Estate Administration

August 12, 2013   Estate Administration

What Exactly Happens to an Estate After a Person Dies?

Estate administration is the process that occurs after a person dies. During this process, a person’s probate assets are collected, his or her creditors are paid, and then the remaining assets are distributed to his or her beneficiaries in accordance with his or her will. Probate assets are all assets that the decedent owned, in his or her name alone, when he or she died. If a person left a will, the will determines the distribution of those assets.   In order to determine who the decedent selected to administer his or her estate, locate the decedent’s will. The person named as the administrator must file the will with the court and petition to open the process of probate. When the administrator’s petition is granted, the process of probate officially begins.  ...
July 1, 2013   Estate Administration

What Will Your Paper Trail Say About You?

By Wendi Temkin
As with many people of their generation, my Great-Uncle Marcus managed the family finances, thinking he was doing my Aunt Bobbie a favor by leaving her out of this chore entirely.  When he died last year, she was left with the problem of having to reconstruct their financial lives based on random pieces of paper stuffed in drawers, buried beneath 40 years’ worth of miscellany.   While it took weeks to try to figure this all out, imagine how much harder it would have been if there had been no paper trail at all for some of their accounts.  How much of your life is lived on-line?  Do you have bills that you pay automatically, based on emailed invoices and on-line payments directly out of your checking account? Are your paychecks automatically deposited into your che...
November 12, 2012   Estate Administration

The Best Estate Plan is No Match for Unprepared Heirs

By Nancy L. Powers, Esq.
Over the course of my career, I have encountered many families who were unprepared for the inevitable aging and loss of parents.   These families experienced unexpected rivalries that threatened to  cripple or destroy the very family unity and wealth that the parents and their estate planning attorney hoped to protect.   Well-drafted estate plan documents are designed to reflect clients’ instructions for passing their legacies to the right beneficiaries and providing for care of  clients and their families.  However, the best estate plan is no substitute for preparing heirs to deal with:  changing care needs of aging parents and other family members, the complexities of estate and trust administration, and how to avoid elder financial abus...
May 25, 2012   Estate Administration

Why You Should Name a Retirement Trust as Beneficiary (For IRAs and Other Tax-Deferred Retirement Accounts)

IRAs and other tax-deferred retirement accounts allow your savings to grow tax-free until you retire. At that point, typically the year after you become age 70 ½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions, on which you pay ordinary income taxes. The rest of the money in your account continues to grow tax-free until it is distributed to you. If you die before depleting your account, the balance of your account will go to the beneficiary you have named.Naming the right beneficiary is critical. Most people want to continue the tax-deferred growth for as long as possible, paying the least amount in income taxes. This is called “stretching out” the account. Distributions after you die will be based on the new beneficiary’s age and life expectancy, so the youn...
May 15, 2012   Estate Administration

Can You Trust Your Trust? Why an Online Will or Trust Could Be the Dumbest Mistake You Ever Make

By David Hiersekorn, J.D.
In this article, WealthCounsel member David Hiersekorn discusses the hidden dangers of consumers using online legal forms, often referred to as “do it yourself (DIY) wills and trusts.” Hiersekorn notes at the end of his article that “You only get to use an estate plan once. If you screw it up, you’ll never know, but your family will.” Online legal document services offer an enticing bargain. Most people realize that they need an estate plan to manage their affairs if something happens to them. And, let’s face it, estate planning attorneys are expensive. That’s why many consumers are now questioning whether it’s possible to skip the attorney fees and use a low-cost website to prepare estate planning documents. The short answer is that, yes,...
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 23, 2012   Estate Administration

Could a Corporate Trustee Help You?

If you can relate to any of these situations, you could probably benefit from the services of a corporate trustee:Building Wealth with Professional Asset ManagementMy spouse took care of all our investments. Since he (she) died, I don’t know what to do or whom to trust.I don’t know where I should invest my money. I’m so confused by everything I read.I just received a large inheritance. I’ve never had to invest this much money before.I travel a lot now (business or pleasure) and I don’t have time to manage my investments like I used to.I recently sold my business (or other assets). Now I just need to figure out how to invest my money.I just received a large settlement from a lawsuit, divorce, etc.Wealth Protection with Retirement/Estate PlanningI’m retiri...
January 14, 2012   Estate Administration

The Perfect Gift for the New Adult in Your Family

What are you planning to give your teenager when he or she legally becomes an adult? A car? A deposit for an apartment? A trip to Europe?Those are all fine gifts, depending on how much you can afford to spend. But here's one you may not have thought of...and it won't cost you a bundle.Take your son or daughter to your attorney's office and have them prepare a trio of documents: a simple trust or will, a durable power of attorney, and a medical power of attorney.Actually, it's a gift for both of you, because once your child reaches legal age, you will no longer be able to automatically make medical and legal decisions for him or her without the appropriate legal documents authorizing you to do so.If your son becomes ill or injured and cannot handle his own financial affairs,...
January 3, 2012   Estate Administration

Should You Convert to a Roth IRA?

Previously, if your adjusted gross income was $100,000 or more, you did not qualify to convert your tax-deferred savings to a Roth IRA. But this income restriction has been eliminated, so everyone is now eligible to convert to a Roth IRA.You can roll over amounts from your traditional IRA and from eligible retirement plans, which include qualified pension, profit sharing or stock bonus plans such as 401(k)s; annuity plans, tax-sheltered annuity plans; and deferred compensation plans of a state or local government. You do not have to roll these into a traditional IRA first.Of course, you will have to pay income taxes on the amount you convert; it will be included in that year's income. But when you consider the benefits below it may be worth it. BENEFITS OF A ROTH IRAUnlike a tradi...
January 1, 2012   Estate Administration

What's Happening in Estate Planning

On December 17, 2010 President Obama signed into law the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.This legislation had some surprises for those who had been following the process. In addition to extending unemployment benefits, current income tax rates (the Bush tax cuts) were extended for all taxpayers for two years, and the estate tax was also extended for two years -- with a $5 million exemption and 35% tax rate.Here are the highlights of this law and how these changes can affect your estate planning through 2012.Estate Tax Exemption and Tax RateYour estate will have to pay federal estate taxes if its net value when you die is more than the exempt amount in effect at that time. For 2011 and 2012, the individual exemption is $5 million (adjusted fo...
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