estate planning

June 26, 2015   Retirement Planning,   Trusts,   Estate Planning

Money Advice for Same-Sex Couples After the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges Ruling

By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Education, WealthCounsel
Today’s Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states — Obergefell v. Hodges — has major financial implications for LGBT couples. The Court held that same-sex married couples are entitled to equal protection under the laws and that their marriages must be recognized nationwide. Here are the most significant impacts for same-sex married couples.The ability to file taxes jointly as a married couple (typically, the more a couple’s incomes differ from each other, the more they gain by filing jointly)The married couple’s state estate tax exemption (where applicable)The ability to access Social Security spousal and survivor benefits no matter where they live when they file (a recent analysis by Financial Engines estimated that...
February 18, 2015   Estate Planning

Three Estate Planning Items Everyone Needs

Three Estate Planning Items Everyone NeedsBy Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Education, WealthCounselMany people mistakenly believe that estate planning is only necessary for the wealthy. In reality, a basic estate plan is essential for everyone, regardless of income or net worth, because we all want to minimize confusion, unnecessary costs, and stress for loved ones after a death.As discussed in a recent Yahoo! Finance article featuring WealthCounsel, estate planning can be a difficult topic for many families to address, but it’s a necessary one. Without proper preparation and documentation, assets—like houses, retirement plans and savings accounts—can end up in limbo for years, sometimes requiring expensive legal assistance to straighten matters out.At a min...
March 5, 2012   Disability & Illness

An Introduction to Planning for Long Term Care

Long term care is the kind of care you need if you are not able to perform normal daily activities (such as eating, dressing, bathing, and toileting) without help, and it is expected that you will need this help for an extended period of time, often for the rest of your life.This kind of care is often needed due to aging, chronic illness or injury, and most of us will need it for at least some time before we die. But it is not just for the elderly; a good number of younger, working-age adults are currently receiving long term care due to accident, illness or injury.Long term care can be provided in your home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. All can become very expensive.Home health care can easily run over $20,000 per year. That's at $16 per hour, for just 25 hour...
February 29, 2012   Estate Administration

When Is It Time to Service Your Estate Plan

If you own a car, then you know it requires regular servicing in order to perform well and be reliable. More than likely, your car came with a recommended schedule for service, based on how many miles it has been driven; after a certain number of miles, you need to change the oil, replace the brake pads, rotate the tires, and so on.If you have a newer car, you probably have an irritating dash light that comes on when it's time for service and stays on until the mechanic resets it. Either way, whether you pay attention to the odometer or rely on that dash light, it's pretty easy to know when it's time to service your car. And if you keep driving it without servicing it, it's a sure bet your car will let you down.Like your car, your estate plan needs "servicing" if...
February 15, 2012   Estate Planning

Got Stuff? You Need An Estate Plan!

George Carlin would have been a great pitchman for estate planning. You may remember his stand-up routine on "stuff." We all have stuff, and we're pretty particular about our stuff. We move it around with us, it's hard for some of us to get rid of it, and some of us don't like our stuff mixed up with other people's stuff.During your lifetime, you collect a lot of stuff, some of it valuable and some of it not. But because it's your stuff, it means something to you. You already know you can't take it with you when you die, so there has to be some way of distributing your stuff to other people who are still living. Normally, you want your stuff to go to people you care about…usually your family and special friends, sometimes a worthwhile cause. And you...
January 29, 2012   Estate Planning

When Is The Best Time To Plan Your Estate?

Most people start thinking about planning their estates when they reach retirement age.After all, the "normal" progression of life is to get out of school, get a job, get married, have kids, get your kids through college, retire, become grandparents, enjoy life…and then, after a long and fulfilling life, we know that we will eventually die.But we all know that real life rarely happens this way. People have children and don't get married, people get divorced, they marry more than once, they may never marry or have a family. Real life is full of options, choices, and twists of fate.Dying, of course, is not an option. Nor do most of us choose how or when it will happen to us. Every time we leave our homes and get in our cars, we are at risk of being in a fatal car acciden...
January 5, 2012   Estate Planning

Statutory Right to Name a Guardian

By Martha Hartney, J.D.
Every state provides a statutory right for parents to name a guardian. When parents don’t name a guardian, and tragedy strikes, it becomes the judge’s job to decide who will raise a child. If parents haven’t named a successor, a court will appoint a guardian, without the knowledge parents have of their children and potential guardians. That someone may not be the person parents choose.   When working with international families, the need for good planning is amplified. What will you, as their adviser, suggest?   Rights of Non-Citizen Parents   A basic principle when serving families is that parents have a constitutional, fundamental right to the care, custody, and control of the...
October 17, 2011   Estate Planning

The Debt Ceiling Debate and the Estate Tax, Pets, Guns, and Alimony.

. . .What Could They Possibly Have in Common? Actually, they do have something very important in common: your estate plan.We will look at what the recent debt ceiling debate can tell us about the estate tax. Then we will look at several specialized trusts designed to solve particular estate planning problems, including trusts for pets, registered firearms and alimony.What the Debt Ceiling Debate Can Tell Us about the Estate Tax The recent debt ceiling debate showed us a lot about how Congress works. There is public posturing and blaming, to be sure, but there is also negotiation behind closed doors that we do not see. There are a variety of elements that are constantly shifting and being discussed until things finally do come together, but there is not a deal until the last piece falls int...
October 11, 2011   Estate Planning

Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)

By Kevin D. Quinn, J.D.
U.S. taxpayers are experiencing a “perfect storm” of opportunity to make tax free wealth transfers. The gift tax was first enacted in 1932. Over the coming months, Americans have what may be the best opportunity since 1932 to transfer huge amounts of wealth without transfer tax. This is almost certainly a short term, “use it or lose it,” opportunity. Several key elements have transpired to create this perfect short term opportunity. A recent regulatory change allows for the transfer of up to $5 million per individual and $10 million per couple without Federal gift tax.Asset values, particularly for real estate, are still artifi­cially depressed.Certain widely accepted leveraging techniques used by experienced planners allow sophisticated wealth holders...
July 14, 2011   Estate Planning

Revocable Living Trusts: Not Just for the Rich

By Martha J. Hartney, Esq.
“They’re too young to have a trust.”   “They don’t own enough for a trust.”   Some attorneys have even said that recommending a trust-based plan for young families is tantamount to malpractice. I’m certain that not only is it not malpractice to recommend a trust for some families, it’s potentially malpractice not to.   Many practitioners believe young families with kids don’t need trust-based planning. It’s more accurate to say they don’t believe they can afford it.   But nothing could be farther from the truth. Families with children at home and any assets at all cannot afford not to plan properly. Here’s an example:   A (Non-Fiction) Story Seventeen years ago, my cousin, a young mother, beca...
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