your goals and objectives and will work the way you want it to at incapacity and at death.
How to Choose a Trustee
When you establish a Trust, you name someone to be the Trustee. Generally, you are the Initial Trustee for your Revocable Living Trust. A Successor Trustee steps in your shoes in the event of your incapacity and at your death. That person does what you do right now with your financial affairs – collect income, pay bills and taxes, save and invest for the future, buy and sell assets, provide for your loved ones, keep accurate records, and generally keep things organized and in good order.
The Ins and Outs of Collecting Life Insurance Policy Proceeds
Unlike many estate assets, if you’re looking to collect the proceeds of a life insurance policy, the process is fairly simple provided you’re named as the beneficiary. That said, following a loved one’s death, the whole world can feel like it’s falling apart, and it’s helpful to know exactly what steps need to be taken to access the insurance funds as quickly and easily as possible during this trying time.
Before Agreeing to Serve as Trustee, Carefully Consider the Duties and Obligations Involved—Part 2
Being asked to serve as trustee can be a huge honor—but it’s also a major responsibility. Indeed, the job entails a wide array of complex duties, and trustees are both ethically and legally required to effectively execute those functions or face significant liability.
To this end, you should thoroughly understand exactly what your role as trustee requires before agreeing to accept the position. Last week, I highlighted three of a trustee’s primary functions, and here I continue with that list, starting with one of the most labor-intensive of all duties—managing and accounting for a trust’s assets.
Before Agreeing to Serve as Trustee, Carefully Consider the Duties and Obligations Involved—Part 1
If a friend or family member has asked you to serve as trustee for their trust upon their death, you should feel honored—this means they consider you among the most honest, reliable, and responsible people they know.
However, being a trustee is not only a great honor, it’s also a major responsibility. The job can entail a wide array of complex duties, and you’re both ethically and legally required to effectively execute those functions or face significant liability. Given this, agreeing to serve as trustee is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly, and you should thoroughly understand exactly what the role requires before giving your answer.
Why Not Just Go on NoloⓇ and Create Your Own Estate Planning Documents Cheaply?
In almost all scenarios, do-it-yourself estate planning is risky and can become a costly substitute for comprehensive in-person planning with a professional legal advisor. Typically, these online programs and services have significant limitations when it comes to gathering information needed to properly craft an estate plan. This can result in crucial defects that, sadly, won’t become apparent until the situation becomes a legal and financial nightmare for your loved ones.
Creating your own estate plan without professional advice can also have unintended consequences. Bad or thoughtless documents can be invalid and/or useless when they are needed.
Estate Planning When Not All of Your Kids are in the Family Business
Owning your own business can be a great endeavor that takes a lot of passion and drive. Many small business owners focus on the day-to-day management and growth of the business, rather than thinking about a time when he or she may not be in the business. This is a far too common mistake. Future plans for your enterprise are even more important when one child works in the business but the others do not. Keeping the peace among your children after you are no longer able to participate in the business requires careful balancing of your estate plan.
The Key Differences Between Wills and Trusts
When discussing estate planning, a Will is what most people think of first. Indeed, Wills have been the most popular method for passing on assets to heirs for hundreds of years. But Wills aren’t your only option. And if you rely on a Will alone (without a Trust) to pass on what matters, you’re guaranteeing your family has to go to court when you die. In contrast, other estate planning vehicles, such as a Trust-based plan are now being used by those of all income levels and asset values to keep their loved ones out of the court process.
But determining whether a Will alone or a Trust-based plan (Trust and Pour-Over Will) is best for you depends entirely on your personal circumstances. And the fact that estate planning has changed so much makes choosing the right tool for the job even more complex.
The best way for you to determine the truly right solution for your family is to meet with me as your Personal Family Lawyer® for a Family Wealth Planning Session™. During that process, I’ll take you through an analysis of your personal assets, what’s most important to you, and what will happen for your loved ones when you become incapacitated or die. From there, you can make the right choice for the people you love.
Roth IRA Conversions After Tax Reform…Still a good idea?
Twenty years ago, the Roth IRA first became available to investors as a financial tool for their estate planning needs. These accounts have maintained their popularity because unlike their traditional IRA counterpart, a Roth IRA provides account owners tax-free income during retirement. In fact, many people chose to convert their traditional IRA or 401(k) plan into a Roth IRA to benefit from this long-term tax advantage. (Of course, there is a current tax bill that has to be considered when you make a conversion.) The recently enacted tax reform, however, has removed one helpful opportunity: the ability to recharacterize — or undo — a Roth IRA conversion.
You can think of these recharacterizations as a second-look at whether the conversion made financial sense. Now, this second-look that a recharacterization offered is closed, so a Roth IRA conversion is just a little riskier than is used to be.
Why Every Pet Parent Needs to Consider a Pet Trust Today
Estate planning is about protecting what’s important to you. Although much of the traditional estate planning conversation focus on surviving spouses, children, grandchildren, many pet parents wonder about what could happen to their “furry children” after their death or if they become incapacitated and unable to care for the pets. Read on if you’ve ever thought, “What will happen to my cat, dog, or other pet if I pass away?” “What if I’m incapacitated and unable to care for them?”
Enter the pet trust. This tool is something that can be easily incorporated into a new or existing estate plan to provide a strategy for caring for your pets. Remember, estate planning is about protecting what’s important to you. So, even if you anticipate outliving your pets, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Not Married? You’re not alone – but you still need a plan
While much of the discussion involving estate planning focuses on married couples, this topic is just as important for a single person. In fact, many times it is even more important that a single person have a well-coordinated estate plan. This is because the default laws governing estates often work poorly for people without a spouse and may not adequately provide for a significant other or unmarried partner. Having a cohesive and well-drafted estate plan will ensure that you have an incapacity plan in the event of the unexpected and protect and provide for those you truly care about upon your death.
Five Surprisingly Common Planning Mistakes Many Baby Boomers are Making
Baby boomers – the first generation tasked with the responsibility of planning for and funding their golden years. This generation, which includes those born between 1946 and 1964, have entered and continue to enter into retirement. As they make this financial transition into retirement, many are learning that they have made some of the most typical retirement mistakes.
But, even if you’ve made a financial mistake or two, there’s still time to avoid these five surprisingly common planning mistakes baby boomers are making in droves: Mistake #1: Believing Estate Planning is Only for the Wealthy; Mistake #2: Checklist Mentality; Mistake #3: Not Completing Your Estate Planning Homework; Mistake #4: Leaving Out Little (And Not So Little) Things and Mistake #5: Not Preparing for Life Events & Emergencies. With my guidance, you will not make these common mistakes.
Estate Planning Best Practices Gleaned From Famous Celebrity Deaths
Discussing death can be awkward, and many people would prefer just to ignore estate planning all together. However, ignoring—or even putting off—such planning can be a huge mistake, as these celebrity stories will highlight.
The next time one of your relatives tells you they don’t want to talk about estate planning, share these famous celebrities’ stories to get the conversation started. Such cautionary tales offer first-hand evidence of just how critical it is to engage in estate planning, even if it’s uncomfortable.