Thursday, June 30, 2016

No Kids? You Still Need an Estate Plan

As the adage goes, you can’t take it with you. Whether you want to spend your last dime or leave it all behind when you go, creating a comprehensive plan for your estate begins earlier than you might think. If you don’t have children or obvious heirs, documenting your wishes and making them accessible will help ensure those wishes are fulfilled should something happen to you. 

“If today were your last day on earth, who would get your stuff?” says Jean-Luc Bourdon, a certified public accountant in Santa Barbara, California, and a member of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ personal financial planning executive committee. It’s a question he poses to all of his clients, especially those without kids. While parents may think their children are the answer, Bourdon says people without children need to plan more carefully.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Five Steps To Create An Estate Plan

For many people, creating an estate plan is a task that routinely gets pushed to the bottom of the pile. Some assume that estate plans are only for the wealthy. Others may simply want to avoid thinking about some of the tough topics estate planning entails. Whatever the reason, the majority of Americans—some 64 percent—don’t even have a basic will.

Yet, most everyone should have an estate plan.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

5 Things Prince's Family, And You, Should Know About Estate Planning

Millions mourned the loss of Prince, but those of us in the financial field were astounded when Prince’s sister filed documents indicating that he never executed a will. Prince had a reputation in the legal world of being very hands on in his legal affairs. He went through numerous lawyers handling his affairs. Because of the hands-on nature of Prince’s previous business affairs, it is quite the surprise that he died without having executed a will. Dying without a will can have severe consequences. It might mean a family battle will ensue as siblings and half-siblings try to allocate the legends substantial wealth.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

How to Draw Up a Special Needs Trust for a Child With Disabilities

Who will be the trustee? Because the rules of managing a trust are so complex, most lawyers advise contracting with an expert. Fees average 1 to 1.5 percent, Williams says.
Will a family member act as co-trustee or guardian? This option lets a family member approve the trust accounting and make the requests for a person with disabilities who can't do it himself.

Where will the child live? Money from a special needs trust can't be used for housing or food if the person with disabilities received government benefits. If the $733 a month in SSI payments won't cover housing, and the person can't work, it's important to explore other options.

Are other documents needed? In the eyes of the law, a person 18 and older is considered an adult. If a parent or other relative needs to make decisions, documents providing for guardianship, health care surrogate, power of attorney or other functions may be required.

Is a new ABLE account a better choice? Legislation signed in late 2014 established accounts similar to 529 college savings plans for people with certain disabilities diagnosed before age 26. The federal government and state governments are still establishing the extra rules, though the accounts should be available in many states by the end of the year. In general, family members can contribute up to $14,000 a year to the accounts tax-free, and recipients could keep their government benefits until the accounts exceed $100,000. After that, they would lose SSI but remain eligible for Medicaid. These accounts would be less restrictive than a special needs trust, though experts say some people with disabilities may need both options.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

No, You Don't Have to Disinherit a Child With Special Needs

Over the past 20 years, the number of students with disabilities has increased at a faster rate than both the general population and school enrollment.

In 2010, approximately 2.8 million school-age children were reported to have a disability. (The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines “disability” as: “mental retardation, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance… and who, by reason thereof, need special education and related services.”

Of course those statistics only include children with disabilities who are students; some number of children are unable to enroll in school because the nature of their disability is too severe.

Many people assume they will have to, in effect, disinherit a child with disabilities because if they leave them money… they’ll lose the government benefits they are entitled to.


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