• The Proper Planning Mix For Blended Families, Continued
    Last time we looked at planning for blended families in general terms. Now let’s discuss some specific trusts that you might want to consider. One such trust, which provides an excellent form of asset protection, is called a Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust (QTIP). The QTIP trust can generate income for the benefit of the surviving spouse during his or her lifetime. When the surviving spouse passes away, the QTIP’s assets can be distributed between mutual and prior children according to the wishes of the previously deceased spouse. In addition, if the children from the previous marriage are young, assets from the QTIP Trust can be held in another trust for the children, under the control of an independent trustee. This can prevent the assets from falling under an ex-spouse’s control. You might also want to consider a Long-Term Discretionary Trust (LTD Trust) to administer your children’s inheritance, with a...
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  • The Proper Planning Mix For Blended Families
    Planning for blended families can present unique challenges, in part because the interests of a current spouse and any mutual children often conflict with the desire to provide for one’s children from a previous marriage. For example, if all of an estate’s assets are left to the new spouse, the children from a previous marriage may not be provided for in the manner the deceased spouse would have wanted. After all, there is no legal obligation to support stepchildren. Furthermore, the surviving spouse might, upon his or her death, leave all of the assets to his or her children, thereby excluding the children of the spouse who passed away first. Similarly, if assets are left only to prior children at the death of their parent, there may not be enough assets remaining in the estate to provide for the current spouse or family. Even with a harmonious blended family, failure...
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  • What If You And Your Child’s Other Parent Cannot Agree On A Guardian?
    It goes without saying that you and your child’s other parent should name the same guardian for your children. But what if you are divorced, or for whatever reason you and your spouse cannot agree on the most suitable guardian? Naming different guardians will lead to a battle in court should you and the children’s other parent pass away while your children are still minors. The decision over guardianship will then be in the judge’s hands. Part of the solution this situation is to leave a Letter of Explanation outlining your reasons for choice of guardian. It is important to have an experienced attorney assist you in the drafting of such a letter, but here are the basics of what should bet included: Who the children would prefer, that is, the relationship between the children and the prospective guardian Why your choice of guardian will best meet the children’s needs,...
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  • Eight Factors To Consider When Choosing A Guardian For Your Children
    Who should raise your children if for some reason you or your spouse is unable to do so? It’s not an easy question to answer, but if you have young children, it is a topic you most certainly should address in your estate plan. Otherwise, a court will decide, and their decision will probably not be the same as the one you would have made, and may not even be in the best interests of your children. Some of the most important issues to consider when choosing a guardian include: Does the prospective guardian have a genuine interest in your children’s well-being? Does the prospective guardian share your values? Can he or she handle the role physically and emotionally? What about financially, if you cannot provide him or her with enough assets to raise your children? Does the prospective guardian already have children of his or her own? Will he...
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  • Did You Know That Americans Did Not Always Pay A Personal Income Tax?
    As we enter the 2020 tax season, however unwillingly and with gritted teeth, you might be interested to know that Americans did not always pay personal income taxes. The policy of taxing personal income began with the onset of the Civil War, when Congress passed the Revue Act of 1861. This was a new direction for a Federal tax system based mainly on excise taxes and customs duties. However, Congress soon realized there were certain inadequacies with the new income tax policy. No taxes were actually collected until the following year, when a new law was passed on July 1st. This law made important reforms to the 1861 law, many of which we find in various forms today. These include a two-tiered rate structure based on income, a standard deduction ($600), and taxes being “withheld at the source” by employers to ensure timely collection. By now you must be wondering...
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  • Giving To Charity Wisely
    Charitable giving allows you to assist the people and organizations that have come to mean the most to you over the course of your life. It represents a thoughtful expression of your values and can ensure your legacy for generations to come. If done properly, it can also be an excellent way to significantly lower taxes, so that the greatest possible amount of your gift is available for the recipients of your generosity, and at the same time, more of your hard-earned wealth is preserved for you and your loved ones. Some of the benefits of giving to charity, and the advantages of having an experienced estate planning attorney design your charitable giving plan, include: Memorializing your family name Reducing capital gains or estate taxes Supporting causes and institutions important to you and other family members Allowing you to make charitable contributions while you are alive and after you are...
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  • The Roth IRA Versus The Traditional IRA: Which One Is Right For You?
    Deciding whether to choose a Roth IRA or a Traditional IRA is an important decision and can have major financial consequences. Both options, however, are excellent ways to save for retirement. Let’s look as some of the biggest differences between the two. Roth IRA Your contributions are not tax deductible There is no mandatory distribution age Earnings and principal are tax free if you follow all rules and regulations Not everyone can open a Roth IRA. Individuals with modified adjusted gross incomes above $137,000 are not eligible. The figure for married couples filing jointly is $203,000 Principal contributions can be withdrawn any time without penalty (certain conditions do apply) Traditional IRA Depending on your level of income, your contributions may be tax deductible You can make withdrawals without penalty beginning at age 59 1/2. Deductions are mandatory when you reach the age of 70 1/2 When you make withdrawals from...
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  • Have You Reviewed Your Beneficiary Designations Lately?
    Maybe it’s an insurance policy you took out years ago. Or the retirement plan you set up with your employer the day you started working for the company. Or the IRA you have been scrupulously contributing to for two decades. You created them all to protect your financial future and that of the people you care about most. But over time, your personal situation may have changed. Perhaps you have gotten divorced and remarried? Or one of your children has gotten married, and you are not exactly thrilled with your new son or daughter in law? The fact is, change is a part of life. The question is, have your beneficiary designations kept pace with the changes in your life? We understand that reviewing your designations is something that’s easy to put off, the kind of chore you’ll get to “any day now.” The consequences of not doing so, however,...
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  • Selling Your Business To The Highest Bidder Is Not Necessarily The Best Option
    If you own a business and have not put a succession plan in place, you might be thinking that the best choice, when the time comes to retire, is to simply sell your business outright to the highest bidder. However, selling your business to your employees may be a better option in certain situations, through what is known as an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Here’s how an ESOP works. The company in question creates a trust on behalf of its employees. A portion of the profits are directed into the trust, which in turn uses the money to purchase the owners’ shares. This purchase can take place over time or all at once. Employees can minimize the potential burden of the purchase by borrowing against future earnings, without incurring costs upfront. How prevalent is the use of ESOPs in business transitions? There are currently more than 10,000 companies successfully...
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  • The Difference Between A Living Will And A Health Care Power of Attorney
    Many people are confused about the difference between a living will and a healthcare power of attorney. A living will specifies life prolonging treatments you do or do not want in the event you either suffer from a terminal illness or are in a permanent vegetative state. It does not become effective unless you are incapacitated and, generally, requires certification by your doctor, and another doctor, that you are either suffering from a terminal illness or have been rendered permanently unconscious. So if you suffer a heart attack, for instance, but do not have a terminal illness or are not in a permanent state of unconsciousness, a living will does not have any effect. You would still be resuscitated, even if you had a living will indicating that you don’t want life prolonging procedures. A living will is only used when your ultimate recovery is hopeless. For situations where you...
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