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estate planning

Year-End Planning

As the year comes to an end there are some things you may want to consider before 2021 arrives in just a few weeks. Increase your retirement savings. The maximum amounts allowed to 401k and IRA retirement plans remains unchanged for 2021 at $19,500 ($26,000 if over 50) and $6,000 ($7,000 if over 50) respectively. Consider saving as a percentage versus a dollar amount. Some 401k plans allow you to increase your percentage savings automatically every year. Replenish your emergency fund if necessary. Three to six months of living expenses is a good idea. If you found yourself using more during the pandemic, consider an emergency fund of six to nine months. Consider lowering your debt. Reducing and eliminating debt could mean making extra payments on your mortgage or vehicles. It may also necessitate refinancing your mortgage. With current rates as low as they are, it may be wise to […]

Estate Planning Essentials

How many of you reading this have an estate? If you think you have an estate, then please keep reading – this should be you and everyone else reading this. That is, everyone has an estate. Many individuals believe that to have an estate they must have a certain amount of “stuff”, net worth, income, social status, etc. Furthermore, these same individuals may feel estate planning involves complex documents, high legal fees, considerable time. While this may be true for some estate plans, it’s not always the case. Additionally, many individuals feel that estate planning involves planning for incapacity or death. Although not pleasant to discuss, planning for one’s incapacity or death is an important part of their overall financial plan. Having these discussions before incapacity arises (a possibility) or death occurs (a certainty) can help ease the stress for loved ones dealing with these situations of and when they […]

Why Young People Need Estate Planning

Many young individuals and couples think that the time to start thinking about estate planning is when they’re older, or perhaps if they ever have “estates”. On other occasions, the impetus to plan may be due to a recent death of a friend or family member without an estate plan or as my friend Tom, an estate planning attorney says, “Right before they take a trip over water.” However, many young individuals should start thinking and “doing” some estate planning right away. Before we get to specific recommendation, let us first understand what estate planning is – and, what your “estate” is. Essentially, your estate is everything you own. This includes your home, personal property, life insurance policies, invested assets, etc. Deciding how these assets are controlled and divided in the event of your death is called estate planning. Additionally, estate planning includes who will care for your children if […]

Do You Have The Will?

Statistics show us that approximately 70% of all Americans don’t have a valid will. Are you one of them? With that statistic, chances are that you don’t. This means that in a circle of four people, three probably don’t have a will. This situation begs an obvious question: Do I need a will? One simple way to determine if you need a will is if you can’t truthfully answer “No” to both of the following questions: Do you care who gets your money and property when you die? Do you care who is appointed guardian of your minor children if you die? If you answered “Yes” to either or both of those questions, you need a will! Otherwise, state laws will determine the outcome of those situations – and it’s not likely that you would have made the same decisions that the state would. Why should you have a will? A will […]

Book Review: Facing the Finish–A Roadmap for Aging Parents and Adult Children

One of life’s only sureties, we all will eventually come face-to-face with the end of our life.  Sometimes it comes quickly with no warning, and sometimes end of life comes more slowly, over the course of many months or years.  In either case, after life there are many things to deal with (for those that remain) – and in the cases where the final chapter of our life is a lengthy one, there are many more decisions to make and situations to deal with. Regardless of how swiftly or drawn out the event is, we can all benefit from planning out many of the inevitable decisions in advance. This book is an excellent guide for folks who are either nearing that final transition in life (referred to by the author as Older Adults), or who are helping our parents or grandparents with this transition (referred to as Adult Children).  Most […]

Book Review: The Other Talk

A Guide to Talking with Your Adult Children About the Rest of Your Life This book, a relatively short read at 176 pp before appendices, is a nice guide for folks facing (or in) retirement and dealing with those end of life issues that we all must face at some point in our lives.  As the subtitle implies, this book guides the reader through the process of having the “other talk” with our children.  The first talk is about the birds and the bees, and the analogy between that talk and the “other talk” is apt.  The subject matter is profoundly difficult and emotional for both parties, but avoiding the talk (either one) can have serious impacts for both parties as well – because avoiding either talk will not keep the “event” from occurring. The author Tim Prosch relies on many personal experiences as well as a great deal of […]

The Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trust

Often we come up against situations in planning finances for folks where some special tools are necessary.  One of those situations, quite common these days, is when one or both members of a couple has children by a prior marriage.  The situation brings about some interesting questions when considering how the marital assets will be divided when one member of the couple has passed on. Daryl has three children by a prior marriage, and his wife Toni also has three children by a prior marriage.  Both Daryl and Toni have considerable assets from before their marriage – each has a investments and retirement accounts in their own name: Toni’s accounts are worth $350,000, and Daryl’s accounts are worth $300,000.  Given their lifestyle, they will not be needing much of their accounts early in retirement – but it’s quite likely that later in life they may need the accounts for medical […]

Per Stirpes / Per Capita–What Does it Mean?

When working with your estate planning (even if you don’t realize you are) you may run across the terms per stirpes and per capita.  Choose one type over the other and you could have a significant impact on who eventually receives your estate.  So what do these two terms mean? defines the two terms as follows: per stirpes – noun; pertaining to or noting a method of dividing an estate in which the descendants of a deceased person share as a group in the portion of the estate to which the deceased would have been entitled. per capita – noun; noting or pertaining to a method of dividing an estate by which all those equally related to the decedent take equal shares individually without regard to the number of lines of descent. This probably seems like just so much gunk to you, so let’s look at an example. Joe […]