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Estate Planning Archives

Your estate plan covers more than what you might realize

If you are an adult, you need an estate plan. There really isn't any situation that would get you out of this need unless you are truly broke and have no possessions and if you don't care what happens to you if you can't make decisions for yourself. If you have children, you need an estate plan. If you have any valuables, you need an estate plan. If you have any thoughts about what you want to happen with your medical care or your finances if you can't make decisions for yourself, you need an estate plan.

Estate planning is very important if you have children

As a parent, you want your children to have a good life that is filled with stability and opportunity. You are probably doing your best to ensure that this happens. But, have you taken the time to think about what will happen to your children if something happens to you and your child's other parent? This is a scary question for many parents.

Living wills can do a lot for you in your final days

We recently discussed some of the specific things you should consider if you are going to become an organ donor. Just like with most other end-of-life decisions, you should discuss this one with your family members. We can help you to learn about what plans to make for your estate plan, as well as what your options are to ensure that your wishes are clearly conveyed.

National Donate Life Month: Considering organ donation

During estate planning, you often concentrate on external assets such as cash, real estate or family heirlooms. In the past, we've talked about the importance of considering everything you leave behind, which might include creative or intellectual assets. One other thing you have to give is yourself -- specifically, your body. April is National Donate Life Month, which is a great time to consider whether you might want to be an organ donor or not.

Giving money away now to avoid taxes later

If you know that you are going to pass away with a healthy level of assets in your estate, experts say that giving gifts to your heirs now and throughout your life can reduce the amount of tax that is levied on your estate. Federal estate taxes don't kick in until your estate is valued more than at $5.49 million, and married couples can leverage their status for an exemption that is effectively double the number for a single person.

Whom should you notify when someone dies?

The obvious answer is that you should notify family and close friends, but that's the immediate answer. Beyond that, the executor of an estate has to make numerous notifications to begin closing out accounts and transferring assets appropriately into the ownership of the estate. Notification of the death might also spur the release of payable-upon-death benefits associated with life insurance or financial accounts.

Leaving retirement savings to your spouse

A few weeks ago, we covered some benefits of Roth IRAs to the estate planning process. We know that many financial planners promote matching IRA savings and lifestyles, making it so that you spend most of your retirement savings during your retirement. It does make sense: You saved for decades so you could enjoy these golden years, so if you have the savings, why wouldn't you travel or enjoy new hobbies?

Should you bring up estate planning during the holidays?

The gut-check reaction is probably, "No, don't dampen the festive mood with talk of depressing matters." Experts, however, often disagree with your gut reaction. They say talking about estate planning doesn't have to be depressing, and the holidays often come with benefits no other time does.

Avoid these four estate-planning mistakes

We've covered estate-planning statistics in previous blogs, so it's probably no surprise to our readers that over half of all adult Americans don't have a will. Common estate-planning misunderstandings are one reason this is the case, and even once you get around to planning, you might make more common errors that can lead to financial loss or extra work and worry in the future.

Why is a Roth IRA beneficial to estate planning?

Both traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs offer some benefits when it comes to taxes and estate planning, but a Roth IRA comes with one benefit the traditional retirement account doesn't. Both plans let you put money away for retirement while reducing your tax burden, and you can use them both to pass some assets on to heirs without going through probate.