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.

Maintaining your Social Security number is something we have all been told to keep close, and to be wary of releasing to companies unless absolutely needed. Your Social Security number are a series of numbers that help identify individuals in the United States as either citizens, permanent residents, or temporary workers, for tax reporting purposes. If closely held, this series of numbers provides an easy way for you to identify yourself for various reasons including obtaining bills,  loans, applying for jobs, and when attempting to contact any government agency.

While the internet has provided us with a vast amount of knowledge, it has also provided hackers with a way of obtaining our personal data once entered into a database, for credit card processing, or many of the other reasons we use personal information. A website is recently under scrutiny when they began selling Social Security Numbers for $250 dollars each. The website guarantees that as long as the seeker of the Social Security Number has the correct name, last known address, and date of birth of the person they are looking for, they will provide the correct Social Security Number.

The way in which Peopleinfofind.com, the website behind this scheme is able to claim what they are doing is legal is by stating they they provide this information in order to help debt collectors or those who have forgotten their Social recover it or locate an individual. However, the Better Business Bureau has caught on and is now investigating their website. While it is legal for employers to verify an employee’s Social Security Number with the Social Security Administration,  attempting to find someone’s Social Security Number through a reverse lookup should be seriously questioned.

Healthcare coverage has been an unsure and confusing issue for both young and elderly citizens over the past decade, with the potential to only become more complicated as a new president takes office. While laws have been amended throughout President Obama’s term to now allow young adults to remain covered under their parents insurance until they are 26 years old, there are no hard rules regarding whether parents can qualify under their adult childrens’ health insurance plans.

Narrow Exceptions To Covering Parents

There are limited situations in which an adult child could get their elderly or ailing parent covered under their company’s insurance provider, however, they must meet a number of requirements. Parents can be covered under their child’s insurance plan if they can qualify as a dependent and meet specific criteria. Dependents traditionally have been considered those children under the age of 26 who do not maintain coverage, spouses or domestic partners, however, parents can qualify generally if they meet the IRS definition of dependent upon their adult child.

Properly planning and structuring of charitable contributions and gifts can be a huge part of the overall estate plan. There are good and bad ways to give. Ensure that your gift is properly funded and distributed per your wishes by planning ahead of time. This planning may include using charitable remainder trusts.

Charitable Remainder Trust Basics

This estate planning tool is often considered a “split interest trust” which allows both the owner and the charity to benefit. Once a charitable remainder trust (CRT) is drafted and assets are transferred into the trust, the owner will begin receiving income for life from the trust. Upon the death of the owner of the CRT, the remaining trust property passes directly to the charity.

Giving to charity is an important aspect of many estates. Those wishing to give gifts in a tax efficient manner should consider the positives and negatives of certain types of gifts. Many people who are wishing to help reduce estate taxes should consider spreading gifts throughout their lifetime.

Lifetime Gifting

In most cases, it is better to give money to loved ones while you are still alive than to wait until you pass away. Currently, a person can give up to $14,000 each to any number of other persons in a single year without incurring a taxable gift. This $14,000 annual exclusion is beneficial to you and to the recipient who typically does not owe taxes on the gift and does not have to report it unless it is from a foreign source. Any gift over the $14,000 exclusion must be reported on a Gift Tax Return and spouses splitting gifts must always file this Gift Tax Return even when no taxable gift is incurred. It is also possible to make unlimited payments directly to medical providers or educational institutions on behalf of others for qualified expenses though incurring a taxable gift. This can be a bit of a loophole.

Charitable contributions and gifts make up a large aspect of many estates. As with everything, there is a right way to give and a wrong way to give. Planning can help ensure that your gift is properly funded and distributed according to your wishes. This planning may include using qualified funds while you are living.

The 411 on QCDs

Individuals age 70 ½ or older are allowed under IRS rules to make direct charitable gifts from an IRA of up to $100,000 to public charities. These gifts are called qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) and are not required to report this distribution as taxable income on their federal income tax return. Historically, this tax break was voted upon and approved on an annual basis; as of 2015, it has been permanent.

Trusts are common estate planning tools in which a person can transfer ownership of assets to the trust. While this person is alive, they retain control over the assets in their life. Upon their death, the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the trust.

While the Person is Alive

A revocable trust uses the social security number of the person who created the trust. A revocable trust does not have to file its own tax return. All income is, instead reported in the same manner as any other income on the tax return of the trust creator. People who jointly own a revocable trust, such as a married couple, both hold the power to revoke the trust. This means that either person’s social security number can be used. Couples who file tax returns separately must be careful. The person who reports the income on their personal tax returns should be the same as the person whose social security number is used.

Newly married couples are embarking on a whole new life together. This new life comes with a number of changes. It is important to consider your estate planning as you begin your life together. Creating an estate plan that works for both you and your new spouse can ensure that you are on the same page when it comes to medical, financial, and end of life decisions.

Update Accounts and Beneficiaries

Many married couples consolidate their accounts. Checking and savings accounts are usually held jointly. Consider opening a joint bank account or credit cards to make paying for future expenses more convenient. Insurance plans, such as health, car, home, or life insurance often allow for family plans that include coverage for the whole household. Changing over to these plans can almost always provide the same amount of coverage for a better rate.

When choosing the people you trust the most to serve as a part of your estate plan in any capacity, whether they be a family member, close friend or trusted individual in the community, it is important to understand the role that you are asking them to play. Serving as the executor of your estate, the trustee of your trust, as your healthcare representative or power of attorney is not a blessing. Making sure that the people you ask to fulfill these roles ahead of time understand that is crucial to ensuring that your estate plan is carried out effectively and to your wishes.

Managing Expectations

Many people feel that being chosen for one of these roles is a great honor. After all, being asked to serve as someone’s power of attorney or trustee means that there is a presence of trust in the relationship. After all, out of all the people who could have been chosen, out of all the people who could have been asked, you asked that specific person to handle your affairs.

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