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December 2010 Archives

Trust is Key in Selecting a Personal Representative

In our last post, we talked a little about what you can accomplish by making a will. One of the most important things laid out in that document is the person you choose to be the personal representative or executor/executrix of your estate. This is the person who you will entrust to administer your will and see to it that your wishes are followed.

Do I Really Need to Have a Will?

Many people are under the mistaken belief that executing a will or creating an estate plan is only for the wealthy or the elderly. The truth is, if you care at all about what happens to your assets, or if you just want to save your friends and family the trouble of dealing with the problems that arise with dying intestate, having a will is a good start.

Tax Deal Provides Some Guidance on Gift and Estate Tax

After much debate and political haggling, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Authorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 was finally passed by Congress and signed by the President earlier this month. The compromise agreement does a number of different things, but has a few very important provisions for estate planning purposes.

Pet Planning: An Often Overlooked Aspect of Estate Planning

Whether we want to admit it or not, the United States is a country that dotes on its pets. More than 60% of U.S. homes have pets, and Americans spend tens of billions of dollars every year to take care of their dogs, cats, birds and other animals. However, as much as we might include our pets in every aspect of our lives, many of us don't take the time to think about what would happen if we could no longer take care of them.

Making Gifts: One Potentially Fun Part of Estate Planning

A large part of estate planning is about minimizing taxes and protecting the assets you hope to leave to your family and friends. While many of us tend to think about doing this through wills, trusts, and other legal documents, one way in which you might be able to accomplish some of your goals is through gifting.

Deadline Approaching for Annual IRA Withdrawals

With all of the end-of-year financial and estate planning news surrounding the estate tax, health care spending, and Social Security proposals, one important issue you may have missed was arranging for your annual IRA withdrawal. If you are required to take a withdrawal and haven't done so already this year, you need to act quickly to make sure you don't face some steep tax consequences.

Study Shows Living Wills Especially Valuable for Elderly

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that as many as 1 in 4 elderly individuals needed someone to make end-of-life health care decisions for them. The study is thought to be the first of its kind to measure how many individuals actually require medical decisions be made for them.

Now is the Time to Update Estate Plans

During the holiday season, we often spend more time with family and get a chance to catch up on everything that has happened over the last year. It's typically a joyous time and the prospect of talking about something like estate planning might seem odd at first; however, this is also a great moment to take advantage of the family being together to discuss the future.

Estate Planning for the Return of the Estate Tax

In our last post, we discussed a little bit about the current status of the federal estate tax and potential changes coming in the next few months. Here, we wanted to just mention a few general ideas about what individuals and families can do from an estate planning perspective in order to be prepared for the reintroduction of the estate tax.

With Estate Tax Set to Return, Now is the Time for an Estate Plan

As we approach the end of 2010, a number of very interesting estate planning issues are being presented around the subject of the federal estate tax - or the absence of such a tax. Dubbed by some as the "death tax," the estate tax has been around since 1916 and has fluctuated over time from rates of more than 70% in the 1970's, to 45% in 2009, to zero in 2010. Now as get set to enter 2011, the estate tax is scheduled to return with rates as high as 55-60% for some estates, which may present many with a reason to revisit their estate plans.

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