Articles Tagged with Houston Estate Planning

Boy birdwatchingFrankly, there is less room for error when a single parent is managing all of the responsibilities of raising a family. Five key planning guidelines are the focus of the Parent Herald's article "5 Financial Planning Tips For Single Parents For Your Family's Protection."

Here are the top five most important tips:

  1. Create a safety net. Most important is to have sufficient emergency funds that can be your financial safety net. Single parents should save at least six months' worth of expenses in an account that's untouched until an emergency occurs.

Baby feetLearning that your family will include a special needs child dramatically changes the narrative for families and most don't know what to expect, from providing care to financial planning. The New York Daily News explores the financial planning that needs to take place in "How to prepare a financial plan for families with special needs children."

Experts estimate that raising a child to age 18 costs roughly $250,000 and those parents of children with disabilities and special needs will have costs that could be as much as 10 times more. With these types of financial challenges, here are some key areas to focus on to protect and grow your money.

  • Assemble a team of experts. That team should include an elder law attorney, doctor, accountant, and government benefits specialist to help you understand Social Security, Medicaid, and other state and federal government programs;

Man-person-clouds-apple-mediumPortland is widely recognized as one of the most innovative cities in the US, and a new law reflects Oregon's tech culture. With the signature of Governor Kate Brown, Oregon has enacted Senate Bill 1554, which grants legal access to digital assets to a person named in an estate plan as a designated fiduciary. This was reported in "Governor signs new law which protects digital assets" from

In order to gain this access, an individual must affirmatively state in his or her estate planning documents that they want a fiduciary to have online access. If not, it defaults to the terms of service agreements, which have been the source of great distress to many individuals and families.

A mother who lost her son 10 years ago after a motorcycle accident wanted to access his Facebook account as a tribute to him.

Man-couple-people-woman-medium fightingFacebook has become the source of revolutions, personal journeys, and now, estate battles. When one of America's most admired art collectors passed away last year, she had an estate plan in place. Her husband of 14 years apparently didn't like the terms and is challenging the will. Her adult children from her first marriage are furious, and one is very publicly sharing his anger and disgust on Facebook.

The New York Post Page Six reports in "Melva Bucksbaum's $100M estate battle rages on Facebook" that the battle began when Melva, a former trustee of the Whitney Museum, died at 82 last year. Her husband Raymond Learsy—a trader, developer, and fellow Whitney board member—challenged her will and claims he's entitled to half her fortune, which is worth more than $100 million.

The action infuriated Melva's adult children, Gene and Glenn Bucksbaum and Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan. Glenn says that Learsy schemed to seize the family millions. He wrote on his public Facebook page, "Raymond Learsy…This name should be known. Full definition of cad. 1: An omnibus conductor 2: a man who acts with deliberate disregard for another's feelings or rights."

Man at computerIf you don't remember who your beneficiaries are for your investment accounts, insurance policies or annuity contracts, then you need to carve out some time to go through your accounts and see who you named as your beneficiary. If it's been a while, you may be in for a rude awakening.

Beneficiary designations allow certain assets owned by an individual to transfer efficiently at her or his passing. These include retirement accounts like IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457(b)s, and pensions, as well as life insurance death benefits and the residual value of annuities.

These types of assets with designated beneficiaries will transfer automatically, despite anything written to the contrary in a person's will or trust. These assets with designated beneficiaries are also excluded from the decedent's probate estate unless the "estate" is the designated beneficiary.

Money with watchNot everyone who has a traditional IRA is a good candidate for a Roth IRA conversion, according to The Motley Fool's article, "5 Things to Consider Before Making a Roth IRA Conversion." While every person's situation is different, there are five key elements to consider before making the change to your retirement accounts.

  1. Your tax bracket. These days it's not unusual for retirees to be in a higher tax bracket during retirement. However, many of us have the option of investing in a Roth IRA, which doesn't offer an up-front tax break—but lets you withdraw funds in retirement tax-free. If you think you are going to be in a higher tax bracket when you retire, you might consider converting some or all of your retirement savings to a Roth before you retire. Converting some or all of your traditional IRA money to a Roth IRA will also give you some tax diversification in retirement to hedge against future changes in tax rates and related rules.
  2. Estate planning. One of the great things about a Roth IRA is that it isn't subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs) at age 70½, unlike a traditional IRA, where you must withdraw an IRS-mandated amount annually at that age. Plus, it's subject to income taxes. Roth IRAs can continue to grow tax-free for as long as you live, and if your beneficiary is your spouse, he or she can roll over the account and make the Roth IRA his or her own with the same rules (non-spousal beneficiaries are subject to an RMD, but that distribution isn't taxed). In addition, non-spousal beneficiaries can take the RMDs over their entire life expectancy. This is a terrific benefit for younger beneficiaries like children or grandchildren.

Wills-trusts-and-estates-coveredWhen the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird" was found to have written another novel, "Go Set a Watchman," there was much mystery about the second book, which generated a fortune. Now the mystery surrounds the estate of Nelle Harper Lee.
While the value of her estate isn't exactly known, an old lawsuit showed that Lee earned nearly $1.7 million during a six-month period in 2009 — before she announced the release of her second book last year, sales of which were well over $40 million.

The International Business Times says in its recent article, "Did Harper Lee Have a Will? Here's What Could Happen To The 'To Kill A Mockingbird' Author's Money," that Lee never married and had no children. Her parents and siblings died years ago—and those closest to her have been accused of scamming her. So what happens now?

Lee once publicly said she had a will, but only her friends and family know for certain. She most likely didn't die without her affairs in order: her father and sister were both practicing lawyers (and her estate has been involved in several lawsuits). But given her reclusive nature, she may have created a trust rather than a will. Wills become public record when they are submitted to probate court, but trusts are continued by a successor trustee and administered accordingly. Some reports say

Military man saluting flagA lieutenant colonel serving in the U.S. Army Reserves was in Afghanistan on his third tour of duty, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and enduring a bad foot injury in 2011 when a letter arrived at his home, as described in Harvard Magazine's "Fighting for Veterans, Learning the Law." It was an important, time-sensitive letter.

The letter contained information on how he could file an appeal for disability compensation and stated that he had to respond within 120 days of receipt. But Ausmer wouldn't return home for another five months.

By the time he read the letter, he'd lost his one chance to appeal his benefits case. The Veterans Benefits Administration gave him no help, but a trio of Harvard Law School students did. They took his case, arguing that the clock on an appeals claim should start only after a veteran has returned home—rather than when a letter arrives in his or her mailbox back home.

Family with dogFor a generation that is proud of their ability to ignore all kinds of taboos, millennials are no different than any other generation when it comes to discussing end-of-life care and estate planning with their parents. It's up to you, Baby Boomers, to initiate the conversation with your millennial children and make sure that they – and you – understand the basic documents needed for estate planning and end-of-life care.

Benzinga's recent article, "Millennials and Estate Planning: How to Get Started," says that when you do begin discussing end-of-life care, you need to understand the documents involved.

Here is a list:

Senior on beachThe same people who put off estate planning have no problem finding the time to plan their vacations. And far too many people think the only plan they need for retirement concerns being able to pay bills.

Retirement planning is for that time when you change direction and stop the grind of working full-time. Estate planning is what Federal News Radio's article, "Estate vs. retirement planning: You bet your life, literally!" says is an after-you've-gone shopping list.

Think of estate planning as how you would like things to be, and to be divided, to minimize stress on your loved ones and avoid nasty family fights that can occur after the funeral. You can minimize problems and decide some of the tough issues before you pass away. Estate planning is a thoughtful gift for your family and friends.

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