While spending thousands of dollars to create a living trust is still a worthwhile endeavor for most people, filling out an IRA beneficiary form is free, simple, and carries more weight than your trust.
I know that when I buy a gift, I must pay a sales tax, but why must I pay another tax when I give a gift? It boils down to the federal government’s policy of limiting the ability of rich people to transfer their wealth to their descendants.
Parenting presents you with definite, sudden, financial needs to address. By focusing on those needs today, you may give yourself a head start on meeting some crucial family financial objectives tomorrow.
Practically speaking, the federal gift tax is a tax on estates. If it wasn’t in place, the rich could simply give away the bulk of their money or property, while living, to spare their heirs from inheritance taxes.
If you don’t leave behind an estate plan, your family could face major legal issues and (possibly) bitter disputes; making the plan may leave you with the comfort of knowing that your wishes will be carried out, when the time comes.
A sale of income property incurs either a capital gain or loss. If you profit from the sale of income property, that profit is considered fully taxable by the Internal Revenue Service. Fortunately, if you have owned that property for at least a year, you will pay only capital gains tax on those profits rather than income tax.
Every day, people die intestate. In legalese, that means without a will. This opens the door for the courts to decide what happens with their estates.
When no valid will exists, state intestacy laws dictate how assets are distributed. These laws divide an estate evenly (or equitably) among heirs. Any assets held in joint tenancy go to the joint owner. Assets held in a trust transfer to the trust beneficiaries (with spouses getting a share of those assets in some states). Community property goes to a spouse or partner in community property states.(1)
Many affluent professionals and business owners put estate planning on hold. Only the courts and lawyers stand to benefit from their procrastination. While inaction is the biggest estate planning error, several other major mistakes can occur. The following blunders can lead to major problems.
Failing to revise an estate plan after a spouse or child dies. This is truly a devastating event, and the grief that follows may be so deep and prolonged that attention may not be paid to this. A death in the family commonly requires a change in the terms of how family assets will be distributed. Without an update, questions (and squabbles) may emer...