Trusts and Estates

Reasons Not to Marry

“Two can live as cheaply as one.” This old saying is mostly true. However, when it comes to death, divorce, and taxes, two are probably better off financially if they don’t marry. Intentionally or not, many federal and state laws reward couples that choose to live together without marriage.

Death of a Spouse: Now What?

If your spouse recently died, you now have special considerations when planning your financial future. Here’s what to know.

As most surviving spouses are women, we focus here on widows. Widowers will also find this information valuable.

Inheritance for the Kids? Why?

A survey done by the financial services company HBSC finds that only 59% of U.S. parents intend to leave their children an inheritance, the lowest of the 15 nations studied. The fact the U.S. is last came as no surprise to me. What did surprise me was that 59% seemed high.

Pay Tax on a Life Policy Payout?

One of the advantages of life insurance payouts is that they are that tax-free, right? Well, that’s often true, yet not always. It pays to know when the taxman can take a bite of your benefit.

Your tax liability for life insurance policy payouts varies widely based on your situation. Let’s look into the basic rules and a few specific cases.

Writing Your Last Letter

You’re going to die. You don’t know when: It could be 50 years from now or tomorrow. So write a letter to them to tell them important things, that cover matters of both the wallet and the heart.

When I thought recently that I had limited time left, I wrote a letter to my wife. The letter was just about financial matters. I should have written about several things besides that.

Cover the practical stuff. Your significant other needs to know whom to call about different financial aspects of your life.

Parents’ Money Talk Taboo

My last article explored three fears that stop adult children from talking with parents about their estate plans, even though such conversations could greatly benefit both generations. These are: “It’s none of my business,” “I don’t want them to think I am greedy” and “It will ruin our relationship.”

Young Couples’ Estate Plans

Even if you’re young, newly married or just had your first child, you need basic estate planning. Here’s how to start.

A comprehensive estate plan offers benefits to almost everyone: control over distribution of your property after your death, including trusts for your spouse or children; naming of guardians for minor children; designation of a personal representative to administer your estate; appointment of agents to make financial and health-care decisions for you when needed; and reduction or elimination of estate taxes at death.

The Family Money Talk Taboo

Too often, for psychological reasons, families don’t discuss their finances, particularly grown children and parents. That leads to problems. Intergenerational candor brings great benefits.

Talking about money is taboo in the U.S. If you don’t believe me, next time you’re at a social gathering ask everyone you meet these two questions: “What was your taxable income last year?” and “What is your net worth?” It’s not a recommended way to make new friends.

Inheritance? Sorry About That

The chances that Americans will get an inheritance are not good. A lot of U.S. heirs’ parents don’t have the money. Culprits are sluggish economic growth and high inheritance taxes, versus elsewhere in the world.

Stroll through a retirement camping resort or pass an RV on the highway, and you might see this bumper sticker: “We’re spending our children’s inheritance.”

Handling a Big Inheritance

You dream of your long-forgotten rich uncle dying and leaving you a fortune. What if you really do get a lucrative windfall? Realize that it can easily slip away. How do you stop that from happening?


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