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Five Things to Consider When Planning Your Estate

Estate planning is an important task for anyone advancing in years, especially for anyone with a large amount of property that will need to be allocated after your demise. But what do you need to consider when you’re planning your estate? What can you do to avoid catastrophe when the worst comes to pass? Well, here’s five questions to ask yourself when you’re planning your estate. Continue reading “Five Things to Consider When Planning Your Estate”

Did Restaurateur B. Smith Have Advance Directives in Place?

Renowned restaurateur and former model, B. Smith, announced alongside her husband in 2014 that she was suffering from the early-onset symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. As Ms. Smith’s disease progressed, her husband began an extra-marital affair to cope with the deterioration of his wife’s memory. After going public with the relationship, Smith’s husband received considerable backlash from the online community who condemned his behavior on the assumption that if Smith’s mental state were better off, she would not approve. It is unknown whether B. Smith executed any advanced directives or end-of-life care instructions before her condition worsened.
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What is a Reverse Mortgage?

As Americans grow older and with a majority of the older population now entering retirement, the need for income sufficient to cover expenses becomes greater. While there are programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income, that help seniors with income and healthcare, those programs may not be enough for some individuals to pay for their monthly expenses or healthcare costs. There is another option that is available to many Americans over the age of 62, such as a reverse mortgage.
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“Queen of Soul” Leaves Behind a Legacy, But No Will

When Aretha Franklin died on August 16, 2018, she left behind a litany of musical memories for her fans. But one thing she forgot to leave behind was a Will.

Variety reported that the “Queen of Soul” — who died at the age of 76 of pancreatic cancer — had no Will designating who will benefit from her estate. In her home state of Michigan, if an unmarried person with children dies intestate, each surviving child receives an equal amount of the decedent’s assets. In this case, Ms. Franklin’s four sons filed documents in court listing themselves as interested parties and acknowledged the absence of a Will, while their cousin requested to be the personal representative of Ms. Franklin’s estate.
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Revoking a Trust

A revocable living trust establishes a relationship between:

  • The creator of the trust
  • The trustee who manages the property within the trust and distributes proceeds to beneficiaries
  • The beneficiaries who receive the property in the trust when the term of the trust expires

 

A revocable living trust allows assets within the trust as well as income generated by those assets to be managed and distributed by the trustee. The trust income and property are then distributed in accordance with the terms and conditions of the trust. This type of trust is referred to as a living trust because it is established during the lifetime of the creator. With a revocable trust, the grantor may revoke the trust at any point by moving the assets into his or her name without the consent of any other party. Continue reading “Revoking a Trust”

Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust allows assets within the trust as well as income generated by those assets to be managed and distributed by the trustee. The trust income and property are then distributed in accordance with the terms and conditions of the trust. This type of trust is referred to as a living trust because it is established during the life of the creator.

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Keeping Your Will Updated and Naming Beneficiaries on Assets

A Last Will and Testament is an important estate planning document that contains provisions for assets and the distribution of property upon death. Unfortunately, many individuals fail to account for assets that do not pass directly under a Will. These assets may include life insurance policies, pensions, IRAs, and 401(k) or 403 plans. After the policyholder of these assets dies, the policies may distribute the benefits to their heirs at law if there is no beneficiary designation and no Last Will and Testament.

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Increase in the New York Estate Tax Exclusion

As of April 1, 2017, the New York State estate tax exclusion increased to $5,250,000 from the $4,187,500 exclusion amount in effect since April 1, 2016.  As of January 1, 2017, the federal estate tax exclusion is $5,490,000. The New York State exclusion amount will remain in effect until December 31, 2018 and, as of January 1, 2019, this amount will be indexed for annual inflation.

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Voluntary Administration Proceedings for Small Estates

When a parent dies without a Will and leaves behind money (example $10,000) in a sole checking account, a proceeding would be governed by the small estate process. Not all estates require a full probate or an administration proceeding. If the deceased passed away after January 1, 2009 and has $30,000 or less in personal property, they are entitled to a voluntary administration proceeding, which is a simplified Surrogate’s Court procedure.

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Why Establishing a Durable Power of Attorney is Important

A power of attorney is an important estate planning document and can be an essential tool in ensuring that an individual’s wishes are carried out should he or she become mentally or physically incapacitated. A power of attorney is a standardized legal document that allows an individual, known as the principal, to designate a representative, known as the agent, to make financial decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated or unable to act on their own behalf. A power of attorney specifies how much power an agent will have and can be created with limited powers, broad powers and can become effective upon the occurring of an event. Many individuals assume that regardless of whether it is limited or broad that the document will contain the same language and provisions. However, more often than not, this presumption is incorrect and may lead to issues in the future.

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