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Estate Planning

Jan 26, 2023 Some financial products like life insurance or tax-advantaged retirement accounts require you to name one or more beneficiaries. However, that’s not the case with many assets. For instance, you can buy a house or set up a savings account without designating who should receive it when you pass away. While beneficiary designations for specific financial products are necessary, they are not sufficient by themselves for creating a comprehensive estate plan. A financial advisor can help ensure that you have a holistic estate plan. Read More...

Jan 25, 2023 Estate planning matters if you’re hoping to preserve as much of your wealth and assets as possible for future generations. One of the biggest challenges is finding ways to minimize your tax liability, as taxes can shrink the value of the estate you’re able to leave behind. Taking a proactive approach to estate tax planning can protect your financial legacy for the short and long term. A financial advisor can help you create an estate plan to meet your needs. Read More...

Jan 25, 2023 When you’re in the midst of a divorce, you’re probably not thinking about estate planning or your will. But if you’re divorcing, you should think about the impact a divorce can have on an estate plan. Because even if your divorce is amicable, you may want to make some changes to the paperwork. That includes your will and power of attorney. Not getting this part of divorce done correctly can mean long-term repercussions , even after your death. Let's go over the steps you should take with your estate plan during and after your divorce. Ask a financial advisor how to protect your assets against potential loss due to a potential divorce. Read More...

Jan 24, 2023 Estate planning is crucial to leaving your beneficiaries with your possessions as you intend. However, life insurance beneficiaries can conflict with the terms in your will if you aren’t thorough. Your life insurance beneficiary designation usually supersedes your will. So it’s best to have harmony between your policy and will to save your heirs from stress and confusion. You can use both life insurance beneficiaries and wills to impart money to others when you die. They can work with or against each other, so meticulous planning is key. Here's how each works and which takes precedence. A financial advisor can provide valuable guidance as you prepare for probate. Read More...

Jan 20, 2023 If you have a residence you would like to pass onto loved ones after your death, and you're worried about your home going into probate, you may want to put your home in a property trust. If that is something you have been considering, it's a fairly straightforward, if complex, process. We'll go over out how it works. Consider working with a financial advisor if you need help setting up an estate plan or managing inherited money. Read More...

Jan 18, 2023 After a grantor passes away, becoming the trustee can be daunting, especially if you’re responsible for distributing property. Houses are among the most valuable assets in a family for financial and sentimental reasons. Therefore, it’s critical to understand how to transfer property out of a trust to the designated beneficiary. When the trust owner dies, the trustee can transfer property out of the trust by using a quitclaim or grant deed transferring ownership of the property to the beneficiary. Here are details on the process and what to do with the inherited property if you’re the beneficiary. Estate planning is a complex process. Find a financial advisor who can help you today. Read More...

Jan 18, 2023 Adding an annuity to your financial plan is something you might consider if you’re hoping to generate additional streams of income for retirement. Annuities are contracts that allow you to exchange a current premium for future payments. If you’re not well-versed in annuity jargon, you might not understand the difference between being an annuitant and a beneficiary. Breaking down these terms is important when discussing how an annuity works. If you're looking for an expert to help you with similar financial matters, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Jan 18, 2023 Revocable trusts, otherwise known as “living trusts,” do not protect your assets from creditors. In fact, they are subject to collections actions and lawsuits, and they are included when third parties evaluate your personal assets. We'll discuss how it works. Estate planning is a complex process. Find a financial advisor who can help you today. Read More...

Jan 17, 2023 A Medicaid asset protection trust (MAPT) can be useful for estate planning if you believe you or your spouse will need long-term care at some point. Transferring assets to this type of trust can allow you to qualify for Medicaid to pay for long-term care while preserving your savings. If you don’t have a long-term care insurance policy in place, you may consider adding a Medicaid trust to your estate plan. Understanding how this type of trust works can help you decide if it’s right for you. A financial advisor can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that provides for a special-needs spouse after you die. Read More...

Jan 17, 2023 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...

Jan 17, 2023 Intellectual property and intangible assets used to be niche fields. For most people, pretty much everything they owned could be held, sorted and doled out by their estate lawyer. Today that’s far less true. From e-mail and social media accounts to websites, photos and the simple contents of a hard drive, almost all of us hold a vast amount of intangible, digital assets. As a result, managing those assets has become an important part of modern estate planning. This is known as “digital estate planning,” and here’s how it works. If you want help with your estate planning then you may want to consider working with a financial advisorRead More...

Jan 17, 2023 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...

Jan 17, 2023 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...

Jan 17, 2023 If you want to end a trust, the process depends on the nature of the entity. A revocable trust can be ended relatively easily, in just three steps. The trust’s founder and owner can typically dissolve a revocable trust at will. In most cases, this involves nothing more complicated than filling out some paperwork and distributing the trust’s assets. An irrevocable trust is far more complicated, though, so it's important to plan ahead. A financial advisor can help you make sure your trust is set up correctly and that you've protected your assets. Read More...

Jan 12, 2023 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...

Jan 12, 2023 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...

Jan 12, 2023 If you leave a trust to a loved one, it’s probably because you want to ensure that they are taken care of after you are gone. But that very act may cause you to wonder how long can a trust remain open after somebody has died? The answer is 21 years, which, of course, begs another question – what happens to the trust after 21 years? That gets a little more complicated. So we’ll explain how a trust works and what happens to a trust after 21 years. Consider working with a financial advisor as you weigh the relative merits of trusts and estates. Read More...

Jan 12, 2023 Estate planning can be difficult. In addition to the fact that it may bring up some uncomfortable feelings - like grappling with one’s mortality - there is also the fact that it can be a complex legal process. There are ways to make estate planning easier, though, such as trusts. If you form a trust, there are a few terms you’ll need to know: trustee and executor. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they actually have distinct roles. A trustee manages a trust and the assets inside, while an executor is responsible for fulfilling the deceased’s wishes and distributing property and assets as proscribed. For help with trusts or other estate planning items, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Jan 12, 2023 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...

Jan 12, 2023 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...

Jan 11, 2023 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 11, 2023 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...

Jan 11, 2023 Creating a trust as part of an estate plan can help protect assets and ensure your financial legacy is preserved. If you’re married, you may consider establishing a QTIP trust, which is short for qualified terminable interest property trust. This type of trust allows the grantor to set aside assets for a surviving spouse while still having control over what happens to those assets once they pass away. A QTIP trust can offer financial reassurance if you’re concerned about what would happen to your spouse after you’re gone. Estate planning can be complicated; make sure you're making the best decisions by working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Jan 11, 2023 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...

Jan 11, 2023 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...

Jan 10, 2023 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 10, 2023 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...

Jan 10, 2023 When you create an irrevocable trust, usually, the terms are set in stone. But what happens when you need to make adjustments due to significant life, law or personal changes? For example, let’s say your trustee is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and you need to name a successor trustee. In the past, you might not have been able to make these changes to your trust. However, decanting a trust to amend your irrevocable trust is an option if you understand how it works. It can be beneficial to work with a financial advisor before making any big decisions that could impact your finances. Read More...

Jan 17, 2023 If someone close to you has died, the last thing you may want to talk about is money. However, in order to honor their final wishes, you’ll need to follow their will (if they left one) or potentially go to probate court. You may be left with a large cash inheritance when all is said and done. But, how do you deposit a large cash inheritance, and is there anything you should know before doing so? A financial advisor can help you put an estate plan together to protect your assets for your family. Read More...

Jan 05, 2023 One of the most important aspects of estate planning is choosing who you’d like to be your beneficiaries. A beneficiary is someone who is named to receive a financial gift from an estate or a specific asset, such as a life insurance policy. If you want to leave all of your assets to one person in your will, you might name them as your sole beneficiary. There are, however, some pros and cons to doing so. You may want to consider working with a financial advisor who can help answer your questions and properly set up your estate to match your desires. Read More...

Jan 03, 2023 When someone passes away, whether unexpectedly or not, it can raise questions about who will inherit what. Specifically, you might be wondering whether in-laws have a right to any of the assets of the deceased person. The short answer is that state inheritance laws prioritize spouses, children and other blood relatives ahead of in-laws. However, the way those individuals choose to handle their share of an inherited estate can determine whether an in-law receives assets from it. A financial advisor can help you create an estate plan for your needs and goals.  Read More...

Dec 20, 2022 Online tools allowing anyone to create a trust without the help of an attorney can reduce the money and time consumed in estate planning. Living trusts are widely used in estate planning to avoid probate and reduce costs and delay in settling estates, but an attorney may charge thousands of dollars to create one. Online trust creation tools may cost a few hundred dollars or, in some cases, nothing at all and take only a few minutes to use. A financial advisor can help you create an estate plan for your family's needs and goals. Read More...

Dec 20, 2022 A secondary beneficiary, also called a contingent beneficiary, is a person or entity entitled to get a distribution of assets from an estate or trust after the estate owner’s death if the primary beneficiary is unable or unwilling to accept the assets. Secondary beneficiaries can be relatives or other people as well as trusts, charities or other organizations. Naming secondary beneficiaries can help estate planners avoid the delay and costs of going through probate as well as ensure that your wishes are carried out. A financial advisor can help you decide whether you need a secondary beneficiary for your estate or trust. Read More...

Dec 19, 2022 Considering your eventual death and planning who will inherit your assets can be a difficult and uncomfortable task. In that process, though, it's important to manage your retirement accounts and designate beneficiaries accordingly. Here are five retirement plan beneficiary mistakes you should avoid. A financial advisor can help you put an estate plan together for your family’s needs and goals. Read More...

Jan 03, 2023 A trust can hold many different assets, including your individual retirement account (IRA). Doing so can have benefits for you and your heirs, but it’s important to structure the trust properly. We'll discuss how a trust works and what you need to know. A financial advisor could help you create a financial plan to protect your investments and identify new opportunities to make money. Read More...

Dec 15, 2022 Settling an estate can be a complicated and sometimes time-consuming process. It’s the job of the executor to inventory assets, determine what expenses need to be paid and distribute the remainder of the estate to the deceased’s beneficiaries. If you’re set to inherit, you may be wondering what estate expenses are paid by the beneficiary. The answer can depend on what assets are passed on to you when a family member or loved one passes away. For more help with estate issues, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Dec 14, 2022 A trust is an excellent way to bestow wealth, but disbursing money to your beneficiaries hinges on a crucial party: the trustee. Your trustee’s financial knowledge, discretion and accountability will influence how a trust impacts beneficiaries. These duties can be overwhelming for one person to manage, especially if they’re a family member. Fortunately, a trust can have an institutional trustee, such as a bank, that oversees the acts of a trustee on your trust. For help with creating and managing a trust, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Nov 30, 2022 When a loved one dies, there are a lot of questions you have to deal with, not the least of which is how to pay for a funeral and other death expenses. A life insurance policy could help, but the deceased must have made sure the proper beneficiary is named. If at least one beneficiary is not designated, some problems with the estate could arise or the life insurance could go to the decedent's estate. The same is true if the one beneficiary preceded the decedent in death. You might want to name more than one primary beneficiary, according to the laws of your state, or a contingent beneficiary. A financial advisor can help you see that all the pieces of an estate plan are in place when you need it. Read More...

Nov 29, 2022 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...

Nov 29, 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...

Nov 29, 2022 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...

Nov 29, 2022 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...

Nov 29, 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...

Nov 23, 2022 Creating an estate plan means you have control over what happens to your assets when you pass away. Naming an executor is an important step, as that person will be responsible for settling your estate and distributing your assets to your heirs after you’re gone. State probate laws may require an executor to have a probate bond in place as they carry out their duties. It’s important to understand what that means if someone names you as their executor. For help planning your own estate, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Nov 23, 2022 When people pass away, their wealth is generally passed on. In the case of passing on your individual retirement account or an IRA, you have two choices. You can name a beneficiary or multiple beneficiaries to receive the income from your IRA distributions or you can designate your estate to be the beneficiary of your IRA. If the estate is the beneficiary, the account assets will be distributed to it and the estate's heirs will share them, hopefully, based on the owner's will. If you're not sure which route to take, consider talking to a financial advisor who can help you figure it out for your estate.  Read More...

Nov 23, 2022 Breaking a trust refers to one party unilaterally dissolving a trust and distributing its assets, either back to the original donor or to the trust’s beneficiaries. This can only happen at the direction of the trust’s creator. If a third party, such as a beneficiary, wants to end the trust that person has a few options beyond suing to prove fraud or some other form of wrongdoing. In that case, the court will dissolve the trust at its own discretion. If you have questions about your trust, consider working with a financial advisor who specializes in estate planning. Read More...

Nov 23, 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...

Nov 22, 2022 The death of a parent can be emotionally trying, especially if the passing was unexpected. It can also be a test of your patience if there are complicated estate issues to sort out. If you have siblings, for example, there may be questions about who should inherit what. State law can define siblings’ rights after parents’ death and it’s helpful to understand what that might mean for you and your family. You may also want to work with a financial advisor if you're planning on inheriting a substantial amount of assets so that you can create a proper financial plan. Read More...

Nov 16, 2022 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...

Nov 16, 2022 You’ve worked hard your entire life and you’re hoping to pass the fruits of your labor onto your children or grandchildren and not the Internal Revenue Service. If that’s the case, you may be interested in a gift in trust, which is a legal and fiduciary vehicle that makes it easier to transfer wealth to the next generation without being subject to federal estate taxes. It's important to understand how it works and why you may want to set one up. You can also work with a financial advisor to help you improve your overall estate plan and make sure you're set up to pass your wealth to the next generation.  Read More...

Nov 09, 2022 Confronting our health and what might happen to us someday is not an easy task. Even though estate planning is emotionally challenging, it’s a necessary step to protect yourself. Not only that, without any plans, your loved ones might face unnecessary difficulties. Dealing with the assets alone can be a struggle. You wouldn’t want them worrying about making medical decisions on top of that. The cost of a living will is going to depend on how you create it and could depend on where you live. You can speak with a financial advisor to help you determine how a living will fits into your financial picture. Read More...

Nov 28, 2022 Trusts and estates are the two main legal structures for transferring assets to your heirs and beneficiaries. Each works in critically different ways. Estates make a one-time transfer of your assets after death. Trusts, meanwhile, allow you to create an ongoing transfer of assets both before and after death. Here’s how each one works. Consider working with a financial advisor as you weigh the relative merits of trusts and estates. Read More...

Nov 02, 2022 Texas allows the heir of a person who has died without a will to avoid probate by using a summary administration process with a small estate affidavit. A small estate affidavit can allow an heir to claim bank accounts and other estate assets much faster and at far less cost than through a probate. In Texas, this process can only be used if the estate is worth less than $75,000, not counting the deceased person’s primary residence, and it can’t be used to transfer ownership of real estate except for a primary residence. Talk to a financial advisor to help you plan your estate. Read More...

Nov 02, 2022 Indiana lets qualifying heirs of a person who dies without a will avoid probate through a small estate affidavit. Beneficiaries of a small estate can usually claim bank accounts and other estate assets faster and cheaper than going through probate. In Indiana, this summary administration process can only be used if the estate is worth less than $50,000 and at least 45 days have passed since the death. Estates that include real estate may be settled using this process after petitioning the court for permission. Talk to a financial advisor to help you plan your estate. Read More...

Nov 01, 2022 Virginia allows an heir of a person who has died to avoid probate by following a summary administration process using a small estate affidavit. With a small estate affidavit, an heir can usually claim bank accounts and other estate assets much faster and at far less cost than via probate. In Virginia, this process can only be used if the estate is not worth more than $50,000 and at least 60 days have passed since the death. For Virginia estate assets worth no more than $25,000, an even more streamlined process can be used that does not require a small estate affidavit. Talk to a financial advisor if you need help planning your estate or figuring out how to quickly receive an inheritance. Read More...

Nov 01, 2022 Florida provides two ways to settle small estates without going through the often time-consuming and costly process of probate. A procedure called Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration allows beneficiaries to quickly and inexpensively settle a very small estate that is no larger than the deceased’s funeral expenses and medical expenses for the previous 60 days. Summary administration is another approach for somewhat larger Florida estates worth up to $75,000. Talk to a financial advisor to help you plan your estate. Read More...

Oct 26, 2022 Illinois allows someone with a claim to assets in the estate of a person who has died to collect them without going through formal probate by using a summary administration process employing a small estate affidavit. With a small estate affidavit an heir usually can get access to bank accounts other estate assets much faster and at far less cost than via probate. This process can only be used if the estate is worth less than $100,000, however, and other limitations apply. Talk to a financial advisor to help you plan your estate. Read More...

Oct 26, 2022 California allows a person with a claim to assets in the estate of someone who has died to collect them without going through formal probate by using an affidavit for collection of personal property, elsewhere called a small estate affidavit. This tool can only be used if the estate is worth less than $166,250. And it can only transfer certain assets and requires agreement from everyone else who might have a claim to the assets. However, with its help, an heir can collect bank accounts, stocks and other personal property from an estate much faster and at far less cost than probate. Talk to a financial advisor to help you plan your estate. Read More...

Oct 26, 2022 A small estate affidavit is a sworn legal document that may allow an estate to avoid going through probate. Small estate affidavits are permitted in many states, as long as the value of the estate is small enough. Using one can let an heir claim assets of the deceased in days or weeks instead of the months or years it can take for an estate to go through the probate process. Using a small estate affidavit also cost very little or even nothing, while the probate fees can eat up sizable portions of estate’s value. A financial advisor can help you create an estate plan for your family's needs and goals. Read More...

Sep 21, 2022 Whether you're young or old, it's important to have a plan for what happens to your assets when you die. Estate planning is an essential part of financial planning. It pays to do your research when planning your estate. We've made a list of the seven best books on estate planning so you can plan for the future with confidence. If you need more hands-on help, a financial advisor could help you create an estate plan for your family's needs and goals. Read More...

Sep 07, 2022 Some financial assets, like bank accounts and retirement portfolios, are designed to pass from one person to another. This designated recipient is known as a “beneficiary,” meaning that you have named the person who will take possession of any given account when you die. If you haven’t named a beneficiary for a specific bank account that account will transfer through the ordinary estate and probate process when you die. Estate planning can be complicated and difficult if you go about it on your own. Instead, consider working with a professional financial advisor to help protect your assets.  Read More...

Sep 06, 2022 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...

Aug 30, 2022 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...

Aug 17, 2022 When it comes to pets and estates, there are two main rules to understand. First - and sadly for the eccentric among us - you cannot leave money to your pet. The law says that animals are property, and one piece of property can’t own another. Little Chairman Meow cannot, unfortunately, inherit millions of dollars that the family will fight over for the rest of his nine lives. Instead,  you will need what is known as a pet trust, which resembles other forms of property trusts. You create an account and, after your death, the trust’s administrator will use those funds to pay for your pet’s needs. For help making sure your furry friends are taken care of after your death, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 17, 2022 Property law can be complex and arcane, even for lawyers and judges. The rule against perpetuities is an example of how older property laws can influence how families transfer and inherit property rights. Well-meaning grantors create wills defining their wishes for their grandchildren to inherit property. Unfortunately, the rule against perpetuities may prevent a property from staying in the family if it takes too long for the will’s conditions to be met. The rule against perpetuities creates a standard for when an interest in land or property must vest. If you're worried about securing the future ownership of your property it could be beneficial to work with an experienced financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 11, 2022 Survivorship life insurance, also called second-to-die insurance, may be attractive for married couples with a high net worth. When the second policyholder passes away, the policy pays out a death benefit. So how are survivorship policies helpful in estate planning? In addition to leaving something behind for beneficiaries, this type of life insurance can yield tax benefits to the surviving spouse during their lifetime. In order to get the right life insurance that is set up correctly to use in your estate planning process, consider working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 11, 2022 Establishing a Crummey trust is something you might consider if you’d like to leave assets to your heirs while avoiding gift taxes. One unique provision of this type of trust is the Crummey power, which allows the trust beneficiaries a set window of time in which they can withdraw assets. The beneficiary isn’t actually intended to use this power, but by including the provision in the trust terms you can exclude financial gifts in the trust from the gift tax. A financial advisor could help you create an estate plan to protect your family's future. Read More...

Aug 04, 2022 Crummey trusts can be a useful estate planning tool for high-net-worth individuals who are hoping to minimize gift and estate taxes. The Crummey power confers the right to withdraw assets from the trust to its beneficiaries, though this power isn’t actually intended to be used. Instead, it’s designed to make ineligible gifts eligible for the annual gift tax exclusion. That’s explained to beneficiaries in a Crummey letter or Crummey notice. If you receive one of these letters, it’s important to understand what it means to you. A financial advisor could help you create an estate plan to protect your family's future. Read More...

Jan 25, 2023 Tax planning for your retirement accounts is an important part of setting your beneficiaries up to maximize the benefit of what you leave behind after you die. If you have a Roth IRA, you can effectively avoid estate tax issues by naming heirs as a beneficiary under the account rather than passing it through your will. This allows them to take over the account rather than inheriting it, sidestepping any potential estate taxes. A financial advisor can help you set up your retirement accounts to reach your financial goals.  Read More...

Aug 04, 2022 If you want to leave your individual retirement account (IRA) to your grandchildren, you should know that minors can’t inherit an IRA directly. Instead, a custodian should be appointed until the minor is of legal age. Here are some things to keep in mind before you consider leaving your IRA to a minor. A financial advisor could help you create an estate plan to protect your family's future. Read More...

Jul 21, 2022 An estate plan indicates what you want to do with your assets after you are gone. Depending on your goals, you may want to leave some funds or other assets to charity. It's possible to create estate plans with charities as beneficiaries. A financial advisor could help you include charitable donations as part of your estate plan. Read More...

Jul 19, 2022 Inheriting an IRA or 401(k) can add to your wealth but it can also bring some potential tax headaches. One tricky issue involves required minimum distributions or RMDs. IRA and 401(k) plan owners are required to take minimum distributions from their accounts beginning in the year they turn 72. The IRS has special rules regarding the RMD in the year of death that IRA and 401(k) beneficiaries need to be aware of. A financial advisor can help you through the ins and outs of planning for retirement to put your mind at ease. Read More...

Jul 13, 2022 Philanthropic giving allows you to make an impact by donating to organizations that reflect your values and support your causes. If you want to include philanthropic giving in your estate plan, there are many common ways. Let's break down how you can do it. A financial advisor can help you incorporate charitable giving into your estate plan. Read More...

Jul 13, 2022 A donor-advised fund is an account that lets the donor direct how and where to distribute assets in the fund. Donor-advised funds can simplify making charitable contributions to favorite causes and also provide the donor with valuable tax deductions. Gifts made to donor-advised funds can be deducted from current income, subject to limitations. Cash gifts can be deducted up to 60% of adjusted gross income, while gifts of other assets, such as stock, can be deducted up to 30% of adjusted gross income. Consider working with a financial advisor to set a donation plan that's right for you.  Read More...

Jul 13, 2022 Donor-advised funds and private foundations offer two ways to financially support causes while gaining valuable tax deductions. Each permits donations of non-cash donations that may include securities, IRA assets, real estate, annuities and life insurance. Donor-advised funds can allow for larger tax-deductible contributions and tax-free growth of invested funds. A financial advisor can help you determine if donating to one of these funds is a good idea for your financial plan.  Read More...

Jul 11, 2022 An intentionally defective grantor trust, or IDGT, is a way of shifting tax burdens for very wealthy households. With this structure, you can create a trust that leaves wealth to your heirs while minimizing gift, estate and income tax liability. Find out how the IDGT works and what tax advantages may exist if you decide to create one. A financial advisor can walk you through all of the ins and outs of each type of trust and help you determine the right financial strategy to use the IDGT or another type that may be more beneficial. Read More...

Jul 07, 2022 Trusts can be a useful tool in estate planning when you want to leave specific instructions about how your assets should be managed during your lifetime and after you pass away. One type of trust, the qualified perpetual trust, can be used to pass assets down to your beneficiaries decade after decade. Also known as a dynasty trust, qualified perpetual trusts can offer greater control over assets than other types of trusts, though they aren’t necessarily right for everyone. A financial advisor could help you put a financial plan together for your family's needs and goals.  Read More...

Jul 07, 2022 Establishing a trust is something you might consider if you’d like to take estate planning beyond a simple will. Naming a trustee is an important part of the trust creation process but you might find it helpful or necessary to name a trust protector as well. Trust protectors serve as intermediaries between the trustee and the trust beneficiaries. Their primary role is to protect trust beneficiaries and their interests. A financial advisor could help you put an estate plan together for your family's needs and goals. Read More...

Jul 07, 2022 An offshore trust is a tool used for asset protection and estate planning that works by transferring assets into the control of a legal entity based in another country. Offshore trusts are irrevocable, so trust owners can’t reclaim ownership of transferred assets. They are also complicated and costly. However, for people with greater liability concerns, offshore trusts can provide protection and greater privacy as well as some tax advantages. To get professional assistance with these issues, consider working with a financial advisorRead More...

Jul 06, 2022 A lot of people think that estate planning and writing a will are the same, but one is actually just part of the other. Simply put, an estate plan is a broader plan of action for your assets that may apply during your life as well as after your death. A will, on the other hand, dictates where your assets will go after you die, who will be the guardian of your children and more. So while a will is often part of an estate plan, an estate plan covers much more ground. If you're thinking about writing your will or creating an estate plan, it can be a good idea to speak with a local financial advisor. Read More...

Jul 06, 2022 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...

Jun 28, 2022 A living trust is a common solution for many people with estate planning needs. However, few people know about its tax-filing requirements. Generally, any trust with at least $600 in annual income must file a federal return. But for a revocable trust or a grantor trust that is controlled by the person who set it up, those owners must include the trust on personal returns and the trust itself doesn’t file. Here's what you need to know. A financial advisor could help you find answers to your trust and taxation questions. Read More...

Jun 28, 2022 The death of a family member is always challenging and evokes difficult emotions for everyone involved. Unfortunately, tax problems brought on by a trust can sometimes be one of the stressors. Because grantors don’t always acquire an EIN for the created trust, their heirs or beneficiaries may have to do so after the fact. If the grantor in a revocable trust has died, making the trust irrevocable, you will need to complete the application for an EIN. To get all of your estate planning questions answered, you can speak with a financial advisor. Read More...

Jun 16, 2022 Nursing home costs can take a real bite out of your assets without proper planning. Although protecting your assets can be complicated, it's a necessary step. Let's break down what happens when you go into a nursing home and common ways to protect your assets from nursing home costs. A financial advisor could help you create a financial plan for your healthcare needs and goals. Read More...

Jun 10, 2022 As you build wealth, you increasingly become a target for lawsuits. Lawyers often see wealthy investors as "deep pockets" that can financially right the wrongs that a plaintiff feels they've suffered. While you can't stop someone from suing you, you can protect yourself and your money. Here's how to protect your assets from lawsuits and other financial liabilities. A financial advisor could help you create a plan to protect your assets for your family. Read More...

Jun 08, 2022 Parents and grandparents looking for a way to pass assets to their beneficiaries should consider a bare trust, also known as a naked trust or simple trust. It is one of the simplest forms of a trust but can still be an effective way to accomplish the goal of handing off assets to the next generation. Although this kind of trust is not available in the U.S., Americans can set one up outside the country for the benefit of a child or grandchild. If you need help sorting through the estate planning options, try out SmartAsset's free financial advisor matching tool to get the specialized help you might need. Read More...

Jun 07, 2022 Estate planning can be difficult because there are so many tax rules that could cost you a lot of money long-term if you don't know what to deduct. This article will discuss reducing estate planning costs through deducting the expenses when you file taxes and give you general tips on saving money in the estate planning process. To dig deeper, you can get the financial help you need to prepare your estate properly by speaking with a financial advisor. Read More...

Jun 07, 2022 While so many people are financially prepared for the amount they will need in retirement, many fail to consider how their situation might change due to a disability. Unfortunately, a disability is the most common reason for nursing home placement. By educating yourself on relevant Medicaid laws and different methods of asset protection, you can maintain your standard of living if your spouse requires long-term care. Protecting assets is always a complicated situation so you may find it beneficial to speak with a financial advisor who is well-versed in the practice. Read More...

Jun 01, 2022 Establishing a trust as part of an estate plan is something you might consider for passing on wealth. While most trusts are created with one or more beneficiaries in mind, purposes trusts work differently. A purpose trust is what it sounds like - a trust created and funded for a specific purpose. These trusts can hold a variety of different assets but whether you need one or not can depend largely on your estate planning needs. Here's what you need to know. A financial advisor could help you put an estate plan together for your family's needs and goals.  Read More...

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...

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