Update your beneficiary designations

Are your beneficiary designations up to date? Do you know which accounts have beneficiaries, and whom you’ve designated? It’s easy to lose track. But it’s important to keep them current. Here’s why.

When you designate a beneficiary for an account, that person inherits the assets in the account, regardless of what your will says. That’s why updating your will periodically might not be enough. Typically, you’ll have beneficiaries for each of your IRAs, your 401(k) or other retirement plans, annuities, and insurance policies. [Read more…]

Consider the value of time in business decisions

The “time value of money” is a critical concept in handling personal finances. The same basic premise can be applied in making decisions for your business.

Here’s how it works: Typically, the money you currently have in your hands is worth more than it would be years from now. That’s because you’re able to spend or invest the funds now instead of waiting to receive them. In other words, there’s an “opportunity cost” attached to any delay.

For example, let’s say you’re entitled to a $100 payment. If you receive the $100 now and you’re able to invest it at a 5% annual interest rate, you’ll have $105 after one year. Assuming you don’t need the money for expenses, it will be worth $110.25 after two years, and so on. This amount is known as the “future value” of the money. [Read more…]

Charity scams: IRS issues another warning

The IRS has once again issued an alert for scams relating to fake charities. This time the fraudsters are looking to profit from the severe flooding in South Carolina that led to the declaration of a federal disaster area.

If you’re planning to donate, watch for these signs that a fundraiser isn’t on the up-and-up: [Read more…]

Take your required 2015 distribution

If you’re over 70½ and are required to take distributions from your IRA or other retirement account, remember that you must take your 2015 RMD (required minimum distribution) by December 31. Otherwise you may face a penalty of 50% of the amount not taken. If the 2015 distribution is your first RMD, you have the option of waiting until April 1, 2016, to begin withdrawals.

Insurance enrollment begins this month

Beginning this month, you can sign up for a new 2016 health insurance policy on the health insurance Marketplace. You can also change or renew the policy you purchased during the last enrollment period. Even if your current policy has an automatic renewal feature, you’ll want to verify that you are still eligible for the federal premium tax credit. [Read more…]

How Elder Law Attorneys Assist Senior Citizens

As you and your loved ones get older, new situations will be encountered that involve issues due to aging. You are not quite sure how to solve these problems. Where can you get advice? A good starting place is going to an attorney that specializes in elder law.

What is Elder Law?
Elder Law is a rapidly growing legal practice that assists senior citizens needing help and guidance with legal matters. It specifically focuses on older adults in areas such as estate planning, long-term care, medical directives, nursing home issues, and Medicaid.

Estate Planning
Your parents are aging. You want to encourage them to develop an estate plan. This is a type of advance planning to organize property and financial assets and put in writing what a person’s wishes are for their assets after they are deceased. It is a hard conversation to have with your parents, but will be very useful after they have passed.

Long Term Care
As you age, you may begin thinking about the possibility that you might need assistance in everyday living when you get older. Or maybe your loved ones need that type of help now. There are several options. [Read more…]

People without credit scores could soon qualify for a mortgage

The company behind the FICO credit score – which is used in about 90% of consumer lending decisions – has introduced a pilot program to give “alternative” credit scores to millions of people who don’t currently have one.

This could ultimately allow these people to qualify for mortgages that they can’t get today.

Some 53 million Americans currently don’t have credit scores. Sometimes this is the result of a negative event such as a bankruptcy or foreclosure, but often it’s simply because the person doesn’t have a history of relying on credit. [Read more…]

Be careful when negotiating via text message or e-mail

If you agree to buy or sell a property in a text message, instant message, or tweet, is that a binding contract?

Not in California, which just enacted a law saying these types of “ephemeral” messages can’t amount to a contract for a real estate sale unless the parties sign a written agreement afterward. [Read more…]

How to tell if you’ll owe capital gains tax when you sell your home

Most people who sell their home don’t have to pay capital gains tax, even if the value of the home increased substantially while they owned it. But some people do owe tax, so if you’re thinking of selling, it’s important to know whether you can escape the IRS.

Here are the rules:

As a single person, you can generally exclude up to $250,000 in gain from a home sale. If you’re married and file jointly, you can generally exclude up to $500,000 in gain. [Read more…]

What do women want? In real estate, maybe not what you think

A recent survey by the National Association of Realtors is challenging stereotypical notions of what’s important to men and women when it comes to buying a home.

The survey asked single men, single women and married couples what house features were “very important” in their decisions about what to buy. [Read more…]

Mary Hart and the Beliveau Law Group

Mary Hart handled my questions about a house I was trying to purchase. She was very quick to reply to my messages and very knowledgeable. If I need to be represented, I would not hesitate to call Beliveau law offices. And if possible request Mary Hart as she was very easy to talk to, and explained everything in clear layman’s terms so I could understand everything.

~Frank, a Real Estate client

How do I get a copy of my deceased mother’s will? Does a trust take prejudice over a will ?

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I’m an heir in the will as well as the trust. I’ve never received a copy of the will (from the executors) nor the trust ( from the trustees)

ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:

A will and a trust work hand in hand. They do not cancel each other out. A will may establish a testamentary trust or it may fund a trust which your mother created during her lifetime. Have your requested copies from the executors and trustees? I am assuming you have or you would not have posted this question.
The first step you could take is to contact the probate court in which your mother’s will was probated. It will be a public document and you can get a copy by ordering it from the court. If it is a testamentary trust, the terms of the trust will be laid out in the will. If the will funds a stand alone trust, then you may need to hire an attorney to force the trustees to give you a copy of the trust.
The trustees/executors should also be providing you, as beneficiary, with yearly accountings.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Millbury, Massachusetts, Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.

2016 filing deadline extended

Next year, you’ll get a few extra days to file your 2015 income tax return. The District of Columbia will be observing Emancipation Day on Friday, April 15, 2016, the usual filing deadline. That moves the filing deadline for 2015 federal income tax returns to Monday, April 18. Residents of Massachusetts and Maine get one more day to file – to Tuesday, April 19 – due to Patriots’ Day.

How to keep your customers satisfied

In some industries, service has become a quaint memory. Customers are often reduced to selecting the provider that costs or annoys them the least. But the golden rule has not been repealed. Pleasing your customers can create a powerful competitive advantage – and a few simple changes may increase your bottom line.

For example, businesses are among the worst offenders of time-wasting annoyances such as long waits on hold. To distinguish your firm from the rest, establish the following customer service policies and procedures. [Read more…]

Give your kids the power of a Roth IRA

Would you like to give your child a head start on smart money habits? Here’s a suggestion: Have the child invest in a Roth IRA. Why? The tax-free compounding of contributions and investment returns over your child’s lifetime is a great wealth-builder. Here’s what you need to know. [Read more…]

Check your 2015 tax payments

Don’t let penalties for underpaid taxes increase your tax bill next April. Check the total you’ve paid in for 2015 through withholding and/or estimated taxes. If you’ve underpaid, consider adjusting your withholding for the final months of the year or increasing your remaining quarterly estimate. If you employ household workers, be sure your calculations include the payroll taxes you’ll owe for them. Remember to include the 3.8% tax on net investment income in your planning too.

Tax filing reminders

  • October 1 – Generally the deadline for businesses to adopt a SIMPLE retirement plan for 2015.
  • October 15 – Filing deadline for 2014 individual tax returns on automatic six-month extension of the April 15 deadline.
  • October 15 – If you converted a regular IRA to a Roth in 2014 and now want to switch back to a regular IRA, you have until October 15, 2015, to do so without penalty.

‘Do-it-yourself’ will leads to an unfortunate result

Here’s yet another example of how people who try to create their own wills, using a form taken from a book or the Internet, often shoot themselves in the foot. [Read more…]

What you need to know about estate sales

We accumulate a lot of things over a lifetime, and at some point – often because of the death of a loved one, or because a senior is downsizing and moving – we need to get rid of some or all of them. An estate sale is one way to dispose of possessions that you no longer want or need.   [Read more…]

I co-signed for my son when he bought a home.

[Read more…]

Patients may get more access to experimental drugs

Before it approves a medicine for human use, the federal Food and Drug Administration requires rigorous clinical trials to ensure that it is safe and effective. These clinical trials can take many years. But what about people who have life-threatening illnesses now, and who might benefit from an experimental treatment that is still a long way from approval?

Currently, such patients have two options. One is to enter one of the clinical trials, but this is often impossible due to the patient’s geographic location or stage of illness.  [Read more…]

Congress limits insurance for Medicare deductibles

Medicare beneficiaries often buy “Medigap” insurance policies that pay for many of regular Medicare’s deductibles and copayments.  But as a result of a new law passed by Congress, starting in 2020 Medigap plans will no longer be allowed to offer coverage of the Medicare Part B deductible, which is currently $147.

However, current Medigap policyholders and those buying policies before 2020 will still be eligible for the deductible coverage after that date, so this is something to keep in mind. [Read more…]

If you pay relatives to provide care, you might want to have a contract

A growing number of seniors are providing a salary or other form of reimbursement to their family members who provide them with personal care. If you’re thinking of doing so, it can be a very good idea to draw up a written contract. This can make it easier to qualify for Medicaid, and can help a family in other ways as well.

It might seem odd to sign a contract with your family. Many children feel awkward about asking for compensation, and many parents assume that the children should help them solely out of love. However, children often devote enormous time and resources to caring for an aging relative, and it’s not unreasonable for them to be compensated in some way. And if there are several siblings and one is more involved in providing care than the others, a contract can be a good way to reward the child who is doing the work without having to divide family assets unequally in a will. [Read more…]