Estate Planning

August 18, 2015   Estate Planning

3 Succession Solutions for Family Farms

By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Education, WealthCounsel
Splitting up a family farm is hardly a simple process.Farm families must not only determine how to sustain farm operations in later generations but also how to divide the estate equitably among children. This gets particularly tricky when some kids are working the farm and others are not.However, building out a detailed succession and estate plan for the family farm is essential. Families that fail to do so put both family harmony and their most valuable asset at risk. According to the USDA, the average value of assets for larger family farms was about $4.5 million in 2014. How can a family pass the farming business—and access to the land and equipment necessary to run it—to a farming heir without neglecting non-farming family members? Fortunately, there are several ways t...
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...
June 2, 2015   Estate Planning

Same-Sex Couples: Three Estate Planning Steps to Take Now

The Supreme Court will rule on same-sex marriage this month, but couples will continue to face legal hurdles. The Supreme Court could legalize same-sex marriage nationwide this month, but no matter what the ruling, same-sex couples will still face a confusing hodgepodge of laws and rights at the state level. As such, estate planning should be an immediate priority for all same-sex couples. In order to ensure that assets are distributed according to plan should one spouse become disabled or die, couples should take the following steps: Put it in writing. If a couple doesn’t legally document their wishes, then the default rules of the state apply. For example, when someone dies without a will, the state will divide assets among spouses or children according to pre-set pe...
June 2, 2015   Estate Planning

Don’t Let Divorce Derail Your Retirement Plans

Divorce is never easy, but the divorce of a long-married couple can be especially hard, particularly when it comes to retirement and estate plans. Assets, including retirement accounts, can be hard to divide, and the presence of children—and possibly grandchildren—can require the wholesale revision of existing estate plans. If you’re divorcing or moving on to a second marriage, it’s important to work toward the fair and accurate division of assets, including retirement funds, so you don’t wind up facing a shortfall later in life. You’ll also need to update estate plans to make sure your wishes—no matter what your marital status—will be honored when you pass. These four steps are key: 1. Know what’s yours. Marriage takes s...
April 6, 2015   Estate Planning

How to Protect Yourself From Lawsuits

These strategies can help keep your assets safe if you wind up in court. By Matthew T. McClintock, J.D. Vice President, Education, WealthCounselThese days, lawsuits can happen to anyone, at anytime. In the United States alone, roughly 15 million civil cases are filed each year.For those who work in fields where lawsuits are common—doctors, lawyers, architects, business owners—getting sued seems inevitable. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 99 percent of physicians in high-risk specialties will deal with at least one malpractice suit before retirement age.Fortunately, asset protection tools can be used to shield your property and possessions—your financial accounts as well as your home and business—from future litigation and wou...
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...
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