Estate Planning

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...
January 22, 2015   Estate Planning

Digital Assets: Why They Need to Be Part of Your Estate Plan

By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Education, WealthCounselWhat’s going to happen to your Facebook account when you die? Or all the songs you’ve downloaded from iTunes? As digital assets become more common for all of us, it’s important to incorporate them into estate plans. Unfortunately, as was recently explored in a Denver Business Journal article featuring WealthCounsel, that’s not always easy to do. According to a 2013 McAfee study, the average person has roughly $35,000 worth of assets stored on digital devices. That value includes purchased movies, books, music and games as well as personal memories, communications, personal records, hobbies and career information. Of those surveyed by the study, 55 percent said they store assets that wou...
January 22, 2015   Estate Planning

State of the Union Proposals Could Impact Your Estate Plan

By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Education, WealthCounselIn his 2015 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama proposed a major change to the tax treatment of inherited assets that could impact many estate plans. Under the president’s plan, the step-up basis rule for capital gains—pejoratively referred to as the “trust fund loophole”—would end. Currently, capital gains taxes owed on assets held at death essentially disappear. For example, assume you buy stock worth $100. The stock does great and grows to $1 million by the time of your death. Under current law, all of that capital gain – that is, $999,900 of gain – is eliminated and not taxed when your heirs sell the stock after your death. According to the Cong...
December 9, 2014   Estate Planning

Single? Estate planning is still essential

By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Education, WealthCounsel These days, more people are living single than ever before. In 1970, just about one- third of Americans 15 and older were single, according to U.S. census data. Today, that number’s closer to 50 percent. Whether never married, divorced or widowed, singles need to pay just as much attention to their estate planning as married folks, as highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article. Single people face unique estate planning issues that require advanced planning, time and the help of an experienced professional. Some of the most complicated estate planning issues for singles include: Heirs: When married people die without a will, their assets typically pass to their spouse. But what about single people? As...
November 13, 2014   Estate Planning

Blended Families: The Estate Planning Questions You Need to Ask

Divorced, remarried or widowed? Your estate plan needs extra attention.  By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Education, WealthCounsel   Chances are, you or someone you know is part of a blended family. Once uncommon, fully 42 percent of adults now have some kind of step-relationship, according to Pew Research. That’s 95.5 million people.   For the millions of divorced, widowed, and remarried Americans out there, estate planning is extra tricky. In a blended family situation, there are more opportunities to get it wrong, and the stakes—ensuring your assets are distributed to a current spouse and not an ex, or that your children and stepchildren are treated according to your wishes—are often higher.   Additionally, spouses—current, forme...
October 17, 2014   Estate Planning

Estate Planning Awareness Week: Does Your Plan Need a Check-Up?

This 8-point checklist can help determine whether your estate plan needs help. National Estate Planning Awareness Week takes place this month (Oct. 20-26) and will highlight the fact that more than 120 million Americans do not have proper estate plans in place.   An estate plan, properly executed, can protect you as well as your family in the event of sickness, accidents or untimely death. With just a little advanced planning, you can help your family avoid wasted dollars and unnecessary hardship.   Even if you have an estate plan in place, it should be reviewed on a regular basis. Congress, state legislatures and the courts are constantly changing the estate-planning rulebook. In fact, there have been several major estate and income tax law changes in recent years. Depending on...
October 16, 2014   Estate Planning

Same-sex marriage and estate planning: What all couples need to know

Here’s how same-sex spouses can properly leverage the benefits of legal marriage. By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Educational Content, WealthCounsel The Supreme Court recently refused to hear appeals from states whose same-sex marriage bans had been struck down by the U.S. Circuit Courts. As a result, same-sex marriage is now legal in several states where it had previously been banned, either by state statute or by state constitutional amendment. (There are some exceptions. Idaho, for example, has a last-minute appeal pending.) When it comes to estate planning, what does this mean? Essentially, same-sex couples now have legal rights they previously lacked, and in some cases, they’ll need to take steps to properly leverage those rights. Here are just a few exam...
July 8, 2014   Estate Planning

Why We Procrastinate about Estate Planning

By Vickie Schumacher
Unfortunately, a lot of people haven’t participated in any meaningful estate planning. Most will readily admit it is something they need to do, but they keep putting it off. Why? Here are some of the more common reasons why we procrastinate about estate planning—and some information that just might get you moving.  It’s expensive. Granted, a lot of people don’t have extra money lying around these days. But not doing anything can end up costing your loved ones much more than it would cost you to plan now. If you own assets in your name and you become incapacitated due to illness or injury, you (your assets and your care) will likely be placed in a court guardianship. This is not free. All costs (attorney fees, accounting fees, court costs, etc.) will be paid fro...
July 1, 2014   Estate Planning

Common Misconceptions About Estate Planning

By Vickie Schumacher
Many people have some wrong ideas about estate planning. And that’s understandable if you get your information from sources that, while well intentioned, may be simply repeating hearsay. These sources can include friends, neighbors, relatives, television, magazines, newspapers and, yes, even the internet. (I read it on the internet so it must be true, right?)   Let’s look at some of these misconceptions and set the record straight.   1. I have a will so my family will avoid probate when I die. Actually, a will only works if your property goes through probate after you die.  Probate is the legal process through which the court makes sure that after your death your debts are paid, that your will is legally valid, and then that your assets are distributed accor...
May 29, 2014   Estate Planning

Estate Planning is a Woman’s Issue, Part Two: Married, Single and Charitably Inclined

Women have special estate-planning needs. In Part One we explained that, because women typically live longer than men, they need to plan for the possibility of incapacity in their later years. We also discussed that women as caregivers need to plan for the continued care of those who may be dependent upon them.   In Part Two, we will look at estate planning through the eyes of married and single women.  We will also look at why estate planning is essential for women who are charitably inclined.   Married Women. Not only do women live longer, but they also tend to choose husbands who are older. This means they are likely to become widowed and live on their own for a number of years. Without proper estate planning many married women will see their standard of living reduced du...
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