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Estate Planning Steps You Must Take After Your Spouse Passes Away

One of the most challenging moments in the lives of many people are the days and weeks following the loss of a loved one. If you find yourself in such a situation, it helps to understand what tasks you must achieve. This article reviews some of the most important things that a person must remember to do after their spouse passes away. Before taking any of these steps, however, you should make sure to collect financial records, bank accounts, tax returns, insurance policies, mortgages, debts, and other statements.  Close Bank Accounts When the Time is Right Some people postpone closing a bank account that is only titled in a deceased individual’s name. If you close a bank account that is receiving Social Security too soon, payments for the month of death might be reversed and lead to a negative balance.  Contact Your Spouse’s Life Insurance Carrier Before making a call to the company that holds your spouse’s life insurance, you should make sure that you have all of the necessary documents in order. You should also understand what benefit options are available because there is frequently more than one way that a surviving spouse can claim a life insurance benefit.  [...]

2021-08-16T20:04:31+00:00Tags: |

Making the Most of Federal Estate and Gift Exemptions

As of January 2021, a person in the United States is permitted to pass on $11.7 million and a married couple can distribute $23.4 million without being subject to any estate or gift taxes. A sunset clause written into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 as well as the results of the 2020 elections, however, place this amount in danger of being substantially reduced.  If financial circumstances justify utilizing this exemption, you should consider taking these actions now so you do not end up facing substantial estate taxes on your assets in the future. The Risk that These Exemptions Will Disappear These current exemptions are in danger of going away both due to exiting tax law as well as the aftermath of the 2020 elections. Not only is it critical for those impacted by these exemptions to understand they will go away, but it is also necessary to perform adequate estate planning. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which was passed in the final days of 2017 increased the exemption from $5 to $10 million.  The Act contains a sunset provision, as well. Provided that no actions are taken to extend the length of or keep this exemption, [...]

2021-02-08T17:58:09+00:00Tags: , , , |

Three Things to Remember About Accessing a Deceased Person’s Digital Accounts

We have all become more reliant on digital living. We use the internet for things like banking, communication, storage, taxes, and many other critical aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, if a loved one dies without adequate planning, accessing the digital assets of a loved one after they have passed away can be fraught with difficulties. The introduction of new cybersecurity methods like fingerprint technology has resulted in even more difficulties in accessing deceased loved ones’ digital accounts. Effective January 2021, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act helps address frequent challenges encountered by fiduciaries in accessing a deceased person’s accounts. The following is some helpful information for those trying to access their loved ones’ digital assets after death.  Follow Some General Steps Different digital accounts have different requirements, but that there are some general guidelines that you can follow to prepare to access this information. Some of these helpful steps include: Contact either the county clerk or state office where the loved one died so you can obtain a copy of that person’s death record. Sometimes, a fee is required. Check the access rules of the digital site that you plan on accessing. Many digital services have automated [...]

Four Things to Consider About Silent Trusts

It is almost always a good idea to have conversations with your loved ones about what your estate plans are. While some people choose to gather together with family members and discuss these things, other people decide to address these issues in written form. If you decide to implement a silent or quiet trust as part of your estate plan, however, you will not be able to discuss these terms with your loved ones. This is because a silent trust restricts the amount of information that you can share with beneficiaries. If you are wondering if you should  include a silent trust in your estate plan, consider the following useful information.  The Advantages of Silent Trusts The ability to keep the terms of a trust secret provides several substantial benefits, which include: Avoiding beneficiary scrutiny of the investment and management of trust assets Ensuring confidentiality regarding the trust creator’s affairs and estate plans Preventing the disclosure of information regarding the trust’s management of assets Reducing the chances that beneficiaries are subject to fraud or identity theft The Disadvantages of Silent Trusts The most substantial drawback to silent trusts is that they make it impossible to keep beneficiaries informed about your [...]

2021-02-08T17:57:03+00:00Tags: , , |

Five Steps to Avoid Probate Litigation

There are some estate planning strategies that you can utilize now that will make things much easier on your loved ones in case you pass away or end up incapacitated. You do this to eliminate many of the possible complications that your loved ones could face after you pass away. One  significant hardship for your heirs that you likely want to avoid is for your estate to get tied up in a lengthy, costly, and stressful probate process. The following are some steps you can take now to eliminate the chances your estate will end up in costly probate litigation after your passing.  Adequately Update Your Estate Plan Having a current estate plan is one of the best ways to make sure that you are adequately prepared for the various changes that lie ahead. This means making sure that you always sufficiently express your intent to anyone impacted by your estate plan.  Have Honest Conversations Whether you notice the early signs of dementia in a loved one or have unique estate plan goals, it is almost always a good idea to have open and direct conversations with your loved ones in case you end up incapacitated or pass away. You [...]

2021-01-15T16:03:31+00:00Tags: , |

Three Things to Understand about Joint Property Ownership

A common piece of advice offered by estate planning lawyers is that various advantages can be realized by owning property jointly. In reality, joint ownership offers several advantages for surviving family members. Instead of viewing joint property ownership as an answer to every estate planning challenge, however, it is a good idea to be aware of the challenges and issues involved with such an estate planning technique. There are Two Types of Joint Ownership Joint ownership requires more than one party having interest in a property. For married couples, there are two options regarding how to jointly structure ownership of property: Joint tenancy with the right of survivorship is the most common type of joint property ownership. Titling assets in such a way often means that the property will be used for a personal residence. Structuring property in such a way means that either spouse can sell their share of the property without obtaining the other’s consent.  In property that is structured as tenancy by the entirety, one person owns his or her share of the property without the involvement of the other. Structuring property this way provides better creditor protection. In New York, unless the deceased individual who owned [...]

2021-01-15T16:03:45+00:00Tags: , , , |

Four Tips for Fireproofing Your Estate Plan

As we begin the new year, it is a good idea to review the terms of your estate plan. As you glance over these documents, which likely include things like powers of attorney, trusts, wills, and advance healthcare directives, it is important to ask whether your estate plan is still capable of achieving your objectives. A skilled estate planning attorney can help you review your plan to make sure that it is still the best idea to achieve your goals given various changes with estate planning and tax laws. Think about your estate planning as fireproofing your legacy. While poorly written estate plans will do little to protect your loved ones from risk, a fire-proof estate plan will ensure that your loved ones remain safe and well provided for long after you are gone.  Adequately Planning for Blended Families For people with blended families, the question of who should receive what asset is often a much more complicated issue. Failure to properly pass on assets can leave children and other family members greatly disappointed. If a surviving spouse is placed in control of trust assets, stepchildren might be neglected in how an estate is administered. To fully fire-proof your estate [...]

2021-01-15T15:49:13+00:00Tags: , |

Four Clever Estate Planning Strategies You Should Consider

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many people are finding themselves wishing they had created an estate plan earlier. Remember, without the proper plan, an Oklahoma court will be required to make many difficult decisions about your estate and how your assets are transferred. Given various changes to several critical aspects of estate planning law, however, it can be challenging to determine what strategy works best for you. The following discusses just some of the advantageous estate planning tactics that you might consider. Think Twice About Estate Planning Tactics The passage of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 disrupted IRAs by requiring most non-spouse beneficiaries to receive assets from the account in accordance with a 10-year window. Previously, beneficiaries could stretch out the duration of IRA distributions over a lifetime. Beneficiaries who are not more than 10 years younger than the account owner, however, can still distribute assets based throughout  that individual’s life expectancy. As a result, you might wish to reconsider how asset distribution through your IRA is made. Utilizing a Roth Conversion The same 2019 legislation also increased the age for required minimum distributions from 70 and a half to 72. Individuals younger than [...]

2020-12-29T21:02:44+00:00Tags: |

Four Things to Consider About Holiday Gifting and Estate Planning

We have all received holiday gifts we secretly did not want or that did not fit us at all. In the same way that mistakes are a common occurrence when people gift Christmas presents, mistakes are also common when people make gifts as part of an estate plan. While there are many complex estate planning laws, by mastering them you can maximize the amount of assets that you pass on to loved ones. The following reviews just some of the critical strategies that you should remember to follow if you plan on gifting assets to a loved one this holiday season. Consider Waiting Until Early in the Year Many people gift during Christmas and the end of the year, but in reality, it is better to pass on gifts early in the year. By gifting early, the year’s gains are transferred to the beneficiary’s tax status. Additionally, by gifting early in the year, you make sure that you have ample time to carefully choose and plan the gift. Consider waiting a month or two and avoiding a rushed gift this holiday season. Plan Carefully for Appreciated Assets Many people write checks when making gifts as part of an estate plan, [...]

2020-12-29T21:02:06+00:00Tags: |

Four Critical Steps for Efficient Estate Planning

Estate planning is rarely as easy as people think it will be. Even after appointing the trustee of an estate or a personal representative, there are often other nuanced decisions that must be made about how your estate plan should be handled. Failure to properly address these challenges now could lead your loved ones to face countless obstacles after you pass away or become incapacitated. Fortunately, by completing some additional assignments now, you can avoid many of these obstacles. The following reviews just some of the strategies that you can follow to achieve your estate planning goals. Sign Any Documents You Can Now You should make sure you have signed all of the documents signed by your bank and financial lender that you can now while you are fully competent. Even when power of attorney documents are involved, a person is still required to sign these documents. Signing these documents now increases the odds that the distribution of your assets will proceed as smoothly as possible after you pass away and that your loved ones will receive assets as quickly as possible. Beneficiaries, however, should still be prepared to wait at least six months and often as long as a [...]

2020-12-29T21:01:40+00:00Tags: |