Estate Planning Step By Step
June 24, 2015
Lots of people dread the process of estate planning.
However, it can be made easier if done step-by-step, according to an article on emporiagazette,com.
Step 1. Buy life insurance. If something were to happen to you, this might allow your family to stay in the house and your children to go to college.
Step 2. Prepare your will. This is the key estate planning document. Without one, your assets are distributed to your heirs as defined by state laws.
Step 3. Think about a living trust. Depending on your situation, you may need to go beyond a will. This will allow your assets to go directly to your heirs without the public and costly probate process getting in the way.
Step 4. Be sure your beneficiary designations on IRAs, life insurance policies and such are up to date.
Step 5. Make final arrangements by setting up a “payable on death” account at your bank to cover funeral arrangements.
But make sure you do all this in consultation with a qualified estate planning attorney.
When An Elderly Relative Gives Away Money
June 17, 2015
What can you do when you find out an aged parent or other relative has been giving away large sums of money to an unrelated caregiver or someone else?
In a post on elderlawanswers.com, a writer said his 82-year-old father-in-law had given $3,000 to a caregiver so she could by herself a car. He had also purchased her some clothes.
The writer asked if there are laws against caregivers accepting large gifts. The caregiver had been hired by an agency. He wanted to know if the agency should have a policy against employees accepting such gifts.
The columnist answered that if the father-in-law is competent, he can do whatever he wants with his money. If he is not competent, he said, there may be ways to get the money back. But it might cost more than $3,000 to do so.
The column also suggested that there may be a protective services organizations that could take on the fight pro bono.
But it was suggested that steps be taken so it does not happen again. For example, if the father-in-law is competent, he might be willing to share control of his assets through a durable power of attorney, trust or joint account. If not competent, the family might need to seek court-appointed conservatorship over his finances.
The column suggested seeking the help of an elder law attorney if such issues arise.
Estate Planning’s Trump Card
June 10, 2015
The scenario: Fran’s husband, Ed, died recently. Then she learns that his life insurance proceeds are going to his first wife, Sally. She calls her lawyer, incredulously, believing that this cannot be true. Fran was the beneficiary of his estate.
It turns out that Ed had failed to update the beneficiary assignment on his life insurance policy. By law, Sally is entitled to the money. The beneficiary assignment trumps the will.
The lesson: periodically review your beneficiary assignments. That is a key concept of estate planning.
A story on wmur.com says assets whose beneficiary assignments trump wills or other estate directives include:
- life insurance policies
- retirement plans
- employment contracts
- employee stock options
As a result, even making a last minute adjustment to your will cannot trump beneficiary assignments on these matters. Make sure you review yours regularly.
Revocable Living Trust A Key Tool
June 3, 2015
A revocable living trust is a key state planning tool that is used to determine who gets what when you die.
Most of these living trusts are “revocable” because you can change them as your circumstances or wishes change, according to a story on CNBC.com.
They are dubbed “living” because you make them while you are alive.
Many folks use them to avoid probate, a court-supervised process of closing an estate that can be expensive and time consuming.
The assets in your revocable living trust pass directly to your beneficiaries without going through probate.
Such a trust also provides a level of privacy as it is not made public on your death. A will is public record.
Free Symposium On Aging And Dementia – June 6th
June 2, 2015
Symposium focuses on African-Americans and Alzheimer’s
The Alzheimer’s Association Rochester & Finger Lakes Region and Mt. Olivet Baptist Church will host a free symposium on aging and dementia, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 6 at 141 Adams St.
Check out this story on http://on.rocne.ws/1HT2A2N
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.