Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

There are many decisions that we may need to make in life but perhaps one of the more important of those decisions involves our estate planning. In essence, we are making the decision as to what is going to take place when we are no longer able to care for our own finances. Making the right decisions can certainly go a long way in helping your wishes to be fulfilled. Unfortunately, there are also a number of mistakes that are commonly made throughout the estate planning process. Here are a few to avoid.

1. Assuming You Really Don’t Need an Estate Plan: Estate planning seems to be something that would only be beneficial to the wealthy, but that simply is not true. As a matter of fact, anybody who wants to make decisions as to what is going to take place with their finances or even with other factors when they are no longer able to care for themselves would benefit from this type of planning. This would include end-of-life healthcare decisions, what happens to the children and even how your private affairs are handled at that time.

2. Putting Things off for Too Long: One of the biggest mistakes that many people make with any type of estate planning is putting things off, sometimes until it is too late. Admittedly, it can be stressful to talk about a time when you won’t be able to care for yourself but it is an inevitability that all of us must face.

Consider the fact that your family and others who would be part of the estate plan would be embroiled in a legal battle at that time rather than being able to grieve and overcome the loss that they just experienced. Be sure that you include estate planning early in your life and ensure that the appropriate people have a copy.

3. Thinking Your Estate Is Too Simple: Have you ever thought that an estate plan is not for you because your finances are relatively simple? A formal document is always going to be beneficial and an estate plan simply gives you more control in comparison to a last will and testament. Regardless of your situation, it is always worthwhile to look into the benefits of estate planning. You may just find that it is the best choice you could ever make.

Knowing these any other mistakes that are common to the estate planning process can help you to avoid them when going through the process as well.

The Difference Between Equitable And Equal Inheritance

When planning their estate, many people believe the best course of action is to divide their assets equally among their adult children. However, there are times when this is not the best solution or the most practical solution. It is at these times that you need to know the differences between equal and equitable inheritance.

What Is Equal Inheritance?

Equal inheritance is when each of your adult children receives an equal share of your estate. Of course, this will only happen when both of their parents have passed on. This option is the best solution for families that have children where the needs of each child are the same or you have provided similar support to the children. Each of the children must also be finically responsible and emotionally capable of handling their inheritance.

It is important to note that when you have real estate and other physical assets, you will need to determine the value of each asset to ensure that all children receive an equal amount. One of the primary benefits of an equal inheritance is that it will help avoid any disputes. These disputes can be costly to your children and take an emotional toll on them.

What Is Equitable Inheritance?

There are times when an equal inheritance is not the best solution. These cases could be when one child has taken on the role of caregiver to an aging parent or to compensate them for any lost wages and time. Equitable inheritance can be used when the amount of support given to the children by the parents during their life is different. This support could be for a wedding, a down payment on a house or educational expenses.

Equitable inheritance should also be used when you have a child with disabilities or special needs. These children will need more financial help in the future in regards to their living and medical expenses. However, it is important to place these funds in a special needs trust to ensure that they do not have direct access to the funds.

Equal and equitable inheritance are two different solutions that you need to consider when planning your estate. Equal inheritance ensures that all of your children receive an equal share of your estate. Equitable inheritance will provide certain children with more than the others based on a number of factors such as the amount of support provided while the parent was alive and if they have any special needs.

Estate Planning And Retirement Accounts

Most people have some sort of retirement account, whether it is a pension or a 401(k). These accounts must be considered during the estate planning process so they can pass smoothly to your beneficiaries. It is also important to keep in mind that your beneficiaries are going to have to pay income tax on the proceeds of your retirement accounts if you withdraw any of the money.

If the estate is very large, you might also have to pay estate taxes on retirement accounts. Interestingly, retirement accounts are some of the most heavily taxed accounts and you need to keep this in mind when you are planning your estate. If the retirement account is large and ends up being taxed at the full amount, you could end up paying as much as 70 percent of the worth of the account in taxes. This is why you need a good retirement planner who can help get this figure down.

The key is to not make withdrawals to the retirement accounts and let them grow for as long as possible. The interest will keep growing on the accounts and you won’t have to pay any taxes as long as you don’t withdraw any of the money. A good estate planner is going to know all the ways to save you money and make the most of your retirement accounts.

The key to estate planning and retirement accounts is to defer having to pay any taxes on the retirement income by postponing withdrawals. The longer you can postpone withdrawals the better. The money will continue to grow and you will end up with the account being worth more. As you near your retirement age you can start making withdrawals on the accounts.

Careful retirement planning is essential if you want to make the most of your money and save everything you can for your beneficiaries. A good estate planner will work with you to develop a plan that is going to minimize taxes and make the most of your money so your family gets the most money possible.

When you are dealing with retirement accounts, you have to keep in mind that they are treated much differently than real estate and other assets. Retirement accounts can be hit by huge taxes that can eat away huge chunks of your accounts. Make sure that you consult with an estate planner if you have substantial retirement accounts.

A Guide To Advanced Health Care Directives

In summary, an advanced health care directive is a type of living will. It allows you to provide written instructions on the medical treatments you wish to use when facing illness or ailments at the end of your life. When forming an advanced health care directive, there are several factors that need to be taken into account, such as the parties involved in the drafting of the directive and the legitimacy of the will. This article will provide information on what an advanced health care directive is and how to create one.

Who Is Involved?

Before any living wills are drafted, it is necessary to have two medical physicians involved. The physicians are required to certify specific criteria including your ability to make medical decisions, your medical condition in the state’s living will law, and other issues dependent on the state.

A medical power of attorney will also be required to allow you to appoint an individual as your healthcare agent or surrogate medical decision maker. This agent will be authorized to make any medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions. Before the power of attorney can be put into place, an individual’s physician must report that the person is unable to make a sound medical decision.

What Else Needs To Be Considered?

It is important to note that advanced health care directives are legally valid throughout the USA. This is beneficial because the directive or living will become legal in any state as soon as the application is completed regardless of the presentation of a lawyer or witness. Of course, laws do differ according to the state, and you need to comply with the state law for the directive to be effective.

If the advanced health care directive is completed according to one state’s law, it may not be valid in another state. In fact, some states do not accept living wills from other states – also known as out-of-state advanced health care directives. To resolve this issue, it is recommended that you complete advanced directive applications for all the states you spend significant amounts of time in. This will prepare you for any problems that could occur and have a directive in all the potential states.

Advanced health care directives do not expire and will remain in effect until changed by the primary party – that would be you. If you opt to draft a new advanced health care directive, it will immediately invalidate the previous directive. It is recommended that you review the will periodically to ensure it reflects your medical wishes and edit it accordingly.

Final Words

Many people do not consider the issue of medical treatment later in life, so the advanced health care directive is not always seen as an important document. The fact is that it is an important document and should be considered by all people to ensure they have the correct treatment later in life.

What Exactly Is Business Succession Planning?

If you have a small business, and you would like it to perpetuate in the event of your death, or if you retire, it is important to create a business succession plan. As the name would suggest, it is a document that is designed to ensure that your business will continue to function in your absence. Many people do this because they have family members that are going to take over the business legally from them if they decide to retire, or if they die. Here are the benefits of creating a business succession plan, legal documents that will make sure that family members will be able to take over for you in the event of your death or retirement.

How Does A Business Succession Plan Work?

This type of plan is designed to appoint an assistant, or a family member, that will replace you as the owner. As with any type of asset after death, without the proper paperwork to designate who gets the asset, it can become a substantial legal and social problem. By not designating a particular person to take over, this could involve years of litigation between family members or business partners that believe they should be the one to own and operate the business. You can work with a lawyer that can prepare all of the documentation for you so that, after you leave, the proper person will be in your place.

Components Of The Business Succession Planning

The components of this plan will evaluate the type of business that you have, how much it is worth, and the current stock valuation of the company if any. It will then state specifically who will take over, and if that person is not available, who the alternates will be in subsequent order. Once this is drawn up, and you are agreeable to the wording, you can sign this and it will be officially filed. By doing so, you can make sure that your business will continue long after you are gone, operated by someone that you have chosen.

This is a very important document to have if you are getting older, and you need to make sure certain family members or friends are the ones that will take over for you. People typically leave this to their sons or daughters, although it could be a partner that they are working with. Either way, once the documentation has been filed, the possibility of litigating decisions that people do not like will be null and void. It will ensure that your wishes for your business to continue, and that it will be headed by the person of your choice, will come to pass after you are no longer part of that company.

The Basics Of Estate Planning For Families With Special Needs Children

Every time you have a child, you should change your estate plan. However, if you have any children with special needs you need to ensure that you craft a plan with the special needs in mind. Understanding the basics of estate planning for children with special needs, you will ensure that your child is looked after when you are gone.

Using A Special Needs Trust

If you have a child with special needs, you have to employ the right tools when planning your estate. One of the most commonly used tools is a Special Needs Trust. This type of trust has been specially developed with children and adults with special needs in mind. The trust aims at meeting your child’s financial needs while ensuring that they are able to remain eligible for government assistance and health care.

As the funds will be held in a trust, your child will not be able to directly access them. This will also ensure that the funds do not count as an asset or income which is considered when determining eligibility for certain benefits. The trustee of the trust will use the funds to meet the needs of your child as they grow older.

Choosing A Guardian

When planning your estate, you will need to carefully consider who will be designated as the guardian of your child. This person will generally be in charge of the funds that you have left for your child and will need to have their best interests in mind. They should also be someone who is able to handle their special needs.

Before you name a guardian in your estate planning, you need to discuss this with the potential guardians. This will help them understand their responsibilities and help you ensure that your child will have adequate assistance in their new living situation.

Document Instructions And Assistance

As part of your estate planning, you should document any special care instructions for your child. This will include their medications as well as the mental and physical care directions people should know. You should also consider making a video of any assistance that your child needs as this could be a great benefit to any potential guardian.

Estate planning for families with special needs children is different to standard estate planning. The use of a trust can make this more complicated which is why it is recommended that you hire an attorney to help you.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

What You Need To Know About Medicaid Planning

Medicaid was designed to help low-income people with few assets pay for their health care. While Medicare pays for many medical expenses when you are over 65, it won’t pay for nursing home care which can be prohibitively expensive. If you own any large assets, like a house, you won’t be able to qualify for Medicaid to help pay your expenses. With Medicaid planning, you can divest your assets so you can qualify for this government help.

When you need long-term care, your money won’t last long, even if you are a millionaire. You could easily spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on medical care and your money would be gone fast. Paying for long-term care is just about impossible if you aren’t a multi-millionaire.

If you think you might need Medicaid and you own a house, you might want to gift or transfer the house to your beneficiary early. This will reduce your assets and make your income low enough to qualify for Medicaid help. In most cases, you can only have a few thousand dollars in assets. If you own your home, you either have to sell it or allow the Medicaid program to put a lien on your home so they can be repaid.

If you have assets but they won’t be enough to pay for your long-term care, there are ways to protect your assets so you have something to leave to your heirs. You can get help from an estate planner and you can also learn about the different things you can do on your own.

An asset protection trust is one option, but you have to set it up at least five years before you apply for Medicaid or you won’t be able to get the help you need. A benefit of an asset protection trust is that you can live in your home as long as you want.

One of the most important things when it comes to Medicaid planning is that you need to think ahead so you can shed your assets at least five years before you need Medicaid. The costs of long-term care are so expensive that you can quickly run through your money, leaving nothing left to your heirs. Medicaid planning helps you preserve your assets and shelter your assets so you can provide something of value to your loved ones.

What are Digital Assets anyway?

With the vast amount of business, commerce, innovation and even invention happening in cyberspace it is understandable that digital content can suddenly begin to increase in value. Digital assets could be considered files or databases with higher value than most.

Digital assets can include videos, text documents, images, advertisements, digital artwork and many other types of files that are stored in a digital format.

Assets versus files

So, are all files assets? When does a file transcend to the category of assets? Not all files are assets, but files that have a value to the organization holding them could be assets depending on its worth to the company.

Files that have value must be stored securely so they won’t be accessed, reused or manipulated without authorization as this could be counterproductive to the goals of the organization. Companies will apply DAM or Data Asset Management techniques to securing this type of information behind a wall of specialized software. One advantage of this is the Metadata description that can be applied to the data assets and make information easier to locate and access for authorized persons, and also carries information on how this data should be used and understood.

Examples of digital assets

Images

One of the most common types of data assets are image. Many times, the images stored are products of considerable time, planning and even cash investments and should therefore require higher security than most. Furthermore, the way an image is used and how it is applied must be performed according to predetermined parameters and distribution rights.

Ads

Ads are another digital asset that can be especially expensive and deserves to be looked after carefully. Just like images are stored securely, your Digital Asset Management system will be able to carry the information needed for using the ad in question and present this prior to your download.

Videos

Videos have greater and greater use in marketing programs, internal training programs and more. It is important that these assets are circulated in a orderly fashion and in respect to company regulations.

Logos
As the essential banner or insignia of the company, this image will receive a lot of use and application. A proper DAM will keep this file from falling into the hands of a troll or being misapplied in any other way. This will also allow your partners to access your logo simply and easily

The Basics About A Lady Bird Deed

If you live in the state of Florida, you need to know about a lady bird deed. This is a relatively new type of deed which is why most people do not actually know how it works. It is recommended that you know what this deed is as well as how it works and what it can do for you.

What Is A Lady Bird Deed?

A lady bird deed is a new type of deed in the state of Florida. The deed allows a property to be passed automatically to a recipient upon the death of the deed owner. The primary benefit of a lady bird deed, when compared to a traditional deed, is the fact that there will be no need for probate. It is important to note that Florida is only one of a handful of states that actually recognizes lady bird deed. Some of the other states will include Texas.

How A Lady Bird Deed Works

If you decide to use a lady bird deed, you need to understand how it works. To use this deed, you will have to sign a deed that transfers your property to a group of people or single person known as the remainder beneficiaries upon your death. However, the deed will state that you have the right to sell, use and otherwise handle the property while you are still alive.

If you have a lady bird deed and choose to sell the property or re-mortgage during your lifetime, you can do so without consulting the remainder beneficiaries. This is the primary difference between a lady bird deed and a life estate deed which is often used as well. If you do this, you will need to update your other legal documents to reflect the change.

After passing, your remainder beneficiaries will need to file your death certificate with the land records office. This needs to be done as proof that the lady bird deed is to be transferred to the beneficiaries. When this transfer is done, there will be no need for probate which can save your family a lot of heartache.

The Advantages Of The Lady Bird Deed

A lady bird deed allows you to retain control of your property while you are still alive and using it. Other deeds may require you to consult with the remainder beneficiaries before you sell or re-mortgage the property. You will also avoid triggering any Federal gift tax on the transfer in your lifetime as well as avoiding probate of the property after your death.

The Fundamentals of Asset Protection

Asset protection is all about the best ways to safeguard your accumulated wealth. It wouldn’t be called “wealth” if there were not a thousand different ways it could change hands in an instant. To name a few, we have death and illness as well as elemental catastrophes and the misdeeds of the felonious.

The only defense against misfortune is preparation and a plan to recover the value of your accumulated possessions, properties and wealth. If some sort of asset protection is not applied, you can stand to lose it all at the toss of a die.

The Basics of Asset Protection

Fortunately, there are many ways the prudent can make their cash resources and accumulated wealth unavailable to creditors and beyond the reach of natural and unnatural disasters. All the techniques and methods applied to protect a hoarded cache are constituents of an asset protection plan and an essential part of estate planning.

You can begin to assemble your own plan, or you can consult your attorney to aid in this regard. Unless you have extensive experience with this, the latter may prove to the better option of the two. If your accumulated wealth is higher than $1 million, a qualified lawyer will be imperative due to the complex tax issues that arise in such high quantities of cash. You can also personalized advice on many specific techniques that are appropriate for your situation and portfolio.

Some of the more specific techniques may include:

–Buying life insurance
–Transferring assets to a limited liability company
–Creating an irrevocable or testamentary trust
–Making a Donation to charity
–Acquiring a homestead property
–Giving gifts to family or other personal associates

These are all legal ways of protecting assets that have been tried and proven to preserve wealth in the worst of times. There is also a plethora of ways assets can be preserved that are not exactly “legal” and even those in the “shady gray area” can invite a severe problem. Be sure you steer clear of any actions that could possibly be interpreted as tax evasion. If you are not sure, discuss the matter with your lawyer.

The important conclusion of this lesson is that pitfalls assail your wealth on all sides and proper protection methods can keep you safe, happy and wealthy. This is called “asset protection” and an important part of your estate management plan. Be very careful of the methods you use or expert advice before you attempt to protect your assets as a false step can carry severe consequences.