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Today, moving across the world is far more common than it used to be. More college-age students leave their home countries to pursue educational experiences abroad, and many often remain in the country in which they choose to study. Others leave their home country for a job opportunity or to start a new family of their own. Whatever the reason for leaving, many residents of the United States born in other countries that still have strong, close familial ties in those foreign countries may be at risk of losing portions of the inheritance their family members in other countries may wish to give them.

Tax Consequences

Not every country has a version of the estate tax, though the United States estate tax is not the highest estate taxing country out there according to Tax Foundation. As a result, residents of many other countries may not have to contend with an estate tax in planning to distribute their estate. Leaving an inheritance to their children outright is likely commonplace and causes little disruption to the inheritance process in many places. However, when a citizen of a foreign country wants to leave an inheritance to their child that may be a U.S. citizen, there can be estate tax complications. With the United States estate tax rate of 40 percent, this can have a significant impact on a U.S. child’s foreign inheritance.

There are many factors that can influence how we decide to distribute our assets to heirs after our death. Most of the time, a large portion of our estate is left to our closest family members, including a spouse and children. However, determining exactly what we leave to those family members can be challenging especially when we consider the many additional factors that can be important in this part of the process.

When Equal Isn’t Necessarily Fair

Many individuals seek to make the asset distribution process easier by simply dividing assets among their heirs equally. However, depending on the personal dynamics of your family, that may not be the wisest choice. The following example, adapted from a recent article from Forbes, helps highlight this type of situation.

There are plenty of fancy words in law that actually have very basic definitions. Estate planning law is no different, with plenty of legal terms that can often be hard to unpack and understand. One such term that gets thrown around a great deal in the field of estate planning is “executor.” Who is an executor? What is their role? The following information may help you understand more about an executor and their role in your estate planning.

What is an executor?

The person creating a Will, known as the testator, will name someone that will be responsible for administering the provisions of the will in compliance with the law known as the executor. Basically, an executor oversees making sure that debts are paid and remaining assets are distributed per the testator’s wishes. Depending on the characteristics of your estate, some of the executor’s jobs may include:

In an increasingly digital society where we have become use to just “googling” the answers to our questions, there is no shortage of online legal advice and self-help. While some of this information can be valid and very useful, it doesn’t take the place of an actual lawyer that is able to apply the law to individual circumstances.

In fact, the ready availability of do-it-yourself legal guides on the web can pose a serious risk to people that use them, especially in the case of wills. Given how important your last will and testament is, it is essential to make sure that all details have been addressed and that all of your bases are covered so that you are able to distribute assets you have worked a lifetime for according to your wishes. According to the American Bar Association, three common dangers of do-it-yourself wills include:

Generic Forms

The law can often be confusing. One such term includes probate in reference to a will. It is important for people to understand exactly what probate is and what assets are required to go through probate in New York. Keep in mind that these are general definitions and examples, and your individual circumstances will often impact exactly what assets are considered probate or non-probate.

What is probate?

Basically, probate is the legal process that takes place after a person has died. Usually, the probate process begins by proving whether or not the deceased person’s will is valid if a will exists. The process may also include:

When a deceased individual, known as a decedent, leaves a Will, family members and friends that have reason to believe something may be wrong with that Will may be able to have a court rule that the Will is invalid in some situations. The following are examples of common situations in which a person may have reason to ask a court to overturn a Will, most of which can be avoided by working with an attorney to create a valid Will.

The Will Does Not Comply with Law

There are several specific requirements the person making a Will, known as the testator, must comply with for a Will to be valid in New York. Basically, these include:

As the United States prepares to have a new president take office in 2017, millions of Americans are wondering what will happen to their health insurance coverage under Obamacare. Obamacare was enacted in order to provide coverage to those citizens who did not previously have coverage due to ineligibility or loss of coverage, with the goal of bringing down the cost of health insurance generally, and reducing costs regardless of preexisting conditions. While it was a widely contested issue between Republicans and Democrats, now that a Republican president will take office, plans are being made to repeal Obamacare.

Those in favor of Obamacare have raised question about what the 25 to 30 million people who now have insurance through the government program will do when coverage is stripped, especially since many of those are elders. However, proponents of a new system point to statistics that have shown that the majority of those who obtained benefits did so through Medicaid. Of the 14 million people who signed up for Obamacare between 2013 and 2015, 12 million of those did so through Medicaid. Thus, a large portion of the population will be able to qualify for coverage through other government programs technically.

In an effort to prepare, Republicans have come up with a block grant system as an alternative to be implemented, giving states more control over the way government funding is spent in their area. The block grant alternative also lawmakers on the state level to decide how money allocated to their area through Medicaid is spent, by allowing health needs particular to that state’s citizens control where more or less money can be spent. One thing is definite for government health care coverage, it will be cut one way or another with the new presidency.

Why Were Interest Rates Raised?

The Federal Reserve has made the decision to increase interest rates by 0.25% at the end of 2016, with more dramatic increases to follow in 2017, news of which was released in December 2016. The decision was made for the interest rate increase of a quarter point to begin at the end of 2016, with two more 0.25% increases to follow over the course of the following year. This increase indicates that the labor market is tightening and thus, the United States economy is improving. Over the past decade, interest rates have only increased 0.25%, with that increase happening at the same time last year.

This change was made in response to the impressive amount of jobs that have been created and maintained over the past year and a half, with unemployment rates now below 5%, the lowest it has been since before the recession. Notably, in 2016, 180,000 jobs were added a month, which has led the Federal Reserve to allow interest rates to increase due to borrowers’ ability to pay more for loans and return to the ideal of 2% inflation. The interest rate hikes in 2017 could follow quickly after President-elect Trump’s taking to office, due to his pledge to provide growth oriented tax cuts and increased spending on infrastructure.

Inheriting physical real estate, such as a home or vacation cabin, can be tricky to navigate. You have to consider your desire for the property, potential expenses involved in ownership, and the process of transitioning ownership of the property to your name. These situations become more complicated when you add joint ownerships and partial interests.

People have been known to leave homes or vacation properties to their children to have in equal shares. This is common in cases where the property has been in the family for generations. Property left to multiple people is considered equally owned as “tenants-in-common” or “co-tenants”. All co-tenants have the right to use all of the property and share in any profits or liabilities from it.

“I don’t want a cabin in the woods if my brother’s there too.”

Estate planning can be a tricky matter. If it wasn’t difficult enough to make decisions regarding the end of your life and your estate beyond your lifetime, you are also expected to learn and understand a slew of new words and phrases. What are the main phrases you must know to be able to plan and understand your estate? Here’s our breakdown:

Beneficiary: A beneficiary is someone who receives an inheritance through a will. Beneficiaries can be designated on certain financial assets, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies. These designated beneficiaries will supercede the will.

Bequest: A bequest is a provision in a will that leaves property or assets to someone specific.

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