Articles Tagged with brooklyn estate planning

Nobody likes thinking about serious illness, especially a serious illness that could lead to death. Unfortunately, such illnesses can cause massive financial difficulties for friends and loved ones which can in turn significantly deplete the assets you had been planning to leave to your heirs. The moral of the story is that, no matter your age, it is never too early to start planning for the potential need for end-of-life care. The following tips are adapted from a recent article on this topic found in USA Today, and they may provide you with some important concepts to consider when thinking about healthcare issues.

Be Explicit About Your Wishes

Telling people in passing how you hope to be cared for in case of serious illness is important, but it isn’t necessarily always enough. It is important to write down your wishes and be explicit about how you wish your health care to be handled. You should also work with your estate planning attorney to create documents such as health care proxy nominations and/or a living will that express your healthcare wishes in detail.

While comprehensive estate planning can certainly be a difficult process, there are some things that remain rather constant. Most parents will choose to leave the bulk of their estate to their surviving spouse and/or their children, with the surviving spouse typically leaving the remainder of the estate to children. However, it is not uncommon for individuals thinking about retirement and other aspects of estate planning to not have children and/or not be married. When those situations arise, many of those individuals find it challenging to determine how they would like to distribute their estate and to decide whom they should nominate to make important decisions. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand the myriad options available to you, and a recent article from CNBC can help you start exploring your options.

Shaping Your Will

According to the article, a 2016 survey indicated that 64 percent of Americans do not have a Will in place. While the survey did not focus on childless adults, it is safe to say that many of those individuals do not have a Will in place, either. When you die without leaving a Will, your state has a statute that determines to whom your estate will be distributed.

Typically, many people tend to think an estate plan only includes your Will. In today’s day and age, however, most people have a much more diversified estate plan than they realize. Your estate plan is far more than just your Will and includes things like trusts, investments, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. One of the challenges of comprehensive estate planning can be understanding how these assets work and to whom they should go to. Recently, Forbes explored the way several assets within a typical estate plan usually work and understanding this could be an important part of your estate planning decisions.

Wills and Trusts

Those selected to benefit from assets distributed through a Will may have to wait a little longer than if you were to use a trust or other vehicle to distribute such assets. Wills are required to go through the probate process to prove that they are valid and to make sure they comply with the law. Typically, assets within a Will cannot be touched until the probate process is complete. While the probate process in New York is easier than elsewhere, it can still be time-consuming especially for an individual that may need immediate access to the assets in your Will.

Most individuals recognize the importance of comprehensive estate planning, although they may still choose to avoid it. One important part of your estate plan is your power of attorney (“POA”). Basically, a POA is a document that nominates an individual to make legal decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so for yourself. You can choose the extent of the decision-making power you vest in the individual you have chosen by working together with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine how to best represent your goals. However, it is important to be aware of some of the pitfalls that could weaken your POA. According to a recent article from Forbes, the following tips may help you do just that.

Use an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Too many people decide to cut corners by using any number of online forms and legal information available for download. However, these forms are not tailored to a client’s individual needs, nor do they help you understand important aspects about making sure your POA and other estate planning documents meet the needs you have expressed. Designing your POA and other estate planning documents with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you make sure that your estate plan complies with the law. This can save you and your loved ones time, money, and stress down the line. With something as important as estate planning, you want to be sure that you

Once an individual decides to engage in comprehensive estate planning, several concerns may arise. One of those concerns often involves leaving a large sum of money to an heir that may be facing financial difficulty or may not yet have the ability to budget in a responsible manner. In such cases, individuals likely still want to make sure that the heir in question is financially provided for, but may have serious concerns over whether or not the heir is able to utilize an inheritance in a reasonable manner. In such cases, CNBC notes that increasingly popular IRA trusts might be the solution to helping you make sure that an heir’s inheritance accomplishes the goal you want it to meet.

Basics of an IRA Trust

An IRA, or individual retirement account, typically comes in one of two forms: a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. There are different tax structures in place for both types of accounts, but regardless of the type you choose these retirement accounts can often grow to include sizeable amounts of money over time. As these accounts grow, it is increasingly important for you to ensure that your comprehensive estate planning strategy makes the best use of them.

We have written several aspects about the role IRAs can play in your comprehensive estate planning strategy, as well as several concerns that accompany them. Here, we will address the two common choices facing non-spousal individuals listed as heirs for an IRA account that is not slated to go to a trust for that individual heir. These two choices are to take a lump sum withdrawal or to keep the account invested. Each of these may have different consequences for an individual heir that are important for everyone to keep in mind.

Lump Sum Withdrawal

Non-spousal IRA heirs have the option to elect to make a lump sum withdrawal of the assets within the IRA. Choosing this option could be beneficial on several levels, such as enabling the heir to make use of a large sum of money for important large purchases like a house or renovations. It could also enable them to pay off otherwise crippling debts. However, inheriting a large sum of money all at once can carry complications, some of which are determined by the amount within the IRA as well as the type of IRA.

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.

Comprehensive estate plans often include precautionary measures that ensure your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes. Many times, many of your assets will be distributed to your spouse. However, it is important to think ahead for every possible scenario when engaging in comprehensive estate planning to prevent any unnecessary interruptions in the distribution of your assets once you have passed on. Some or all of the provisions discussed below could be a good fit for your estate plan and protecting your assets.

Simultaneous-Death Clauses

One scenario you may need to consider when engaging in responsible, comprehensive estate planning is one in which you and your primary beneficiary die at the same time or in a manner where it isn’t possible to determine who died first. Popular among married couples that often plan to leave a large part or all of their estate to their spouse, this type of clause allows you to appoint an individual who will be named as the first to die in situations where authorities are unable to determine who died first.

A recent article from WealthManagement.com about potential changes to the federal estate tax may have important implications for you in the near future. While no specific plan has been presented, it is important to continuously evaluate your estate plan and stay abreast of any potential changes to the law that could affect your assets.

What is the federal estate tax?

The federal estate tax, sometimes disparagingly referred to as a death tax, is a tax imposed on your right to transfer property valued over a certain amount that kicks in when assets are distributed to heirs according to a Decedent’s will or intestate succession in the case of death without a valid will in place. The threshold for exempt estates changes year-by-year according to a formula approved by Congress. Basically, upon death an estate is appraised and given a value from which certain deductions can then be made. Once such eligible deductions are made, a “Taxable Estate” value remains. For Decedent’s passing in 2017, the federal estate tax only applies to estates with a taxable value of $5,490,000 or more. If a Decedent’s estate has a leftover exemption value – in other words, if a Decedent’s estate is less than the threshold for the year in which the death occurs – and leaves behind a surviving spouse, the remainder of the Decedent’s exemption may be passed on to the surviving spouse which could result in a higher exemption for that spouse. There are several other complex provisions related to how an estate is given its taxable value that an experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand.

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.

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