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Estate Planning Articles

Should you leave siblings unequal shares of your estate?

When you’re reviewing your estate plan, it’s important to think about how to divide your estate among your children. While you don’t need to leave siblings equal shares, be aware that inheriting unequal amounts can cause arguments among children after you pass. To avoid disagreements from the getgo, you may want to leave your children equal shares. If that is your goal, remember to consider any property or accounts you hold jointly with each child. Jointly

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Avoiding Medicaid penalty period for a house transfer

Under the laws of most states, when you transfer your house to a child or anyone else, you enter into a Medicaid penalty period, barring your eligibility for Medicaid for a period of time. A way to avoid the penalty period is for the Medicaid applicant to transfer the house to a child considered to be his or her “caretaker.” A caretaker child is defined as a child who lived in the applicant’s house for at

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Updating estate-planning documents at divorce

The story of a divorcing couple in Arizona demonstrates why you need to update your estate plan at divorce. The couple, who were in their early 40s and had been married for several years, had created a multimillion dollar business together. When they filed for divorce, the process became bitter and full of disagreements about small issues. They were thinking in the moment about the immediate dollars and cents, but didn’t consider what would happen with

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Benefits of mediation in estate planning

A recent case in Illinois highlights the value of mediation in resolving estate-planning disputes. The case involved a successful family business created by Daniel and Mary O’Brien. The business, valued at $125 million as of 2013, included interests in hotels, a nursing home, a golf course, gas stations, fast-food franchises and warehouses. Most of the business assets were operated through limited partnerships, and the rest were held in revocable trusts, in S corporations or in the

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Guidance on grandparent gifting

Grandparents are regularly generous with grandchildren, sometimes giving significant amounts of money. Often they want to share their resources to leave a legacy. In some cases, their children or grandchildren are dealing with financial hardship. Grandparents might also believe that their kin shouldn’t have to wait for their inheritance. Grandparents commonly provided assistance paying for summer camp, college tuition, weddings or down payments for homes. They should keep the following factors in mind when giving to

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Finding someone’s date of death

Imagine your grandfather left a portion of his estate to his sister, but Great Aunt Irma has been gone for years. In order to probate his will or other legal documents, you may need to find Irma’s date of death. If Aunt Irma passed away in the last 50 years, finding this information should be fairly routine. Look for a website that offers access to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). This list contains more than

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Plan to protect kids with special needs

Raising a child with special needs can be a rich experience. It’s also a costly one that comes with unique challenges for your financial future and estate plans. There is no one-size-fits-all recommendation, but here are some things to consider: Your future security: Protect your children by securing your own financial future. Start saving for retirement as early as possible to take advantage of compound interest. Life insurance: Consider investing in enough life insurance to care

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Land trusts provide anonymity, tool to avoid probate

A land trust is a private legal agreement that transfers a property title from the owner to a trustee. The trustee agrees to hold that title for the benefit of another party. The creator of the trust, known as the trustor, is typically the primary beneficiary for their lifetime. This party retains complete use of the land and owns the beneficial interest thereof. Land trusts are generally revocable, meaning the trustor may modify or terminate the

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Estate planning for taxpayers without kids

If you’re single with no kids or married without kids, you have some unique estate planning needs. You’ll require special strategies for health care, emergencies, and division of your estate. Plan for extra care costs. Growing older without a built-in support team may mean you’ll have extra expenses for care. You may need to hire people to check in with you, to run errands or to drive you to appointments. If you plan to rely on

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Increase in nursing home closures across U.S.

Choosing nursing home care can be a big, emotional decision. Long-term care is a sizable investment, and many people struggle with entrusting their loved one’s care to someone else. Now some families are dealing with an additional hurdle, as nursing home closures are forcing some seniors to relocate, widening the distance families must travel to visit. In what is described as an “epidemic,” rural nursing homes across the U.S. are closing. With staff shortages and low

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