Articles Posted in Estate Administration

Many people think that retirement involves doing nothing. In reality, if you want to make sure that you avoid legal and financial complications, substantial consideration must be made during the retirement period. This involves handling Medicare issues, filing for Social Security, and navigating tax and distribution-related nuances. This article reviews some important issues to consider when reviewing retirement issues.

# 1 – Aim for a 5% Return

Even people with a large amount of savings discover that they end up having much less after paying withdrawal taxes. The best way to plan around taxation issues is to aim for a return of about 5% from your investments. While it can be tempting in retirement to focus on a conservative portfolio of assets, it is in most people’s best interest to diversify their portfolio. 

In the United States, married individuals almost always receive assets from their spouses without paying estate tax. One exception is the often-overlooked law involving marriage between a citizen of the United States and a foreign national. If you find yourself in this situation, it can create a unique challenge during estate planning.

The Foreign National Exception

Under federal law, if an American citizen is married to a foreign national and the first to die in the couple, the surviving foreign national is prohibited from using the standard marital deduction to inherit property. If the couple lives in the United States, the entire asset is subject to this regulation. If the couple lives overseas, however, only US-based assets are impacted by this law. 

Many conversations mention estate and inheritance taxes together, but there are some substantial differences between these two things. Both these taxes, however, have one thing in common: not everybody pays them. 

As a result, it is a wise idea to begin by deciding whether you will be required to pay either of the taxes.

Is Inheritance Taxable?

The Supreme Court of Montana recently affirmed a judgment by the district court distributing assets from a trust established by a husband and wife to the couple’s three children. 

The district court had interpreted the trust creator’s handwritten codicil as a wish and not a specific bequest of the woman’s stock in a company that the couple had created and grown. Before the husband’s death in 1993, the couple executed identical wills under which the assets of the first spouse to die  passed into a trust with the assets in the trust intended to be distributed equally between the three children of the surviving spouse. 

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision that the codicil was lacking in testamentary intent to specifically devise shares, this specific bequest was not passed on. 

Losing a parent is not easy. While being prepared for the event might not make the emotional aspect any easier, it can help to eliminate the potential for additional problems. As a result, this article reviews some of the important financial steps that you can take after a parent passes away.

# 1 – Determine if Your Parents Had an Estate Plan

The position of managing a parent’s estate after their death can be made much easier if a parent had an estate plan. Ideally, a parent will organize all of their estate documents in an easy to find but secured location. The best estate plans include wills that address how assets should be handled, dispositions of last remains regarding how a parent’s remains should be disposed of, and several other documents. 

Creating a living will is one of the areas of the estate planning that many people overlook. These documents, which are also sometimes referred to as advance health care directives, describe what types of life-prolonging measure an individual would like if they are placed on life support. 

Among other reasons why these documents are overlooked is that making decisions about these issues can be emotionally difficult for people. If you have decided to finally take the valuable step of creating a living will, it is a wise idea to ask yourself some critical questions.

The Worth of Creating a Living Wills

The federal estate tax is a tax that is placed on a person’s estate after death. 

While many people are familiar with this general concept, they have a number of more specific questions about what the federal estate tax does and does not include. 

For one, many people confuse estate taxes with income taxes. One difference between these two is that estate taxes are not a tax placed on a person’s income.

Electronic wills have the option of providing a variety of important benefits to individuals who are interested in the estate planning process. Considering the tendency of many individuals to delay issues related to estate planning, electronic wills provide individuals with an opportunity to quickly create a legal document that decides how their assets should be divided following their death.

Weaknesses in Electronic Wills

There are some dangers that exist in using an electronic will, which must be addressed before these wills are capable of being used before individuals. A skilled estate planning attorney, however, is often able to help individuals navigate these various issues which include the following:

Beginning with a list of your assets can be a simple way to begin estate planning. Unfortunately, statistics compiled by reveal that more than half of Americans do not have a will. This is despite the numerous advantages offered by having a will which include avoiding potentially high legal fees and tax consequences. If you do not yet have a will or estate planning documents in place, it can be tempting to use one of the numerous do it yourself forms that are available online. Before writing an estate planning document in this manner, however, it is important to understand the numerous complications that can arise from creating an estate planning document on your own rather than obtaining the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer. This article reviews some of the important things that you should consider when creating an estate planning document online.

# 1 – Recognize All of the Available Options

There are several options to create an estate planning documents: a do it yourself service, on your own, or with the help of an experienced attorney. If you decide to create state planning documents on your own, it is critical to have a firm understanding of various applicable estate planning issues. If you decide to use an online service, you will not have any legal advice to create these documents or to warn if you create any mistakes while engaged in the planning process. Obtaining the assistance of an estate planning lawyer helps to make sure that you fully address any issues that can arise in the estate planning process.

Although passing an estate through probate can be an unnecessarily long and expensive process, it is usually an administrative task through which heirs receive their inheritance as the deceased saw fit to award. However, family dynamics can complicate the expediency at which executors are able to pass some estates through probate, leaving the courts, rather than the deceased in his or her last will and testament, to ultimately decide which heirs or other interested parties receive certain portions of the estate.

Instead of using the courts to settle these types of disputes, families should consider mediation as an alternative to expensive and time consuming litigation in front of judges with already heavy caseloads. Mediation is a type of dispute resolution where both sides meet with an independent party to help negotiate a settlement to the matter, out of court and without the need for extended litigation and costly legal fees.

Often times, disputes over who gets what during the probate process are the manifestation of long standing animosity between family members or individuals close to the deceased. While mediation has no authoritative decision making over who gets what, it can be beneficial because it allows both sides to keep control over their position, is less confrontational than a courtroom setting, and can preserve familial relationships by resulting in wins for both sides, rather than victory for one party and a defeat for the other.

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