Articles Posted in Asset Planning

6.17.16We never know what's around the corner. Big changes come in all different types. Best strategy: be prepared and deal with whatever comes.

Of those Americans who actually have a will and an estate plan in place, there's still a tendency to let years go by before they update their wills and finances. Any good Houston estate attorney will tell you that a will needs to be updated every three or four years to take advantages of any changes in the law and to address any life changes that occur.

The Middletown Transcript warns in "Game-changing life transitions that need attention" that sudden transitions need to be addressed immediately. However, many times these events will have more complex consequences impacting other parts of your life. Don't stick your head in the sand when such an issue comes up. Deal with it in the context of your overall life.

5.20.16Despite countless celebrity estate battles, most Americans still put off having a will created. Think of a will as an itinerary for your family that will make their lives easier once you are gone.

Prince was clearly busy with performing, writing, recording and creating. But that's still not a good reason for him to not have put a will in place. The very public court processes that are now underway could have been completely avoided had he devoted the time to creating an estate plan.

The Huffington Post, in its May 3 article, "Like Prince, A Majority Of Americans Don't Have A Will," stressed that wills are important as they establish beneficiaries, distinguish who gets what (and how much of it), and prevent the state from deciding what happens to your property.

5.19.16One Chief Justice's seemingly simplistic will was the target of a lot of humor. Tongues wagged in Washington that he had utterly failed to do any estate planning. The gossips had it all wrong.

It may be surprising to outsiders, but Washington D.C. actually functions in many ways as a small town. When Chief Justice Warren Burger died in 1995 and it was revealed that he had a one-page will that he typed himself, the community was amused and the jokes flew.

But the Chief had the last laugh. His lawyer responded that Burger's will, when given effect along with the terms of his previously deceased wife's will, created maximum tax savings.

Couple rainy day 5.6.2016Yes, you have an organizational style. It may be chaos, or it may be hyper-organized. Either way it is still a style. Moving from paper to digital feels more organized, but it also requires management.

There are a number of different ways to approach any problem, including getting financial documents in order. Some people pile papers in a stack, promising to get to them some rainy day that doesn't seem to arrive. Others are calendar driven, filing and shredding at the end of every quarter. Still others hoard documents, shoving them in overstuffed filing cabinets. Millennials keep nothing on paper, operating under the expectation that any needed documents will be easily downloaded when they are needed.

Morningstar's article "How to Organize Your Financial Documents" acknowledges that it's getting easier to go with option three and rely exclusively on digital resources to manage and track your financial accounts and pay bills. Financial services will remind us that paperless is the green way to go. Assuming you take some commonsense actions to protect against financial fraud, it can also be very safe. However, before you go the minimalist route, put some basic infrastructure in place with these steps.

Organize 5.3.2016Anyone who has cleaned out someone else's filing system knows that we all keep way more paperwork than needed. Spare your loved ones and get started now on cleaning up and creating a directory.

Some people won't set foot into a supermarket without a shopping list. They are the people who are more likely to sift through documents, clean out files and follow the steps in Morningstar's article "How to Create a Master Directory." This directory would be a huge timesaver for you and your heirs, who will be more grateful than you would imagine to be spared hours of wading through unneeded paper files.

This type of document—be it a PDF, an Excel file, a Word document, or even a handwritten record—can be your inventory of financial accounts and contact info. If you keep it up-to-date, this can be an invaluable tool for your loved ones in the event you are unable to manage your assets for yourself. Here are the steps.

MP900430727While the dispute over inherited IRAs has not arisen often, it may crop up more in the future.

Does an "inherited" retirement account remain a retirement account for the intended heir? This may sound like a rhetorical question, but it is currently one before the U.S. Supreme Court in the matter of Clark et ux. V. Rameker et al.The decision could have important consequences for those who are looking to leave an IRA to their heirs – and NOT to the heir's creditors.

This issue was explored by Reuters in a recent article titled “U.S. high court to chart fate of inherited IRAs in bankruptcy.

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Here are some potential pitfalls to keep in mind for couples who are thinking of keeping some or all of their assets separate.

When two people have lived together outside of marriage for some time, the question of who owns what can get downright confusing. Obviously, jointly owned assets can be tricky. Surprising, separately owned assets can be just as complicated.

When it comes to jointly owned assets it is not too hard to understand how problems can erupt. When it comes to separately owned assets, take a look at a recent article in The Wall Street Journal titled “Separate Assets, Joint Problems.

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