For the unwary, state estate and inheritance taxes can come as a big surprise. That’s going to be especially true as families think they can get away without planning now that the federal estate tax only hits individuals who die with more than $5 million in assets ($5.25 million for 2013, indexed for inflation). But 21 states and the District of Columbia have estate and/or inheritance taxes on the books for 2013, and in some cases they kick in on the first dollar.
“The thing that makes state estate tax so sinister is it’s underneath peoples’ radar, but it’s got a sharp bite,” says Martin Shenkman, an estate lawyer in Paramus, N.J. “If you have under $5 million, you’re not necessarily out the woods.” Say you die with $2 million in your name and a plan to leave everything to your children, the state tax bite would be $99,600, calculates Ira Herman, a CPA with Cohn Reznick in Roseland, N.J. “Who wants to write a check for $100,000 to the government,” he quips. (For how delayed nuptials cost a couple $214,000 in New Jersey inheritance tax.)Still in many cases, you can make the state tax bill go away with a little planning. Here’s help. Sigue leyendo →
Powers of attorney are documents giving someone else the power to make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer capable of doing so. These could be financial decisions or, depending on the type of power of attorney given, decisions about your welfare.
They are very important documents, and should not be taken out lightly or without expert advice. But are they worth doing?
We think so, and here are a few reasons why:
1. We are all living longer. This is undoubtedly a good thing, but it does mean that more of us are likely to be afflicted with conditions that affect our mental capacity. It makes sense to plan ahead, just in case it happens to you.
2. It makes it easier for your friends/relatives to take care of you. If something happens to you, such as a serious road accident, for example, and you don’t have a power of attorney in place, then it can be difficult for your relatives or friends to deal with things like your bills or mortgage without going to court first. Sigue leyendo →
Anyone who’s put a loved one to rest knows that death is not cheap. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average adult funeral cost $6,560 in 2009 (their most current data). That doesn’t even include such common add-ons as a cemetery plot, headstone, flowers, obituaries and limousine, which can add thousands to the bill.
Because death is a frequently avoided topic, many people aren’t armed in advance with information about the many variables — and costs — involved in planning a funeral. Thus, just when survivors are grieving and most vulnerable, they’re bombarded by decisions that must be made quickly, often without even knowing what their loved one would have wanted.
The key message for the living is to decide on your preferred funeral arrangements Sigue leyendo →
For many families, taking care of a loved one with special needs is a daily challenge. Whether it is a child, sibling or other family member, the compassion and caring instincts can be overwhelming. But when it comes to the specific estate planning needs and desires of these situations, it can be very important to look at all the contingencies.
While you want to make sure that your loved ones needs will be met or surpassed, you also need to make decisions that will benefit your overall estate plans at the same time. If your planning also involves family members without special needs, specific considerations should be in place that will maximize the overall benefit to your family, while not sacrificing your special needs plans.
Choosing the right person or people to handle the management of your assets after you die merits a lot of thought. While it’s pretty common to appoint a family member or friend, that’s not your only choice. A lot depends on your personal situation — both the complexity of your estate as well as family dynamics.
Appointing a family member can be seen as a symbol of love and faith. However, in the case of multiple siblings, it could be interpreted as an expression of trust in one child over another. So I can understand the dilemma. But while there’s an emotional component to this choice, you need to try to keep sentiment in check. To me, it’s really about who will do the best job. Sigue leyendo →
Most of us post many things on social networks (photos, friends, fans,…) we all have electronic banking (balances, transactions, receipts,…) on internet. Others have their own blog (opinions, ideologies, phobias and filias, …) but we, one way or the other, have our online life. What are you going to do? Sigue leyendo →
Becoming a new parent is the most exciting time in a father’s life. It also comes with a gigantic to-do list: strollers, a new crib, high chairs and the car seat. But, there are some to-do’s that the baby registry fails to inform you about. And, those items are some of the most important. Here are three mistakes that dads fail to prepare for when a baby comes.
Not Having or Updating Life Insurance
A study conducted in September 2010 during Life Insurance Awareness Month showed that 44 percent of U.S. households only have individual life insurance Sigue leyendo →
The last-minute tax deal cobbled together in Washington contained several key elements for estate planning. Now advisors can break the good news to wealthy clients:
The estate and gift tax provisions of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 are permanent, as the “sunset” provisions of prior law have been eliminated. This permanence “is sure to be welcomed by taxpayers as a departure from the constant uncertainty surrounding federal tax policy over the past decade,” contends Rich Behrendt, director of estate planning for Baird’s Private Wealth Management group.
Without the new law, the federal estate tax exemption was scheduled to return to its previous level of $1 million, last seen in 2003. Now, the $5 million exemption amount is in place for the foreseeable future. Indexed to inflation, the exemption amount for deaths in 2013 is $5.25 million.
It’s true that the maximum estate tax rate is now 40%, up from 35% last year, but that’s still below the top 55% rate in effect as recently as 2001. The generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax also has a $5.25 million exemption this year, and a 40% maximum rate for larger transfers. Sigue leyendo →
Alison Atkins died on July 27 at age 16. Online, her family is losing its hold on her memory.
Three days after the Toronto teen lost a long battle with a colon disease, her sister Jaclyn Atkins had a technician crack Alison’s password-protected MacBook Pro. Her family wanted access to Alison’s digital remains: Facebook Twitter, Tumblr, Yahoo and Hotmail accounts that were her lifeline when illness isolated her at home.
“Alison had pictures, messages and poems written that we wanted to keep to remember her,” says Ms. Atkins, 20, an undergraduate at the University of Toronto.
But using Alison’s passwords violated some of those websites’ terms of service, and possibly the law. None of the services allow the Atkins family—or any others—to retrieve the passwords of the deceased. Sigue leyendo →