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Estate Planning

May 20, 2022 Spouses and children of veterans may be eligible for a range of benefits after the veteran dies. Benefits available to qualifying survivors include cash payments as well as help with healthcare and education expenses and even home loans. Here's what you need to know about VA survivor benefits in 2022. A financial advisor can help you create an estate plan for your family's needs and goals. Read More...

May 20, 2022 Most of the time, carrying out a dead person's last wishes is fairly simple - their assets are divided as the deceased directed in the will, everyone grieves and then moves on, possibly with slightly heavier wallets. Occasionally, though, there will be a challenge to the will that has to be resolved. If you think you need to challenge a will, here's how to do so by yourself. For help with wisely handling an infusion of cash from an inheritance, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

May 18, 2022 If you have a high net worth, it’s important to have a good estate plan in place. While putting these plans together can be tricky no matter the circumstances, things get more complicated if you have a high net worth. There is a lot to think about, including estate taxes, trusts and gifting. We’ll take a look at some of the best strategies to consider so you won’t have to worry about what will happen when you’re gone. For help with planning your estate, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

May 18, 2022 If you have a high net worth, one of the most powerful tools available to you is a trust. They can help you pass your wealth to your heirs and may be able to shield your money from creditors. However, there are many types of trusts available. Selecting the right trust(s) will help ensure your money goes to the people you want rather than being drained from your accounts. If you still aren’t sure which kind of trust you need, a financial advisor can help. Read More...

May 16, 2022 An estate plan is designed to make sure your family is taken care of after you are gone -- and to see that your money and property is dispersed as you want it to be. There are a number of tools available to build an effective estate plan, including wills and various types of trust. One you may want to consider is a spousal lifetime access trust, which has benefits for the spouse who is left after one passes away. Read More...

May 09, 2022 Estate taxes can take a bite out of your inheritance income. While many beneficiaries can avoid the brunt of inheritance taxes, they will have to pay income tax on estate distributions. Let's break down when and how much beneficiaries have to pay on estate distributions. A financial advisor can help you create an estate plan to mitigate your family's tax liability on their inheritance.  Read More...

Apr 28, 2022 Establishing a joint revocable trust can be an ideal estate planning tool for the benefit of your children, your grandchildren and beyond. Married couples have the possibility of establishing a joint trust instead of simply establishing one in each of their names. Let's compare the advantages and disadvantages for your needs. A  financial advisor can help you create an estate plan for your family's needs and goals. Read More...

Apr 19, 2022 If you own property or real estate, you might consider passing it along to your heirs when you pass away. But you may not want to give up any of your rights to the property during your lifetime. Creating a life estate that conveys life tenant status to you is one possible solution. The rights of life tenants include being able to enjoy the use of a property and collect any rent payments generated by it during their lifetime. A financial advisor can help you create an estate plan for your family's needs and goals.  Read More...

Apr 19, 2022 Investing in stocks can help you diversify your portfolio and build wealth. But what happens to stocks when you die? Stocks and other investments become part of your estate when you pass away. Who is entitled to inherit your stocks can be determined by your beneficiary designations, your will if you’ve created one or inheritance laws in your state if you die without a will in place. A financial advisor could help you put an estate plan together for your family's needs and goals. Read More...

Apr 19, 2022 Thinking about your own death isn't fun, but don't worry, planning for your estate does not actually have to be a difficult or lengthy process. Unless you have significant assets or complex wishes, making your estate plan can actually be very straightforward. Here are the five steps you should take to make sure that you have a competent and complete estate plan. For help with estate planning and other financial planning questions, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Mar 31, 2022 The so-called  Great Wealth Transfer is underway. More than 10,000  baby boomers are turning 65 every day, and over the next 20 to 30 years trillions of dollars’ worth of wealth will transfer to the next generation or generations. Your ability to participate in this transfer depends on your ability to build generational wealth. If you succeed, the course of your family or descendants for multiple generations will be affected. Here's how to build generational wealth in 11 simple steps. Consider working with a financial advisor as you build your wealth. Read More...

Mar 31, 2022 Whether you've been aware for some time that you'll eventually need to pass on a substantial amount of wealth to loved one, or you've more unexpectedly come into a large sum of money and don't know how to plan for its future, wealth transfer is an important process to be aware of and have a plan for. Although independent research is useful to get you started, speaking to a professional financial advisor could help you get the best handle on how to go about moving your money in this way. Read More...

Mar 30, 2022 Preparing your affairs in advance can be a wise decision and can ensure that your financial portfolio and estate are handled appropriately in the case you can no longer manage it yourself. Sometimes, though, something unexpected happens before you or a loved one can make the appropriate arrangements such as creating a power of attorney. If that happens, you'll have a number of options -- but there will be additional obstacles. Read More...

Mar 30, 2022 Trusts can be a useful tool for estate planning when you want to leave specific instructions about how your assets should be managed during your lifetime and beyond. Part of creating a trust means naming a trustee who’s responsible for overseeing the assets in the trust on behalf of your named beneficiaries. But can a trustee withdraw money from a trust? Yes, but there are rules they’re required to follow. A financial advisor can help you create an estate plan for your family's needs and goals.  Read More...

Mar 25, 2022 If you’ve just inherited a windfall from a deceased relative’s trust, you’re likely wondering, “How does a beneficiary get money from a trust?” When your deceased relative created the trust, they set distribution guidelines for the time of distributions or milestones that the beneficiary must meet before they can receive any money. So, to help you better understand what to expect when you inherit money from a trust, here are some things you should know. A financial advisor could help you put an estate plan together for your family's needs and goals. Read More...

Mar 24, 2022 Estate planning isn’t fun, but it is necessary if you want to make sure that your family is taken care of and your property is disbursed the way you want it to after you’ve died. Furthermore, estate planning is not a one-and-done thing; you have to stay on top of regulations and developments to make sure your plan is still optimized. Starting in 2022, there’s a new government rule -- part of the SECURE Act passed in 2019 -- that may impact estate plans going forward, especially for the people who are inheriting property. If you need help navigating these new rules or with estate planning more generally, consider getting help through SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. Read More...

Mar 24, 2022 When people hear that a child has a trust fund, they often assume that the child is incredibly rich. That isn't always the case. There are many reasons why parents and guardians would want to create a trust fund, even if they have modest wealth. Here's how to create a trust for a child and seven mistakes that you should avoid. If you're considering making a trust for a child, consider getting the help of a financial advisor. Read More...

Mar 24, 2022 A trust fund is a legal entity designed for holding assets, not a specific type of account as is thought in the popular imagination. Because of this, trust funds can be the owner of a variety of different assets, including cash, investments, real estate and collectibles. So, do trust funds gain interest? It depends. Here's what you need to know about whether trust funds gain interest on their assets. For help with forming or managing a trust fund, consider finding a financial advisor. Read More...

Mar 24, 2022 The legal term "pur autre vie" means "for the life of another" in French and when used in property law refers to a life estate that a grantor bestows on another person, known as a life tenant, who can hold and use an estate, often a family residence, during the life of third person. Below we'll explain how it works. A financial advisor can offer expert insight and critical guidance as you do estate planning or update an existing estate plan.  Read More...

Mar 09, 2022 A ladybird deed, also referred to as an enhanced life estate, allows for the transfer of property to someone else while retaining control of the property. This type of deed can be used in situations where someone wants to pass the property on to someone else and avoid probate, while still being allowed the use and control of the property during their lifetime. There are, however, some caveats involved when establishing this kind of arrangement. A financial advisor could help you put an estate plan together for your family's needs and goals. Read More...

Mar 08, 2022 Since long-term care insurance is expensive, only 7% to 10% of Americans have a long-term care policy. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 50% of us will need long-term care at some time in our lives. Medicare pays for the first 100 days in a long-term care facility. After that, if there is no private family support and no long-term care insurance, the patient either must leave a nursing home or arrange for Medicaid to pick up the cost. Most policyholders who become claimants don't pay a long-term care tax if they have a qualified plan. Consider working with a financial advisor as you make and update a retirement plan that includes a provision for long-term care. Read More...

Mar 09, 2022 When someone passes away, the executor of the estate is responsible for distributing the assets. Property, furnishings and other tangible items are relatively easy to distribute to heirs. However, how do you pay taxes, expenses and debts of the estate? An estate checking account is a temporary bank account that holds the estate's money and enables the executor to administer your estate. Consider working with a financial advisor as you build and manage your own estate plan. Read More...

Mar 09, 2022 A discretionary trust is a type of trust that can be established on behalf of one or more beneficiaries. The trustee who oversees the trust can use their discretion in determining when and how trust assets should be distributed to beneficiaries, hence the name. There are different reasons why you might consider establishing a discretionary trust in lieu of other trust options. Understanding the pros and cons of discretionary trusts can help you decide if creating one makes sense for your estate plan. A financial advisor can help you sort through the myriad of estate planning options. Read More...

Mar 09, 2022 Money brings out the worst in people. One of the most remarkable things you learn when practicing estate law is how quickly families will fight over even a minor inheritance. While new lawyers expect to handle disputes over fortunes, they’re often surprised at how vicious the infighting can get over small sums. Sometimes this is the result of displaced emotion following a loved one’s death. Other times it’s because of the emotional value people attach to personal objects. An in many cases, people just want the money, no matter how little is at stake. Whatever the reason, it's common for family members to fight over an estate. This is particularly true among siblings. If you’re making your estate plans and want to address - or better yet, prevent - fighting among your children, there are some important issues to consider. Consider working with a financial advisor as you create an estate plan. Read More...

Mar 02, 2022 FBO is an abbreviation for the common term "for the benefit of" and it is often used in estate planning. In a trust, the term conveys ownership and value to the trustee. The FBO legal language is there to protect the rights of the beneficiary of the trust. If you desire to leave your estate to one of your children, but you have a large extended family, including the FBO trust language may stop family squabbles when the proceeds of the trust are being distributed. If you have questions about what FBO means, it may be smart to talk to a financial advisor. Try using SmartAsset's free advisor matching tool today to find a financial advisor. Read More...

Mar 04, 2022 Charitable lead trusts (CLTs) and charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) are two types of charitable trusts that could benefit your financial plans for your estate. They provide tax-advantaged income to you and your beneficiaries during or at the end of the term of the trusts along with allowing you to make donations to your favorite charities. These trusts help you minimize your tax liability on investment income, estate taxes and gift taxes. Trusts and estate planning can be complicated, and a financial advisor may be able to help. Try using SmartAsset's free advisor matching tool to find advisors that serve your area. Read More...

Feb 18, 2022 When a close friend or family member dies, there are a lot of things you have to deal with -- funeral planning, dealing with the person's estate and, of course, managing your own grief. One important task you may not think of right away is to notify the Social Security Administration of their death. One of your questions may be how to report a death to Social Security. Follow these steps to report the death of a loved one. For help navigating this process, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Feb 16, 2022 Individuals living with disabilities that impact their day-to-day or long-term medical conditions often depend on external support. For example, they may rely on government assistance programs, like Medicaid, to access necessary care. However, some of these programs have strict asset limit rules that can make or break your eligibility. One way disabled individuals, families and parents get around this is to create a special needs trust (also called a Supplement Needs Trust). A first-party special needs trust (SNT) is one of the two forms that this tool can come in. Here’s how it works. A financial advisor could help you create an estate plan for your family's needs and goals. Read More...

Feb 15, 2022 When someone passes away, it may be necessary for their estate to go through probate. This is a court-supervised process in which someone’s estate is settled, outstanding debts are paid and assets are distributed to the deceased person’s heirs. An executor is charged with being the individual who oversees the probate process. One of the most important tasks on an executor’s checklist is submitting a detailed inventory of the estate to the probate court. Knowing what's included in an estate inventory can make the probate process easier to navigate. For help with estate planning, consider speaking with a financial advisor about your situation. Read More...

Feb 15, 2022 In financial law, an “estate” refers to all of the assets and property owned by someone who has died. However, this definition can have a few different applications depending on where in the estate process the decedent's estate is. Estate planning is required to ensure your assets are handled exactly as you want after you're gone. This process can get complicated and, over time, will also need updating and adjusting. That's when  working with a financial advisor can be a valuable decision. Read More...

Feb 15, 2022 State laws may allow parents to disinherit one or more children when writing a will. There are different reasons why a child may be disinherited. For example, if parents disagree about a child’s lifestyle choices, they may choose to leave them nothing in their will. Children can also be left out of a will if they have already received their inheritance while their parents are still living. The legal rights of a disinherited child may provide some remedies, depending on the details of the situation. For help understanding this difficult situation, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Feb 08, 2022 Probate is a legal process in which someone’s estate is settled after they pass away. Probate happens even if you leave a will with detailed instructions. A number of things happen during probate, including the creation of an estate inventory, the payment of outstanding debts and the distribution of remaining assets to the deceased person’s heirs. But after probate is closed, things work a little differently and the options at your disposal will change. It’s important to the ins and outs of probate if you’re the executor of someone’s will or a beneficiary of their estate, and a financial advisor may be able to help clear the air. Try using SmartAsset's free advisor matching tool today to find advisors that serve your area. Read More...

Feb 08, 2022 Limited liability companies can protect your personal assets if you own a business but they can also be used in estate planning. Specifically, you could establish a family LLC to shield assets from creditors while ensuring a smoother transfer of wealth from one generation to the next. Family LLCs are subject to the same rules and regulations as non-family LLCs, and there are other reasons that might make a family LLC the right decision for you. It’s helpful to understand how they work when deciding if one is right for your financial situation. A financial advisor may be able to help you figure out whether a family LLC makes sense. Try using SmartAsset's free advisor matching tool to find advisors that serve your area today. Read More...

Feb 07, 2022 According to a recent Gallup poll, less than half of U.S. adults currently have a will that describes how they want their estate and money handled after they die. At just 46%, that leaves the majority of citizens unaware of the estate administration process and unprepared. As a result, you may be unfamiliar with technical terms, such as a devisee. Understanding terms like this is paramount when you plan your own estate. They're also important given the chance that you inherit something from someone else. A devisee applies to individuals that receive a specific type of property through a will. If you're in the process of estate planning, it may be a good idea to speak with a financial advisor. Try using SmartAsset's free advisor matching tool today. Read More...

Feb 07, 2022 Very few people know how to manage and take care of an estate when someone passes. There seems to be an endless stream of paperwork to complete and it becomes even more complicated when you have to work with both state and federal laws. While the probate and estate administration process can be overwhelming, it's important to understand. One day, you may be in a position where you have to organize someone’s affairs and you want to ensure you take care of everything they worked hard for and left behind. A financial advisor may be able to help with the estate administration process. Consider using SmartAsset's free advisor matching tool to find an advisor who serves your area. Read More...

Feb 04, 2022 An illegitimate child, one whose parents were not legally married, usually has the same claims as any other child under statutory inheritance. Nowadays legitimacy rarely affects an individual’s inheritance rights. Instead, most states determine these issues by parentage. You have the right to inherit from both of your legally recognized parents, not whether they were married at the time of your birth. Courts generally assume that married parents are also the legal parents of the child in question, while an illegitimate child generally must establish that the deceased was a legal parent. These matters are typically determined by states so be sure to consult your own state's laws for specific information. Read More...

Jan 13, 2022 When deciding how to pass on assets to your heirs, it’s important to consider where minor children fit in. Child inheritance laws generally prohibit children from inheriting land, real property or other assets if they’re under 18. Depending on probate and inheritance laws in your state, it’s even possible to exclude children from inheriting any of your wealth regardless of their age. But if you do want to make sure your children are taken care of financially if something should happen to you, there are some things you can do to provide for them in your estate plan. If you're fleshing out your own estate plan, you may want some  help from a financial advisor. Read More...

Jan 13, 2022 Asset protection planning is the process of building barriers around your assets, whether those assets are personal or business, to keep them safe from litigation, creditor claims, seizure and burdensome taxes. It's a vital and completely legal component of both financial planning and estate planning. There are a number of key tools you can utilize to accomplish the goal of protecting your assets. A financial advisor can help you structure and organize your assets so that they are more likely to achieve your financial goals. Read More...

Jan 11, 2022 One of the essential steps in the probate process is filing an inventory of all the assets that are part of the estate. This job is the responsibility of the executor, and it’s often no small feat. It involves determining the value and ownership of real estate, securities, bank accounts and other assets and filing a formal inventory with the probate court. Every state has different rules, forms and deadlines for this process. Therefore, you'll want to check with the courts in your area before starting. Consider working with a financial advisor as you prepare your estate plan. Read More...

Mar 31, 2022 Estate planning is one of the most difficult and important financial planning processes you'll ever go through. It’s complex, and the bigger your estate, the tougher it gets. While creating your estate plan, you may find yourself wondering whether your life insurance policy will be part of it. Life insurance can be one way to pay off outstanding debts and financial burdens following your passing. However, many people want the proceeds to go to a loved one instead. In the end, your beneficiary designation determines where the funds go and how it will interact with your estate. Consider working with a financial advisor as you put together your estate plan. Read More...

Jan 07, 2022 The HEMS standard is used in estate planning to guide trustees in how and when they should release funds to a beneficiary. By including HEMS language in a trust, you can exert greater control over how the trust’s assets are ultimately spent and for what purpose, including health and education expenses. This can be especially useful if a trust’s beneficiary is young or financially inexperienced. A financial advisor who offers estate planning services can help you set up a trust that meets the needs of you and your beneficiaries. Read More...

Jan 07, 2022 When a person uses a will to leave property to their family, friends or the causes they support, the act is known as a bequest. A bequest can be the cash, investments, jewelry or other items that a person passes to beneficiaries when they die. When planning your estate and creating a will, a financial advisor with estate planning expertise can be a valuable and useful partner in the process. Below, we'll review how bequests work and how they differ from a gift. Read More...

Jan 06, 2022 An inter-vivos trust or living trust is a legal arrangement that allows a person to transfer ownership of assets to a trust while they are still alive. Inter-vivos trusts distribute property to beneficiaries when a person dies and helps an estate avoid probate. A financial advisor can guide you through the process of creating an inter-vivos trust and address other estate planning needs. Read More...

Dec 30, 2021 Marital property, also known as marital assets, spousal assets or community property, matters when it comes to taxes, estate law and divorce. In most cases, separate property applies to the assets you owned going into a marriage; marital property, on the other hand, applies to the assets you acquired during the marriage. However, the lines between these categories can blur - it's known as comingling - and when that happens separate property can become marital property. If you mix separate and marital assets, all of those assets can become part of the marriage and (therefore) considered marital property. Here’s how it works. Read More...

Dec 30, 2021 When a spouse dies, the surviving spouse typically inherits all of the deceased spouse's assets. However, this may not be the best approach based on the size of your estate or your tax situation. By using a disclaimer trust, the surviving spouse can disclaim the assets and move them into a trust to avoid taxes on those assets. Working with a financial advisor will help ensure that you're making wise choices as you create an estate plan. Read More...

Dec 30, 2021 When mapping out your estate plan, you may come across the term "residuary estate." In simple terms, a residuary estate is any part of your estate that hasn’t been distributed to your heirs through a last will and testament. Also referred to as estate residue or residual estate, it simply means assets that are left over once your will has been read, assets have been distributed to your heirs and any final expenses have been paid. Proper estate planning can help you avoid leaving residual assets behind. Read More...

Dec 29, 2021 A private trust company or family trust company is an estate planning tool that can be used to preserve wealth. This type of trust entity is most often used by high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals. For example, someone who runs a family-owned business and has $150 million in assets may choose to establish a private trust company versus a revocable living trust. Creating a private or family trust company can offer certain benefits for estate planning, though it’s important to consider the legal implications and costs of creating one. Read More...

Dec 29, 2021 A conventional life estate grants possession and limited ownership of an asset to someone for as long as they live. It can be created using a deed, specified in a will or included as part of a trust.  Life estates are often used to provide housing for parents, spouses or offspring. On the death of the person who holds the life estate, called the life tenant, ownership of the asset reverts to another named person, called the remainderman. Conventional life estates are useful for estate planning, probate avoidance and tax management. Consider working with a financial advisor to ensure that all your preferences and goals are fully reflected in your estate plan. Read More...

Dec 28, 2021 Estate planning can be complicated. You often need the services of a professional. Preparing a will is only one part of the estate planning process. When you are preparing your will, you need to decide whether or not a no-contest clause is appropriate. A no-contest clause is designed to prevent beneficiaries from challenging a will after you die. Here's how it works and why you may want to include one in your will. A financial advisor can help you with all aspects of estate planning. Read More...

Dec 28, 2021 Estate planning is complicated and there are many ways you can protect your assets after your death. One way is to establish a life estate for the person you want to live there for their lifetime. A remainderman is a beneficiary in a life estate who will inherit property after the life tenant's death. There can be more than one remainderman if you divide the property. Here's how it works. Consider working with a financial advisor as you create or modify an estate plan. Read More...

Dec 28, 2021 When you need someone to make legally binding decisions on your behalf, you grant them that authority with a power of attorney form. There are many titles for the person who exercises this authority on your behalf. One such title is “attorney-in-fact.” Here's what you need to know about this aspect of estate planning. Consider working with a financial advisor as you evaluate whether to delegate such authority to another person. Read More...

Dec 27, 2021 A charitable lead trust is a form of charitable trust that first distributes assets to the named charities. Once the assets have been distributed to the charities as specified in the trust, the named beneficiaries receive the remainder of the trust’s assets. Here’s how it works. Consider working with a financial advisor as you incorporate charitable giving into your estate plan. Read More...

Dec 27, 2021 Estate planning when you have a small or moderately sized estate is complex enough. But it can become even more complicated with a larger estate. With more assets, the more likely you are to face taxes on a state or federal level. To figure out your potential estate tax liability, you need to understand which assets contribute to your gross estate. Here’s a breakdown of some of the types of property that factor into your estate. A financial advisor can provide valuable guidance on estate planning. Read More...

Dec 22, 2021 An attorney-in-fact is a person authorized by a power of attorney to act in the place of someone else. An attorney-in-fact, also sometimes called an agent, can have specific responsibilities, such as making decisions about medical care. Or the responsibilities may be very broad, authorizing the attorney-in-fact to sign legal documents and make investment and other financial decisions on behalf of the grantor of the authority. Consider working with a financial advisor as you put together or modify your estate plan. Read More...

Dec 17, 2021 Trusts offer some unique advantages for estate planning and they can be a valuable tool for creating a legacy of wealth. But what happens when the beneficiaries of a trust disagree with its terms or the way the trustee manages it? Can a trust be contested? The short answer is that yes, in certain situations, the terms of a trust may be challenged the same way that a last will and testament might be contested. If some type of trust is part of your estate plan or you’ve been named as the beneficiary to a trust, it’s important to understand what contesting one involves. Read More...

Dec 16, 2021 Life estates can provide effective means to create joint ownership of property, avoid probate and transfer property after death without incurring gift taxes. Parents commonly use them to bequeath a home to children while allowing them to continue living in the home for the duration of their lives. However, should it become desirable to remove someone from a life estate, it can be very difficult unless proper preparations are made in advance. Consider working with a financial advisor for estate planning. Read More...

Dec 16, 2021 A charitable trust holds assets and distributes them to charities. When you establish the trust you can specify how it will manage and invest its assets, as well as how it will make donations. There are some tax benefits to setting up a charitable trust. However, unless you are particularly wealthy, these tend to be minimal compared to other forms of tax management. In general, the best reason to establish a charitable trust is if you would like to create a long-standing form of charitable giving. Here’s what you need to know. Read More...

Dec 16, 2021 Receiving an inheritance could provide an unexpected (or anticipated) financial windfall. There’s just one thing you may have to contend with - people attempting to steal what you’ve inherited. Inheritance theft is sometimes a very real problem for people who inherit money, property or other assets. Inheritance theft laws exist to protect heirs and beneficiaries. If you’re set to receive an inheritance or have received one that was stolen from you, it’s important to understand what legal rights you may have for getting those assets back. A financial advisor can help you with estate planning to minimize conflicts after your death. Read More...

Dec 16, 2021 Most of us are at least familiar with the premise behind the Golden Rule. Essentially, it states that we are to treat others how we’d want to be treated. When it comes to the relationship between investors and fiduciaries responsible for their savings, though, there’s actually a golden-esque rule on the books - and it’s called the prudent person rule. Here’s a look at what this rule is, what it demands and when the prudent person rule comes into play. Consider working with a financial advisor as you make decisions about how to allocate your financial assets. Read More...

Dec 16, 2021 When it comes to setting aside money for someone with special needs, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind. For instance, how do you provide for everyday needs and living expenses while also maintaining eligibility for public benefits programs, such as Medicaid? The answer often lies in special needs trusts, which allow a disabled person to protect and retain certain assets while also remaining eligible for public assistance. One such trust is called a pooled special needs trust. Here’s a look at what this type of financial account does and why. Read More...

Dec 08, 2021 When planning your estate, it’s important to consider who will inherit your assets after you’re gone. Specifically, it’s important to understand who are your heirs at law - and what that means if you pass away without drafting a last will and testament or a trust. Generally speaking, an heir at law is anyone who would be entitled to inherit from you if you were to die intestate. The rules for defining heirs at law vary by state. It’s important to understand what rights these individuals have when it comes to claiming a share of your estate. Read More...

Dec 08, 2021 Charitable trusts can be used to establish a legacy of giving while yielding some potentially valuable estate planning benefits. A charitable remainder annuity trust (CRAT) is one option; a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) is another. CRATs and CRUTs can both be used for estate planning and charitable giving purposes, though they aren’t exactly the same. Whether you choose one over the other can depend on your needs and goals. It’s helpful to know how each type of trust works and what it’s designed to do. Leaving a legacy is just one part of estate planning; work with a financial advisor on all your estate planning needs. Read More...

Dec 02, 2021 Charitable trusts and foundations can be used to both secure personal, family or business assets and enable philanthropic endeavors. Each one provides assets, such as securities, with protection from lawsuits and other claims. Trusts and foundations also can offer significant tax benefits as well as privacy. Charitable trusts are easier to set up and provide more privacy. Foundations are incorporated as separate legal entities. Many well-known charitable organizations are set up as foundations or charitable trusts. Here's an overview of each one and how they compare. Read More...

Dec 01, 2021 Revocable living trusts have become an increasingly popular tool in estate planning. They’re often used by households to avoid the probate process, which in some estates can save heirs both time and money. However, while trusts are a popular option, often a will is the better one. That’s particularly true for simple or relatively small estates. Here’s how they compare. Use the SmartAsset matching tool to find a financial advisor to help you with estate planning. Read More...

Nov 17, 2021 Trusts can provide certain benefits for estate planning, including asset protection. But can you sue a trust? It’s an important question to ask if you have a trust or plan to create one, are named as the beneficiary to a trust or are owed debts by someone who’s established a trust. While a trust itself generally cannot be sued, the trustee can. Understanding when a lawsuit can be brought in connection with a trust is important for estate planning. Of course, getting estate planning help before you decide on a trust can preempt litigation later on; that's where a financial advisor can be immensely helpful. Read More...

Nov 16, 2021 An A-B trust, also known as a bypass trust, is a legal arrangement that allows married couples to avoid estate tax on certain assets when one spouse passes away. When one spouse dies, the estate's assets are split into two separate trusts, A trust and B trust. As the size of the estate tax exemption has grown, A-B trusts are less commonly used. However, A-B trusts are still popular because of their ability to shelter assets. Estate planning is an essential part of your overall financial plan, and we'll unpack the details of this specific type of trust below. It may also behoove you to work with a financial advisor as you explore whether an A-B trust is right for you. Read More...

Nov 10, 2021 When purchasing a home, there are a number of very important legal documents involved. Two such documents that you may encounter are a warranty deed and a deed of trust. A financial advisor could help you navigate through important financial decisions when buying real property. Let's break down what each document does, what the differences between them are, and when they might come up in the home-buying process. Read More...

Nov 10, 2021 When it comes to sharing ownership of a property with others, two frequently used options are joint tenancy and tenancy in common.  While there are many similarities between the two, it’s important to understand the differences and how they can affect your rights, as well as the rights of your beneficiaries. A financial advisor could help you consider which ownership structure works best for you. Let's compare joint tenants versus tenants in common, how they differ and when you would choose either one for a shared property. Read More...

Nov 10, 2021 A declaration of trust is the document that establishes a legal trust. It also defines the major elements of the entity, such as the beneficiaries and trustees. Once a trust has been established, a declaration of trust can also be used in some circumstances to redefine the elements of the trust. Like all property law, the details regarding declarations of trust are highly state specific. However most (if not all) states share the following broad outline. Use SmartAsset's free tool to quickly find a financial advisor in your area who will help you with estate planning. Read More...

Nov 10, 2021 Unless your loved one puts their estate into a living trust or similar legal arrangement, the fact of the matter is that their assets will likely need to pass through probate when they die. Probate is a complicated, and usually lengthy, court process where assets are sold or distributed and any outstanding debts against the estate are settled. If your loved one has left behind property that needs to pass through probate, a certified probate real estate specialist can be a valuable partner in the process. Here’s a look at what this specific type of real estate professional does and how they can help as you navigate your loved one’s estate. Read More...

Nov 10, 2021 When someone dies, everything that he owns becomes known as his “estate.” This estate is the sum total of assets, debts and property owned and owed by the decedent (a legal term for the person who died). Someone has to manage these assets and make sure they get to the right place. That someone is known as either the executor or the administrator. Consider working with a financial planner as you create or update an estate plan. Read More...

Nov 12, 2021 One of the most useful estate planning tools is a trust, which can be used to create a legacy of wealth and protecting assets. One question to consider when creating one is whether a grantor or non grantor trust is more appropriate. A non grantor trust is any trust that is not a grantor trust. That distinction may seem simplistic but it matters from a tax perspective when shaping an estate plan. Understanding the difference between the two is important when deciding which type of trust to form. Read More...

Jan 24, 2022 Teaching your children how to save money can often be a difficult job. One avenue you can take is to open a custodial Roth IRA for them. Minor children cannot usually open a brokerage account on their own, but you can establish a custodial Roth IRA for them with the goal of saving for college, retirement or other possible expenses. Grandparents, parents and others can help the child with contributions. Here's how it works. Read More...

Nov 08, 2021 When it comes to sharing property with another person, there are a few different forms of legal ownership to choose from. Of these, two common shared estate ownership options include joint tenancy and community property. Though these joint tenancy and community property are very similar in many ways, there are a few important differences to note when it comes to planning your estate and protecting your interests. Let’s take a look at what each entails and which might be better for your specific situation. A financial advisor can offer valuable insight into property ownership arrangements that fit your goals, risk profile and timeline. Read More...

Nov 04, 2021 One of the common estate planning tips for investors is to get a trust to protect their assets. However, that advice is hardly specific enough. There are many types of trusts, and each has its unique pros and cons. In this article, we're going to focus on the key differences, as well as pros and cons, between a family trust and a living trust. One of the smartest moves you can make in estate planning is to work with a financial advisor. Read More...

Jan 21, 2022 The gift tax is a federal levy on the transfer of money or property to another person when equal value is not received in return. While it may sound cumbersome, most Americans will never pay a cent in gift taxes to Uncle Sam due to several key Internal Revenue Service rules. However, a financial advisor or tax professional can help you determine what your tax liability may be if you plan to give money or property to another person. Read More...

Oct 27, 2021 Understanding what you need to support your loved ones during and after your life can be a daunting task. Especially when it comes to the issue of assets and finances. Many people take steps like setting up a will or trust through a  financial advisor. But beyond those legal agreements, a question arises about whether special financial vehicles are necessary. In the case of a trust, it is possible to use a tool called a trust bank account. Read More...

Oct 27, 2021 Both guardianship and custody describe legal relationships between an adult and a child. Custody refers to a child’s biological parents, whereas guardianship would be given to a non-biological parent. Thinking about custody may be a necessary part of a couple's separation or divorce proceedings, whereas guardianship is usually a more long-term approach to this kind of question. For more in-depth, expert advice, consider consulting a professional financial advisor. Let's compare the key differences between guardianship and custody. Read More...

Oct 27, 2021 Both power of attorney and guardianship are forms of fiduciary relationships in which one person acts on behalf of another. They are tools you can use to name somebody who can act for you if you become incapacitated or unable to make financial decisions in particular. Circumstances will vary based on your personal financial situation, which is why it could be helpful to speak one-on-one with a professional financial advisor, but it's always a good idea to start by getting a lay of the land. Read More...

Oct 27, 2021 Caring for one's own financial situation is a key part of one's own independence. But there are some cases where a person needs help making legal and financial decisions. That's where the concept of guardianship comes in. Guardianship is not simply based on age or acting as a chaperone or caretaker for someone before they turn 18. It's often the case that adults who are older than 18 need legal and financial guardians as well. While reaching out to a  financial advisor could be a long-term solution for getting expert financial advice, learning the ins and outs of adult guardianship is a useful first step. Read More...

Oct 20, 2021 Someone who inherits a non-qualified annuity will only have to pay income taxes on any earnings from the annuity when they are withdrawn. Inheriting a qualified annuity, on the other hand, means owing taxes on any withdrawals from the annuity, including principal and interest. The difference stems from the way the two types of annuities are funded. Qualified annuities are funded with pre-tax dollars, while non-qualified annuities are funded with after-tax dollars. This difference affects many aspects of how the two types of annuities can be used for retirement planning. Read More...

Oct 18, 2021 When it comes to owning property with someone else, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind. You’ll want to ensure that your ownership interests are protected, that the property will transfer to you quickly and easily in the event that the other party passes away and that you are safe from certain liabilities belonging to the other owner. Tenancy by the entirety (TBE) is one form of ownership that can provide all three. A TBE designation most often applies to real estate property and is only offered to married couples in specific states. Read More...

Oct 07, 2021 While no one wants to think about his or her own death, planning for the inevitable is an important part of protecting your assets and those you love. There are a few important legal steps you can take to prepare for the future of your estate, one of which may include the creation of a living trust. Here’s a look at what a living trust is, what sort of protections it offers to you and your loved ones and whether or not it needs to be part of your unique estate plan.  Read More...

Oct 07, 2021 Part of planning for the future involves getting your estate in order, and determining who you want your assets to pass to when you die. If you have real estate property, and want it to transfer to loved ones without passing through probate, a transfer on death (TOD) deed may be the answer. Because a TOD deed, also known as a beneficiary deed, bypasses probate, it can simplify the inheritance process and reduce costs for your loved ones. Read More...

Oct 06, 2021 When a loved one passes away, it can be an emotional experience. Unfortunately, handling the deceased's finances can add to this stress. While most people know that you need to file a final tax return for the deceased, most people don't know how to handle income received after the person has died. This income is known as "income in respect of a decedent" (IRD), and it has its own special rules. Consider working with a financial advisor as you prepare an estate plan or implement a loved one's estate plan. Read More...

Oct 14, 2021 Estate planning has become less of a priority for middle-aged adults, a new survey indicates. Americans between 35 and 54 years old are for the first time less likely to have a will than people ages 18 to 34, according to a Caring.com survey of 2,500 adults. That's not a good sign for middle-aged adults, especially those with children they'd like to leave something for. An estate plan is an important element of financial planning, as it ensures your assets will pass to your loved ones or the causes you support at the time of your death. A financial advisor with estate planning experience can help guide you through this important phase of planning. Read More...

Sep 27, 2021 More often than not, people want to leave their assets and property behind to people they care about when they pass. But sometimes individuals don’t make a will or die with debts. In such cases (among others), their property has to pass through a probate court. It’s possible that you may have to act as an executor of an estate holding one of these properties. Or, there may be an option for future homeowners who want to buy lower-priced real estate. Either way, you’ll have to understand the process of a probate sale. Here’s a rundown on how it works. Read More...

Sep 27, 2021 If you own any property at all, you probably know about estate planning. You can decide what happens to your assets after you die, of course. But sometimes, people don’t pen a will or trust before they pass. Or, if they do, it’s not clear in its directions. They might even have debts that conflict with their wishes. These situations can lead to probate, well-known for dragging on, though the actual length depends on several factors. Considering that an estate may require probate even if the deceased wrote a will, acquainting yourself with these factors is vital. Here’s an overview of the main things you need to understand about the probate process so you can be ready Read More...

Sep 27, 2021 Sometimes an inheritance includes more than a house or an heirloom vase. Investors can choose to pass down to their heirs financial securities like stocks. Determining the value of such a bequest is vital. Without the proper calculations or procedures, you could face hefty tax consequences. The most important step to figuring out your inherited stock is to find the cost basis. Here’s a rundown on how that works. Read More...

Sep 24, 2021 Generational wealth is wealth that gets transferred from one generation of a family to the next. It may consist of valuable assets such as cash, real estate, securities or ownership of a family business. Generational wealth may also take the form of education, contacts, ability to take greater risks and lucrative employment within a family business. It can occur on the death of a parent or other family member, or during the life of both people. While many households can expect to receive some sort of generational wealth, a small number of transfers within wealthy families accounts for a majority of the total value of generational wealth transfers. Read More...

Sep 24, 2021 When trusts are used as estate planning tools, financial institutions such as banks and brokerages may require written documentation of the trust’s existence before transferring assets into a trust or naming it as a beneficiary. However, they don’t need to see all the details of the trust, such as identities of the beneficiaries. When financial institutions need trust documentation, a signed and notarized certificate of trust can fulfill this requirement while keeping other information about the trust private.  Read More...

Sep 22, 2021 When you die, a section of law known as estate and probate law governs how your assets are distributed. Someone who dies (known as the “decedent”) with a legitimate will has set up what is known as a testate inheritance. This means that their assets are distributed according to the wishes set forth in their will. Someone who dies without a legitimate will has what is known as an intestate estate. This means that their assets are distributed according to the laws of inheritance. Estate planning is best done in close consultation with a financial advisor. Read More...

Sep 22, 2021 Power of attorney is an important legal planning tool. It is commonly used for estate planning, medical management, financial management and much more. It's also a flexible tool. You have the right to change or revoke a power of attorney at absolutely any time. Moreover, changing or revoking a power of attorney is extremely simple (by design). What follows is a general description of how to make that change, not legal advice, which should be sought from an attorney familiar with relevant laws in your state. Consider working with a financial advisor as you put together or modify your estate plan. Read More...

Sep 21, 2021 For many families with elderly people or engaged in estate planning, power of attorney is essential, especially if the elderly person's mental abilities are compromised. Having someone who can take care of legal and financial matters can make this part of life far easier. However, power of attorney is a sweeping grant of authority. Depending on how you structure this grant, a power of attorney can - in some cases - transfer money and property to themselves. However, it is uncommon and only allowed in specific circumstances. Here's a general overview of this topic. Keep in mind that power of attorney laws vary by state. It's prudent to consult an attorney before making any decisions. Read More...

Sep 17, 2021 Power of attorney is one of the most important legal forms for estate and elder care planning. Along with wills and trust documents, it is a critical document for arranging one’s affairs. A power of attorney cannot change a properly written will. However, such a person can make many changes to the assets surrounding that estate. Here is how it works. Estate planning can get complicated, quickly; working with a financial advisor goes a long way to simplifying the challenge. Estate planning can get complicated, but working with a financial advisor is one of the best ways to clarify and even simplify the challenge. Read More...

Sep 16, 2021 When a loved one dies, there are a lot of things to worry about, from planning the funeral to dealing with your own emotions. As is often the case though, money is a major part of the calculus of life when dealing with a recently deceased family member. When they pass, your family will have to deal with their money, assets and debts. And if they have a large enough estate, you’ll potentially have to worry about the estate and inheritance taxes. There are things you can do now, though, that will limit the amount of money ultimately subject to these taxes, so that your family can use more of your wealth to build their own lives. For help with the estate tax or any other financial planning issues, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Sep 13, 2021 Elder financial abuse is a broad term that describes the theft, fraud or otherwise misuse of an elderly person’s assets. Seniors can be targeted for fraud scammers but it can also happen within a caregiving or family setting. Elder financial abuse is problematic for victims as it can deprive them of much-needed resources to meet daily living expenses or pay for larger expenses, such as long-term care. Building some protections into your estate plan can help to insulate your assets against this type of financial abuse. A financial advisor can help you take prudent steps to limit your vulnerability to elder financial abuse. Read More...

Sep 10, 2021 Trusts are useful financial tools, often used for the purpose of planning an estate. A trust is essentially a legal framework into which ownership of assets can be placed. These assets can include financial products like stocks and bonds, or it can include real physical property, like land, jewelry or vehicles. There are a number of reasons one might use a trust, including, but certainly not limited to, estate planning scenarios. If you think you might need a trust or you want help setting one up, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 31, 2021 Under certain circumstances individuals need to have decisions made for them. Sometimes that's because the person is unavailable or incapacitated. Other times, the person is no longer competent to make their own choices, a situation that sometimes arises with an elderly parent. When this happens, the two most common solutions are the legal offices known as power of attorney and the conservatorship. With power of attorney, you voluntarily assign authority to a third party. You give it freely, define its boundaries and can revoke it at any time. A conservatorship is involuntary. It is assigned by the court, and you can only have it revoked through a formal hearing. Here’s how they work. Read More...

Aug 31, 2021 A probate judge is an official of the county court system and a judicial official of the state who decides civil court cases that involve the probate process. Probate is the process of proving wills for those who have died with one (testate cases). A probate judge also oversees cases where a will has not been prepared by a deceased person (intestate cases). Most probate issues are decided on a county basis. Probate judges may have other duties depending on state and county laws. They may decide competency and guardianship cases. In some states, they decide adoption cases. The primary responsibility of a probate judge, however, is dealing with estates. Read More...

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