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What are My Keogh Plan Investment Options?

Keoghs can hold a wide range of investments, and it will mostly depend on your plan trustee. Keogh plans have the ability to include many investment options, from stocks to bonds, certificates of deposit to cash value life insurance, and so on. Keep in mind that Keogh Plan investments are usually determined by the financial institution at which your Keogh Plan is established. When opening a Keogh Plan, be sure to check what investment options the financial institution offers, and how much in fees and commissions they would charge for these investments. Standard ERISA rules apply, so all employees must be offered the same options. Continue reading...

What is a Revocable Trust?

A Revocable Trust is also known as a Living Trust, and it is an estate planning vehicle that allows you to determine how your assets are dispersed to heirs or other entities. While you are alive, you can modify the trust without restriction. When setting up a Revocable Trust, you generally name a Trustee (the person that will care for the assets in the trust and oversee distribution) and define the terms and conditions of the Trust. It is also possible to name yourself the Trustee in a Revocable Trust while you’re alive, but you should also name a contingent Trustee in the event of your death. Continue reading...

What is an Irrevocable Trust?

An Irrevocable Trust is one in which the grantor (the person who creates and funds the trust) cannot modify the trust once created. An irrevocable trust can only be modified or terminated if the beneficiary of the trust authorizes such changes. An Irrevocable Trust allows you to name a Trustee (the person that will handle your assets and will oversee their distribution to your heirs in the event of your incapacitation or death) and define the terms and conditions of the Trust while you’re alive. You can name yourself as the Trustee so you can manage your assets while you’re capable of doing so, and name a secondary Trustee to take over when you’re not. Continue reading...

Who is a Bond Trustee?

A bond trustee is an institution which has the fiduciary responsibility of administering and enforcing the terms of the bond indenture. A bond indenture is the contract between the bond issuer and the bondholder. A trustee has the resources to manage the distribution of the funds to the bondholders, to keep up with and distribute the required bookkeeping and statement information to the interested parties as well as regulators like the SEC. If there is a violation of the contract, the trustee must report it and act in the best interest of the wronged party. 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...

What is a Lump-Sum Distribution from a 401(k)?

Lump sum distributions are when the entire balance of an account is paid out at once. After you retire, you can elect to receive your money in a lump sum. Of course, you will end up paying income taxes on the entire distributed amount that year. There is also what’s called the mandatory 20% withholding, which requires custodians to withhold 20% from retirement plan distributions if they are not part of a trustee-to-trustee transfer (such as funding an IRA). Continue reading...

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...

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...

What is a Living Will? (in-depth)

A living will is sometimes called an advance directive or a medical directive, and it specifies a person’s wishes regarding life-prolonging medical procedures and other end-of-life issues. If a person is in a coma, for instance, it is intended to provide instructions for their care, including whether or not to use oxygen or “feeding tubes” to keep them alive. This might require a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) waiver of some kind, which tells medical staff not to intervene if the person is dying. The living will is different than the “will” that most people are familiar with, which is a Last Will and Testament, stipulating the person’s wishes for their estate after he or she has died. Continue reading...

What is a Living Trust?

A living trust describes a trust designed to transfer assets to beneficiaries upon the death of the owner/grantor, which is established during the life of the grantor. They can take several forms, but most common ones are categorized as either revocable or irrevocable. Living trusts have a similar effect to a Last Will and Testament, both being legal documents that stipulate how the decedent would like property to be divided amongst beneficiaries upon the death of the owner or grantor of the trust. Continue reading...

What is a Bankruptcy Trustee?

A bankruptcy trustee is appointed to oversee the liquidation of a debtor’s estate. A bankruptcy trustee has an obligation to do all he or she can to maximize the amount that a bankrupt entity’s estate can pay to the debtor’s unsecured creditors. The trustee must also challenge the claims of a creditor where appropriate. The estate is constituted of all of the bankrupt entity’s nonexempt assets. The trustee will oversee the “341” meeting, in the case of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Continue reading...

Can I Decide How My Money is Invested in My Defined Benefit Plan?

Employees have no control over the assets in their Defined Benefit plan. The short and simple answer is: No. The payments you will receive in retirement are calculated according to a pre-determined formula. Your employer is responsible for managing the investments, while you simply receive the agreed-upon payments when they are due to you - assuming all goes as planned. Most pension funds, as they are sometimes called, are invested in very conservative instruments such as long term government bonds and fixed accounts offered by some insurance companies and banking institutions. Continue reading...

What is an Income Trust?

Income trusts are a type of company that has been structured to pass through all earnings to shareholders. A trust is a legal entity, that seeks to use assets in the best interest of beneficiaries. Some pooled investments are categorized as trusts, and they pass all income (and the tax implications) on to investors. Examples include a real estate investment trust (REIT), a royalty trust, a utility trust, or a business investment trust (also known as a master limited partnership, or MLP). Mutual funds can also fall into this category, but they are not necessarily designed just for income. Continue reading...

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...

What is Chapter 12?

Chapter 12 is a category of bankruptcy filing that can be made by a family farmer. It is otherwise similar in structure to Chapter 13 bankruptcy, where the debtor can prove an income and a trustee serves as intermediary between the debtor and the creditors. A family farmer will still be permitted to operate the farm once he has filed Chapter 12 bankruptcy. Like a Chapter 13 filing, the debtor will be allowed to propose a debt repayment schedule that he or she believes would be successful over the following 3-5 years. Some assets would be liquidated to pay off debts, but most of it would be paid according to the repayment schedule, under the care of a trustee who would serve as the proxy for the debtor in the remainder of the dealings with the creditors. Continue reading...

What is an A-B Trust?

An A-B Trust is a plan which actually creates two trusts at the death of the first spouse, and is a strategy intended to avoid as much estate tax risk as possible. Each spouse has an estate tax exclusion amount of $5.45 Million, and laws have made unused exclusion amounts fully portable to the surviving spouse, but for our purposes here, most of the exemption will be used up. So a Bypass Trust will be created which uses some amount of the exclusion, and will take that money out of the estate of the surviving spouse. The spouse can still get some income from this trust and have some discretion and control of the principal amount, but cannot use the principal for themselves. Continue reading...

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 a Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT)?

A Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT) is an irrevocable trust created for the purpose of donating a fixed percentage of a trust to a charitable organization each year. The fixed percentage must be at least 5% per year but no more than 50%, under current law. At a specified time (usually at the death of the person that established the trust), the remaining assets are distributed to charity. A Charitable Remainder Unitrust is a mechanism that allows you to create tax-advantaged income in your lifetime with the ultimate end of donating a large portion of the principle to charity. Continue reading...

What is Chapter 13?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is one of the most often used. It is similar to a Chapter 7, but it does not have income limits. It involves liquidating the assets of the debtor and making payment arrangements over a longer period of time than Chapter 7. Chapter 13 allows a debtor to propose a schedule for repaying debts that seems reasonable to the bankruptcy judge. It is for individuals who can prove steady income. Often Chapter 7 is filed by people who are impoverished, while Chapter 13 is the middle-to-upper class equivalent. Continue reading...

When Will Social Security Go Bankrupt?

Most estimates project that the Social Security Trust Funds will be depleted by 2037. The system could still function at 70% of their full obligations by transferring cash flow directly from social security taxes to the retired beneficiaries, which most people don’t realize when they spread the news that the system is tanking. Adjustments to the system and interest rates could change how this plays out and keep it operating closer to full capacity. Continue reading...