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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Assumptions can be very dangerous when it comes to estate planning. You definitely want to have open lines of communication with your heirs. Talk about your plans, their desires, and what legal steps you're going to take to officially put everything in place. Talking it out in advance can help to avoid issues in the future.
When someone passes away, the last thing you want to consider is the tax man. While it's not a pleasant task, someone has to handle the debts and liabilities of an estate, including any remaining tax burdens. That someone is usually the executor, and if you find yourself in that role, seeking legal assistance with the job can be a good idea. If you are, instead, the person planning for the estate, then an estate professional can help you do some work now to relieve your administrator of some future burden.
A beneficiary silent trust is a type of trust that allows for the creator of the trust to dictate that the beneficiaries of the trust not be given notice of the trust's creation or the assets held within. There are many reasons why a trust creator may want to designate a trust as quiet or "silent," but for it to be legally recognized, the trust may need to have several specific features.