The most troubling aspect of mistakes made in the estate planning process is that it’s your beneficiaries who have to deal with the consequences of poor planning or no planning at all. Once you pass away, it is your loved ones who have to step in and manage your estate and any confusion associated with it.
The good news is that many of these mistakes can easily be avoided by consulting with an experienced estate planning lawyer early on. Having a relationship with someone you can trust can benefit you tremendously when you have questions about how your shifting life circumstances will influence your future.
Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make when it comes to considering the future of their own needs while they are still alive or passing on their assets and legacy after they pass away:
Not updating beneficiaries on life insurance policies or retirement accounts
Setting up a trust but failing to fund it
Using a do-it-yourself will that is not legally valid
Not telling anyone where the most recent version of your will is stored
Failing to consider how your assets may be impacted by long-term care needs in the future
Not thinking about estate planning and retirement planning as a joint process.
Setting up a meeting now with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer can help you uncover the strategies that will help you accomplish your goals and give you the peace of mind that comes with advanced planning. Don’t hesitate to talk to an attorney who can help you navigate these complex and extremely important situations.
It’s no surprise to anyone who has engaged in the estate planning process already that there are plenty of strategies out there to help you accomplish your planning goals while also passing on as much wealth to the next generation as possible. Many of these tools, though, could still be subject to generation-skipping taxes or other measures Congress has put in place. One novel strategy that could help minimize taxes is by granting a family member partnership interests in a family business.
The most common way to think about estate planning without using this tool involves reducing the values of assets that will be included in an estate in order to pass on the future appreciation to the next generation taking control of that asset. This is usually done with tools like intentionally defective grantor trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, or qualified personal residence trusts. While all of these certainly have their place, each does come with some disadvantages that could compromise your ability to accomplish estate planning goals.
Partnership income tax law provisions, however, could be the solution you’ve been searching for. A family business already taxed as a partnership, for example, could help accomplish estate planning goals successfully. You can reallocate portions of income and use transfer of appreciation or current value without having to tap into any lifetime or annual exclusions. Even better, this can help you avoid the negative implications of a generation-skipping transfer tax. There are a lot of complex strategies that can help high net worth families, but these should always be evaluated carefully by an experienced estate planning lawyer due to their complexity. All of the details really matter when it comes to strategies like this.
When looking for estate planning solutions, it’s good to have an eye towards strategies that help you accomplish multiple goals at once. The right estate planning lawyer can play a critical role in helping you identify these.
It is not yet clear how Congress will take action with regard to estate tax reform. It is extremely probable that estate tax reform will happen in the next two years, but it is currently no more than speculation to determine how this might influence your individual life.
However, there are ten strategies that you can consider with your overall estate planning while waiting for Congress to take action. These include:
Annual exclusion gifts.
Estate freeze installment sales.
Lifetime exemption gifts.
Family limited partnerships.
Flexibility in your core planning documents.
Community property trusts.
Although the future may remain unclear, it is important to take control of your own individual future and determine the goals and intentions that you have for your estate. It is imperative to think not just about what will happen to assets when you pass away, but also the plans you have in place to protect you and your loved ones if you were to suddenly become incapacitated. Many people ignore this process altogether and realize the serious consequences of failing to act all too late. Suddenly suffering an incapacitating event that renders you unable to make decisions for yourself can lead to legal challenges and emotional issues for your loved ones.
Advanced directives, trust agreements and durable powers of attorney are all used to help clients on a regular basis when that client is approaching older ages. One additional step that often needs to be taken is considering a potential decline in your cognitive abilities. Running out of money is frequently at the top of the list for any elderly individual when it comes to what concerns them the most.
Living off of the interest put inside a CD is no longer a viable option given health care concerns and longevity in the United States. Sometimes clients are forced into riskier investments with the hope of better returns as a result. Individuals must remain knowledgeable about keeping an eye on all of their retirement accounts to guard against risks as well as to have a contingency plan for an unexpected problem that could have a devastating impact on their retirement account. Your account is at a much higher risk if you are not paying attention to the potential damage you’re exposing yourself to as a result of a future decline in your mental health. While everyone hopes to live a long and healthy life, it is not always possible to anticipate a sudden disability or cognitive decline.
Large financial institutions in recent years have recognized the desire held by elderly individuals to have better interest rates and have thus created plans that will guard against market losses but would still give an opportunity for higher returns with very little risks to the principle. This is one of the best ways to protect your retirement investments from a dementia event in the future.
Talking to an estate planning lawyer can help you figure out the best way to protect the investments you have worked so hard to grow over the course of your life. There’s a great deal of importance in the planning process, so don’t hesitate to get the help you need.
More than 10 years ago, a $110 million lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against an alleged trust mill. A trust mill, in that company in particular, are typically accused of duping senior citizens into purchasing annuities and using part or all of their retirement investments to do so. The individual selling these opportunities received substantial fees in commissions in the process.
A trust mill may also be referred to as a living trust mill and it is a situation in which agents try to sell individuals investment opportunities by explaining it as an estate planning tool. More often than not, these sales agents work for an insurance company and the sales agent’s job in these particular cases is to persuade clients to cash in mutual funds and CDs to purchase an annuity but the agents receive a commission for that annuity. The sales pitch typically follows a similar pattern.
Usually the agent starts off by telling the seniors that their current investments generate low interest rates or extremely high risk, giving them an incentive to cash in those investments and purchase a higher interest annuity or in a less risky annuity that the agents offer. One of the biggest problems with trust mills is that sometimes these sales agents position themselves as estate planning specialists even though they are insurance agents rather than estate planning attorneys. Seniors may not be informed about the serious financial consequences of transferring all of their investments over. If you want to discuss valuable living trusts and other estate planning opportunities with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer, contact a New Jersey estate planning law firm as soon as possible.
You may discover too late that someone you love has been a victim of a trust mill. Make sure to do your research to have utmost confidence in any professional you choose to work with.
Up to two-thirds of baby boomers intend to work beyond age 65. Some of these never expect to retire at all. Some of the most common reasons of delaying retirement or continuing to work after your retirement age include the health benefits sponsored by your employer and the need for additional income. Many people plan to stay involved in their career simply because they enjoy what they do. It is essential to take positive steps towards staying healthy, keeping your job skills up to date, getting further education and networking. It is also important to regularly monitor your projected retirement income need.
These could be subjected to long-term care health expenses if you were to have a long-term care health event. It is also essential to have a contingency plan in the event that you’re compelled to retire for reasons other than you expected such as your health. A contingency plan can give you peace of mind that no matter when you ultimately enter retirement, you will have the resources necessary to support yourself.
Many people are forced into retirement earlier than they expected but an estate planning attorney help you navigate this complex situation can give you further peace of mind as well as the backup plan should something happens to you before you anticipated. Looking ahead to long-term care needs and projecting your retirement income are just a couple of the things you can do to protect your future as well as the value of any assets set aside for your beneficiaries.
It is never easy to consider the prospect of what might happen to your if you were to become incapacitated but having all of your legal documents in line makes things much easier for your loved ones.
Plenty of statistics indicate that up to 70% of Americans will need long-term care at some point in time. Just one significant long-term care event or the diagnosis of a cognitive condition can significantly alter your retirement plans. Many people assume that Medicare will help to pay for all of your long-term care expenses. However, many of these are not classified as medical treatments and will therefore not be paid for through Medicare.
Medicare will help to pay for the first 100 days of nursing home care and some of the long-term care expenses may be covered by Medicaid but this program is typically geared for low-income individuals. You may pay with three primary sources; family, self-insuring by paying through out of your own pocket, or a long-term care insurance.
The least complicated but often the most difficult or expensive way for long term care is to put aside extra money in your savings to pay for these costs. However, bear in mind that the average costs of long-term care can top $130,000. You might even assume that your family will help to take care of you. However, when it comes time that you need assistance, getting it from your family may not necessarily be available.
Family members like children may have moved away or you may have comprehensive healthcare needs that cannot be addressed by family members. The individuals who have a lot of assets will typically not qualify for Medicaid without advanced planning for Medicaid purposes so long-term care insurance could be a critical help but it is important to identify that this insurance opportunity early rather than later so that you can lock in rates while you are still relatively young and healthy.
A new study indicates that there’s an even better reason to try to save more for retirement. Research presented by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College identified whether or not a growing retiree population would have an impact on investment returns. The study identified that the growing number of individuals retiring every single day and drawing down their accounts would have a potentially negative impact on the returns of investments in general.
There are shrinking numbers of subsequent generations beyond the baby boomers but the baby boomers make up a significant portion of the population. If the supply of savings increases relative to the demand for that money, the clearing on savings will decrease and investors would receive less income from dividends, interests, and profits for every dollar that they invest.
If the savings supply, however, falls relative to demand, savings can be invested in opportunities that have higher returns. As the demographic in the United States, however, shifts towards an older population mean, the economy needs less money to build new factories, machinery, offices, and roads than it did when the labor force was expanding. Although younger generations will help to increase the demand for and the supply of savings as they prepare for retirement and pay off debt and borrow, retirees will also be drawing down their own accumulated assets during the retirement process. Retirees draw down savings typically at a much slower pace than suggested by previous research. Retirees tend to hold reserves which makes it all the more important to have an experienced estate planning attorney help you determine what will happen to your assets after you pass away.
A new study conducted by the TransAmerica Study for Retirement Studies identified that up to two-thirds of baby boomers intend to work beyond age 65. Some individuals have no plans to retire at all and at least half of the survey respondents expected to have at least some form of employment during that time.
Some of the most common reasons for delaying retirement or deciding to work after their retirement age include employer health benefits and the need for additional income. Significant members of individuals share that they simply enjoyed what they did or wanted to stay involved in their vocation.
One of the most important steps to take for anyone who intends to work after retirement is to focus on staying healthy. Many older individuals can be negatively impacted by a serious health care event but planning ahead for the future and having your legal documents in line gives you peace of mind that someone is able to step in and make decisions on your behalf even if you were to become unable to do so. Setting up a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney is another step that you can take to gain confidence about your future plans and distribute any additional assets you may have as a result of continuing to work past your retirement age.
Monitoring projected retirement income needs can give you a good perspective on what you’ll need to support yourself as well as what you will be able to leave behind as a legacy for your beneficiaries. It is also important to have a backup plan in the event that you suddenly need to retire earlier for health or additional reasons. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney today to learn more.
There is a good chance that you’ll need help at some point in the future with everyday tasks like eating, dressing and bathing. You may also need medical care over an extended period of time.
A 2005 study indicated that 69% of those individuals aged 65 and beyond will need long term care at some point in the future. However, many people are not prepared with how to plan for it and how to safeguard against the potential decimation of their own retirement and savings as a result of a long-term care event.
Many people assume that Medicare will help pay for any long-term care expenses. But the truth is that Medicare does not cover most long-term care expenses because these are not classified as medical treatment. While Medicare will pay for the first 100 days of care in a nursing home, and Medicaid will cover some of the costs of long-term expenses, the Medicaid program is intended for low-income individuals and will not begin until your income is below the state threshold. Retirees with a lot of assets or with high income may never qualify for Medicaid without an advanced planning strategy, so long-term care insurance can be a huge assistance.
While premiums can be very high, signing up for a policy now while you are young and healthy is strongly recommended as this gives you the best chance to get a lower premium. Long term care insurance can give you peace of mind that your assets will be protected and that you have a safety net should something happen to you. In addition, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an elder law attorney about your future planning options for government benefits and your own retirement.
According to a new study conducted by Wilmington Trust, high net worth families are more comfortable talking about their money and how it will be distributed among beneficiaries than past generations did. The current generation holding the wealth is more comfortable sharing the financial details with their grandchildren and children who will eventually inherit those same funds. That older generation, however, did not receive much details about the family wealth from their parents. Have you shared information about your future plans with your loved ones? If you have not taken this step, you may want to reconsider whether or not someone, such as your attorney or your future executor, knows your intentions and where to find the relevant documents.
According to the study, only 33% of wealth holders got similar information from their benefactors although 48% of them shared total financial information with the heirs. 57 families with at least $20 million in assets were included in the study. Of those included, 72% had at least $50 million in assets.
According to the results of that study, 30% of the wealth holders who were not comfortable sharing information said that was because they feared that would demotivate the beneficiaries. However, two-thirds of those inheritors planned to continue working and would not alter their lifestyle. Sharing information about the family wealth and how it will be passed on to somebody else can be an indication of a desire or even an obligation to protect a family’s wealth in future generations.
Long-term care insurance, which covers critical expenses like late life needs, nursing home care and at-home nursing care, is becoming too expensive for many retirees to be able to afford. This is an unfortunate discovery because many retirees are not appropriately prepared for the cost of long-term care.
A study conducted by LifePlans determined that the average premium for long-term care insurance was $2727 in 2015, representing an increase of more than 40% from 2005. Up to 55% of the individuals who had opted not to purchase long-term care insurance, who are over age 50 made that decision because it was too expensive. Long-term care insurance helps to fill an important stop gap for retirees.
More than 40% of Americans over age 65 will spend at least some time in a nursing home, according to a recent report shared by MorningStar, others will need at home care as well. Medicaid will cover nursing care only for those individuals who have fully exhausted their financial assets.
Medicare will only cover nursing care under a few narrowed circumstances. Overall, more than $338 billion was spent on long term care services in 2013 alone. Long term care insurance may be a critical part of your plan for retirement and getting older, but you should also consult with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney about how to approach Medicaid advanced planning.
Do you have enough set aside to afford up to $8000 a month in long-term care? Chances are that at some point during your older years, you will need access to it. Advancements in medical technology mean that baby boomers who are just approaching retirement age may expect to live another 30 years or longer.
If you are 65 years old today, there is at least a 70% chance that you will need some kind of long term care over the course of your life as shared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, without proper planning put in place and considerations over your individual health care and retirement needs, you could be exposing all of your retirement assets to be quickly eaten up with just one long term care event.
Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey identified that a private room at a nursing home has a median cost of just under $8000 per month. An in-home aide cost just less than $4000 per month and those costs are continuing to rise. Medicaid and Medicare may not fully cover all of the expenses associated with a long-term care event, exposing you to serious problems and worrying that you’ll have to decimate all of your retirement savings. If you have particular assets set aside, you may wish to hand these off to future generations after you pass away, but they could be quickly eaten up if you do not have protection tools in place such as Medicaid considerations with advanced planning or a long-term care insurance policy. Do not hesitate to consult with an experienced New Jersey estate planning lawyer to learn more about how to protect yourself now and in the future.
Older Americans or those between the ages of 60 and 75, also indicated a lack of understanding about critical financial topics like paying for long term care expenses, investment considerations and different strategies that could help to sustain income over the course of retirement.
This is a particularly problematic study finding, given that approximately 10,000 baby boomers will be reaching age 65 single day over the course of the next 12 years. More Americans are facing retirement, but are doing so without clear knowledge about how to make this money last and what they need to have set aside when they begin the retirement process.
Many Americans, however, might not even know that they are simply unprepared for retirement. 61% of the respondents reported having high levels of knowledge about their retirement income, but only 33% of them passed the corresponding quiz. The survey found that there is a major divide when it comes to particular demographics as well.
Only 17% of women were able to pass the quiz when compared with 35% of men. 40% of those individuals who had at least a college degree passed this study as well. This divide underscores that it is so important for everyone to approach comprehensive estate and retirement planning.
The assets you have in mind for your loved ones may include your thoughts on how they will be used, too. That’s why some people choose to use tools such as trusts to maintain some level of control over how the assets are used. Were you hoping to leave behind some assets for your loved ones to help with educational costs?
Higher education is only becoming more expensive. Recent data points showed that it is outpacing inflation by an average of at least 4%. Within the last five years, tuition has increased by at least 9% in most cases and many families are struggling with how they will be able to plan for college.
While there are traditional opportunities such as a 529 savings plan, it is also important to consider that you may wish to include planning ahead for higher education in your estate planning. Leaving behind a specific type of account or using a life insurance policy to assist a loved one with paying for college are just a few of the ways you can assist a beneficiary with accomplishing his or her goals comprehensively.
Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced estate planning lawyer, if you have questions about the different ways that you can incorporate assets that will be gifted on to others that they can use for the purposes of higher education. If something were to happen to you, your loved ones would be able to tap into those financial resources to accomplish their educational goals.
Unfortunately, some adult children find out too late that their loved ones did not take all the necessary steps as it relates to estate planning. This can compromise the integrity of what the decedent wanted to pass along particularly if the will was updated but the beneficiary designations on bank accounts, retirement accounts or life insurance policies were not.
The companies that have those beneficiary designations are responsible for adhering to the last filed materials by the decedent, meaning that even if the will stipulates that someone is to receive half or all of the overall estate, those beneficiary designations are cleared separately. This means that if a person did not update their life insurance policy and a spouse they had divorced from is still listed as the beneficiary, that individual would still be entitled legally to receive any and all benefits under that life insurance policy to which they were previously entitled.
It is extremely important to ensure that your loved ones update their documents on both ends as it relates to estate planning tools like wills as well as beneficiary designation forms including those with life insurance policies. Consulting with an experienced estate planning lawyer can help you accomplish this goal. It is essential that your parents understand that these are two separate things and they both should be updated if they intend to update their estate plan purposes overall.
Estate planning is about more than deciding that you want to leave things behind to your loved ones- it’s also about deciding what you’ll be leaving behind and how it makes the most sense for your family members and friends. What they are able to do with those assets could have a big impact on their future.
Taking an inventory of all of your assets while you are still alive allows you to determine the best strategies for your estate planning overall. You might decide that some of these assets should be gifted to individuals while you are still alive or placed inside a trust for the purposes of asset protection or estate planning.
Consider liquidity as well when you determine what assets you would like to leave behind to your family members. A liquid asset is any asset that can easily be converted to cash with little impact on the price of that asset. if your estate is mostly made up of hard assets, your heirs may be forced to sell these for a discounted price in order to raise the funds necessary to pay for the estate tax.
Considering all of these complex issues is much easier when you identify a New Jersey estate planning attorney who has extensive experience in this field. Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced New Jersey estate planning lawyer to talk more about the assets you intend to leave behind and the most appropriate strategies for doing so.
There’s plenty of discussion about the benefits of traditional estate planning but you may also need to consider how your digital accounts are included as well. Most people underestimate the number of digital accounts that they truly have. Choosing to inventory these and listing all of the appropriate passwords and username information can make it easier to identify what you want to happen to them after you pass away.
There’s a good chance that you’ll have different plans for different accounts. For example, you may wish to memorialize your Facebook account but have other accounts closed entirely. If you do not follow the terms of service listed on each individual website, however, your digital executor may face challenges trying to carry out your wishes. Bear in mind that each website might have its own rules requiring your executor to show proof that the action they intend to take is in line with what you wanted to occur.
Getting the proper documentation well in advance by consulting with an estate planning attorney can help you with this. You can also help avoid some of these challenges by backing up your files. Downloading all of the digital assets to an external hard drive, for example, will make it much easier for an executor to access after you pass away. Make sure that every time you add a social media or other digital account that you add this information to your records. Make sure you note accounts that you have set to auto delete after a certain period of inactivity. This will make things much easier when you approach the estate planning process.
Divorce is not inevitable but many people find the process of thinking about their future finances and ending their marriage as extremely difficult when they are just planning the wedding itself. However, a strategic wealth plan can be an important component of asset protection planning.
Divorce is a risk that every marriage faces. It is strongly advised that every individual thinking about getting married consider asset protection for their own sake as well as for the future of their children and future generations. The best financial protection that an individual who has any significant wealth entering into a marriage can provide is to put together an asset protection trust or classify a dynasty trust.
Other multi-generational wealth planning tools can also be advantageous. This protection can help remove the wealth from the hands of future creditors, future ex-spouses, inappropriate beneficiaries or lawsuit decisions. This can also help individuals to avoid starting a marriage without having the uncomfortable conversation about prenuptial agreements.
Asset protection planning is an important topic that parents should always consider, as well as any couple that intends to protect their assets from unintended consequences. There are several different types of assets that you can protect in the process of asset protection planning including:
Having the assets protected inside a domestic asset protection trust or an irrevocable trust is strongly recommended.
Although the most popular way to approach your estate plan is to leave all assets equally to all your children. However, there are many situations where parents might apply logical reasoning to determine that unequal inheritances are a better approach. For example, if you have a child with special needs, he or she may benefit from a special needs trust to manage their disability-related concerns.
An older child may make more money than the others leaving the younger children with a greater need for inheritance, or there are situations in which you may wish to completely disinherit an estranged child. Unequal inheritances, however, can lead to numerous problems including ending sibling relationships, will contests, and hurt feelings. if you intend to avoid fighting over children among the different inheritance amounts, it is essential to use trusts instead of wills.
If you pass away with assets in your name alone and only have a will, those assets will go through a probate proceeding. Family conflict with the use of wills is common because children have to receive legal notice with a copy of the will.
Each child may show up in probate court with their own individual lawyer and contest the will. The associated expense and the frustration of litigation can drag on for years. When you use a trust instead of a will, you decrease the chances of family conflict associated with the inheritance. Trusts effectively avoid probate because you transfer assets into the trust while you’re still alive and the trust determines what happens to those assets when you pass away and the children will not necessarily receive legal notice. Consult with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney if you would like to discuss this in further detail.