Trusts and Estates

Why to Review Beneficiaries

At some point in your life you probably started a new job, applied for life insurance, started a retirement account or opened a bank account. Remember the forms asked you to name a beneficiary, both primary and contingent, telling the account custodian to whom your account passed if you died? Time’s passed and those names you scribbled now loom large in your estate plans.

Selling Your Life Policy?

Selling your life insurance policy so that someone else can collect on it when you die? The thought of it is uncomfortable. Life settlements, formally known as viatical settlements, often elicit a great deal of emotion, but they might make sense if you can’t afford or don’t want your insurance anymore. Trouble is, the payouts usually are a fraction of the policy’s death benefit.

Safeguarding Your Digital Info

What happens to all your online accounts when you pass away? In this age where we manage all financial matters online, a digital control plan with a list of accounts and passwords saves your loved ones unnecessary hassles.

My best friend died two years ago. I still miss him. We had a mutual pact. I had a sealed envelope and an encrypted hard drive in my friend’s gun safe eight miles away from my home office. He had a sealed envelope in my safe in my garage.

Asset Caregivers’ Guides (Pt.2)

Our first article touched on two guides from the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for novice financial caregivers. Here we look at the second pair of guides in the series “Managing Someone Else’s Money” if a friend or family member asks you to help with major money matters.

Your Wealth Checkup (Pt. 1)

You unfailingly schedule your annual physical and health screenings and dental checkups for you and your family. Schedule time for a regular wealth checkup, too, to determine your money situation today and how close you are to your financial tomorrow.

Here’s part one of what you need to do at least annually to make sure your money works hard for you.

12 Estate Planning Must-Dos

Many of you already have estate documents, probably executed many years ago. You need an estate attorney to look over your documents every 10 years or so. Here are a dozen points to review.

How to Leverage Trusts (Pt. 3)

The American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) lets you leave millions to heirs tax-free. Our first two articles examined ATRA and various trusts. Here are some of the remaining tools you can use to bequeath assets and avoid a big estate tax bite.

You still need powers of attorney. Essential tools for managing disability, these are inexpensive and simple to set up.

Navigating the Latest Gift Tax

If you’re like many investors, you look to gift a portion of your estate to stave off a hefty estate tax down the road. In estate planning, though, “gift” carries a special meaning that the taxman seems to change every year.

When gifting, you incur no levy unless you exceed the new gift tax exemption of $5.34 million in cash or other assets throughout your life; the recipients pay taxes. Your spouse has a separate exemption for the same amount.

Estate Planning Tools (Pt. 2)

Our first of three articles looked at your estate planning considerations now that the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) is law and you can leave $5.34 million ($10.68 million for married couples) to heirs tax-free. Other kinds of trusts offer you various ways to leave money and save taxes.

New Estate Plan Issues (Pt. 1)

You can stop worrying about federal estate tax thanks to Congress passing the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) last year. Here’s what you still better think about, though, before bequeathing your estate.


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