Articles Tagged with Estate Law

Bulldog readingAs with estate planning for humans, creating a pet trust is designed to give owners peace of mind. To ensure that pets will be cared for in accordance with an owner’s wishes, owners should be sure to definitively detail their pet’s standard of living and nutritional and health care.

Although pets are a beloved part of one's family, in the eyes of the law they are merely viewed as another form of property. This can make planning for the care of your pet difficult after you’re gone. While you can’t leave an inheritance to a pet, when including a “pet trust” as part of your estate plan you can provide for their care when you’re not there to provide it yourself.

“Pet trusts” have a decidedly less serious ring about them than a “Grantor Retained Annuity Trust.” Legal jargon aside, pet trusts can be plenty useful little devices for a common problem, especially amongst elderly pet lovers. In fact, a recent article in the Millionaire Corner considers a pet trust an estate planning basic. The article, titled  Estate Planning Basics: Creating a Pet Trust,” offers some practical pointers to consider.

Divided wedding cake topper“Young people may be eager to marry for love, but older couples are more practical and worry about paying the bills,” says Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington.

These days, more and more Americans are meeting new loves or (finally) their true loves later in life. It has been said that marriage is a young persons’ game, but love isn’t. Even if you leave marriage to the young and idealistic, there is still some planning that really has to be in place.

The sociology of later-in-life marriage is fascinating, both in thinking about the recent jump in numbers and the more recent decrease. Either with or without tying the knot it is also a practical issue with legal ramifications, and for those later-in-life loves not destined for marriage there is some practical advice to be gleaned in a recent article on the subject in The New York Times titled “Welcoming Love at an Older Age, but Not Necessarily Marriage.

Breaking the bankWorried about your adult children blowing through their inheritance? Two strategies can help holders of individual retirement accounts curb an heir’s impulse to “cash out.”

You may have many assets to leave behind for your heirs. However, an IRA is unique enough to be easily squandered in taxes, as MarketWatch noted in a recent article appropriately titled “Protect your heirs from an IRA tax trap.

IRAs are some of the most common high-value assets. That noted, because they are such unique accounts, there are some equally unique rules regarding inherited IRAs that are either amenable to diligent financial planning or a short-term high of a cash-out.

MP900442417What follows are issues to consider, and, in those rare cases where a transfer can make sense, how to do it the right way.

Are you thinking about handing over the family home to your loved ones early? Proceed with caution. Although the hand-off can be a blessing to some, there are consequences you should consider before passing on the house keys.

This challenge was the subject of recent article in The Wall Street Journal titled the “Dangers of Giving Your Home to Your Children.

MP900442457Reverse mortgages, which allow homeowners 62 and older to borrow money against the value of their homes that need not be paid back until they move out or die, have long posed pitfalls for older borrowers.

Although a reverse mortgage has some advantages, such as offering a means of cash to make ends meet, the financial community has been quick to point out that there are also some serious pitfalls to these mortgages.

The biggest drawback to bear in mind is that your heirs and loved ones may bear the brunt of the burden when it comes to those drawbacks. It is important to know how reverse mortgages work before you sign up for them. While you are at it, make you’re your heirs and other inheritors know what to expect.

Cost basis accountingOne of the key advantages of a portability-based estate plan over a credit shelter trust-based estate plan is that portability allows the married couple to obtain a second step up in basis upon the death of the second spouse.

With the new ability to minimize estate taxation, known as “portability,” there is now a choice between the automatic portability plan and the old standby of the trust-based plan, notably the credit shelter trust plan.

One important detail driving the choice is the “step up in basis,” as pointed out in a recent Forbes article titled “Portability Plans Vs Credit Shelter Plans Round 1: Step Up in Basis.

Family letter blocks“This time it’s not about the beginning of life or how babies are made. It’s about the end of life — yours — and the many issues and decisions that will confront you and your children.”

Back when the kids were kids, it seemed like the “birds and the bees” talk was tricky. However, according to a recent article in The Washington Post, the “aging talk” is far more difficult to grasp. Why is that?

Be sure to read (and share) this article titled “Having ‘the other talk’ with your kids — not storks, but aging.

Letter blocksNING, Ding, Grat. Ilit, Crat, Crut, Qtip.

So what are these oddly named trusts and what do people who need them need to know?

Ever been to a place where you don't understand the language? Learning a new language is no easy task. At least when it comes to French or Italian (or Hindu, Swahili or Balinese, if you happen to be that well-travelled) most us of who can’t speak a lick can get through with pointing and smiling. However, when it comes to technical languages there is a different type of difficulty.

MP900403058When it comes to estate planning, one of the primary goals is to transfer as much of a person's assets to their intended beneficiaries at the lowest cost or, in other words, by paying the least amount of tax.

Giving your assets to your heirs is all about timing. When to do it and how to do it depends on your situation. Is it best to maximize your gifting strategy while you are living? Or should you plan your gifts for after death?

Formerly, the primary concern was the estate tax. The strategy was to gift during life using the annual gift tax exclusion, currently $14,000 per donee per year. After all, gifting lets you incrementally slide under that onerous estate tax ceiling.

MP900382668Under the President’s plan, in 2018 the tax would revert to the rates that were in effect in 2009.

Budget buzz is spreading across Capitol Hill. For example, did you know that President Obama's proposed budget is seeking a reduction of the estate tax exemption back to $3.5 million?

Just when taxpayers and estate planning attorneys thought the estate tax exemption level had become settled law (except for inflation increases), President Obama would like to throw a monkey wrench into estate plans past, present and future. In addition, he would like to double down on some traditional estate planning techniques, too.

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