Half of Prince Estate to go to Government
May 4, 2016
Since music superstar Prince did not have a will, it appears more than half of his $300 million estate will go to the government.
Both the federal and Minnesota governments have estate taxes. The top federal rate is 40 percent. In addition, Minnesota takes 16 percent over the first $1.6 million.
If Prince had been married, his estate would have gone to his spouse tax free.
As a single man, he might have taken advantage of some tax reducing strategies, but the government was still going to take a large share, the Daily Signal notes in a story.
Don’t Allow Divorce Derail Retirement Plans
April 27, 2016
The divorce of a long-married couple can be especially tough when it comes to retirement and estate plans.
Assets, particularly retirement accounts, can require the complete revision of in-place estate plans, according to a story on estateplanning.com.
It says it is key to work toward the fair division of assets so neither runs out of money later in life. It also says to update estate plans.
- Know what belongs to who. There is separate property and marital property.
- Think about setting up trusts. These can make sure that a second spouse cannot disinherit children from a first marriage, for example.
- Update the beneficiary forms on IRAs and other retirement accounts.
- Keep good records. Make sure not to overlook any assets you may have but may have forgotten about.
Estate Planning for your Pets
April 20, 2016
What will happen to your pets when you die?
Usually, they will end up in a shelter where, if not adopted, they too will die.
But one method pet owners can prevent that is to include your pets in your estate plan, says a story in the Union Leader.
Taking in and finding new homes for pets left after their owner’s death is something that certain special shelters do — granted there is a plan and funds are set aside
It takes planning though. Besides the plan, the pet owner should have a card in their wallet or in some easily seen place saying how many pets are owned and where they are, and it should include numbers for the vet, a pet-sitter and a trusted friend who has been spoken to about caring for the pets in case something happens.
If you can leave a trust, talk to a lawyer who has experience in this area.
Angie’s List on Estate Planning
April 13, 2016
A survey by AARP showed that about 40 percent of Baby Boomers don’t have a will. That number increases to 71 percent for all Americans over age 34.
Top excuses are procrastination, lack of incentives and cost.
However, a story on fox40.com that quotes Angie Hicks of Angie’s List says ignoring your own mortality can really cost your loved ones.
“While no one looks forward to planning their estate or funeral, it’s something we should all do because it an be considered a gift to your family because you are reducing stress that would be on them at that time,” she said.
The piece says an estate planning attorney can offer advice and file the necessary papers to make sure your assets go where you want them. An attorney quoted in the story strongly recommends that parents establish a trust that allocates inheritance at certain ages to kids don’t get too much too soon.
A trust is also critical if you have a disabled child, the attorney noted.
Hicks said you should expect to pay a minimum of $1,500 for the most basic estate plan.
Robotic Helpers In Your Future
April 6, 2016
As folks live longer, the ranks of the old and frail are growing by leaps and bounds. A big concern is over who will care for them.
An article in the New York Times says drones may be the answer.
It points out that a University of Illinois robotics designer has received a $1.5 million federal grant to explore the idea of designing small autonomous drones to perform simple household chores, like retrieving a bottle of medicine from another room.
The robotics expert, Naira Hovakimyan, said such drones will become everyday fixtures within a decade or two.
Other ideas include intelligent walkers, smart pendants that track falls, sensors that monitor health status, aides to help with balance and even robotic companions.
Medicare Paying for End of Life Talks
March 30, 2016
Medicare patients are being urged to discuss advance care planning with their doctors more frequently due to new changes in billing codes.
Starting this year, Medicare will allow payments to doctors for counseling their patients about end of life planning at different times. In the past, it would allow payments only on the first visit as a Medicare patient.
This is part of the Obama administration’s plan to help patients make more informed decisions, says a story on centredaily.com.
Now, Medicare will pay doctors to have this discussion on an annual basis.
Studies have shown fewer than half of all seniors have written down their wishes for end of life treatment.
Daily Living Activities Make Up Long-Term Care
March 23, 2016
Most long-term care focuses on helping people with basic personal needs rather than providing medical care.
Needs for long-term care are calculated by looking at whether a person needs help with six basic activities that most people do every day without help, says a story on elderlawanswers.com.
These are bathing, dressing, eating, moving from bed to a wheelchair and back, toileting and continence (the ability to control one’s bladder.) These are called Activities of Daily Living.
Other activities are important to independent living but not necessarily needed on a daily basis. These include things like using a telephone, managing medications, fixing meals, housekeeping, shopping for food and caring for pets. These are called instrumental Activities of Daily Living.
These items are scored by long-term care providers when determining whether help is needed, if the person is eligible for long-term care insurance or whether the person qualifies for Medicaid.
Estate Planning For Never Married Folks
March 16, 2016
For married couples and parents, decisions on who will get their assets are usually easy. The surviving spouse and offspring get the money as well as legal and medical authority.
However, more and more Americans are in a different position. They aren’t married and have no children.
These people have to spell things out even more clearly than those who are married and who have kids since it is not obvious who gets the stuff and who makes the decisions.
When people do not specify, the state usually makes the decision following rigid genealogical rules of inheritance. It also takes a lot of time.
A story in the New York Times says it is better to make a choice even if it is not perfect than to have your money go to distant relatives you may barely know or like.
The first choices as heirs usually are longtime companions, nieces and nephews, siblings, parents and friends.
Older people often choose charities.
Deciding how much to give each beneficiary can be a challenge. It may depend on need.
It may also not be a good idea to give legal or medical authority to someone who is going to be a beneficiary, the story says.
Estate Planning For The Younger Generations
March 9, 2016
No one likes to think about the prospect of being old, disabled, incapacitated or dying. But it is when you are young that you should think about your finances, your possessions and your family.
The biggest errors millennials make is that they associate estate planning with the elderly and the rich, according to an article on thestreet.com. They think they have enough time to plan such serious matters. But everybody has assets and belongings that should be designated.
People usually start planning with the birth of their first child but the article says the time to start is when you first start earning. You now have assets to protect. And if you are married, the financial security of your spouse is at risk and is your responsibility.
Estate planning will ensure that your assets are inherited by your family and not handled by the court in the event of your death.
It is not to early to start.
Facebook Digital Estate Plan Tool
February 24, 2016
Facebook has unveiled a new feature called Legacy Contact that allows users to authorize another person to access or modify their accounts when they die.
A Legacy Contact can, among several things, write a post to display at the top of the dead person’s timeline, update the person’s profile picture and download an archive of the photos, posts and profile information the former user shared.
The feature is a step in the right direction as the estate laws of the country catch up with advances in technology, according to a story on marketwatch.com.
The laws are unclear where it comes to digital assets but the story says it is a good idea to list your digital asset service providers and name someone to manage these accounts after you die, if the companies allow.
Also, you ought to make a list of user names and passwords for the accounts and store them in a safe place.