Friday, December 11, 2009

Estate Planning Mistakes

By: Nicole Nelson

The number one mistake of estate planning is the mistake of “never getting around to it”. If an estate is not made, including designation of a trustee, a will and a living will the people who are closest to you may be left with your debt or have to make tough decisions because you “never got around” to drafting documents that explain what you would like to happen to you and your assets. By creating an estate you are letting your beneficiaries know what you would like to be done in some touchy situations. This also may prevent arguments between beneficiaries because your wishes were clearly laid out.
Another mistake that is commonly made is the myth that estate planning is only important for the wealthy. Regardless of the size of your net worth, everyone owns assets that are worth something. Also, some people end up surprised how large their estates actually are after taking into account things like the value of their home. If you are concerned what so ever with where your assets will end up upon your demise, an estate needs to be seriously considered.
Although a will is made, does not mean the job is done. This is another mistake that has caused people legal trouble in the past. Things such as birth or adoption of children, divorce, death and other factors may change how your will is divided to your beneficiaries. Other things such as the sale or purchase of large and valuable assets or just simply changes in tax legislation may make your will not as legally tangible as you thought. This is where review and updates of your will are important.

Death Comes Before Fame

By Ahmed Al-Salem

This is kind of strange. A man dies yet he continues to make money. So much so, that he can make more money dead than he can alive. We see this a lot in history. Death comes before fame sometimes. And those who fall victim to this strange phenomenon are usually artists. Shakespeare, Van Gogh, Tupac, MJ...and the list goes on. Who gets all this money? Since the person is dead whos bank account do the sales go to. In most cases, the money goes to the people who go after it the most. The government gets the first cut, then agents, then producers, etc and what ever is left get split among those who received money from wills.


Estate Planning Facts

By Shawn Chandok

1. No matter how wealthy you are, it is crucial to have an estate plan.
2. An estate plan isn’t only a will, but has several other elements as well. Examples include, the power of an attorney who will execute your will, trusts that help you avoid taxes to your heirs and a health care proxy who will have medical power in case you are unable to do so for yourself
3. Including ALL of your assets: Make sure you include all your assets in your estate plan such as investments (mutual funds, stocks), real estate (in state & out of state), and insurance policies (life insurance beneficiaries).
4. The Will: Everyone needs a will. A will designates your beneficiary and/or guardians. Furthermore, a will avoids you from dying intestate or without a will whereby your assets can be drained by the government or almost anyone who puts a claim on them and battles in court.
5. Trusts aren’t only for the rich: Trusts enable EVERYONE to give gifts to relatives’ tax free while providing privacy and sometimes protection from courts.
6. Don’t leave all your wealth with your spouse: Although you can leave all your of wealth to your spouse tax free, this isn’t necessarily a good idea because when your spouse dies, your children will have to pay more in taxes if he/she leaves it to them.
7. Charity: Making charitable donations reduces your current taxable income by the present value of your future donation.



Not Time to Die Yet, but Start Planning Now Anyway

By: Kelsey Hoffman

Estate planning is something that we should all start doing at a young age, even though we all believe we will live to be about 100 with modern medicine. Making wills and starting to save now is essential if you want your death to run smoothly. Of course it will be devastating for people, but you want to help soften the blow as much as you can and not leave them with tough decisions as to what to do with your possessions etc.

Estate planning also comes with many tax burdens that you must plan for. These include many such as inheritance taxes and estate taxes. If you plan your finances the right way you can avoid many taxes which will give you more money to leave for your family. Estate planning can sometimes be very costly as they have to be approved by lawyers and everything, so Wisconsin has actually decided to help out.

Milwaukee, WI has started a new program called “Wills for Heroes” in which they are offering free estate planning for police officers, firemen, and other emergency personnel. “Services include help in creating wills and living wills, as well as providing power of attorney for financial and health care matters.” It is a good way to give back to the people that risk their lives every day to help others.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Plan Ahead to Soften EstateTax Impact

Posted by Chris O'Sullivan

Whatever Congress ends up doing with the estate tax, farmers and ranchers can shield themselves from its impacts by planning ahead, an expert advises.

By using a trust mechanism that's available to everyone, a farming couple could protect a larger portion of the family's estate from taxes, said Terry Francl, senior economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Farm owners can also gift a certain amount of property to their heirs each year, which over time reduces the amount of assets that can be taxed at the owners' deaths, he said.

"There are many types of legal remedies," Francl said. "For example, you can give stock to charities and so on. You get a charitable deduction and don't have to pay capital gains on them ... There's a lot of alternatives."

The options remain as Congress has entertained numerous proposals for estate tax reform this year, the latest of which is a bill by Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., that would freeze the estate tax at 2009 levels.

Currently, the estate tax is set at 45 percent for estates worth more than $3.5 million or $7 million for a couple. If Congress does nothing, estate tax rates will revert in 2011 to pre-2001 levels, with estates worth more than $1 million taxed at 55 percent.

Click here to read more....

Don't Wait Plan Estate

By: Nicole Nelson

Although many people have been putting off making an estate plan because of rumors of the elimination of the federal estate tax, president Obama has stated that the tax isn’t going anywhere. People shouldn’t be worrying about estate tax though since only the wealthiest two percent pay this tax, they should be worrying about if their estate protects what needs to be protected. There are certain things to make sure you include when planning your estate. If you have children that are minors, you need to name a guardian and a trustee (who should not be the same person) in case both you and your spouse die. Also, some states require that a half to a third of your estate goes to your spouse even if you specify in your will a smaller share. It is also important to know that an estate has a couple parts. These parts are your will, an assignment of power of attorney and a living will or health care proxy. It also may be a good idea to make a trust. Trusts aren’t just for the wealthy these days. They can allow you to reduce your estate tax as well as gift tax (if they apply). They also may be able to offer you greater protecting of your assets from creditors you may have and against potential lawsuits. Overall it is never too early to plan your estate. It is also always a better idea to have one then not. Having an estate will make it much easier for your loved ones after you die.

source one
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Estate Planning,..The value you leave behind?

By: Robert Katz

Many people wait much too late until they decide to start Estate Planning; when it is much better to just understand the fact the you are mortal and you will die some day, and that you should make sure your possessions, family and loved ones that your leaving behind are well taken care of. Estate planning consists of writing your will, deciding the distribution of all of your cash, who gets your real estate, dividing up your possessions and other property, and leaving a instructions and a last message to you family and friends with advice on dealing with your loss. There are many potential pitfalls when you plan out your estate insufficiently. Some of the serious financial problems with not planning out your estate properly or at all are the excessive delays of probate and the cost of lawyer, accountants, administrative fees, etc. After you dye, for example, if you have most of your money in investments and your investments start to decline with an economic recession, like the one we are in now, your family will not have the ability to withdraw these investments in time if you didn't set up the proper precautions. Additionally, while it maybe hard for you do deal with the fact that you are going to die some day, isn't it more important to help your family and loved ones cope with your loss by making these decisions and provisions for them so there isn't added stress and responsibility to deal with. Finally, isn't it also important to make sure you are the one whose in charge of whom is entitled to everything you've earned over the course of your life, and also how you will be remember based on the legacy create for yourself.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Effective Estate Planning

By Laura Reginelli

For many, planning for their deaths seems almost wrong. Nobody plans to die right? Well despite what many may think, planning for what happens after you die is a must. This is where estate planning comes in. According to, “in simple terms estate planning involves both planning for the possibility of mental incapacity and planning for certain death.” Estate planning will determine how your accumulated wealth will be divided up amongst your heirs.

There are several various parts to an estate plan. The first and foremost part of your estate plan should be your will. According to CNN Money a will is imperative. A will is “a device that lets you tell the world whom you want to get your assets. Die without one, and the state decides who gets what, without regard to your wishes or your heirs' needs.” Furthermore, an estate plan usually contains a living will, letter of last instruction and a power of attorney. Each and every one of these parts ensure that after you die your wishes and intentions are carried out the way you wanted them to.

By creating an estate plan instead of dying intestate (without a will), your accumulated wealth will be passed on to whom you desire. Also, if you have any children, the estate plan will include a named guardian for your dependent. As scary as it is, planning for your estate after you pass away pays.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Avoiding Estate Mistakes

By Leah Gorham

We often hear news stories about celebrities and wealthy people making mistakes when planning their estates, leading to hardships for their loved ones after they die or sometimes messy fights among heirs. For instance, when heath Ledger died at age 28, he had a will; however, it had not been updated in three years, which was prior to his relationship with Michelle Williams and the birth of their daughter, Matilda Rose. His will left everything to his parents and sister. Thankfully, when concerns were raised to whether or not Ledger's father would properly care for Matilda Rose, he assured the family that he would.

Although many people think that they do not need to worry about estate planning if they are not famous or wealthy, that is not the case. Mistakes such as Ledger's can have a negative impact on anyone. Believing the myth that estate planning is only for the wealthy is one of the top mistakes made in estate planning. Others include, not reviewing or updating your will, not using tax-planning strategies, and not planning for your children. Proper planning can help those to whom you are leaving assets avoid paying high federal income taxes and estate taxes and help avoid confusion.

In order to avoid mistakes in estate planning, there are some important things that everyone should know. First, no matter what your net worth is, it is important to have an estate plan to ensure that your family and financial goals are met after you die. Second, everyone needs a will. Dying without a will - also known as dying "intestate" - can be costly to your heirs and leaves you no say over who gets your assets. Also, discussing your estate plans with your heirs may prevent disputes or confusion. These are just the extreme basics in estate planning, and in order to learn more about how to make sure your assets are distributed as you wish after your death and that your family is taken care of, you can visit the links below.

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Estate Planning Tips

By Shawn Chandok

By now, I think Dave, Ahmed and I have discussed the components of estate planning enough to say we can almost consider ourselves as experts. This is exactly why I have decided to provide some common estate planning tips that can be applied to anyone.
First and foremost, the most important part of estate planning is obviously having a will. Once this is established, you should make sure your will is notarized with the correct number of witnesses. This number varies from state to state and avoids any post death problems between beneficiaries. In addition, beneficiaries should never sign the will as a witness.

Another important tip should include naming an executor who will manage your estate from the moment you die until your wealth is distributed. Usually most people use their lawyers however this is a very important job, so make sure your lawyer is someone who is both trustful and dependable.

If you are a person with an exceptional amount of accumulated wealth, an irrevocable living trust maybe more beneficial tax wise. I say this so because in 2007 and 2008 only people with assets greater than $2 million had to pay estate taxes. In 2009 that number has increased to $3.5 million and it is expected to rise in 2011. An irrevocable living trust such as an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust “is commonly used to remove the value of property from a person’s estate so that the property can't be taxed when the person dies. In other words, the person who transfers assets into an irrevocable trust is giving over those assets to the trustee and beneficiaries of the trust so that the person no longer owns the assets. Thus, if the person no longer owns the assets, then they can't be taxed when the person later dies.” Thus, it is clear how trusts are more tax friendly.


What happens to credit card debt after death

By Dana Dratch

Posted by Ahmed Al-Salem

You can't take it with you, but do credit card bills follow you into the grave? Does that debt die with you? Or can it come back to haunt those left behind?

What happens to your credit card when you die?There's no one-size-fits-all answer. A number of factors, including where you live and who applied for the card, can radically alter the situation.

Here's the simple part: If the card was yours alone, with no joint account holders, the debt is yours alone, too.

When you die, your estate is responsible for paying off the balance. If the estate goes through probate, your administrator or executor will look at your assets and debts and, guided by law, determine in what order bills should be paid. Remaining assets will be distributed to heirs by following your will (if you have one), or state law (if you don't).

Read On

You Always Need a Lawyer!

Post by David Held

There it is a lawyer for everything. When planning one’s estate he or she must consult with a lawyer. There are many technical aspects to writing a will and piecing together your estate. When selecting a lawyer, one has to do his or her research. This may be just searching on the Internet or conducting interviews with different estate lawyers. An estate lawyer can ultimately save you thousands of dollars because it is this person’s job to help you avoid all kinds of taxes. As mentioned previously in this blog estate taxes can eat up most of one’s estate.

The most common question that arises when one is looking for an estate lawyer is, “are the lawyer’s fees expensive and if I needed to re-plan my estate how much extra will be?” Lawyer’s fees vary from state to state and from agency to agency. There is no telling how many times one may need to re-draft his/her estate. The times where you would want to consider rewriting your estate are, if you get divorced, if someone dies (who is mentioned in your estate), or if you give away as something that was originally in your estate. Estate planning can be very tricky and the government is always out to take as much of your estate as it possibly can, mostly through taxes. So, one must be very careful when planning his or her estate because if they are not their loved ones will have trouble recovering the belongings that were meant for them!

Source #1, #2, #3

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Estate Tax: A New Conspiracy Theory

Post by David Held

The political fight over the estate tax, the subject of a weekend article in The Wall Street Journal, may soon be re-engaged in Congress.

In 2001, President Bush pushed through a law that gradually decreased the levy on heirs over the course of a decade, until the estate tax finally disappears altogether in 2010. In 2011, though, the tax will rebound to its pre-Bush levels.

This policy quirk has spawned lots of “throw momma from the train” jokes among tax wonks, since potential heirs stand to gain a lot by having their rich relatives die in 2010. But the estate tax law also has implications for the federal budget.

Let’s say Congress, distracted by health care reform, leaves the current estate tax laws untouched. If a rich person dies at 11:59 p.m., Dec. 31, 2010, the government won’t get a dime. But if, through the wonders of modern Medicare-financed medicine, he manages to hang on another minute and instead dies at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2011, the government collects 55 percent of his net estate worth over $1 million.

Hmm. I smell a new job for those “death panels.”

Click here to read on!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How Far Is Too Far When It Comes To Collecting Debt?

Article by Katelyn Hayes

Post by Shawn Chandok

The grief of losing a child is unbearable enough, but as one New York couple found, keeping their dead son’s creditor’s at bay is ever more burdensome. According to this report on, Roco and Laurie Crimeni are forced to relive the same pain they felt burying their 27-year-old son Vincent — who collapsed and died of a heart attack while playing softball almost a year ago — nearly every time the phone rings.

Why? Because creditors are demanding payment for the debts he left behind. Legally, though, these creditors have no right to do so. If there aren’t any assets left behind, and debts are in the deceased’s name only, family members are not required to pay. Yet this couple is being straight-up harassed over their dead son’s outstanding bills!

My heart goes out to them. They’re just trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, but they aren’t being given the opportunity to move on. Roco had this to say to

I’m afraid to pick up the phone in my own home,” he said. “That’s the hard part, to tell them my son is dead. How many times do I have to repeat it?”

Click here to read more!!

Credit/Bad Debt and Estate Planning

Post by David Held

Even death may not stop debt collectors

Remember Benjamin Franklin's famous quote, "'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes"?

Well, if you're in debt, that quote might need to amended to say, "nothing can be said to be certain except death, taxes and debt collection."

Debt collectors are getting so gung-ho these days that for those in debt, even death won't stop the collections.

The New York Times reports the following:

"Dead people are the newest frontier in debt collecting, and one of the healthiest parts of the industry."

How does one collect from a dead person? By collecting from their living relatives, even when that person is not legally obligated to pay.

Take the company DCM, which began as a law firm but now spans into a variety of industries including debt collection. They have many trained agents who coax the next of kin for the departed person to settle that person's debts.

Read more!

Poor Credit Personal Loans – Credit Report Repair Helps Lower Rates

Posted by Andrew Lipsitz

Poor credit personal loans are a financial tool that many Americans are using to help get some extra cash. Going through a credit report repair program could go a long way towards getting you lower interest rates. Your ultimate goal in getting a poor credit personal loan should be to get the lowest interest rate you can get without having to pay any extra fees. Some personal loan companies will lower your rate but watch out for the fees up front that could end up costing more.

Many personal loan companies offer borrowers up to $25,000 if they qualify. You may not need this much money but it could go a long way towards paying off bills and digging yourself out of the hole of bills everywhere. Although most financial planners suggest not using debt to pay off debt it might be a good idea to help get some bills out of the way if you get a low interest rate on a personal loan. It would not be advisable to pay off debts with a lower interest rate though.

It should not be difficult to find a poor credit personal loan company out there as they are advertising all over the Internet and on the television. If you watch CNBC or FoxBusiness at all you know exactly what I am talking about. It seems like every single time there is a commercial break there are several ads for debt consolidation or personal loans. This is not a bad thing if you need these services; make sure to jot down the number of these companies when you do see the commercials.

Click here to

Wills vs. Trusts

Article by LectLaw

Post by Shawn Chandok

A Will is the legal document that allows you to distribute your property to those you choose. A Will allows you to designate beneficiaries to receive specific items from your estate, and other beneficiaries to receive everything else. For example, if you want your house, your car, or your antique thimble collection to go to a certain person or organization, you designate that person or organization as the beneficiary.
A Will also gives parents of minor children the chance to nominate a guardian. The court makes the final decision when appointing a guardian for your children after your death, but the court will usually accept your nomination. A guardian’s legal responsibility is to provide for your child’s physical welfare.

A Will comes into play only after you die, but a living trust can actually start benefiting you while you are still alive. A living trust is a trust established during your lifetime. It is revocable, which allows for you to make changes. You will transfer substantially all of your property into your living trust during your lifetime, and any omitted assets can be transferred into the trust at the time of death through the use of a simple Pour-over Will. You should always make a Pour-over Will at the time that you establish your trust.

A living trust will be used as the mechanism to manage your property before and after your death, as well as provide how those assets, and the income earned by the trust, are distributed after your death. If you should become incapacitated or disabled, the trust is in place to manage your financial affairs, usually by a successor trustee, if you were serving as trustee. A living trust is not subject to probate, and therefore, all provisions of the trust will remain private.

Click here to read more!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Intestacy Laws

By Shawn Chandok

Intestate death means you have died without ever written a will to designate your wealth and lifework. So the question we ask ourselves is what happens if we die and don’t write a will? Well the answer to this varies state by state. Most states begin with the spouse or children as the number 1 beneficiaries. If you do not have a spouse or kids, your parents will accumulate your wealth assuming they are still alive. If your parents are no longer alive either, then siblings are usually next in line, followed by nieces and nephews if you have no siblings. Intestate death can create many problems for the families because it gives the state the right to choose who inherits what. This also means your wealth can go to a sibling or family member whom you disliked.

Another problem with intestate deaths is that it doesn’t consider any friends. For example, if you die the state cannot, and will not name any of your friends as inheritors of your life work. Instead, if you have no close family, all your life work goes back to state in which you resigned. This is another HUGE reason why you should consider making a will as soon as possible.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Paul Anka to Get Half the Royalties for the New Michael Jackson Song


Posted by Ahmed Al-Salem

Michael Jackson’s new song “This Is It” could prove a significant payday for Paul Anka. Although the song had been advertised as an unheard recording left behind by Mr. Jackson — and written by him alone — it became clear after it was released on Sunday night that “This Is It” was not new at all: it had been written by Mr. Jackson and Mr. Anka 26 years ago, and recorded by the singer Safire in 1991 as “I Never Heard.” Late Monday afternoon, the Jackson estate acknowledged Mr. Anka’s role and said he would be given credit. On Tuesday, the estate also confirmed that Mr. Anka would receive half of all due royalties for the song, which could be substantial. The song will play over the end credits of the film “This Is It” and feature prominently on its soundtrack. In addition, Mr. Anka would be owed fees for any licensed use of the song to commercials or other films. The Jackson estate is said to be in talks with Coca-Cola about possible use of “This Is It” in a large ad campaign, according to people with knowledge of the discussion who were not authorized to speak about it.

Read On

Death Comes Before Fame

By Ahmed Al-Salem

This is kind of strange. A man dies yet he continues to make money. So much so, that he can make more money dead than he can alive. We see this a lot in history. Death comes before fame sometimes. And those who fall victim to this strange phenomenon are usually artists. Shakespeare, Van Gogh, Tupac, MJ...and the list goes on. Who gets all this money? Since the person is dead whos bank account do the sales go to. In most cases, the money goes to the people who go after it the most. The government gets the first cut, then agents, then producers, etc and what ever is left get split among those who received money from wills.


What Does An Estate Consist of?

Post by David Held

When people are trying to plan out their estates the most common question is; what is included in it? People can be either extremely specific or very broad when doing estate planning. The more specific someone is, when writing their will or planning their estate, the less bickering, fighting, and legal work there usually is by their heirs. Everyone has seen on TV, siblings fighting over Mom and Dad valuables, and believe it or not, this is very common in the real world.

The most important thing to put in an estate would have to be your greatest assets. For most people their house is the most valuable thing they own. Along with their house; cars, stocks, clothing, jewelry, bonds, retirement options, and various other assets which could include coin and stamp and art collections, even businesses, should all be included or taken into consideration when distributing ones estate. “How the estate is distributed is determined by several things: the will, the beneficiaries named (if any), the way the property is titled, any letter of instructions, and the laws of the state in which the person lived.”

The average person doesn’t equate taxes with inheritance, so estates have to plan on how to pay the government. Once a person dies, the government intervenes to make sure that they get their share of taxes from the estate. It may take a while to settle an estate once the government gets involved; it could be even years before everything is settled. That is why it is very important to hire a good lawyer, while you are young, to help get everything in order!

Sources #1, #2, #3

King Siblings Settle Estate Lawsuit

Post by David Held

The children of Martin Luther King Jr. settled a longstanding and bitter dispute over the slain civil rights leaders’ estate late Monday night.

A lawsuit pitted two of Mr. King’s children, Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, against a third child, Dexter King, the president of King, Inc., which runs their father’s estate. They had accused Dexter King of cutting them out of the decisions about the corporation, withholding documents and refusing to hold shareholder meetings since 2004. A jury trial was set to begin soon, threatening to reveal details about the inner workings of King Inc.

“All of the siblings are very pleased that the matter was amicably resolved, and they are committed to looking toward the future, to beginning the process of working on their family’s relationship,” said Lin Wood, the lawyer for King Inc. He said the siblings agreed not to discuss the details of the settlement.

Click Here to Read On!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brooke Astor’s Son Guilty in Scheme to Defraud Her

Article by JOHN ELIGON

Post by Shawn Chandok

The son of Brooke Astor, the philanthropist and long-reigning matriarch of New York society, was convicted in Manhattan on Thursday on charges that he defrauded his mother and stole tens of millions of dollars from her as she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in the twilight of her life.

The jury’s verdict means that Mrs. Astor’s son, Anthony D. Marshall, 85, faces a sentence of at least a year and as many as 25 years. A co-defendant, Francis X. Morrissey Jr., a lawyer who did estate planning for Mrs. Astor, was also convicted of a series of fraud and conspiracy charges, as well as one count of forging Mrs. Astor’s signature on an amendment to her will.

The verdict drew the curtain on a long trial that cast an unflattering spotlight on one of New York’s first families of high society. Henry Kissinger, Barbara Walters and Annette de la Renta, among others, testified that Mr. Marshall mistreated his mother in her later years and conspired to inflate his inheritance from her estate — largely to appease his wife, Charlene Marshall. Mrs. Astor died in 2007 at age 105.

As the verdict was read, Ms. Marshall sat stone-faced; moments later, while her husband went to meet with a probation officer, she left the courtroom, saying, “I love my husband.” She and Mr. Marshall then held hands and ignored requests for comment before being whisked away in a black Town Car.

Click here to read more!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Trusts: A solution to Taxes?

By Shawn Chandok

One of the most important overlooked facts in estate planning is what parents do to ensure their children have a successful future. The basic goal of parents (whether wealthy parents or poor parents) to ensure their child’s future should be to “teach money management skills to their children when they are young.” One of the most popular strategies used by parents before the bubble burst was the grantor retained annuity trust. The basic idea behind this trust was that parents would bet on an asset (usually real estate) to appreciate for a time period of 2-10 years. Then when the trust hit maturity, the children would receive the appreciated asset tax free. An example of this asset gift would include first homes for newly married couples. Now that real estate assets have dramatically decreased in value, it seems as if this strategy is useless. However, there is one loophole to ensure your child receives your gifts. It is stated that “The grantor can swap out the original asset for one of equal value without penalty and start another trust with the original asset, if he believes it unfairly lost value.” Although grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs) are excellent for giving money/wealth to children tax free, some have said they aren’t very useful in giving money to grandchildren. Another option recommended for giving gifts to grandchildren is a generation skipping trust.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Thrill of Wills

By Ahmed Al-Salem

The thing that annoys me is the fact that there are so many arguments over money after a person dies. The laws of inheritance that are practiced when no will is in place in the United States lack common sense. If a man or woman were to die in the midst of a divorce settlement, then all the money that the husband/wife has goes to their ex. Why? That doesn’t make any sense. That’s the last person the dying person would want to have want to take their money.
I think to lessen the grief and argument that happens over wills is to make a set of rules where everyone is entitled to a piece of the money no matter what. So if you had kids then a third of your money gets split among them, if you have a wife, then another third goes to her etc. That way people would not argue and there would be no incentive to suck up to a rich dying man because the money is out of his hands. A third should be designated for the dying person to do as he pleases but there has to be a system in place where those who are closest to him are taken care of before other relationships.


Estate Planning: What You Need to Know


Posted by Ahmed Al-Salem

Estate planning rarely gets the attention it should get.

Saving for your children’s education, purchasing a second home, deciding when and how to retire — these are all topics that people talk about with their friends and their financial advisers. But deciding what happens to whatever is left of your money when you die is often passed over. It shouldn’t be, though, because it is crucial to a financial plan.

But not discussing something that is going to happen will not stop it from happening. And at some point, someone is going to have to sort out your estate — regardless of how big or small it is. Here are some ofthe key issues that should be addressed:

Read On

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Death Panel

Post by David Held

Everyone knows that planning estate is a tremendous task that most people do not want to do. No one wants to plan his/her death, but it has to be done! Planning is not only done with your family, but physicians and lawyers, as well. Planning an estate does not only have to only be about distributing belongings, it also has to do with how you are treated when you are in the last stages of life. Do you want a do not resuscitate clause, meaning if you flat line in the hospital or anywhere you are getting treated you do not want them to bring you back to life(no paddles/electric shock to the heart).

Bill Thomas, M.D. of Ithaca, N.Y. says, “The entire point of doing this planning is thoughtful communication with a physician and creating some documents that can guide your care…It’s so you decide.” As I stated before not many people want to have this conversation, but it is completely necessary! This should definitely be done if you are diagnosed with a terminal disease, but it should be done in your 20’s. It is better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your life.

All of this should be included in your living will. “A living will is a document that tells doctors and medical professionals your wishes regarding life-and-death decisions such as whether to accept or refuse life-prolonging treatment after a critical accident. You should complete documents recognized by your state.”

Source #1, #2, #3

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Your Financial Future: Getting Your Will Right

Post by David Held

Your Financial Future: Getting Your Will Right
You may need legal help to have things turn out the way you want
By: Martha M. Hamilton

It’s easy enough to understand why most of us are reluctant to write a will. Who wants to confront mortality?

I finally drafted a will about 10 years ago after my lawyer sister insisted. I realized that if I were to die before my pending divorce was final, everything would go to my soon-to-be-ex-husband unless my will said otherwise, and that turned out to be just the motivation I needed.

Now things have changed, and I really need to pull together a new will. It has been on my to-do list for more than two years.

And yet, I haven’t done it, and I suspect I’m not alone. So I turned to Edward L. Weidenfeld, a highly respected lawyer whose specialty is estate law, to ask how people can get themselves motivated to prepare for the inevitable. And what he said was persuasive.

First, when you die there is going to be “a division of your worldly goods, and if you don’t say with some precision how you want it done, the court’s going to apply standards that may not reflect your wishes, and be more expensive,” he said.

But, more important, he added, “it’s really the caring thing to do. Just like you don’t like a houseguest who leaves everything in a mess, most people really don’t want to pass on a mess for their family.”

One legacy you don’t want to leave behind is a family fighting over your assets.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Estate Planning: Why is it important?

Article by Pat Perkins

Post by Shawn Chandok

What is an Estate Plan?
Simply put, an estate plan is a blueprint designed during a person’s life for the purpose of specifying the manner in which a particular estate will be disposed of after death. An estate plan typically attempts to conserve estate assets by reducing tax liability and other expenses as well as eliminating uncertainties with respect to the administration of a probate. (A probate is the process of certifying the validity of a will by judicial means.) Depending on your goals, your concerns regarding the legacy you want to leave behind, your family structure and the number and kind of assets you own, your estate plan could be simple or complicated. The process of estate planning usually entails the input of one or more specialized, professional advisors including your lawyer, financial planner, accountant, life insurance agent, banker and broker

Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?
If you don’t own anything of value and have no living relatives, pets or children, then you probably don’t need a will. You can die “intestate” (without a valid will) and your personal items will be distributed according to your state’s laws. However, this description applies to a very, very few. The rest of us whether married or single, young or old and with or without children need to have some sort of estate planning in place in the event of our deaths.

As Ben Franklin once opined, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” but with good estate planning, you may be able to at least reduce some of the taxes your estate will be required to pay upon your death. These taxes, called estate taxes, are determined by an assessment of the total gross value of your estate; they are levied when you die and can eat into the value of the estate you leave to your heirs or beneficiaries. If you want to control the disposition of your assets–home, car, pets, money, stocks & bonds, life insurance, personal valuables–as opposed to letting Uncle Sam decide for you, then you need a proper estate plan. You might not be able to take it with you, but you sure can decide who gets what you leave behind.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Heath Ledgers Estate Planning

By Shawn Chandok

The Mysterious Life Insurance Policy
On January 22, 2008 Australian actor Heath Ledger, was found dead in his four bedroom apartment by his housekeeper. Although there has been controversy over whether it was a suicide or accidental prescription drug overdose, the fact of the matter remains he is no more. However, one of the main reasons there was so much controversy over the mystery of his death is because of the fact that he took out a $10 million life insurance policy only two years before his death. Excluding his assets, this policy would provide $10 million to his 2 year old daughter and beneficiary, Matilda.

The Will
Initially Heath Ledger had written his will 2 years before his marriage with Michelle leaving everything behind to his parents and sisters. However, due to some legal calamities lawyers argued that it should be re-evaluated to include Michelle. Finally, after constant family disputes, Kim and Sally ledger (parents of Heath Ledger) finally agreed with Michelle Williams that Heath’s estate would too be inherited by Matilda. However, what struck me as the most interesting was the fact that when Heath “signed the will on April 12, 2003 it listed assets and cash of just $118,000, but the actor's estate is believed to be worth more than $16.3 million.” This value is preceding his role in the famous movie “The Dark Knight,” which we all know as one of the most profitable movies ever created. In conclusion, although things came out for the best for Heaths wife and daughter, all the problems and controversy could have been avoided if Heath managed his wealth with strategic estate planning.


Organ Donation: Not Just for Steve Jobs

Organ Donation: Not Just for Steve Jobs
By Ahmed Al-Salem

Money is always the first thing that a person is sought after when he dies. Where will it go and to whom? That’s not the only thing that people care about nowadays. A debate about harvesting the organs of the deceased is a big concern to many people. Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, recently got a liver transplant that saved his life. “I now have the liver of a mid-20s person who died in a car crash and was generous enough to donate their organs. I wouldn't be here without such generosity," an emotional Jobs told the audience at an unveiling of new and cheaper iPods at a showing in San Francisco. He urged everyone to become an Organ Donor. Only 38% of the nation is registed as organ donors. That means more than half of the people that can register don’t. Eighteen people die each day waiting for an organ transplant and such deaths can be saved if people were to donate their organs.

Some of the reasons that people are reluctant to donate are: concerns about bodily integrity, worries that signing a donor card may 'jinx' them, mistrust of doctors and fear that they won't get proper care if they are registered organ donors and religion. The only valid excuse in my opinion is the last, which is religion. We will all die one day and if your organs are going to rot into dust than you might as well give it to someone who can make use of it. I am personally an organ donor and I have specified that my organs be harvested only to save lives. I think it’s a good idea and that people should do this before they die.

Source #1

Obama Plans to Keep Estate Tax

Obama Plans to Keep Estate Tax
President-elect Barack Obama and congressional leaders plan to move soon to block the estate tax from disappearing in 2010, suggesting the levy might outlive the "Death Tax Repeal" movement that has tried mightily to kill it.

The Democratic stance on the estate tax contrasts with Mr. Obama's reluctance to press forward with his campaign pledge to raise income-tax rates on top earners, which he worries could have an adverse economic impact during a recession.

.But Democrats are determined to act quickly to prevent the estate tax's scheduled repeal. Elimination of the levy on big inheritances was approved by Congress under President George W. Bush in 2001, with rollbacks phased in slowly and its full elimination slated to take effect next year.

The Senate Finance Committee will move within weeks on legislation to reverse that law, and Mr. Obama is expected to detail his estate-tax preservation proposal in his budget next month, congressional tax writers said.

Under the Obama plan detailed during the campaign, the estate tax would be locked in permanently at the rate and exemption levels that took effect this year. That would exempt estates of $3.5 million -- $7 million for couples -- from any taxation. The value of estates above that would be taxed at 45%. If the tax were returned to Clinton-era levels, it would exclude $1 million from taxation with the rest taxed at 55%.

In making their case for the restoration, Democrats contend that such a large additional tax break for the rich shouldn't go into force halfway through Mr. Obama's proposed economic-recovery package. They argue that the deficit is already in record territory, while their plan wouldn't have any impact on the economy since it would merely keep the estate-tax rate at its current level. Mr. Obama and his party also say that the affluent already have benefited handsomely from the Bush tax cuts.

They also reason that if they don't act now, it will be politically harder to go ahead with their plan to resurrect the estate tax once it has disappeared.

For small-business groups, farmers' associations and the affluent families that created and bankrolled the "Death Tax" repeal effort, the emerging Democratic plan marks a stark defeat.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Did Michael Jackson Take Care of His Estate?

Post by David Held

As everyone knows, the King of Pop passed away this summer. Now, the number one question that arises is who gets what part of Michael’s estate? Michael Jackson’s estate is worth billions, from the Neverland Ranch to the rights of the Beatle’s records, not to mention his children. What many people did not know was that Jackson was in debt when he passed away. It is reported that he owed Back of America over $270 million because of ridiculous spending sprees, but in the end his estate is in the green. Because of all the debt Jackson owed, “Jackson's estate is also subject to federal inheritance taxes of up to 45%, depending on what was placed in tax-limiting personal or family trusts. A trust arrangement also would keep much of the estate disbursement private and out of probate court but wouldn't prevent public scrutiny from legal challenges by creditors and other claimants.”

Since Michael had a will and planned out his estate correctly, most of the estate money will go to Katherine Jackson and his three children. Also, a portion of the money went to covering funeral costs. A Wall Street Journal article states, “In court documents released today, it's revealed that Katherine Jackson is paid $26,804 per month and the 3 kids $60,000 per month.”

Source #1, #2, #3

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Benefits of Budgeting

Post by Shawn Chandok
Article by Paul Sullivan

Now Even Millionaires Can See the Benefits of Budgeting

SOMEONE with $100 million has nothing to fear, not even fear itself. But not long ago, a client with such assets called and asked Bruce Bickel, her wealth adviser at PNC Wealth Management, to put her on a budget.

“She said we’ve never done this before, and we think we should,” said Mr. Bickel, managing director of private foundation management services at PNC. “It’s all relative. Their loss has put them in a fear response.”

That mindset is a direct result of the financial panic that turned one year old this week. At this time last year, Richard Fuld was center stage in the financial crisis; Ken Lewis, chief executive of Bank of America, was being hailed as Merrill Lynch’s savior; and Bernard L. Madoff was little known beyond the financial world.

None of that is true today. And even though a year has passed, wealthy investors remain cautious.
The Boston Consulting Group predicted this week that worldwide wealth would not return to 2007 precrisis levels until 2013. It also said it found that the number of millionaires was down 18 percent and that, across the board, clients of wealth management firms had lost trust in their advisers.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Sophisticated Estate Planning Strategies

Post by David Held

Sophisticated Estate Planning Strategies
by Rande Spiegelman, CPA, CFP®, Vice President of Financial Planning, Schwab Center for Financial Research

So far we've covered the basics of estate planning as well as estate tax repeal and the role of lifetime gifting in reducing your taxable estate. Here, we highlight some advanced strategies people can use to accomplish their gift and estate planning goals in a tax-efficient way. Of course, these are but a few of the many estate planning strategies available.

A few things to keep in mind:

Don't be seduced by intriguing strategies or what someone else did with their estate plan. Your estate plan should begin and end with your personal goals and desires, both tax and non-tax—after all, it’s your estate.

Sit down with a qualified estate planner who’s up to date on the latest statutory, regulatory and judicial developments. You may even want to combine the strengths of a qualified CPA (to map the most tax-efficient strategy) and an experienced estate planning attorney (to draft the legal documents and provide additional insights).

Beware of strategies that seem too good to be true, such as excessive valuation discounts, promises of tax-free offshore deals, and the like.

Click HERE to read on..

What goes into a will

By: Jessie Bruyn

Every person is different and carries different values during their life, so therefore there is no set formula for a will per say. However, there are certain topics that should be included and touched upon in the creation of every will.

The first, and arguably the most important, are the funeral expenses and payments of any pre-death debts. Money should be allocated for both of these things by the creator of the will. If debts exceed assets, state law will prescribe the order in which debts are paid. You also have the opportunity to forgive debts owed to you in your will. The biggest advice given by lawyers in creating wills is to think of all the "what ifs".

The next category in creating a will is the gifts of personal property. This is where you can give assets to specified individuals (family, friends, or charitable donations). If you have several children or want to distribute certain assets evenly you give the property to "the class" this would include all the people (for example all children) and the assets would be divided evenly.

If you have custody or rights over individuals, for example your children. Detailed instructions of who the care goes to in the event of each possible circumstance are provided. You must also include special instructions for the gift and inheritance of minors (for example to wait until a certain age and how much is allocated to the specified caregiver and what for). Most importantly, make sure the will is signed and dated and kept in a safe place.

The writing of a will is very complicated and should be done with assistance of a lawyer and in conjoint with your spouse if assets are shared. It should not be taken lightly and should be updated frequently in the best interest of you and your loved ones.

Estate Planning

By: Jessie Bruyn

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don't Avoid Estate Planning

By Nicholas Vanikiotis

The biggest mistake anyone can make in regards to estate planning is putting it off. It is one of the most important things you can do with your money and needs to be given the proper amount of attention and consideration. The cost of hiring an attorney or a financial advisor is a small cost to pay, a few thousand dollars depending on how large your estate is, to properly allocate your finances in case you die. People put off estate planning because no one wants to plan for their death. It’s a dark subject and people simply do not want to think about it or even talk about it.

Another Mistake people make when planning their estate is not asking enough questions. When you walk out of the attorney’s office you should be entirely clear on where your money will after you die, after all it is your money. Also, a discussion should occur with your heirs so it is made clear where to your family and friends as to how all of the assets will be allocated.

A third mistake is only putting a will or trust in your plan. An estate plan is a package where all of your assets are grouped together so they can be dispersed to the appropriate people in a timely manner upon death.

Estate Planning Do's and Don'ts

Watch Here

By Nicholas Vanikiotis

Trusts vs Wills

By Jessie Bruyn

A trust is an agreement between two people in which one person manages the property and assets of another person - the beneficiary. There can also exist a living trust in which the specified person manages the assets of the other person in the event that they are disabled and cannot manage their property by themselves. When the person dies, the trustee becomes responsible for the assets and allocates them to desired individuals.
A will, on the other hand, is a legal tool used only after the individual is deceased. The only say in the division of assets with a will is the creator, whereas with a trust the trustees have access and rights as well. When creating a will, the person appoints an Executor to handle the business and distribute the assets. Wills usually require Probate, or court involvement. However, having a responsible Executor helps eliminate the court's involvement in distribution after the death of a loved one.
Initially, a will is less expensive but can require more expenses after the death. On the otherhand, a trust is more expensive at first, but requires less expenses after death.

Education savings as an estate-planning strategy

By: Jessica Bruyn

Now that our youngsters are back in school, we can turn our attention to some of our other goals. When was the last time you reviewed your estate planning strategy? Did you know education savings can be a part of your estate plan?

First, let's review how estate laws affect your assets. After that, we'll show you how the special rules that apply to 529 education savings plans can help you deal with the general estate tax laws.

To simplify and summarize the estate tax, most assets you own when you die constitute your estate. If the value of your estate exceeds a specific amount ($3.5 million in 2009), then you'll be subject to federal estate tax. If you reduce the size of your estate, you can reduce the amount of estate tax owed.

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Monday, September 21, 2009


Probate is how an estate is distributed in court or the legal process of administering a deceased persons estate as per their will. This process is usually only gone through when there are significant assets to be transferred. This does not include life insurance or retirement benefits which have a set beneficiary. A living trust is not subject to probate.
The court appoints an executor who will be in charge of managing the estate. When there is no will then the court names an administrator. Either of these hold a fiduciary duty to the family and the court to act on another's (the deceased) behalf. AS an executor you do get paid for your service, depending on the size of the estate.The will can be contested and this begins another process to resolve it.

Posted by Chris Keeler


or View Here

Posted by Chris Keeler

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Become Aware: September is Life Insurance Awareness Month

Posted By: Laura Reginelli

If you happened to die tomorrow, how would your family take care of themselves financially? It is not a pleasant thought to think of, but not thinking about it can cause detrimental consequences. September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Now is the time to make sure your family is protected from the worst case scenario.

Click here to read more.

Insurance for Your Future

By: Laura Reginelli

Losing a loved one is emotionally devastating. On top of that, families then have to endure the financial burden of losing someone as well. According to State Farm, life insurance “is protection against financial loss resulting from death. It is an insurance company's promise to pay your beneficiary a specific amount of money when you die in exchange for timely payment of premiums.”

Although the subject of death is a touchy one, it is important to make sure that your family will be covered if you are to pass away. On top of losing someone that you deeply care about you could also possibly lose a substantial source of income on top it that. With that being said, it makes sense to purchase life insurance before any medical problems occur and when you are healthy. Generally the older one becomes, the more expensive his or her policy will be due to the increased chances of death or medical problems. There are two specific types of life insurance offered, term and permanent. With term insurance you gain coverage for a set amount of time, pay a lower rate in the short run and find it easier to comprehend. However, with permanent life insurance the protection spans a lifetime, has higher premiums but in turn can help you build up equity. Whichever you decide is best, it is important to make sure that both you and your family are insured for the uncertainty of the future.

Tax Friendly Places for Retirement

Posted by: Janielle Viggiano

No matter where you live, the federal taxes will be about the same. But you'd be amazed at how much your state and local tax burden may vary. And if you itemize deductions, how much you pay -- and deduct -- in local property taxes could affect the bottom line of your federal return, too.

People planning to retire "often use the presence or absence of a state income tax as a litmus test for a retirement destination," says Tom Wetzel, president of the Retirement Living Information Center. "But higher sales and property taxes can more than offset the lack of a state income tax."

Seven states -- Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming -- have no state income tax. Two states -- New Hampshire and Tennessee -- tax only dividend and interest income that exceeds certain limits. But many of the remaining 41 states (and the District of Columbia) that impose an income tax offer generous incentives for retirees. If you qualify, moving to one of these retiree-friendly areas could be cheaper than relocating to a state with no income tax.

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Estate Taxes for Estate Planning

Posted by: Janielle Viggiano

A lot of the estate planning process focuses on reducing or trying to eliminate taxes. The government imposes a tax known as the Unified Gift and Estate Tax which puts a tax on the transfer of your property to others both during your lifetime and when you pass away. But not everyone will have to pay federal estate taxes. According to, “If your estate falls under the government exemption your trustee/executor does not have to file an estate tax return (Form 706) and pay the required tax within 9 months of your death.” It’s important to know what property will be included in your estate for federal estate tax purposes. The estate includes all property owned by the decedent at the time of death: investments, cash, real estate, vehicles, personal property, life insurance proceeds from policies owned by the decedent within three years of death, life insurance paid to the estate, retirement assets and business interests.

There are some estate tax exemptions that can be helpful. The first is personal exemption, The "personal estate tax exemption" allows a certain amount (or all) of a deceased person's estate to transfer free of the estate tax. Next, there is a marital deduction. According to “A deceased person's estate can pass tax free to a surviving spouse, as long as the surviving spouse is a U.S. citizen and his or her interest in the estate is not a nondeductible terminable interest. A nondeductible terminable interest is an interest in the property that is held by someone other than the surviving spouse.” And lastly there are other deductions which include; against the gross estate include certain administrative expenses, funeral expenses, claims against the estate, certain taxes and other indebtedness and charitable bequests.

With everything that has to do with estate planning, you should always consult a professional. According to Forster, “Should you realize that your assets do fall under the category of taxable, you should start looking for an estate planning tax consultant. There are a lot of ways you can protect your possessions from taxation laws. Most of these methods include different types of trusts that will give you estate-tax exemption. Living trusts also allows you the freedom to control your possessions while living, and care for your spouse and/or heirs without having to go through months of probate.” It is best to have an estate planning adviser who can regularly update your trusts and will. He can also monitor any amendments in estate-tax laws and make any necessary adjustments. This way, your beneficiaries will be protected from any new laws that may prevent them from receiving your bequests.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Estate looting 101: how the goods are gotten when the will gets in the way

Posted by: Jessie Bruyn

The looting of estate assets, also known as Involuntary Redistribution of Assets (IRA), can occur through the use of various probate instruments - wills, trusts, guardianships, powers of attorney - and with the actual acts configured in different ways. Guardianships or powers of attorney can provide for estate looting while a person is alive, but asset diversion can be perpetrated posthumously via wills or trusts. Whether these acts are instigated by greedy lawyers, disgruntled family members or wannabe heirs (or often a combination), the sad reality is that death doesn’t necessarily bring the closure one might expect. Death, even with the most meticulous of estate plans, in no way ensures the honoring of a decedent’s wishes or heirs' avoidance of IRA.

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Affordable New Life Insurance for Kids!