Posts Categorized: Wills

4 Year-End Tax-Saving Strategies For 2022

In 2022, you can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA and up to $20,500 to a 401(k) if you’re under 50, and up to $7,000 to an IRA and $27,000 to a 401(k) for those 50 and older. If you don’t have the cash available to fund the maximum amount, try to contribute at least any amount that will be matched by your employer since that’s basically free money, and you lose it if you don’t use it.

That said, the ability to deduct your traditional IRA contributions from your taxes comes with certain limitations. These limitations are based on factors such as whether or not you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work and your adjusted gross income (AGI), so make sure you know how your family is affected by these limits when taking deductions. On the other hand, Roth IRA contributions are not tax-deductible since they are made after taxes are taken out, but withdrawals from a Roth in retirement are tax-free. READ MORE

How Will A Recession Affect Your Family?

During every economic shift, whether it’s the Great Depression, the last Great Recession, or even during the pandemic, some people get rich while others lose everything. Whether your family got rich, lost it all, or just hung on by their toes, you can learn from what happened and create the exact future reality you want for yourself and the people you love.

But to do that, you need to get into action now. In service to that, here are 4 steps you can take right away to change your family’s future and ensure you have the stability you need to sail through the economic shifts in the best way possible. READ MORE

7 Issues To Consider When Purchasing Disability Insurance

Disability insurance pays benefits when you are unable to work because you are sick or injured. Most policies pay a benefit that replaces a percentage of your income. But disability insurance is not the same as health insurance – it will not cover your medical bills. 

Instead, disability benefits replace a percentage of the income you lose due to your inability to work, so you can cover your basic financial needs, such as paying bills, covering daily living expenses, and providing for your family until you can return to work. To begin your search for disability insurance, first, you need to get clear about your minimum financial needs, or what we call your “minimum to thrive” number, should you become unable to work. READ MORE

The Pros and Cons of Probate

In estate planning circles, the word “probate” often carries a negative connotation. Indeed, for many people – especially those with valuable accounts and property financial planners recommend trying to keep accounts and property out of probate whenever possible. That being said, the probate system was ultimately established to protect the deceased’s accounts and property as well as their family, and in some cases, it may even work to an advantage. Let us look briefly at the pros and cons of going through probate.

For some situations, especially those in which the deceased person left no will, the system works to make sure all accounts and property are distributed according to state law. Here are some potential advantages of having the probate court involved in wrapping up a deceased person’s affairs: READ MORE

How To Manage Your Digital Accounts After Your Death – Part 3

In part one and two of this series, we covered the processes that Facebook,  Google, Instagram, Twitter, and Apple offer to manage your digital accounts following your death. Here in part three, we’ll conclude this series by covering the most effective methods for including digital assets in your estate plan.

If you’re like most people, you likely own numerous digital assets, some of which may have significant monetary value and others that have purely sentimental value. You may even have some digital assets that you’d prefer your family not access at all when you pass away. READ MORE

Three Tips for Overwhelmed Executors

While it is an honor to be named as a trusted decision maker, also known as an executor or personal representative, in a person’s will, it can often be a sobering and daunting responsibility. Being an executor requires a high level of organization, foresight, and attention to detail to meet responsibilities and ensure that all beneficiaries receive the accounts and property to which they are entitled. If you are an executor who is feeling overwhelmed, here are some tips to lighten the load.

he caveat to being an executor is that once you accept the responsibility, you also accept the liability if something goes wrong. To protect yourself and make sure you are crossing all the “t’s” and dotting all the “i’s,” hire an experienced estate planning attorney now. Having a legal professional in your corner not only helps you avoid pitfalls and blind spots, but it will also gives you greater peace of mind during the process. READ MORE

How To Manage Your Digital Accounts After Your Death – Part 1

If you have preferences about what happens to your digital footprint after your death, you need to take action. Otherwise, your online legacy will be determined for you and not by you. If you have any online accounts, such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Apple, or Amazon, you have a digital legacy, and that legacy is yours to preserve or lose. 

Following your death, unless you’ve planned, some of your online accounts will survive indefinitely, while others automatically expire after a period of inactivity, and still, others have specific processes that let you give family and friends the ability to access and posthumously manage your accounts. READ MORE

Three Reasons to Avoid Probate

When you pass away, your family may need to sign certain documents as part of a probate process in order to claim their inheritance. This can happen if you own property (like a house, car, bank account, investment account, or other assets) in your name only and you have not completed a beneficiary, pay-on-death, or transfer-on-death designation.

Although having a will is a good basic form of planning, a will does not avoid probate. Instead, a will simply let you inform the probate court of your wishes – your loved ones still have to go through the probate process to make those wishes legal. READ MORE

2022 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up-To-Date?

This year, Estate Planning Awareness Week runs from October 17th to 23rd, and one of our primary goals is to educate you on the vital importance of not only preparing an estate plan, but also keeping your plan up-to-date. While you almost surely understand the importance of creating an estate plan, you may not know that keeping your plan current is every bit as important as creating a plan, to begin with.

In fact, outside of not creating any estate plan at all, outdated estate plans are one of the most common estate planning mistakes we encounter. We’ll get called by the loved ones of someone who has become incapacitated or died with a plan that no longer works because it was not properly updated. Unfortunately, once something happens, it’s too late to adjust your plan, and the loved ones you leave behind will be stuck with the mess you’ve left, or they could end up in a costly and traumatic court process that can drag out for months or even years. READ MORE

5 Smart Ways To Pay For Your Funeral That Won’t Leave Your Family To Foot The Bill

With the cost of a funeral averaging between $7,000 and $12,000 and steadily increasing each year, at the very least, your estate plan should include enough money to cover this final expense. And if you are thinking of simply setting aside money in your will to cover your funeral expenses, you should seriously reconsider, as paying for your funeral through your will can create unnecessary burdens for your loved ones.

Although you can leave money in your will to pay for your funeral expenses, your family won’t be able to access those funds until your estate goes through the court process of probate, which can last months or even years. And since most funeral providers require full payment upfront, your family will likely have to cover your funeral costs out of pocket. Moreover, your loved ones will have to deal with all of this while grieving your death. READ MORE

Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax

The generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax is a federal tax on an individual’s transfer of property to a person at least two generations below the individual. Generally, GST tax applies to gifts made by an individual to grandchildren or descendants of the grandchildren. Gifts made by an individual to unrelated persons other than the individual’s spouse can also trigger GST tax. The recipients who would trigger GST tax are commonly known as “skip persons.” The GST tax is imposed whether the transfer occurs as a gift during the grandparent’s lifetime or at the grandparent’s death through inheritance by will or trust.

Congress first introduced the GST tax in the mid-1970s to close a loophole that allowed wealthy individuals to evade inheritance taxes by transferring property directly to grandchildren and skipping the grandchildren’s parents, which avoided estate taxes at the first generation. READ MORE

Anne Heche Dies with Conflict Around Her Will, Leaving Her Sons & Estate in Legal Limbo – Part 2

If Heche had built a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust into the trusts she set up for her kids, she could have not only transferred her assets to her sons upon her death or incapacity, without the need for any court intervention, but she could have also ensured that those assets would transfer with protection from common life events like divorce, debilitating illness, serious accidents, lawsuits, and bankruptcy. 

At the same time, the trust would have allowed Anne to establish clear guidelines for the Trustee. This would allow Heche to govern how those assets – which likely include the rights to films, books, and other intellectual property – should (and should not be) to benefit her sons. In this way, Heche could ensure that her artistic legacy is honored, and Homer and Atlas could benefit from her work for generations to come. READ MORE

Harmless Error Statute – A Saving Grace

When somebody dies without a legally recognized will, their money and property are typically subject to default state rules that determine who will receive it. To assert control over who will receive their money and property and who will wind up their affairs, many people choose to have a will prepared. In order for a will to carry out the person’s wishes, it must be properly prepared and executed, or else the terms of the will may not be followed. However, for individuals who live in a state that has adopted a harmless error statute, even a document that does not meet all of the formal legal requirements of a will may still be considered valid and admitted to probate if they intended it to serve as their will.

These rules are contained in sections 2-502 of the Uniform Probate Code (UPC), which standardizes state laws about wills, trusts, and the probate process. Although intended to be adopted by all fifty states, fewer than half of the states adopted the UPC in its entirety. As a result, there are significant variations in probate law by state. READ MORE

Anne Heche Dies with Conflict Around Her Will, Leaving Her Sons & Estate in Legal Limbo – Part 1

Actress Anne Heche died this August following a tragic car accident in which she plowed her vehicle into a West Los Angeles home, where it burst into flames. After being pulled from the wreckage, the Emmy Award-winning actress was hospitalized in critical condition, suffering from severe burns and smoke inhalation.

The fiery accident left Heche brain dead and comatose, but she was kept on life support for seven days in order to identify a suitable recipient for her organs, which was in line with the actress’ wishes, according to a statement from her publicist. After a successful match with organ donors, Heche was removed from life support on August 14th, and she died shortly thereafter. She was 53 years old. READ MORE

Things to Consider Before Accepting Your Inheritance

An inheritance, like the loss of a loved one, can be life-changing. While there is no law that requires you to accept an inheritance, there are sometimes good reasons for doing so. And if you choose to turn down a gift, that does not mean it will end up in the hands of the state. Before accepting or rejecting an inheritance, you might seek legal and tax advice about the implications of either decision.

An estate plan contains instructions for distributing a person’s money and property when they pass away. Some families discuss who will receive certain accounts or property. For example, maybe all of the kids are asked if they would like to inherit an item from mom’s collection of family heirlooms. READ MORE