Monday, April 27, 2009
Estate planning software can be a smart way for people to save thousands of dollars on lawyers but it is not for everyone. Estate planning software is usually more suited for people that have estates worth less than $2 million, which is the amount federal estate tax is involved. Another recommendation is that people who have more than one marriage should not use estate planning software. Basically, if your estate plan is going to be complicated, a lawyer will be the better at handling your case. Estate planning softwares usually only cover the basics. If you think software can be right for you, here is a list of programs I got from The CPA Technology Advisor website that you can consider:
CCH Tax and Accounting - ViewPlan Advanced
"CCH Tax and Accounting’s entry into the estate planning market, ViewPlan Advanced, runs under Windows 95 or newer operating systems and requires a Pentium processor, VGA display, CD-ROM drive and a minimum of 14MB of hard disk space. I interviewed several users who were happy with the product."
BNA Software - BNA Estate & Gift Tax Planner
"The BNA Estate & Gift Tax Planner is the leader in estate tax planning, which is something we have come to expect from a recognized name and leader in all types of tax planning. This spreadsheet program is driven by solid foundations. The BNA Estate & Gift Tax Planner is a consistent application, enabling confident presentations. If you have used any other BNA program, you will immediately be ready to use the BNA Estate & Gift Tax Planner."
Thomson Fast-Tax — zCalc Tool Box Suite
"Thomson Fast-Tax offers the zCalc Tool Box Suite, a collection of analytical programs and other tools that act as an add-on to Microsoft Excel, providing additional assistance to estate planning professionals through features that enhance tax and estate planning strategies. "
Emerging Information Systems, Inc. ' NaviPlan Extended
"EISI introduced NaviPlan in 1996 and boasts a user base of more than 70,000. NaviPlan is another product in this review lineup that takes a broader approach to the planning process, including both goal-based financial planning as well as cash flow-based estate planning, which focuses on tax reduction and maximizing the amount of assets that can be passed to heirs. Since this review series features Estate Planning software, only the estate planning features will be highlighted. However, this package includes a lot more that you can learn about by reviewing the company's online information or by requesting a 30-day demo."
Friday, April 24, 2009
Written by: Liwin Troy Lee
Even though most estate plans are different from one another, they have similiar components. They include a will, a living will, a letter of last instruction and any trust instruments deemed necessary.
The most imporant part of the estate plan is the will. A will is a legal document that transfer property when the property owner dies. The person who receives something from the estate is the heir. The will can also specify who will care for the minor children or dependent of the person who died.
In most states it is required that the assets be distributed after the person has died. If the person dies intestate, that is without a will, there are rules within each state to decide how the assets of the deceased will be distributed. If a person dies without a will and no living relatives, the assets of the deceased will become property of the state government through a legal rule called escheat.
A living will is a document that specifies a person's preferences as to the medical care he or she would want to receive is they are unable to make the decision for themselves due to terminal illness, physical or mental disability.
The most difficult part in drafting the will is deciding what limitation to place on the medical care you're willing to receive.
A durable power of attorney is a legal document which designates that another person makes a decision for you in an event that you are unable to do so.
Letter of Last Instruction
The letter of last instruction is not a legal document. It provides useful information for the survivors of the deceased. The letter could be used to communicate the funeral arrangements, identify people to notify and important information such as bank account information. The letter should be copied and be distributed to everyone so everyone can find it when the deceased dies.
Trust is an entity that holds and manages assets on behalf of someone else.
Top things to know
Estate Planning for Everyone
The Estate Plan
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Written by Burns Associates
Small business owners have a host of special needs. Who will take over the business after you die? Do the surviving spouse or the children get control of the stock? Which ones run the company, and which merely share in the profits?
This article will look at some of the issues that you and your lawyer should discuss if you want the business to continue after your death. In a later article, we’ll look at some of the issues involved in selling your interest in the business and the best way to transfer ownership to the new owners.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Posted by: Liwin Troy Lee
BY: Paul Sullivan
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 of the key issues that should be addressed:
WILLS Everybody should have a will, and people who are married and/or have dependent children are inexcusably foolish if they do not. There are significant issues that only a will can clarify. One of the biggest is who will take care of the people you love, and how? You may have told your best friend that he will be the guardian of your children if you and your spouse die in a plane crash, but unless you spelled out your wish in a will, there is no guarantee this will happen. If both parents die, it will be up to the state to decide, and they will chose based on family.
If you say this is what you wanted anyway, you’re missing the point. Which parents would you want to raise your children — yours or your spouse’s? Or if it is a sibling, do you care if your children go to the wealthy one in Seattle whom you always fought with or to the financially strapped but loving one in Memphis with two children of his own?
If you are wondering what will happen to your money if you die without a will, go to mystatewill.com. It shows what happens to your assets in each state if you die without a will. The picture it paints can be scary and may convince the holdouts that paying a fee online or spending $1,000 for an actual lawyer to draft a basic will is well worth it.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Written by: Liwin Troy Lee
An estate planner is someone who plan for individual or corporate estates. Estates are collection of assets a person or entity obtained during their lifetime. Estate planning include drafting a will or trust fund, tax planning and planning for the amount of money you contribute to charity after you die.
1) Complete an advanced degree in law, finance or accounting. All three of those degrees gives you an education to make you qualify to work as an estate planner.
2) Enroll in a Certified Estate Planner Program. One of the most prestigious programs is National Institute of Certified Estate Planners.
3) Complete the course work to receive your Certified Estate Planner Degree. Some of the coursework will cover estate planning, gifting, joint ownership accounts.
4) One you pass all your coursework, you are qualified to sit for the Certified Estate Planner Exam. the exam consist of 100 multiple that covers all the material you have learned in your course work. You can take the test as many times a you want. There is, however, a $10 retesting fee.
5) After you get your certification. You must meet all the degree requirements. Generally you have to take 8 to 16 CPE credits every two years. An example of a CPE course includes advanced estate planning.
6) Agree to follow ethics set by the National Institute of Certified Estate Planners. This includes reading issues on professional ethics held by the organization such as not revealing you client's confidential information or engage in illegal activities. You have to sign a statement saying you have read the document.
7) Start promoting yourself as a certified estate planner.
National Institute of Certified Estate Planners
How to become an estate planner
Accredited Estate planners
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Posted by: Liwin Troy Lee
Written by: Chelsea Victor
LYONS – A guy walks into a bar. He recently found out that his elderly father will be passing away in a few years and leaving him a very large inheritance. Using this new information as leverage in the dating market, he decides it’s time to find someone to settle down with.
So guy looks around the room and locks eyes with this stunning young woman. He figures she’s probably out of his league, but walks up to her with his new boost of confidence and says, “I may not look like much now, but in a few years my father will pass away and I will have millions. Would you be interested in going to dinner sometime?” She’s interested, and gets his name and number. A week later, she became his step-mom.What does this story illustrate? Sometimes women are better estate planners than men. Or, more appropriately, effective estate planning can protect your children’s inheritance. According to recent statistics, seven out of ten Americans do not have a will. This is a staggering amount considering the importance of having a will and medical durable power of attorney, the incentive to simplify the probate process, and the overwhelming availability of estate planning attorneys.
Click here to read more
Thursday, April 9, 2009
It is very important for people to take action on estate planning ahead of time. A lot of people tries to avoid the topic until something bad happens when they end up in the hospital. By then, it might already be too late. Even if they are still able to make their wills, the legal system of United States might prevent you from doing so!
For example, if a person is send to a nursing home and has symptoms of dementia from Alzheimer's, there is a law that states in order to sign legal documents, one must be able to think clearly and understand the nature of his or her actions. To have the mental capacity to sign a will, one must know simple things such as the who, what, and where.
If a person is not qualified to sign his or her will, a family member, relative, close friend, the attending doctor, or a court appointed guardian may be asked to make the decision on your behalf! Most people will probably not want someone else make such an important decision for them, so planning ahead is a very smart move. It will give the person a peace of mind to know that your wishes will be carried out.
In the real world, when everyday pet owners become incapacitated or even worse, pass away, what becomes of their pets? Without estate planning, the pets may be taken to shelters or even left for dead.
Starting at around $250, some tax and estate attorneys can help plan pet trusts and pet care. In this planning, an attorney can help designate a "backup person" who will care for a pet, which includes feeding, housing and paying for medical expenses. Usually a caretaker is a family member for friend.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Written by: Liwin Troy Lee
What is Estate planning?
Estate planning is a long process. It involves your family, people close to you and possibly a charitable organizations. Estate planning deals with your assets (property) and determining the owner of the assets after you die.
From real estate planning, you determine how and whom will manage your asset when you are not able to manage it, when to distribute the assets, who receives your assets after death, and how your healthcare decisions will be managed when you are not able to take care of yourself.
Many people think that estate planning is just writing a will. Estate planning involves more than that. It involves financial, tax, medical and business planning. Writing a will is just the beginning. You need documents to support your will.
What is involved in estate planning?
The first thing you need to determine is your assets and their approximate value. Second, you need to determine who will receive those assets. Third, you need to determine who will manage those assets after you pass away. Fourth, you need to determine how you should be care when you are in old age and sick. Finally, you want to determine what happens to your remains when you die. Once you have all the answers to those issues, it is then time to see your lawyer.
Who needs estate planning?
You do. You need to have someone manage your assets whether it is big or small when you are unfit to do so. If you asset is small, you should decide who will get your assets after you die. If you assets are big, you should speak with your lawyer and decide how your assets should be handled.
Estate planning- what you need to know
Monday, April 6, 2009
Posted by: Liwin Troy LeeBy: Mike Spector and Anne Tergesen
It may seem hard to come up with a financial product with a name as unattractive as an "intentionally defective grantor trust." Yet these days, in the world of estate planning, those words denote one sexy vehicle.
That's because this aggressive strategy -- which can be used to move money out of taxable estates and transfer gains to heirs tax-free -- is especially appealing at a time like now, when asset values have fallen sharply and interest rates are near historic lows.
Many estate planners warn that these trusts carry more risks than other accepted planning vehicles. The Internal Revenue Service hasn't blessed defective grantor trusts, and has challenged their authenticity in the past. What's more, if your assets perform poorly in this type of trust, you could get hit with greater losses than you would suffer with some other popular wealth-transfer techniques.
Still, most defective grantor trusts have withstood IRS scrutiny, and many estate-planning lawyers report seeing increased interest in them this year, in the wake of the tumble in the real-estate and stock markets. Neil Kawashima, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP, says he expects he'll increase the number of these transactions he executes this year by nearly a third. Carl Waldman, an estate-planning attorney in Westlake Village, Calif., says he has set up about 25 of these trusts in the past 12 months, versus "probably no more than six" in the prior year.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
How long will it take for people that depends on me become self sufficient?
Most important? Providing for minor children. Your will should name both a guardian and a financial trustee for your kids in case you and your spouse die.
To provide checks and balances, the guardian and the trustee should not be the same person.
Don't name a couple as guardian. They could split up or disagree about what's right for your child.
Your child's other parent, even if you're divorced, will get custody if you die, unless that person is unfit because of mental illness or addiction.
Written by: Liwin Troy Lee
1. Discuss with your spouse how you want your estate to be handled if you both die or one dies before the other. You should map out both scenarios.
2. Determine if you want your estate to stay within the family. That is, do you want your children's spouse or their children to inherit any part of your estate.
3. Determine if you want you children to inherit everything. That is, do you want to give everything to your children when you die or do you want to provide the income over a period of time. If you pick the latter, you have to decide how much to give out each period.
4. Discuss what will happen to the estate if you and your spouse gets divorced later in life. That is, will the estate still include your current and children or would you include your future spouse and future children as well.
5. Decide whether you want to include charities as part of your estate planning. If so, start looking for charities you would give to and for how much.
6. Look for a reliable financial adviser and trustee to handle your affairs. This is especially important if your children are minors when you die.
7. When you have all this information. You can then prepare your will.
How to Prepare for an Estate planning Meeting
12 Easy Steps to preparing your estate plan
Preparing for an estate plan