Finance Articles

Making Sense of Michael Jackson's Will

Almost as soon as it was released, Michael Jackson's will was raising more questions than it answered. While it provided on one hand ideas of what sort of documents a high profile professional should have in place, it also points out why every person should have a professional guide them in estate planning. He designated his mother Katherine as the guardian of his children, provided for Diana Ross to be successor guardian if Katherine was unable or unwilling to become guardian, and designated that all his assets be placed into his trust. Any will is a matter of public record, as shown by the attention it has received. A trust, however, bypasses probate (but not the estate planning/taxation process) and allows certain things to remain private.

Understanding Your Pet Trust - The Role of the Trustee

A pet trust is a legal arrangement that ensures care for a pet when the owner becomes disabled or dies. This arrangement is usually done through an attorney who specializes in pet trust funds and it addresses two important components of caring for a pet that's been left behind: who will care for the pet and who will pay for the care. To answer the first question, you'll need to designate a caregiver. The caregiver is the person who will assume the responsibility of caring for your pet on a daily basis. This person is responsible for the feeding, grooming, exercising and housing duties as well as attending to any special or medical needs or situations that require emergency care.

3 Ways an Executor Can Stay Out of Trouble

Estate probate is a process. Your job as executor is straightforward: locate all the assets and debts, sell what property can be sold, use the money to pay all the confirmed debts, distribute what is left over, and file a tax return. By straightforward, I do not mean easy. The ease of settling an estate will depend on three things: how much money is involved the type and location of the assets and debts how well the family gets along. Executors and Estate Administrators (henceforth referred to only as executors) are not immune to the conflicts; indeed, they are often the target. But, executors take heart: you don't have to make every member of a quarrelling family happy.

The Importance of Estate Planning in Advance

There is no question that advanced planning of your estate and belonging's is a good idea. If everything is spelled out to your family and it is fair, there will be no reason for them to have a conflict when you leave. Far too often this preparation is delayed, however, and families allow greed and selfishness to tear their family apart. People do not realize what happens to a person's estate once the owner is gone. The first process is probate, where estate planning attorneys determine who gets what. This process can take years and years, especially if all benefiting parties are not in agreement. On the other hand, if the owner had taken the time to prepare for this event, he could have spelled everything out and the attorneys would simply follow the instructions left.

The Year's Temporary Estate Tax Repeal May Actually Increase Your Death Taxes

For Many with Money, the 2010 Temporary Repeal of the Estate Tax Will Actually Increase their Death Taxes Beware of TV Commentators A TV financial commentator made the morbid comment this weekend that 2010 is the year to die because there is no federal estate tax in 2010. What he ignored is that the arcane tax law provides that for many with money in 2010, they will actually pay more taxes with the repeal of the estate tax if they die in 2010. So, if you are single or in a second marriage, have between $1.3 and $3.5 million, don't use dying in 2010 as a tax planning strategy. Temporary Repeal Under current law, effective January 1, 2010, the federal estate tax is repealed until January 1, 2011, when the federal estate tax returns with a vengeance with a tax on everything above $1, 000, 000 and up to a 55% rate.

Take it From Me, Creating a Smart End Of Life Plan is Something Your Family Will Always Remember

Start the New Year Off By Improving Your Financial Plan - Add an End-of-Life Plan Using Two Easy Steps: 1. Complete a Family Record Guide 2. Create a "Love Drawer" Many financial professionals refer to life insurance as "love insurance". As cliche as it may sound, it certainly has a tremendous amount of merit. What better end-of-life gift can you give your family and loved ones than a large sum of money that can be used for income replacement, college tuition, retirement, taxes or estate taxes, charitable gifts, and much more? The key point here is that the last thing any of us should want to add to our families during a time of such emotional loss and grieving are any unnecessary financial and emotional pressures.

The Legacy of the Childless - Who is Included in the Estate Plan?

While many families struggle with the issues relating to being fair verses being equal in relation to estate planning and their children, childless couples struggle with other important issues. For those individuals or families, who by choice or by consequence have not had children, they have different issues and challenges, which require thought and deliberation. These issues surround their legacy and include the planning of their estate. For example, should it just be taken for granted that other members of the family should inherit the bulk of the estate? How distant need these relationships be before consideration is given to other alternatives or to the inclusion of charitable intent?

Probate Law - Protecting Your Property After Death

Probate law is a part of the law that many of us rarely think about, mostly because it is a legal process dealing with a particularly unpleasant reality. Probate law is the area of law which concerns administering estates and handling final wills. A probate is responsible for interpreting the final will of the deceased, naming the executor of the estate, and determines the interests of the heir and any other claimants against the estate. Although it may be uncomfortable to think about, knowing about the law which will govern your estate after you pass away is important for your family and the loved ones you leave behind. In states with communal property laws, an estate without a legal will is automatically passed to a spouse.

Repeal of Estate Tax May Warrant a Fresh Look at the Use of Disclaimers to Avoid Death Tax

The end of the estate tax during 2010 might only be a temporary reprieve. As the law now stands, beginning in 2011 estates valued above $1, 000, 000 will be subject to estate tax at very hefty rates rising as high as 55%. This circumstance suddenly creates the real possibility that the estates of surviving spouses who inherit more than $1, 000, 000 will ultimately incur a significant estate tax when they later die and before their estate moves on down to the couple's children. That's the bad news. But, the good news is that there may be an estate planning technique to minimize or avoid this result. It is called a "disclaimer." A disclaimer is an irrevocable and unqualified refusal by a person to accept an interest in property.

The Revocable Living Trust - The Facts and the Fiction

Over the last ten to fifteen years, much has been written about the Revocable Living Trust by estate and financial planners, some of which has been factually accurate and some of which has been purely fictional. By most accounts the Living Trust was first heavily promoted by estate planners in California where the cost of probate and the length of time involved in probating a Last Will and Testament has been described as onerous. However, as a result of extensive promotion, its popularity has spread eastward over the last five years. Although it has not been widely embraced by attorneys in New York, its use as an estate planning tool has increased in popularity.

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