Peter and Gail were nearing retirement. Over the years, with the help of their financial advisor, they made solid investments in securities and built a sizable portfolio. While their investments increased substantially in value, their potential capital gains tax bill was rising. Now with retirement on the horizon, they were looking for a way to sell their highly appreciated stock, generate income for their future and avoid paying high capital gains tax. Continue reading
IRAs are one the trickiest assets for estate planning attorneys to handle for many reasons. First, they often are overlooked in the estate planning process because they cannot be transferred during lifetime. This asset, like some other assets, are controlled by beneficiary designation. While the client might remember a large IRA, they often forget smaller IRAs. As a result, beneficiary designations often are left unchanged even when circumstances have changed, making those designations no longer appropriate. Continue reading
What will happen to my money and possessions if I die without a will?
If you die without a will, what happens to your assets will be determined by the state in which you reside. Every state has intestacy laws in place that parcel out property and assets to a deceased person’s closest relatives when there’s no will or trust. Keep in mind these laws vary from state to state. A good resource to help you find out how your state works is About.com’s Wills and Estate Planning site, which provides a state-by-state breakdown of how your estate would be distributed if you die without a will. See StateIntestacyLaws.com for a direct link to this page. In the meantime, here is a general (not state specific) breakdown of what can happen to a person’s assets, depending on whom they leave behind. Continue reading
Most families purchase their largest personal residence in their mid-forties. Families with children often need the additional space. Other families think they want to purchase a home that they can enjoy for many years. By the time you reach retirement age, you probably have an empty nest. The children or other family members have now moved on and are creating their own homes. Some individuals at that point decide they like their home in their neighborhood and would like to stay there for their lifetime. Others might want to sell the larger property and move to a condo or retirement community. Continue reading
Trusts can be quite useful for protecting children. However, for some children, the trust serves an additional function: It protects the principal from being rapidly spent by a child. These trusts have a specific name—they are called “spendthrift” trusts. Marla was visiting with her attorney Elizabeth shortly after her husband Harry passed away. She shared her concern for her youngest child, Joe. Marla: “Harry and I were very fortunate to have four great children. I love each one of them very much. However, when it comes time to making decisions about inheritance, I have a big problem. Our older children Sam and Linda are quite good with financial matters. The third child Lynn is average, but our youngest son Joe is very carefree. If Joe has money, it is gone in a flash. What can I do?” Elizabeth: “This is a fairly common situation. Many parents would like to treat their children equally, but some children are very good managers and one or two are not. In your case, we hope that Joe eventually learns to become more responsible. But for the present plan, it makes good sense to provide Joe with spendthrift trust provisions.” Continue reading