For most couples in a first marriage with no children from other relationships, estate planning is a relatively uncomplicated process, particularly if the marriage is long-standing, the couple has amassed most assets jointly, and the children of the marriage are grown and do not have the need for creditor protection planning. By contrast, individuals who are in a second or third marriage who have children from prior relationships (and sometimes with the current spouse as well) can present greater challenges and require more careful analysis and planning. These familial situations are often referred to as "blended families". This article discusses several mutual goals of married couples who are planning for blended families and provides planning tips to ensure that a client's goals are honored.
The world noted Aretha Franklin’s recent passing with sadness as well as fond memories of her amazing talent and career. The news following her death, as reported by CNN, that she died without a will or trust, brought different discussions to the forefront.
One of the largest expenses for a family is higher education expenses for their children. Education expenses continue to grow faster than inflation. This reality has resulted in even families with significant means having to plan for the future.
Over the past 40 years I have prepared thousands of wills. Each time the wills are organized in articles and paragraphs, all of the pages are numbered, the Testator’s initials are placed on the corner of each page, the will is signed at its logical end, and a self-proving affidavit is appended. All of these actions are designed to ensure that the wishes of the Testator (the person who makes the will) are followed and to reduce the possibility of fraud by the substitution of pages in a will.
If you, a family member or a friend own a life insurance policy that is no longer wanted or needed then read this article as it could be worth thousands of dollars. Many of my clients or their family members or friends own life insurance policies that were purchased for various reasons, such as to fund a college education, provide support for minor children or pay off a mortgage in the event of an untimely death. The reason for having the policy may no longer exist and the cost to keep the policy may be prohibitive. Additionally, an older policy may have a large premium and/or death benefit and the owner may be able to replace the policy at a lower price or reduced benefit.
The number of people who itemize could fall by more than half in 2018 because of changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enacted on December 22, 2017. That's bad news for many charitable givers. But for those who are age 70½ or older, a tax benefit from their charitable contributions may be available even if they don't itemize. The key is to make the gift by way of a qualified charitable distribution (QCD).
Despite the current estate tax laws which have eliminated the estate tax for the vast majority of people, one of the most popular estate tax planning vehicles (the Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust “ILIT”) still remains a corner piece of many estate plans. Few people realize all the benefits of an ILIT, and assume that without an estate tax liability, the ILIT has become obsolete – untrue.
In Virginia, most people’s estates are probated in the city or county in which they lived at the time of their death. For Virginia residents who pass away owning real estate outside of Virginia, probate matters can be significantly more involved.
From 1987 through 2003, the federal estate tax exemption amount was between $600,000 and $1,000,000. This prompted many people to create Irrevocable Trusts to hold life insurance, or other Irrevocable Trusts to hold appreciating assets. The purpose was to remove life insurance proceeds or to remove the appreciation of an asset (think Amazon or Alphabet stock) from one’s taxable estate.
Deciding what to do with your assets after you pass away can involve a series of difficult decisions. These decisions are made even more difficult when one of your loved ones struggles with addiction or mental health issues.