Story Of Frugal Vermont Man Offers Lessons
May 27, 2015
Did you read the story of Ronald Read, a gas station attendant and janitor in Vermont who died recently at age 92 with an estate worth $8 million?
Read was able to accumulate all that wealth because he lived frugally and invested wisely, in dividend paying blue chip stocks. He held his stocks in certificates so it took effort to sell them.
And on his death all of his money went to charity.
Thus, he didn’t have to pay the tax man.
An article in the Washington Post lauds Read for his financial wisdom and frugality but raises one point: he didn’t have to hold off until his death to give his money away. If he had done it differently, he might have lived to see the fruits of his gifts.
But, otherwise, Read did a lot of things right. There are some lessons to be learned.
You May Be Able To Deduct Some Estate Planning Costs
May 20, 2015
Are estate planning costs allowed to be deducted?
According to a column on lowellsun.com, some are.
It says the IRS allows deduction of your legal fees and costs, but only if the estate planning is related to “income.”
That means costs are allowed as a deduction if they are specifically related to the:
- production or collection of income;
- management, conservation or maintenance of property held by the taxpayer for the production of income or;
- determination, collection or refund of any tax.
The legal fee for drafting a will is normally not deductible, the column notes. However, if your attorney created a trust to hold title to “income producing property,” a portion of the legal fees may be deductible, it says.
Is Older Really Wiser?
May 13, 2015
Some mental facilities truly do get better with age.
Sure, older people do tend to know more than younger people — they’ve been alive longer. They score better on vocabulary tests and do better on crossword puzzles.
But older brains offer something else, says a story in the New York Times.
It cites a new study that says older people’s brains may peak later in life than previously thought in areas such as social judgement and short-term memory.
A previous study suggested that cognitive deficits in aging were caused by having too much knowledge to sort through.
But the new study suggests that there may be independent, distinct elements of memory and cognition that peak at different times in life. It suggests the older brain may move more slowly than its younger self, but is just as accurate in many areas and more adept at reading others’ moods — on top of being more knowledgable.
Ways To Prevent Dementia
May 6, 2015
There may be some things you can do to prevent dementia from setting in.
A story on spring.org.uk lists a few simple things that you can do that improve reasoning, problem solving and mental processing speed, things that may ultimately prevent dementia.
The story cites a study from Finland that says healthy eating, brain training, exercise and good medical management may do the trick.
It is the first study to properly evaluate a special program to prevent age-related cognitive decline.
The two-year study involved 1,260 people ages 60-77 randomly assigned either to receive some general health advice or the special program.
Those enrolled in the program were told to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals and low-fat milk and meat products.
Subjects were also given computer brain training sessions and given memory and reasoning strategies they could use. In real life, these could include puzzles, reading and being engaged with life.
They were also given strength training exercises to do one to three times a week and aerobic exercises two to five times per week.
Beyond that, they had their blood pressure, weight and body mass index checked regularly. Based on the findings, they were given additional recommendations for lifestyle changes.
Those in the program scored 25 percent higher on a neuropsychological test. They did 83 percent better on a measure of executive function and 150 percent better on a test of processing speed.
The study will continue for seven more years to see if the program actually prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s diagnoses.
Keeping Loneliness Away In Retirement
April 22, 2015
Retirement can be difficult for many. You may live far from your family. You find it hard to meet new friends. You no longer have job to go to. It can be lonely.
A story on the huffingtonpost.com suggests five ways to avoid loneliness in retirement.
- Take pains to connect with people. Find groups or clubs in your area that share your interests. Enroll in classes.
- Look for for meaning. Figure out something important to do. Write a journal. Decide on goals.
- Don’t fight change. It is not too late to learn new things. At the same time, you will meet new people.
- Give back to your community. You can do this through volunteering and charity work.
- Consider getting a roommate. If life alone is lonely, you may want to get a roommate. Innovative housing plans are getting more popular.
Filing Taxes For A Family Member Who Has Passed On
April 15, 2015
When a family member dies, you aren’t usually thinking about paperwork. But there is plenty of it. And one of the things that must be done is the filing of a final tax return.
When someone dies, an estate is created to collect all of the person’s debts and assets. Somebody is named to be the executor, either a person named in the deceased’s will or his or her spouse. If there’s no spouse, it would be the person’s children.
The return must be filed by the April 15 deadline or there could be penalties. The return is just like it would have been had the person still been alive except the word “deceased” appears next to the person’s name and the date of death is written at the top.
If the deceased person is due a refund, the estate needs to file a Form 1030, according to a story on dailyfinance.com.
When a person dies with investments and pensions, much of that income is taxed to the person who inherits those funds, the story says. One exception is a Roth IRA that was at least five years old.
Coach Was Generous and Smart
April 8, 2015
The late basketball coach Dean Smith of the University of North Carolina got a lot of publicity over leaving $200 to each of about 180 players he coached over the years. But notice how he did it.
Coach Smith arranged for the payouts to come from a revocable living trust rather than his will. The trust is an estate planning tool that deserves attention, according to a story on bloomberg.com.
Wills are public documents, so many people prefer trusts to keep their details private. In this case, the fact that the gifts became public was because players talked about it.
A revocable living trust is one that you can change your mind about at any time prior to passing away. Trusts are more expensive than wills, however. And there must be an administrator. Trusts may not be for everyone, so talk to an estate planning attorney to find out if a trust is for you.
Plan Ahead To Prevent Checks Being Held
April 1, 2015
If you have a utility or other recurring bill in the name of someone who has died, you may want to change the name on the account quickly. Some people just leave the name of the deceased on the bill and keep paying it.
In an article on democratandchonicle.com, the case of a New York family that failed to do so is chronicled. The failure to change the name on the account actually cost them money.
Their house was on the market for a while and they continued to pay the bills. In time, they learned that the utility company actually owed them money, and the company sent the family a check, made out to the deceased man whose name was still on the account.
The family couldn’t cash the check and the company would not or could not reissue it in another name.
A lawyer said it is a common problem among the elderly and involves all sorts of accounts, cable, telephone and others. The lawyer said the problem could be fixed by asking the company to make the check out to the deceased man’s estate. This would require the estate’s executor going to the utility company’s office with the check, and the death certificate, along with paperwork showing that he or she is the executor.
Medicare Nursing Home Grading System Altered
March 25, 2015
The U.S. government has revamped its grading system for nursing homes, and the new way will make it tougher for homes to get higher grades.
Currently, about one-third of homes are below standard. With the new grading system, the top homes, which make up about one-third of all homes, lose one star.
The objective is to get the homes to provide better services.The new standard for assessing home changes the entire criteria. For example, the new rating system will evaluate the quality of anti-psychotic drugs given to patients.
The nursing home industry does not like the change, saying it is annoying for them to comply with, according to a story on frontlinedesk.com.
Why People Avoid Estate Planning
March 18, 2015
There are several reasons why people put off estate planning.
A story on huffingtonpost.com listed a few of them. They include:
- People think they don’t have the time. The author says this is just an excuse.
- Nobody wants to think about dying. This may be the most common reason, the story says. Yes, it is uncomfortable, but necessary.
- People don’t understand it. This may be the most valid reason of all. So the author recommends engaging an estate planning attorney to help you understand what it is all about.
- They don’t think they have enough of an estate to worry about. But you have an estate if all you own is a car. If you start planning now, it will be less complicated later.