Some people plan their estates carefully. Some people don’t have an estate plan at all. That’s called dying intestate. In that situation, the state in which they live at their death has a default plan for them which determines who gets their assets. The state’s plan might suit them, or it might not suit them at all. For example, Fred was unmarried and had a girlfriend of 5 years, Ethel. Ethel had a daughter, Lucy, whom Fred adored. Fred’s parents and grandparents had died, but he had two … [Read more...] about Make Your Own Plan
If you have married someone and your spouse has children from a different relationship, those are your step-children. Even if you have helped raise the child from a very young age, unless you have adopted the child, they would not be considered your child for inheritance purposes. The implication of this can be significant. Here’s an example: When Harry met Sally, Sally had a newborn child, Betty. Harry married Sally shortly thereafter. They raised Betty together, but Harry never adopted her. … [Read more...] about Planning for Step-Children
When problems arise in an estate plan, often the source is a lack of clarity. Tom Petty died in 2017 and left a fortune estimated by Newsweek to be around $38 million. Petty did some things right, but he could have done better. What did Tom Petty do right? First, he planned. Most people just let nature take its course and fail to plan. There’s an old adage: when you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. That’s usually as true in estate planning as with most things. Each state has a … [Read more...] about Clarity is Key to Planning
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increased the standard deduction to $12,000 per person and $24,000 per couple (for 2018 and inflation-adjusted thereafter). This was great news for those who don’t itemize their deductions. However, for those itemizing deductions, there was some bad news in the new law, too. The law included a cap of $10,000 (not inflation adjusted) for state and local taxes (“SALT”), such as state and local income and real property taxes. The $10,000 limitation is the same for single … [Read more...] about SALT Deduction Limit…Can You Get Around It?
Often, the smallest things have the most sentimental value. Your grandmother’s silverware or your grandfather’s railroad watch could connect you to them in a special way. Your mother’s ring or your father’s Boyscout bugle could hold a special place in your heart. Your sports memorabilia could connect you to one of your children in a unique way. You may want those items to go to particular beneficiaries who will cherish their sentimental value as you have. There’s an easy and flexible way to do … [Read more...] about The Little Things May be the Most Important
Aretha Franklin was known as the “Queen of Soul.” She was a singer, songwriter, civil rights activist, and so much more. Aretha was a great recording artist, with a career spanning many decades. She received honorary degrees from many prestigious universities, like NYU, Princeton, and Yale. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. In fact, we all owe her much “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” just like the song for which she’s most famous. Aretha died on August 13, 2018, at age 76, without any … [Read more...] about Aretha Franklin Died Intestate: What Does It Mean for Her Family?
When we plan our lives and our estates, it’s not all about the estate taxes. Of course, estate taxes should be taken into consideration, but there are many more important factors. That’s why the temporary doubling (until the end of 2025) of the amount which can be passed free of estate tax (to $11.18 million in 2018) does not remove the need for estate planning. Whether the exclusion amount is $5.59 million or $11.18 million is irrelevant to the vast majority of people. Here are some … [Read more...] about Estate Planning: It’s Not Just About the Estate Taxes
This is part of a series of 6 blogs on important estate planning considerations. I’ll intersperse these blogs with other timely blogs. The first article in the series showed how an estate plan prepares one for incapacity during life and not just for the distribution of assets at death. The second article in the series focused on how an estate plan should take into consideration the potential for future Long-Term Care (“LTC”) needs. This third article focuses on the differing needs of the … [Read more...] about 6 Important Estate Planning Considerations – Part 3: Your Kids
This is part of a series of 6 blogs on important estate planning considerations. I’ll intersperse these blogs with other timely blogs. Often, when people think of “estate planning” they think it’s a task only for what happens after death. While an estate plan certainly deals with the distribution of assets at death, it also is about preparing for the complexities of life. The first article in the series showed how an estate plan prepares one for incapacity during life and not just for the … [Read more...] about 6 Important Estate Planning Considerations – Part 2: Long-Term Care
Estate planning contemplates two different general time periods: During life and after your death. Estate planning needs also vary based on the goals you are trying to achieve. For example, after death, do you simply wish to transmit your assets, or do you wish to provide your loved ones with asset protection, tax protection, divorce protection, or other benefits? In my previous blog, I examined the simplest estate plan: doing nothing. In this blog, we’ll look at a plan which is very simple, … [Read more...] about Estate Planning: The Simplest Plan is Usually Not the Best