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What is a Life Estate?

What is a Life Estate?

A life estate is often created by an older parent when they sign over the house to their adult children but stipulate that the parent can remain in the house until they pass away. In some estate planning cases, this is the easiest and most advantageous way to transfer property. The resident is called the Life Tenant and the beneficiary is the Remainder Owner. One of the most daunting threats to elderly people is the risk an extended care need. Continue reading...

Do I Need Life Insurance for My Spouse?

Do I Need Life Insurance for My Spouse?

The spousal relationship is usually intended to be a permanent one, and with it comes a high degree of financial co-dependence. Today, many working couples will mutually own life insurance for the sake of the other, so that long term financial plans do not have to change drastically if one of them dies. Even in the case of a non-working spouse, they are probably doing something that brings economic value to the household, a contribution which can be insured with life insurance. Life insurance on your spouse may protect you the same way that life insurance on your life can protect your spouse. Continue reading...

Where do I Find a Good Attorney for my Estate Needs?

There are thousands of attorneys that specialize in estate planning, so choosing the right one for you can be a challenge. If possible, referrals are the best approach. Your Financial Advisor should definitely have resources and a network available to recommend a reliable estate and/or tax attorney for you — someone he or she has been working with for a number of years at least. Ultimately, the best source is a referral from a friend or someone else you trust. Continue reading...

What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?

A primary difference between a will and a trust is that a will goes into effect once you die, but a trust goes into effect when you create it. Beyond that, a will is a more basic estate planning document/tool that determines how your assets should be divided upon your death. On the other hand, a trust goes further in controlling how the assets are distributed. It may stipulate when, how, and to whom the assets will be distributed, and those distributions may not happen immediately but rather over a long stretch of time. Continue reading...

What is Life Insurance?

What is Life Insurance?

Life insurance is one of the oldest financial products in existence, with roots going back beyond the ancient Roman Empire. Today, there are many different kinds of life insurance available, most representing variations on the main categories of term life, whole life, and universal life. It can be written in a private contract, but most often it is offered as packaged products to the public. Life Insurance’s main purpose is to ensure that dependents of a deceased provider or caretaker will have some financial resources to fall back on, but it can also be used as a means to create a guaranteed legacy or a tax-advantaged pool of money. Continue reading...

Do I Need Professional Help to Prepare a Will?

Do I Need Professional Help to Prepare a Will?

Whether you need professional help depends on the size of your estate and the complexity of your wishes for how to distribute your assets. Generally speaking, however, it makes sense to hire legal help to create your last will and any related trusts, as often times the cost to doing so is less than the cost of probate court and duress to your heirs in settling the estate themselves. What is a Living Will? What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust? How Much Does it Cost to Prepare a Will? Continue reading...

Do I Need a Trust?

Do I Need a Trust?

Whether or not you need a trust depends on several factors, some of which include: your level of assets, the complexity of your estate planning goals, the control you wish to exercise over your assets after your death, your need for creditor protection, amongst others. Trusts have many features that make them an attractive option for wealthy people – it allows them to avoid taxes in some cases, avoid probate court for heirs, and the ability transfer control of your assets to someone you trust (your selected trustee). It also affords the ability to have the assets span multiple generations, if managed properly. Continue reading...

What is Form 706 GS (D): Generation Skipping Transfer Tax Return for Distributions?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Form 706 is the Estate Tax return, and it has a section concerning Generation-Skipping Transfers. 706 GS (D), specifically, is the form which 706: GS (D-1) is the corresponding form if the transfer is associated with a trust, which is filed by the trustee. The Generation-Skipping Tax attempts to prevent an estate from transferring too many assets directly to grandchildren instead of children for the purpose of shielding heirs from estate taxes. The form for reporting Generation Skipping Transfers is 706 GS (D), where 706 is the Estate Tax Return filing. Continue reading...

Do I Need Professional Help to Prepare a Trust?

Do I Need Professional Help to Prepare a Trust?

In most cases, you should consult a tax professional and/or an estate planning attorney for help in setting up a trust. If you’re setting up a trust in the first place, it is likely because you have estate planning needs – which also means you have a level of assets that requires estate planning. Preparing a trust on your own runs the risk of setting it up incorrectly, which can lend itself to legal risks such as challenges from heirs and/or creditors. Continue reading...

How Much Does it Cost to Prepare a Trust?

How Much Does it Cost to Prepare a Trust?

The cost of setting up a trust varies depending on the type of trust and its complexity, but generally speaking a trust will cost between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Basic trusts can typically be setup using online tools and guides from trusted sources, whereas complex trusts often require the help of an estate planning attorney and a tax attorney. There is also the matter of paying the trustees an annual fee for oversight of the trust, and there may be annual expenses associated with keeping the trust up to date with changes to the law and/or your estate plan. Continue reading...

Should I Notarize my Will?

Should I Notarize my Will?

In general, a will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, each of whom must also sign your will. Whether or not a notarized will is accepted by the court depends on the rules of the state in which you live. You should cross-reference the rules of your state and comply to them, or simply consult an estate planning attorney for the best approach. How is a Will Implemented After my Death? Do I Need Professional Help to Prepare a Will? What is Probate? Continue reading...

Do I Need a Will?

Do I Need a Will?

Yes, generally speaking any person that has assets and liabilities needs a will. In the absence of a will, a deceased person’s assets will be distributed by a court, which may not handle the assets as the deceased would have desired. Not having a will also subjects a person’s estate to legal disputes from heirs, creditors, and sometimes non-family members seeking to make a claim. The court costs to settling an estate without a will can be very high and taxing to the deceased’s immediate family and loved ones. Continue reading...

Can I Use Standard Online Wills?

Can I Use Standard Online Wills?

While online will templates may be useful for those with straightforward estate plans, they lack customization and legal guidance. To avoid the risk of creating a contested or unenforceable will, individuals should only use templates from trusted sources and consult an estate planning attorney for complex estate plans, significant assets, or unusual circumstances. Ultimately, a well-crafted will provides peace of mind and security for loved ones, and individuals should take the time to make informed decisions when creating a will. Continue reading...

What is Probate?

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process that takes place after a person’s death, during which legal documents (such as wills and trusts) are reviewed and enforced. A person’s will generally must be validated by the court, after which the person’s assets are distributed to the heirs accordingly. If there is no will, then the probate court will decide how to distribute the assets, which may not be consistent with the deceased’s actual wishes. Continue reading...

What Amount of Life Insurance Should I Have?

What Amount of Life Insurance Should I Have?

You may hear different things about the amount of life insurance that you need. An easy way some suggest is to take your annual income and multiply it by 10. But that doesn’t take everything into account, such as debts, specific things you want the money to do, or a safe withdrawal rate to give your beneficiaries an income that you want them to have if something happens to you. The right number could be more like 20 times your annual income, but it all depends on the purpose of the money and your financial situation. Continue reading...

What is Second-To-Die Life Insurance?

What is Second-To-Die Life Insurance?

Second-to-die policies are also known as survivorship policies, and are primarily used by married couples to provide a guaranteed legacy to their children after they have both passed away. These come in handy for estate planning, when an estate tax bill might be looming for the heirs. To be clear, this insurance covers the lives of two individuals and provides a death benefit to a listed beneficiary only after the last surviving insured individual dies. Continue reading...

Do I Need Life Insurance if I have an Annuity?

Do I Need Life Insurance if I have an Annuity?

If an annuity or pension will pay your spouse a survivor’s benefit that is adequate to support his or her lifestyle, then you may not need to a life insurance policy to cover this need. Annuities are seen as longevity insurance which protect against outliving money, while life insurance protects beneficiaries if the insured person dies younger than expected. If something happens to you and you have an annuity, your surviving spouse would either continue to receive periodic benefits or take a lump-sum distribution, depending on what kind of payout option you chose when you signed the contract. In the case of the lump sum it may only be for the amount of principal that had not been paid out yet in annuity payments. Continue reading...

How is a Will Implemented After my Death?

How is a Will Implemented After my Death?

After a person’s death, their will is typically reviewed by probate court which will enforce the terms of the will and ensure the assets are distributed according to the wishes of the deceased. Any disputes or contest to the distribution of assets will likely be heard by probate court, and can be costly if dragged out over long stretches of time. What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust? Do I Need a Will? Continue reading...

How Do I Prepare a Will?

How Do I Prepare a Will?

If your balance sheet is a relatively simple one, and you have very little or no debt, then it may be fine to simply use a trusted online resource. More complicated wills usually require the help of an attorney who can help you and guide you through the process. Be warned though: hiring an attorney will not be cheap, but it may very well be worth the cost in the long run. Do I Need Professional Help to Prepare a Will? How Much Does it Cost to Prepare a Will? Continue reading...

How Much will Life Insurance Cost Me?

How Much will Life Insurance Cost Me?

Various kinds of life insurance have various-size premium obligations. Term policies have the lowest premiums, which has to do with the lower probability that a company will have to pay a death claim during that term. Other policies may have cash value that begs the question of how “cost” is defined, if there is a rate of return. Life Insurance premium sizes and costs will depend on the type of policy and the underwriting decisions of the company for each person. The amount you will need to pay depends on a number of factors: type of insurance, your age, your health, and the amount of your death benefit. Continue reading...