When it comes to storing your estate planning documents, you need a spot that’s secure and easily accessible. Your documents need to be protected from theft, fire, and floods and they need to be in a location where you can get to them – and where your executor or trustee can get to them, if necessary. At first blush, it might seem like a safe deposit box is the perfect place to store your documents. After all, it’s behind lock and key with all the security your bank can provide, and it’s … [Read more...] about Keeping Your Estate Planning Documents in a Safe Deposit Box? Proceed With Caution
If someone close to you has executed a Power of Attorney appointing you attorney-in-fact, you should feel honored. That person – called the “principal” – has placed a great deal of trust and confidence in you. You might also be a little concerned. After all, one of the things you’re authorized to do, as attorney-in-fact, is to sign for debts on behalf of the principal. In fact, the Power of Attorney might even authorize you to buy property and sign for a mortgage in the name of your friend … [Read more...] about Does Signing as Attorney In Fact Make You Personally Responsible For a Debt?
Life insurance can be a valuable estate planning tool. An insurance policy allows you to provide for your family after you’re gone, making funds available to cover short-term expenses, paying for your loved ones’ long-term needs, and leaving an inheritance for your children. But, do you really need it? Not everyone does, and the answer depends in large part on your financial situation and the size and needs of your family. Here are some factors to consider: Do you have dependents? … [Read more...] about Do You Need Life Insurance?
Once you’ve made your estate plan, you might want to consider going the extra step and organize your documents and other information so that it’s as easy as possible for your loved ones to take care of your final affairs when the time comes. What does this involve? Your estate planning documents should be kept together, in a location that’s safe from fire, theft, and flooding. Your executor and other loved ones of your choosing should know where your documents are and how to access … [Read more...] about Estate Planning Tip: Organize Your Documents
One of the things you’ll have to do as you put together your estate plan is appoint fiduciaries to manage an assortment of tasks on your behalf once you pass away; or, even if you become unable to manage your own affairs while you’re still alive. If, like many people, you decide to use a trust as one of your estate planning tools, you’ll need to appoint a successor trustee. Many people ask if they should appoint co-trustees to manage their trust; two of their children, perhaps? This is a very … [Read more...] about Should You Appoint Co-Trustees?
With the state of the economy, a 401(k) loan has become an increasingly attractive source of funds for some people. If you’re considering this option, here are some things you should know: There are limits. You’ll have restrictions both on how much you can borrow, and on how long you’ll have to pay the money back. Generally, you can borrow up to half of your account balance, or $50,000, whichever is less. And, you usually have to pay the loan back within 5 years, with payments –which are … [Read more...] about Four Things to Consider Before Borrowing From Your 401(k)
Estate planning is one of those things that we know we need to do, but so many of us put off until it’s too late. Here are a few simple estate planning “do’s” to get you on the right track. Make a Plan: Depending on which statistic you look at, over half of all Americans die without a simple will. And without a plan, it’s state law that decides who gets your property. It could be a judge whom you’ve never met that decides who’ll be raising your children. And without a plan, the process … [Read more...] about 5 Estate Planning Do’s
Some people have a tendency to use the terms “estate tax” and “inheritance tax” interchangeably, but the two are actually very different things. Estate Tax “Estate Tax” refers to a federal or state tax that’s assessed on the estate of a deceased individual, provided that the value of the estate is more than a certain threshold. Not all states impose an estate tax. And, as for the federal estate tax, it’s been repealed for the year 2010, but it’s scheduled to make a comeback on January 1, … [Read more...] about Are Estate Tax and Inheritance Tax the Same Thing?
Are you leaving a substantial inheritance to one or more of your loved ones? If so, then one of the most powerful ways that you can use your estate plan is to make sure their inheritance is protected long after you’ve passed away. How do you do this? You build an asset protection plan into your estate plan, with the use of lifetime trusts for your loved ones. Protection Against What? What, exactly, are you protecting your loved ones against? There are three main threats to the inheritance … [Read more...] about Asset Protection Planning for Your Loved Ones
Fortunately, from the standpoint of time and expense, the probate process in Texas is not always the nightmare that we often hear about in other states. Especially for smaller estates, the process can be streamlined and may take only a few months, if there are no problems to resolve. Larger estates, or those where there’s conflict, take longer to go through the probate process. Even if you have a relatively small estate, there are still reasons why you might want to avoid probate. Here are … [Read more...] about Three Reasons for Avoiding Probate