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Six Ways to accidentally disinherit your children

It’s hard to imagine that someone could accidentally disinherit their own children, but it happens all the time to people who don’t regularly update their estate plan. It’s important to update your estate plan with a professional every few years, or whenever there is a significant change in your circumstances or in the tax laws. Below are six ways disinheritance can happen:  1)      Harry wrote a will leaving his house and his business to his children,

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Does your college student need a will?

When you send your son or daughter off to college, the last thing you’ll probably think of getting for him or her is a will.  But there are a few simple legal documents that any young adult should have.  Getting them takes a short time, and is definitely worth the effort.  One such document is a medical power of attorney.  Once your student is a legal adult, you can no longer automatically make medical decisions for

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‘Identity Theft’ a growing problem after someone dies

The latest wrinkle in “identity theft” involves criminals opening accounts in the name of people who are recently deceased.  If a relative has recently died, you might want to take steps to avoid this problem.  For instance, you should immediately notify the Social Security Administration of the death, to prevent someone from using the deceased’s Social Security number.  You should also contact the three leading credit bureaus and report the death.  (Social Security will typically notify

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Is it time to review your ‘power of attorney’?

A “power of attorney” is an important part of almost any estate plan.  This document allows someone else to take over your day-to-day financial affairs if you become incapacitated but like any element of an estate plan; a power of attorney needs to be reviewed occasionally to see if it still meets your needs.  If you signed such a document many years ago, it might be a good idea to check whether it needs to be

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Do you need more than one trustee?

In the old days, trusts tended to be pretty simple.  Typically, a trustee was expected to invest the funds conservatively and pay interest to a beneficiary at regular intervals.  That was about it. Today, however, trustees are often expected to invest aggressively and successfully in a much more complex market.  They may be subject to far more tax, compliance and regulatory requirements.  And they may have to provide not for a single beneficiary but for a

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Some issues to consider when you create a trust

Here’s another story that shows the importance of picking a good trustee – someone who will adhere to your wishes and prevent disputes down the road. It’s also proof that just because someone has died, that doesn’t mean they cant be the source of a lawsuit – so carefully drafting your document can save a lot of headaches. Henry Hansen set up a trust to benefit his two daughters, Mildred and Ruth.  The trustee was to

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Avoiding the gift tax

Once a year, you’ll transfer to the ILIT enough money to pay the policy premiums.  This transfer to a trust would ordinarily be subject to the gift tax.  But there’s a way around that problem too. Under the gift tax laws, you can give $12,000 per person per year to any individuals you want before the gift tax applies.  So the idea is to “give” the money to your trust beneficiaries for tax purposes, while actually

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Why share your life insurance with Uncle Sam?

If you own life insurance, you probably bought it to protect your family if something happens to you.  But did you know that half of your life insurance proceeds could end up going to the U.S. Treasury, rather than to your heirs? The proceeds themselves will go to your beneficiaries.  But the amount of the proceeds will be added to your estate for estate tax purposes. If you have enough assets to be subject to the

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How to give your home to your children and reduce taxes

Parents can give their homes to their children at a substantial tax savings by way of a trust know as a “qualified personal resident trust” (QPRT).  In creating a QPRT, parents put their home or vacation home in a trust to give it as a delayed gift (usually to their children) while retaining the right to live in the home for a number of years.  QPRTs are seen as ideal for keeping a home in a

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Planned Charitable Giving can take a Bite Out of Taxes

Planned charitable giving can play an important role in estate, gift and income tax planning.  Below are some of the more common methods of providing assets to charities.  Outright gifts: This is the most common and popular form of charitable gift.  A will or revocable trust includes a provision leaving a fixed dollar amount or percentage of an overall estate to a particular charity.  You can modify the planned gift at any time. 

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