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Estate Planning

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who inherits a non-qualified annuity will only have to pay income taxes on any earnings from the annuity when they are withdrawn.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...

Aug 30, 2021 A pot trust is a type of trust that lists children as beneficiaries, with the trustee using his or her discretion as to how trust assets should be spent. If you have minor children, you might consider setting up a pot trust to meet their financial needs if something should happen to you. This type of trust allows you to create a single pool of assets to be used for the benefit of multiple children. A pot trust can offer more flexibility in terms of how trust assets are used if you plan to leave your entire estate to your children. Consider working with a  financial advisor if you’re exploring which type of trusts best protect your children. Read More...

Aug 30, 2021 Medicaid can help to cover the costs of long-term care for eligible seniors who meet requirements for income and financial assets. It may be necessary to spend down or give away assets to qualify for Medicaid and long-term care benefits. The Medicaid look-back period determines when those transfers need to take place in order to avoid a penalty. The look-back period is a window of time prior to applying for Medicaid in which your financial transactions may be subject to review. The purpose of Medicaid look-backs is to ensure that people meet the financial eligibility requirements. Read More...

Aug 27, 2021 Estate planning is part of comprehensive financial planning. It includes making a will. If you don't make a will before your death, you will die intestate. In that case, your assets will be distributed by the courts according to the laws of your state. Even though there are individual state laws concerning intestate succession, these state laws are more similar than they are different. Here's what you need to know. Estate planning is best done by incorporating the insights of a financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 27, 2021 Probate is the process of proving a will left by an individual. The individual is called a decedent in the legal language of probate administration and estate planning. The decedent is the deceased individual. If a will was not left by a decedent, then that decedent is said to have died intestate or without a will. During and after a probate proceeding has taken place, you may have some need to read the will or find out about other aspects of the probate proceeding. Your need may arise from business dealings or personal situations. Probate records are also frequently accessed by researchers into family history. Here's what you need to know about finding probate records online. Read More...

Aug 26, 2021 Trusts are a useful tool for financial and estate planning, allowing a family to set assets aside to be passed on when someone dies. They can also help your family potentially avoid the headaches of the probate process. Some of the language around trusts, though, can be confusing to those who aren’t completely fluent in estate planning. For instance, while they sound extremely similar, trustor and trustee aren’t quite interchangeable. The trustor is the person who forms a trust, while the trustee is the one who manages the assets in the trust. Though they can certainly be the same person, this isn’t always the case. If you need help with trusts or understanding other financial topics, consider working with a local financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 16, 2021 A credit shelter trust is used to help married couples with significant assets pass their estates after their deaths to children or other beneficiaries without incurring estate taxes. Credit shelter trusts are also useful for avoiding probate, shielding assets from creditors and ensuring the wishes of a deceased spouse are carried out. While they are mostly useful for large estates, couples with sizable financial assets can get important benefits from using credit shelter trusts as part of overall estate plans. Consider working with a financial advisor as you create or update your estate plan. Read More...

Aug 12, 2021 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...

Aug 12, 2021 When it comes to trusts, most people are familiar with individual trusts, trust funds or family trusts that are connected to an individual or family. But another type of trust exists for entrepreneurs and companies called business trusts, which are also known as common law trusts. A business trust is a legal instrument that can be used to delegate the authority to manage a beneficiary stake in a certain business. It can also be used to run the business itself. However, there are multiple types of business trusts, with each working slightly differently. If you're thinking of using a business trust, it might be a good idea to consult with a financial advisor. Read More...

Oct 14, 2021 While estate planning and writing a will often go hand in hand, they're actually entirely different terms. 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...

Aug 03, 2021 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. Work with a financial advisor to create a comprehensive estate plan that provides for a special-needs spouse after you die. Read More...

Jul 30, 2021 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...

Jun 16, 2021 Trusts and limited liability companies (LLCs) are both legal vehicles that can be used to protect assets. Both are also created at the state level but they have different features and different uses. Trusts are primarily used to avoid taxation when transferring family assets from generation to the next. LLCs are legal business entities, similar to simplified corporations, that have as their main feature the ability to shield owners of the business from legal liability for actions of the business. Consider working with a financial advisor as you make key estate planning and business decisions. Read More...

Jun 10, 2021 When you assign someone power of attorney you give them the authority to make decisions for you and on your behalf. Whatever the agent, as this person is called, decides will be as binding as if you’d made the decision yourself, so only give power of attorney to someone you absolutely trust. While a specific form is unnecessary for power of attorney, just about every jurisdiction offers one in order to help you understand this process. Here’s what you need to know. Read More...

Jun 01, 2021 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...

May 27, 2021 Failing health often robs people of their agency. Whether due to age or illness, many hospital patients can’t effectively communicate their own wishes. For legal matters, this is handled through matters such as medical power of attorney, trusts and estates. This can also apply when it comes to respecting the patient’s medical wishes. Several legal structures exist to deal with that as well, but the living will and healthcare proxy are two of the most common. Consider working with a financial advisor as you make arrangements for end-of-life care. Read More...

May 26, 2021 Two of the possible ways for people making arrangements for the disposition of their assets after their death are wills and irrevocable trusts. Each one has unique strengths. Here’s how the two compare and contrast so you can determine if one or the other is right for you. Don't let the intricacies of estate planning keep you from deciding what happens to your assets after you die; work with a financial planner to take the estate planning steps that are best for you. Read More...

May 26, 2021 Estate planning is also an important step in taking care of what matters most: your loved ones and the life you’ve worked hard for. Two of the options are a revocable trust and a will. But which one is the best choice for your estate’s needs? Here is a comparison to see how the two stack up. Consider working with a financial advisor as you do estate planning. Read More...

May 20, 2021 When shaping an estate plan, one of the most important steps is deciding who has access to your assets. Specifically, that means who inherits bank accounts and other financial accounts when you pass away. In trust for vs. payable on death accounts can both be used to manage assets. But they aren’t the same, in terms of how they work or when it makes sense to use them. Understanding what in trust for and payable on death mean matters for efficient estate planning. Consider working with a  financial advisor if you need help setting up an estate plan or managing inherited money. Read More...

May 20, 2021 Life insurance beneficiary designations allow the policyholder to decide who should receive a death benefit when he or she passes away. That doesn’t prevent someone from contesting life insurance beneficiary payouts, however. There are different reasons why someone may choose to dispute the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. If you believe you have a valid claim to contest someone’s beneficiary status or your own position as a beneficiary is being challenged, it’s important to understand how disputes can affect life insurance payouts. Read More...

May 01, 2021 Payable on death accounts can help streamline the process of transferring certain assets to loved ones after you pass away. Also referred to as a POD account or Totten trust, a payable on death account can be established at a bank or credit union and is transferrable to the beneficiary of your choosing. There are different reasons for including a payable on death account in your estate plan and it’s helpful to understand how they work when deciding whether to create one. Estate planning is best done with the counsel of a financial advisor, who can help you coordinate your investment goals with your end-of-life wishes. Read More...

Apr 07, 2021 Trusts can be a useful tool for estate planning if you’d like to preserve assets for loved ones while minimizing estate taxes. A qualified domestic trust (QDOT) is a specific type of trust that can offer tax benefits for married couples. With a QDOT, a surviving spouse can qualify for the marital deduction on estate taxes for assets included in the trust. This type of arrangement can be particularly helpful when a surviving spouse is not a U.S. citizen. Here’s more on how these trusts work, the benefits and limitations of having one and how to establish a QDOT as part of your estate plan. Estate planning is always done best in consultation with a financial advisor. Read More...

Mar 30, 2021 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. So, if you want to prepare for the future, it might be the right time to ask, “How much does a living will cost?” Read More...

Mar 30, 2021 When planning for the future, it’s common to think of what you’ll do with your estate and assets. However, there is more to consider than just your financial situation. You have to take into account your health and well-being, too. That’s where advance medical directives come in. By drafting one, you can ensure you and your body are well taken care of even when you can’t. There are two common ways to employ a medical directive: a living will and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders. A financial advisor can help you sort through the pros and cons of both options. Read More...

Mar 30, 2021 Estate planning as an individual is complicated enough, but planning for it in a marriage can create greater difficulties. Working as a unified partnership for your joint estate's future means that you both will have priorities you want to bring into the plan. Some concerns you both might have include costly estate taxes and providing for the other after one passes. If so, the estate tax marital deduction might be worth investigating. Here is some basic information you'll need before considering whether the marital deduction could fit into your estate plan. Read More...

Mar 30, 2021 Planning for the later years of your life is often an emotionally taxing experience. However, it’s often scarier to go into the end of our life without a plan. Of course, a plan requires the right legal documents. A living will and a last will may sound like they cover the same territory, but they’re very different; knowing how will help you pick the one that's best for you or decide you need both. So, with that in mind, here are the main differences between a living will vs. a last will and why they might be useful to you. Read More...

Mar 30, 2021 Hard choices wait around every corner as you age, but some of the most difficult ones are about your own care. Without a plan in place, you might not be able to convey your wishes to those around you, leaving loved ones scrambling to make the right decision. Fortunately, there are several ways you can ensure your choices for your medical and end-of-life care are understood. A living will and power of attorney are two of these ways. But what’s the difference between them and how do you know which one is right for you?  If you’re beginning to plan your future care, here are the key differences between a living will vs. a power of attorney. Read More...

Mar 29, 2021 TotalLegal is a company that offers consumers the opportunity to create quality legal documents for a variety of needs. With regards to estate planning, the website allows users to create a last will and testament, power of attorney, living will and medical power of attorney. It also offers a full plan subscription so that users can connect with attorneys for services as well. If you’re looking to begin the process of creating a legal document with TotalLegal, you just have to begin by answering an online interview. Once you create an account you can log in later to revise or download your documents. If you’d rather have a professional personally help you with your entire estate plan, consider working with a  local financial advisor. Read More...

Mar 29, 2021 FreeWill is an online estate planning tool that allows you to create or update a legally binding will in as little as 20 minutes. It offers products such as the ability to document funeral wishes, create a durable financial power of attorney, advance healthcare directives (living wills) and give charitable contributions from your retirement or stock brokerage account. As the company’s name implies, FreeWill’s services are completely free. Funding comes from FreeWill’s partnership with more than 100 nonprofit organizations who sponsor these services. You can access the service online, giving users the ability to change or download their will at any time without needing to create a new one. If you’d rather have a professional personally help you with your entire estate plan, consider working with a  local financial advisor. Read More...

Mar 29, 2021 Estate planning can be an overwhelming process, emotionally and mentally. The prices to work with a financial professional certainly don’t help either. These days, it’s possible to find free templates and do-it-yourself kits online that make estate planning more affordable. While after-life planning can be complicated, you may not need to spend money on an estate planning attorney. If your estate is simple, it might be worth investigating how to make a will for free instead. A financial advisor can help you sort through your options for making an estate plan. Read More...

Mar 18, 2021 Estate planning costs vary, and the difference in fees can only add to the emotional challenges. It's difficult enough to begin managing matters of death without confusion on top of that. The pandemic has only compounded such challenges. We are most stressed when we don’t understand, though. So, if you're trying to navigate the basics of estate planning costs, below are a few core concepts that might help. Consider working with a  financial advisor if you need help setting up an estate plan or managing inherited money. Read More...

Mar 18, 2021 Washington, D.C. does levy an estate tax on the estates of certain people after they have died. Specifically, the D.C. estate tax applies to any estate worth more than $4 million starting in 2021. In 2020, the threshold was $5.7642 million. For anyone who died prior to 2021, the rate of the estate tax is graduated and runs from 12.0% to 16.0%. Estate planning isn’t easy, and if you are planning for your estate or dealing with the estate of a loved one, you may need some help. Consider finding a financial advisor to help you using SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool. Read More...

Mar 01, 2021 Online will-writing and estate planning platform DoYourOwnWill.com boasts features that cover a wide variety of will-related situations. Surprisingly, you won't have to pay anything to take advantage of what the company offers. At the same token, DoYourOwnWill is relatively basic, and those with more complex estate planning needs may want to look elsewhere. DoYourOwnWill also doesn't provide access to customer support if you run into any issues along the way. Should you have specific questions, consider working with a local financial advisor. Read More...

Mar 01, 2021 Trust & Will is an online estate planning platform that allows you to create documents such as wills, trusts and guardianships. Trust & Will is available entirely online, so you won't need to download software to your computer. Trust & Will is a great estate planning tool, as it combines a wide range of services with a modern design that's easy to navigate. While Trust & Will is on the more expensive side, it has the ability to provide significant value to users. If you're not sure about using an online program to do your estate planning, you may want to work with a financial advisor. Read More...

Mar 01, 2021 When it comes to online estate planning, Rocket Lawyer is a solid option with a few caveats. The company's seven-day free trial allows you to create a will and other legal documents for free, but you have to enter your credit card information and pay for expanded access to the platform. Rocket Lawyer will also help you to create a wide range of different estate planning documents. However, because DIY estate planning comes with certain risks, it may be a good idea to work with a financial advisor in your area. Read More...

Mar 08, 2021 Quicken is already a popular personal finance company when it comes to tracking spending or getting a mortgage. However, the brand can also help you take care of your estate planning needs. Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2021 helps you put together and write your own will and trust easily and without having to consult a lawyer or get someone to draft the documents for you. You can also customize legal documents, such as health care directives. While Quicken WillMaker is a great option when it comes to writing a will, a financial advisor can offer you more comprehensive help. Try using SmartAsset's free tool to find matches near you. Read More...

Feb 19, 2021 A will is an important part of a basic estate plan and making one may be easier than you might think. Online will-maker software programs allow you to create a will on your own, often for less than what you might pay to an estate planning attorney. But which is the best online will maker and how do you determine which program to use? If you’re ready to make a will, here are some suggestions for the best will-making software options available now. Working with a financial advisor as you put together or modify an estate plan can save you time and help you avoid mistakes. Read More...

Feb 18, 2021 A living will is a legal document that allows you to specify the kind of care you’d like to receive in end-of-life situations. This is different from an advance healthcare directive, though either one can be an important part of an estate plan. If you’d like to draft a living will, you could get help from an estate planning attorney or you may try using an online software program to create one. Regardless of which one you choose, it’s important to understand how to make a living will to ensure that yours is valid and your wishes are upheld. A financial advisor can offer valuable insight and guidance as you make an estate plan. Read More...

Feb 08, 2021 Creating a will is an important step in estate planning. A last will and testament is an important legal document that allows you to specify how you’d like your assets to be distributed after you pass away. You can also choose an executor to oversee your estate and ensure that the terms of your will are carried out. It’s possible that you may choose an executor for your will, only to decide later that someone else is better suited for the job. Or your heirs see to remove a will executor after you pass away. As you shape your estate plan, it’s important to understand when the executor of a will can be removed and why it may be necessary. One of the best ways to shape your estate plan is by working with a financial planner. Read More...

Feb 05, 2021 Getting married for a second time following a divorce or the death of your first spouse can feel like a fresh start. But it’s important to consider how joining your life with someone else’s may impact your financial plan, including how you manage your estate. What is fair in a second marriage and estate planning? It can be a difficult question to answer, especially when you or your new spouse are bringing children into the marriage or you plan to have children together at some point. Understanding some of the key financial issues surrounding a second marriage can help with reshaping your estate plan. So can consulting a financial advisor, especially one experienced in estate planning for second marriages. Read More...

Feb 05, 2021 A trust can be a useful estate planning tool, in addition to a will. You can use a trust to remove assets from probate, potentially minimize estate and gift taxes and ensure that assets are managed on behalf of beneficiaries according to your wishes. There are different types of trusts you can establish and some are more specialized than others. Knowing how these broad categories of trusts compare can help with choosing the right option. When it comes to estate planning, including whether to create a trust, a  financial advisor can help you make the most informed decision possible. Read More...

Feb 05, 2021 Estate planning can help you pass on assets to your heirs while potentially minimizing taxes. When gifting assets, it’s important to consider when and how the generation-skipping tax transfer (GSTT) may apply. Also called the generation-skipping tax, this federal tax can apply when a grandparent leaves assets to a grandchild while skipping over their parents in the line of inheritance. It can also be triggered when leaving assets to someone who’s at least 37.5 years younger than you. If you’re considering “skipping” any of your heirs when passing on assets, it’s important to understand what that means from a tax perspective and how to fill out the requisite form. A financial advisor can also give you valuable guidance on how best to pass along your estate to your beneficiaries. Read More...

Feb 05, 2021 Medicaid is a government program that can help eligible seniors pay for nursing home care. If you’re helping an aging parent navigate Medicaid because they don’t have long-term care insurance or you think you’ll need it yourself someday, it’s important to understand how the program works. For instance, you should be aware that the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) may be used to recoup costs paid toward long-term care. Medicaid estate recovery is intended to help make the program affordable for the government, but it can financially impact the beneficiaries of Medicaid recipients. Make sure you're handling this kind of situation in the wisest possible way by consulting a financial advisor. Read More...

Jan 13, 2021 Making a last will and testament is an important part of your estate plan and there are different types of wills to choose from. A nuncupative will, meaning a will that’s oral rather than written, may be an option in certain circumstances. While state will laws typically require that a will be written, signed and witnessed to be considered legal, there are scenarios in which an oral will could be upheld as valid. Understanding how a nuncupative will works, as well as the pros and cons, can help with shaping your will-making plans if you have yet to create one. A financial professional can offer advice on investing, retirement planning, financial planning and various other areas of finance.  Find a financial advisor today.   Read More...

Dec 30, 2020 When creating an estate plan, one of the most basic documents you may wish to include is a will. If you have a more complicated estate, you might also need to have a trust in place. Both a will and a trust can specify how you want assets distributed among your beneficiaries. When making those decisions, it’s important to distinguish between per stirpes and per capita distributions. These are two terms you’re likely to come across when shaping your estate plan. Here’s a closer look at what per stirpes vs. per capita means. Read More...

Dec 30, 2020 When a marriage ends in divorce in Florida, assets are likely to be divided approximately 50-50 according to the prevailing practice of equitable distribution. Florida couples wanting a more active role in deciding how marital property will be divided in the event of divorce can use a prenuptial agreement to give their wishes force. Prenuptial agreements can also describe how matters will go in the event of separation or the death of one of the partners and can cover alimony as well as the division of debts and other matters. Consider enlisting the services of a trusted  financial advisor to help you create a prenup that best fits your needs. Read More...

Jun 23, 2021 Taking care of aging parents is something you may need to plan for, especially if you think one or both of them might need long-term care. One thing you may not know is that some states have filial responsibility laws that require adult children to help financially with the cost of nursing home care. Whether these laws affect you or not depends largely on where you live and what financial resources your parents have to cover long-term care. But it’s important to understand how these laws work to avoid any financial surprises as your parents age. Read More...

Dec 28, 2020 Drafting a last will and testament can help to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. You can also use your will to name a legal guardian for minor children or choose an executor for your estate. It’s possible to make changes to your will after it’s written, including removing or adding an executor if necessary. If you’re wondering how to change the executor of a will after the fact, the process is easier than you might think. As you go about the process, it may behoove you to find a trusted financial advisor in your area for hands-on guidance. Read More...

Dec 28, 2020 A will is an important part of your financial plan. When you create a will and testament, you’re creating a legal document that determines how your assets will be distributed once you pass away. You can also use a will to name legal guardians for minor children. When making a will and testament, it’s important to follow the rules in your state to ensure the will is valid. One of those rules centers on the requirements for witnesses. For more guidance on the intricacies of wills and estate planning, consider enlisting the services of an expert financial advisor. Read More...

Dec 17, 2020 A fiduciary bond, otherwise known as a probate bond, is a protective court bond that ensures a fiduciary will honor the expectations placed on them according to the law. The fiduciary bond upholds the interests and protection of the estate or trust owner. To understand who needs a fiduciary bond, how it works and the costs involved, here's what you need to know. Read More...

Dec 17, 2020 A fiduciary deposit account is an account that's owned by one or more persons but managed by another. The owner is known as the principal, while the manager is known as the fiduciary. These accounts are sometimes used to handle estate or trust assets, among other purposes. Their legal status and their insurance coverage are determined by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Here's what you need to know about this type of account. Read More...

Sep 17, 2021 Inheriting property or other assets typically involves filing the appropriate tax forms with the IRS. Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) is used to report a beneficiary’s share of an estate, including income, credits, deductions and profits. Beneficiaries of an inheritance should receive a K-1 tax form inheritance statement for the 2021 tax year by the end of 2021. If you’re the beneficiary estate or trust, it’s important to understand what to do with this form and what it can mean for your tax filing. If you have questions about the specifics of your situation, consider working with a local financial advisor. Read More...

Dec 01, 2020 When someone passes away leaving debts behind, you might be wondering if you have any personal liability to pay them. If you have aging parents, for instance, you may be worried about having to assume responsibility for their mortgage payments, credit cards or other debts. If you’ve asked yourself, “Can I inherit debt?” the answer is typically no, even though those debts don’t automatically disappear. But there are situations in which you may have to deal with a loved one’s creditors after they’re gone. Read More...

Nov 23, 2020 Creating a will is one of the most basic elements of estate planning. There are different types of wills you can choose from, including a simple will. Simple or basic wills let you spell out how you want your assets to be distributed among your beneficiaries once you pass away. You can also use this kind of will to name an executor and choose a guardian for minor children. That can be a good starting point for shaping an estate plan, but there are times when you may need more than just a basic will. Read More...

Nov 20, 2020 A joint will is a will two people, typically spouses, create to handle the distribution of their assets once they pass away. Joint wills can simplify the will-making process to a degree, but they can sometimes result in mistakes or cause problems for the surviving spouse or will maker. It's also worth noting that not every state allows for joint wills. Before creating a will with someone else, it's important to understand how the process works and the pros and cons involved. Read More...

Nov 20, 2020 When planning a funeral for a loved one, or for yourself, cremation may be presented as an alternative to burial. In terms of the expense involved, the average cremation cost can range from $1,500 to as much as $6,000. The costs can vary based on who performs cremation services and whether they're accompanied by a traditional funeral service. While choosing cremation could potentially be less expensive than burial, it's important to understand how the costs break down. Read More...

Sep 13, 2021 A living trust is an estate planning vehicle that protects your assets against taxes and  probate after you die. There are multiple types of trusts, like marital, bypass, generation-skipping and more. You can generally assign beneficiaries and make adjustments, unless your trust is irrevocable. Depending on your personal situation, a living trust's cost will vary. A local financial advisor can help you develop a strong estate plan. Read More...

Nov 16, 2020 Planning a funeral can be an expensive prospect. The average funeral costs more than $7,000 and in many cases as much as $10,000 - or more, depending on the arrangements. Prepaid funeral plans offer a way to help manage those costs while easing the financial and emotional burden of planning a funeral for your loved ones. Whether it makes sense with your budget to purchase a prepaid funeral plan can depend on your wishes as well as your financial situation. There are different ways to preplan a funeral and it's important to consider what's involved in the process along with the cost. Read More...

Oct 30, 2020 Gifting stocks is something you might consider if you want to help someone else build a portfolio. Or you could gift shares of stock you own to a charitable organization. There are different ways to gift stocks and it's important to consider how doing so could affect you tax-wise. Depending on how the stocks are gifted, there may also be tax consequences for the person or organization you're giving the shares to. Read More...

Oct 23, 2020 Trusts can be useful in estate planning for passing on assets to your heirs. A grantor retained income trust (GRIT) is a specific type of trust that allows you to transfer assets while still benefiting from the income they generate. This is a little more advanced than a typical revocable living trust, but establishing a GRIT could yield some advantages. If you're looking for ways to minimize taxes in your estate plan, you may wish to consider a grantor retained income trust. Read More...

Oct 14, 2020 If you own a home, passing that property on to someone else -- whether it's a spouse, your children or someone else -- requires planning ahead. That's where a life estate comes in. A life estate is a legal way to own property with someone else and pass it on to them automatically when you die. Creating this type of ownership arrangement can help remove the property from the probate process. And a life estate can also be useful when planning for long-term care needs if you anticipate having to apply for Medicaid. If you want hands-on guidance navigating this process, consider matching with a financial advisor in your area. Read More...

Nov 04, 2019 Annuities can provide guaranteed income and be useful supplements to a traditional 401(k) plan or an individual retirement account. Some even have more than one beneficiary, since annuities can include a death benefit that allows payouts to continue for a family member. Since there are multiple options for annuity payouts, it's important to know how they work and how taxes apply. We'll cover the essential below, but consider engaging a financial advisor to maximize an inherited annuity's benefits. Read More...

Oct 16, 2019 Estate planning can be a complex process, and relying on a will can put your heirs through the time and expense of probate court. A living trust can help simplify things. This arrangement can hold your assets and property in a single place so they can be effectively distributed to your beneficiaries following your passing. As probate and inheritance laws differ from state to state, there are different factors to consider depending on where you live. In this guide, we explore the living trust process for Wyoming residents. The process for creating a living trust is difficult, and can often require the help of a professional. If you're looking to start a living trust in Wyoming, consider seeking out an estate planning attorney and financial advisor. Try using SmartAsset's free matching tool to get paired with advisors in your area that can help. Read More...

Oct 16, 2019 A living trust is a viable  estate planning tool for Rhode Island residents. Since they allow your families and loved ones to skip the time-consuming and expensive process of proving a will, creating one is a good idea for those with complicated estates. If you, in fact, decide that a living trust makes sense for you, it might be a good idea to talk it over with a financial advisor and an estate planning attorney. SmartAsset's free matching tool can pair you with a local financial advisor based on your personal needs. Read More...

Jan 08, 2020 No matter where you live, it's important to have a strong  estate plan in place. One popular estate planning tool is a living trust, which offers a secure way to store your assets and property so that they can be easily distributed to your beneficiaries after you die. As laws governing probate and inheritance vary from one state to another, the considerations that go into a living trust will depend on where you live. This article explores the living trust creation process for residents of North Dakota. It's a good idea to talk to an attorney and a financial advisor as you begin the estate-planning process. Try using SmartAsset's free matching tool to find an advisor in your area who can help you out. Read More...

Oct 15, 2019 If you’re beginning to formulate your  estate plans, the paths you can take are numerous. One method of protecting your assets for your family is to form a living trust. While a living trust has its pros and cons like anything else, it can be a great way to make things easier on your descendants after you're gone. As probate and inheritance laws vary from state to state, the considerations that come into play when creating a trust will depend on where you live. This article specifically looks at the considerations and process for Maine residents. If you’re thinking of creating a living trust or you just want some general financial planning help, getting a financial advisor is probably a good idea. You can find one who suits your needs using SmartAsset’s free advisor matching tool. Read More...

Oct 15, 2019 When  planning your estate, you have different tools at your disposal to protect your assets for your loved ones. One such tool is a living trust, which many estate-planning experts consider to be a more iron-clad strategy than writing a will. As probate and inheritance laws vary from state to state, the considerations that go into creating a living trust will differ depending on where you live. If you're considering creating a living trust in West Virginia, we'll walk you through what you need to know. Note that an attorney and a financial advisor can be valuable partners in the estate-planning process. SmartAsset can help you find a local advisor who suits your needs with our free advisor matching tool. Read More...

Oct 15, 2019 If you're thinking about your estate planning strategy, odds are you've heard about creating a living trust. A living trust can protect your assets and make life easier for your heirs. Residents of New Hampshire may particularly benefit from using a living trust, due to the way the the state handles residents' estates after they die. Whether you’re thinking about forming a living trust or you simply have some financial planning questions, it might be worth working with a financial professional. SmartAsset's free advisor matching tool can help you find an advisor in your area who suits your specific needs. Read More...

Jan 08, 2020 As you approach the  estate planning process, you have many tools at your disposal. One such tool is a living trust. By creating a living trust, you can protect your assets and property and save your family from having to go through probate following your death. The considerations surrounding the creation of a living trust depend in part on your state's laws. In this article, we'll explore how to create a living trust in Connecticut. Like any legal document, living trusts can be complex, so it might be helpful to work with an estate planning lawyer. A  financial advisor can work with your lawyer to ensure a living trust fits in with your overall financial plans. Read More...

Oct 03, 2019 A living trust can help you establish a solid estate plan and protect your assets after death. Every state has different estate and inheritance laws, but this guide will take a closer look at how to form a living trust in South Dakota and whether you need one. Whether it’s investing, retirement planning or estate planning, a financial advisor can help you meet your savings goals. If you’re having trouble finding one, SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool can help you find the best advisor for your financial situation. Read More...

Oct 03, 2019 Estate planning allows you to take steps to ensure your assets are protected after your death or incapacitation. After you’ve accounted for any remaining taxes or bills, you can distribute property and assets to friends, loved ones or charitable organizations. One of the most common estate plans is living trusts. Living trusts allow you to transfer control of your assets to a trustee, who then transfers ownership of those assets to any beneficiaries you’ve selected. This article will look further into living trusts in Pennsylvania and whether you need one. If you’d like expert advice with forming your estate plan, SmartAsset’s free financial matching service can pair you with up to three local advisors suitable to your needs. Read More...

Oct 02, 2019 Estate planning is one of the best ways to ensure your assets are protected after you’ve died. You’ll have a range of options for legally distributing your assets following death or incapacitation, but one of the ways to do so is by opening a living trust. This article will explore the process of forming a living trust in Kansas, with a closer look at why you may or may not want to use one. If you’re new to estate planning and would like expert advice, a financial advisor could greatly simplify the process. SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool pairs you with up to three local advisors within five minutes.  Read More...

Oct 02, 2019 Leaving money behind for an heir can be nerve-racking, especially if they're new to managing money or have trouble controlling their spending. An estate planning tool that can help you in this situation is a spendthrift trust, which affords a trustee the power to determine how their beneficiary can use inherited funds. If used correctly, this type of trust will allow your assets to last so they can provide for your loved ones for decades. Trusts are complicated legal instruments, so it's usually a good idea to work with an estate planning attorney to create one. You should also consider working with a financial advisor who can build a holistic financial plan and help you find an attorney to handle the estate planning elements of the plan.  Read More...

Oct 02, 2019 Estate planning is the part of financial planning that allows you to protect your assets after your death. You’ll have access to a range of options to ensure your assets are legally distributed to your desired heirs, but one of the best ways to do so is through a living trust. With a living trust you’ll be able to control how your assets are managed and distributed of as soon as you create it, not after you die. This article will take a closer look at the process of forming a living trust in Alaska and whether it’s right for you. If you’d like professional assistance in your estate planning process, you may want to consider hiring a financial advisor. SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service pairs you with up to three local advisors within five minutes. Read More...

Oct 02, 2019 If you're working on your estate plans, you may come across living trusts as a way to protect your assets so you can safely leave them for family and friends. The primary benefit of using a living trust instead of a will is that they can allow you to bypass the probate process. As probate rules differ considerably from state to state, though, the importance of avoiding probate will depend on where you live. This guide will walk Utah residents through the decision-making process; show the basics of creating a trust; and discuss related factors like taxes and other costs. Should you decide to move forward with a living trust, it would be wise to get an estate planning lawyer. It's also a good idea to work with a  financial advisor who can put together a financial plan and work with your attorney to incorporate your estate plan. Read More...

Oct 02, 2019 A living trust is an  estate planning tool that can simplify the passing on of your assets to your family. Each state tends to have its own rules as to how you can set up your own living trust as a resident. So if you live in Virginia, our detailed guide will go over whether or not a living trust is right for your situation, how you can create one and the costs and taxes associated with doing so. While it's possible to set up a living trust and plan your estate yourself, it's a good idea to work with an estate planning attorney and a financial advisor to get your finances and affairs in order. Read More...

Oct 01, 2019 Estate planning can take a lot of energy, and there are many options to consider when coming up with your directions for what will happen to your money and possessions after you’ve died. One option you have for making sure your assets are protected and your family cared for is to use a living trust. This article has information for anyone thinking of forming a living trust in Colorado, including a step-by-step guide to the process and a look at whether or not a living trust is a good choice for your situation. If you are just starting to go through your estate planning process, consider getting a financial advisor to help. SmartAsset has a free financial advisor matching service that can help you find the right financial advisor. We also have a list of the best financial advisors in Colorado. Read More...

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