Most American adults do not have a will or a plan in place in case of a tragedy. The death of both parents in an accident can leave children’s fate left to a judge and your assets distributed the way a court deems fit and not by your wishes. Even in the even that a tragedy occurs, and you’re incapacitated, others will decide your healthcare options.
Having an estate plan in place can help you be prepared in the event of an unforeseen tragedy. If you die without a will or estate plan in place, state law determines where your assets are distributed. The attorney’s at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta help assist you in establishing an estate plan and protecting your hard-earned assets the way you want for when you can’t decide.
Below are 10 tips to estate planning that the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm think you should know.
It’s never too early to start planning
- Taking inventory of your assets & liabilities
- Determining your beneficiaries
- Deciding who will manage the plan
- Deciding who will be your power of attorney & healthcare surrogate
- Deciding who may be your children’s guardians
Don’t draft documents yourself
Talk to your significant other about estate planning
- Discuss the possible outcomes with your significant other for what would happen if you pass on before they do. If you are married, most likely guardianship of your shared children and all of your property and finances will transfer to your surviving spouse unless otherwise noted.
Things become more complicated if you have children from multiple partners. If this is the case, you should seek professional advice or counsel from the estate planning attorneys at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta.
Plan for the possibility that both you and your spouse will pass and discuss who should inherit your children and property. The conversation may be difficult to have, but it’s worth having to protect your property and hard-earned assets in the event of a tragedy.
Establish who gets what
- After consulting with the estate planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta, your estate plan should account for the following:
- All property (personal & real)
- Bank accounts
- Insurance policies
- Anything in your name
Once you take note of all your property and assets above, you will then decide who the beneficiaries are of those things. Guardianship of children must be awarded if there are surviving minors. Establishing who gets what in your estate plan ensures that your property and assets are distributed exactly where you want.
Choose exactly how your estate should spend your money
- What finances need addressing?
- Who receives them?
- How exactly will they be distributed?
- When will the beneficiaries receive these assets?
Minimize estate & income taxes
- Taxes can be avoided or minimized by consulting an estate planning attorney at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta. An experienced attorney at Rhodes Law Firm can direct you to the most beneficial methods of distributing property to maximize your financial savings. There are plenty of opportunities to ensure that beneficiaries receive the highest possible percentage of their intended inheritance.
If you fail to talk to an estate planning attorney before tragedy strikes, it could result in your hard-earned money and assets being spent on services after your death. It’s your family and inheritors who suffer at the expense of no estate plan in place so protect them and your estate while you still can.
Seek professional guidance
- Seeking help from the right professionals will save you time and money when it comes to planning your estate. Consulting with an estate planning lawyer at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta, or from financial planners and tax experts, will expose you to strategies and estate planning tactics you were unaware of.
Plan for more than just asset distribution
Avoid probate as much as possible
- Probate is the court process through which a will is proven. Trusts generally avoid probate and thus save your estate money and other benefits. Probate court costs are very expensive, and probate can drag on for years. Avoid the headache and fees of probate court all together by establishing an estate plan with the estate lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta.
Plan your memorial
- One hardship that family and friends must overcome while dealing with the loss of a loved one is trying to decide how to plan the memorial service. After your death, your family will be grieving and the planning that goes along with the financial burdens of a memorial service can be difficult for your family to endure.
To help prepare your loved ones for the days when you are no longer with them, it is encouraged to plan your services in advance. You will be able to dictate the ideal ceremony for yourself while giving the ones you care for most the comfort of not having to wonder what’s best.Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta is dedicated to ensuring our clients have peace of mind when it comes to planning their estate. At Rhodes Law Firm, we want you to be informed and your family, assets and property to be protected. Contact the estate planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm and allow us to assist you in helping prepare for your future.
It’s an uncomfortable topic, it’s difficult to think about, and it’s not exactly how many people want to spend their day off. However, it is absolutely necessary. Estate Planning is essential to preparing for the inevitable and ensuring that your loved ones do not have any unavoidable stress on them during a very difficult time. It is understandable why many choose to avoid this process, and this article lists a few of the more common reasons and also lists some helpful things you can do right now to make things easier should something happen.
The three most common excuses for avoiding estate planning are: too busy, too complicated, and too superstitious. There are a few things you can do at this moment that are simple and easy and will help take the burden off your loved ones in the event of an emergency or unexpected death. First, share passwords to all accounts and services. In addition, let your family know who should speak for you if you cannot communicate yourself and what you would like done in a medical emergency. Thirdly, make a financial aggregation of all assets and money you have and also your debts. The final thing you can do is create a will and power of attorney. We know, it’s hard to think about, but this ensures your assets go to the right people.
If you would like any assistance with planning your estate or creating your will, please give our experienced and knowledgeable team at Rhodes Law Firm a call today.
Losing a parent is often one of the most difficult times a family can face. Many times, it can result in friction between siblings. There are simple ways to help avoid this, however, such as deciding early how property should be sold or maintained. This article elaborates on specific steps you can take now to help keep the peace during a difficult time for your loved ones. Below are some ideas and suggestions to consider when making your estate plan.
- Find a Real Estate Attorney with Experience and Referrals – It’s important to work with someone who understand the needs and wishes of retirees. Find someone with plenty of experience in the field as well as satisfied clients.
- Produce an Overview of Your Financials – One easy way of helping your beneficiaries simplify the process is to create a simple overview of what you own and where. This minimizes any possibility of skepticism. This overview should include a list of all assets, liabilities, and insurance policies, as well as contact information for all insurance and legal professionals you have. It would be a good idea to include usernames and passwords for any accounts or websites.
- Communicate with Your Family Now – Once you have the above steps in place and completed, it is vital you communicate with your family to prevent any miscommunication in the future. Discuss your estate intentions and legacy items that are important to you. Explain who your executor will be as well as let them know where the important documents are kept.
If you are ready to meet with an experienced and reputable estate attorney to begin your estate planning process, call Rhodes Law Firm today!
When you pass away, your family could have to visit a probate court to claim the inheritance you left behind. If you own property like a house, car, bank account, investment account or any other possessions you wish to pass on after your death, your inheritors could be in store for a long probate court process.
Although having a will is a good form of planning, a will does not avoid probate. Instead, a will simply lets you inform the probate court of your wishes. Your family will still have to endure the probate court process to make your final wishes legal. In simpler terms, probate is the legal process for distributing your property upon your death.
What is probate?
Explaining the probate process sounds simple, but probate itself is anything but a walk in the park. While probate isn’t always complex, it is important to understand the process, particularly if you want your heirs to avoid probate after your passing.
Your estate executor, or the attorney representing your estate, typically initiates probate. During this process, a probate court validates your will and then authorizes your executor to distribute your estate to your beneficiaries as you instructed, as well as pay any taxes your estate may owe.
If you do not have a will, a further administrative proceeding must be held to determine how your estate will be divided. In this case, the court will name an administrator for your estate, who then follows the probate judge’s instructions on how to distribute your property.
Why should you avoid probate?
Although the probate court process is often straightforward, many people want to avoid it. Below is a list of some common complaints and hindrances regarding probate.
- Probate can be slow. In some cases, it can take years for a probate court to finalize an estate, especially if it’s complicated or involves a contested will. Whether you have a large or small estate, the probate court process will be slow and could drag on for months.
- Probate can be expensive. Costs vary from state to state, but probate generally entails executor fees, attorney costs and other administrative expenses, such as appraiser’s fees. In some cases, these charges can accumulate quickly. The expenses are exacerbated if the process drags on for a while.
- Probate is part of the public record. Since probate is a state legal proceeding, what goes on in probate court does not stay there. All the material in the probate process goes into the public record.
How can you avoid probate?
Maybe you’ve made it through to this portion of the blog and now you’re ready to find out how you can avoid probate. The first recommendation is to call a trusted attorney at Rhodes Law Firm to discuss your estate, options and wishes upon your passing. Below are three simple ways to avoid the probate process.
- Name beneficiaries on all of your accounts that allow you.
Many of your financial accounts allow you to designate a beneficiary who will be payable upon death. This means all the proceeds from your accounts will be given to them rather than going through probate after you pass.
Certain accounts are referred to as a “payable on death” accounts while non-retirement investments are known as “transfer on death” accounts and include:
- Bank accounts
- Brokerage accounts
You only need to complete a couple forms with the name of your beneficiary, and after your death they will have access to the accounts while avoiding probate court.
- Set up a trust to leave property and assets upon death to your beneficiaries.
An easy way to avoid probate when you have substantial assets is to create a trust. A trust outlines what will be done in terms of asset distribution without the courts being involved. While a will distributes your assets and property after your death, a trust allows you to place your assets and property “in trust” while you’re alive so they will not require distribution after your death.
You will personally appoint a trustee to manage your trust and they will make decisions for your beneficiaries. Besides avoiding probate, a trust makes a smart estate planning tool because:
Probate records are public court records, which means that anyone can look up how your assets and properties were distributed in a will following your death. None of this information will be publicly available when you create a trust because your beneficiaries will not need to go through the court system.
- Trusts can be less expensive.
Your estate will need to pay for the court fees associated with probate, which can cost anywhere from 2% to 10% of your total estate. The percentages tend to be higher for smaller estates, because many costs are fixed. You do have to hire a lawyer to set up a trust, which can run into the thousands of dollars. Then you must be sure to retitle your accounts into the name of the trust, or you will have paid the trust drafting fees for nothing, and you will still incur probate costs. To totally avoid probate, all assets need to be titled into the trust or to “transfer on death” accounts.
Probate is a process that may require a year or more. If you own homes in multiple states, your family must comply with each state’s specific probate laws, additional court dates and fee structures if you only create a will. Your beneficiaries may need to wait a substantial time to receive what you leave them, which could put them in financial strain.
Since a trust avoids probate, distributions take only a few weeks instead of several months or years. Setting up a trust is the best way to leave property upon death if you are leaving a large inheritance, but you’ll need the help of an estate planning attorney along with an experienced financial planner to get it right. You need to make sure there are assets available to pay any outstanding liabilities before the trust assets are disbursed.
- Hold your property jointly.
Owning a property with your spouse, significant other, or a beneficiary allows it to automatically pass to them without going through probate after your death. You do not have to be married to take advantage of this, but you do need to clearly designate the jointly held property with the right of survivorship.
Interested in estate planning with a trusted and experienced attorney? The law office of Rhodes Law Firm is here to help you plan for the future, and help you avoid the probate process. Make things simple for your beneficiaries upon your passing and allow Rhodes Law Firm to help you plan and avoid the probate process.
Closeup portrait of a senior man sitting with his daughter and grandson
A trust is a legal way to set aside your hard earned assets for a specific and desired purpose. A living trust is a type of trust that can be initiated while you are still alive, offering flexibility and control over your estates in the event of incapacitation or death.
How a living trust is different from a will.
You might be asking yourself, “is there really a difference between a living trust and a will?”
Living trusts are set up before you pass on and can be used in case you are incapacitated. A will only goes into effect upon death. Utilizing a living trust can help you avoid probate court and your assets will be granted to your beneficiary immediately.
One reason for consulting with an attorney regarding a living trust is to remove the unnecessary and painful legal proceedings following a loved one’s death. With a will, you can’t avoid probate court and the assets become public record. With a living trust, you exclude probate court and all your assets remain private to your beneficiary.
What exactly is a living trust?
A living trust is a legal estate planning tool that breaks down how your assets are to be used or distributed in any event of incapacitation or death. A living trust specifies legal relationship between three basic groups.
- The grantor, who funds the trust
- The trustee, who manages the trust
- The beneficiary, who receives the proceeds & assets
Living trusts are powerful legal documents regarding your estate and how you would like it dispersed among your beneficiaries upon death or incapacitation. Living trusts protect assets such as real estate investments, bank accounts, investments and property.
Upon your passing, your wishes will be carried out and passed to the beneficiaries all while avoiding the negative aspects of probate court.
Living trusts are important, and below are important reasons to have a living trust.
- Avoid Probate
- Privacy Protection
- Save Money & Protect Property
- Greater Control of Assets
A living trust gives you control of your hard earned assets while you’re still alive, but you pass on the control to a trustee to pay the beneficiary under specified conditions. These conditions allow for greater control over your assets even when you’re gone.
So, why is it a good idea to arrange how your assets will be handled upon death? It helps take away decisions for your beneficiary or spouse during a tough and emotional time. With a living trust, you can place many different assets into a bank account, allowing loved ones to be cared for immediately.
Probate is the court-led process that usually handles an estate after death. In general, the probate process involves a court examining the provisions of a will and the assets included (or excluded) within.
There is usually a waiting period from one to three months in which the beneficiaries could have limited or no access to any of the funds in the estate while in probate. A living trust is an effective method of avoiding probate court. One of the main reasons it is best to avoid probate is because of the fees and other costs which can be calculated as a percentage of the total estate. Avoiding probate means that money won’t be deducted from your estate, and your beneficiaries will receive everything you intended for them to inherit.
A will and all assets not covered by a will are subject to probate and thus become open record. The probate process is public record, which means anyone can look up what assets were in the estate and what beneficiaries received what assets. Setting up a living trust is a method of avoiding probate and can also be used to protect the privacy of your estate and thus your beneficiaries.
Another key benefit of living trusts is that they can be enacted when the grantor is incapacitated. The trustee will take control of your assets during this unfortunate situation and then manage your estate according to your predefined stipulations, including ensuring the trust is run for your benefit as the trustor. This is different from a power of attorney or health care power of attorney in that it details how your assets are to be managed while you are incapacitated, as well as what to do in the case of your death. Living trusts can also be set up for married couples that will set aside funds or assets to provide for the surviving spouse.
Trusts offer greater flexibility in determining how assets are to be distributed in various situations. A living trust can also detail how assets are to be managed in case you are incapacitated. There are a variety of trusts, such as living trusts, which can be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable living trust can be changed while an irrevocable one may not. It may be a good idea to consult an estate-planning attorney for complex situations to ensure your assets are managed in the best possible way. Living trusts will provide greater flexibility to manage your assets in the way you want, including how they are passed on to heirs.
Save Money & Protect Property
Estate taxes and protecting assets from lawsuits or creditors is a concern when estate planning.
Certain trusts may even be arranged to be managed overseas to avoid jurisdiction of some courts. Also, trusts can provide benefits in cases of joint tenancy. Since a trust allows for the assets to be split up as desired, it can be parceled out in amounts or in ways that limit the impact of costs while maximizing associated tax benefits. It is important to consult a legal professional before funding any trust to ensure your assets are managed legally.
Greater Control of Assets
A living trust allows you to decide how your estate will be managed in various situations. This can give much greater control over how real estate and other property will reach beneficiaries compared to a will or other legal documents. A trust can be arranged to payout assets immediately, over time, or when the beneficiaries reach certain conditions. This is especially useful when setting up a trust for children who are not old enough to manage their money.
A living trust can also be used to set aside money for a person who might not be mature enough to handle a large sum at that time, such as grown-up children with mental issues or drug problems. Trusts can also be set up to manage assets for situations where relationships may be complex. Finally, some living trusts can set aside assets in a way that is not counted for end-of-life care and Medicare proceedings.
Last Will and Testament Document Ready to Sign. Last Will Document and Fountain Pen Closeup Photo.
For reasons that are not entirely clear, the number of Americans making wills is dropping. Less than a third of Americans currently have a valid will, according to statistics.
Even those that have a will may not have their affairs set in order. There are certain circumstances under which it is necessary to change your will, or at least advisable to do so.
If it’s been a while since you made a will or trust, you should inform yourself about when it might be a good idea to make changes to it.
Read on to find out how to change a will or trust.
Wills & Trusts: What’s the Difference?
Wills and trusts are both estate planning tools. You can use either a will or a trust to distribute your assets, or you can use both.
The main difference between the two is that a will does not take effect until you die, while a trust takes effect as soon as you make it.
When Might I Have To Change My Will or Trust?
Making a will is an important and commendable step in one’s life. However, it is unfortunately only half the battle. Most people will have to alter wills or trusts several times in their lives.
The following are some circumstances in which you should consider changing your will.
Changes in Your Family Situation
If you’re arranging the distribution of your assets, chances are you’re leaving the majority of your estate, if not all of it, to members of your immediate family. Therefore, it makes sense to change your will or trust when the structure of your family changes.
This might come about in the case of a new birth or an untimely death. However, most often, it relates to the spousal relationship.
In many states, a marriage or divorce will immediately render a previous will void. Even in those states where it doesn’t, you should make a new will anyway.
It is especially important to make a new will if you remarry after getting divorced.
Death of Beneficiaries
If someone you name in your will or trust dies before you, it is usually a good idea to change the document.
It should be noted that the death of a beneficiary will not necessarily make a will invalid. The rules vary from state to state, but in many cases the gift will simply pass to the heirs of the deceased person.
A person’s heir or heirs will usually be their wife, their children, their parents, or their siblings.
Changes in Your Assets
Imagine you won the state lottery tomorrow. Whatever your will says would probably be largely irrelevant, as it wouldn’t account for the fresh pile of cash now sitting in your bank account.
This is obviously an extreme example. However, assets almost always change over the years.
Whether you purchase new property, start making more money at work, lose money in an investment, or just spend a percentage of your savings, the amount of assets you have is probably changing all the time.
Therefore, you should check your will or trust every few months to ensure that what you’re bequeathing is consistent with what you actually have.
Also, if you gain or lose a large quantity of assets, you should change your will or trust immediately.
Change in Location
If you make a will in one state and subsequently move to another, your will may not be valid in the latter state.
The rules on this vary from state to state. If you’re unsure about whether your will is valid, it’s always best to consult an attorney.
Changes to the Law
Various laws that are relevant to wills and trusts change quite frequently. These might rules in relation to tax, power of attorney, or long term care benefits. Advanced health directives are also relevant.
These laws are numerous and complex. If you’re not sure whether a legal change affects your estate plan, it’s always best to ask your lawyer.
How To Change a Will or Trust
There are a number of ways in which you can change an existing will or trust. The best method for you will depend on the extent of the changes you wish to make.
A New Will or Trust
If you want to make sweeping changes to your will or trust, or you haven’t changed it in a long time, you may be better off to just start from scratch.
This will invalidate any previous wills or trusts you may have made.
A codicil is similar to an addendum. Whereas an addendum merely adds to a will or trust, however, a codicil changes a pre-existing element of one.
These are used where there is only one change to be made, or a few minor changes. Codicils are quicker and easier to implement than brand new documents.
Once drawn up, a codicil is attached to your existing will or trust as a secondary document. Codicils must be witnessed and executed in the same fashion as the original will or trust.
A Personal Property Memorandum
This is similar to a codicil. It also takes the form of an additional document that is attached to your original will or trust and makes binding changes to it.
However, this method is only available to you if you included a personal property memorandum when you first wrote your will or trust. In this case, you can remove the existing memorandum and replace it with one that reflects your updated intentions.
A personal property memorandum is used by those who wish to leave specific pieces of property to specific beneficiaries, rather than dividing their estate up equally.
For instance, if you wish to leave your car to one of your children and your art collection to another, you would specify this in your personal property memorandum.
What Happens If I Die Without Making a Will?
Where someone does not have a will when they die, they are said to have died intestate. The way in which your assets are distributed will depend on your family situation and the laws in your state.
Generally, your estate will be divided up among your heirs, with priority given to your spouse and children, followed by your parents and siblings.
If no suitable heir can be found, the ultimate beneficiary is usually the state.
Making Sure Your Family Are Looked After
Nobody likes to think about life after their own passing. However, this is no excuse for not having arrangements made in relation to your affairs, especially if you have a family that will need to be looked after when you’re gone.
For those that already have one, knowing how to change a will or trust is hugely important. You need to be able to make adjustments if some unexpected occurrence should change your state of affairs.
If you’d like to make a will, or have us review or make a change to an existing one, contact us today.
If you think you are safe from data breaches and identity theft because you froze your Equifax credit account, you may be sorely mistaken. Due to a security flaw, identity thieves may be able to easily hijack your phone and utility accounts. According to this article, the National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange, an association that houses consumer payment data for utility bills, is a separate organization and, thus, not affected by your credit freeze with the credit bureaus.
The director of the Identity Fraud Institute at Hodges University, Carrie Kerskie, reported that they have had many people come to them because crooks have opened utility accounts in their names. She suggests that anyone whose personal information was exposed in a data breach request a copy of their NCTUE in addition to the three big credit reporting agencies. Then you can place a freeze on all accounts.
While it’s always possible that your information will still be stolen in the future, it’s important to take extra steps and precautions to try to protect your data and personal information as best as possible. If you need the assistance of an attorney, contact Rhodes Law Firm today. While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited our in-office interactions, we are happy to provide legal assistance by email or phone.
Donation Jar with Copy Space. Fundraiser, Charity and Relief Work.
It is recommended that small businesses should donate 6% of their profits and sales to charitable causes.
Donating profits can help you and your employees feel like you are making a difference and can even draw in more business.
If you want to put your money to good use, you have a couple of options to consider.
Continue reading to discover how giving charitably can help you save on taxes and improve your company!
1. Remainder Trusts
Giving charitably through remainder trusts are a good idea if you have a lot of highly appreciated assets.
Remainder trusts allow you to liquidate your assets and there is no tax consequence when doing so. After you donate to this trust, you will be able to get a tax deduction that applies to your current income.
One of the best things about this type of charity is that you can continue to get the benefits of your assets for the rest of your life. After you die, the rest of your assets that you have remaining will go to whichever charity you choose.
Becoming a philanthropist can open your eyes to all of the types of charities, you can select one with special meaning. In many office settings, the entire team will vote on the charity of their choice.
The more involved that you and your employees are with the charity, the more meaningful and impactful you will be. Take the time to discover the best place for your money to go towards.
Our guide can help you find reputable charities that can help a lot of people!
2. Donor-Advised Funds
Donor-advised funds (DAF) are a great way to give back to a charity and help you get tax breaks.
Over time you can contribute assets, cash, and other securities to this fund. You can get tax breaks as soon as you begin adding them. Once you have made your investments, they will increase and be tax-free.
Donating stock to charity is one way you can handle a donor-advised fund. You can also invest checks and mutual fund shares. If your business has hedge fund interests or private equity, you can even use these for your investment.
Less common assets that you can put towards this charitable fund include retirement savings and Bitcoin.
3. Lead Trusts
If you are looking for a way to donate more than you already have, charitable lead trusts are recommended.
In a lead trust, you can donate a portion of your profits for an extended time. You can put these donations towards one or more philanthropies. Whatever money is remaining typically goes to your beneficiary or family.
Many people consider lead trusts to be the inverse of remainder trusts, that are mentioned above. They are irrevocable and meant to reduce tax liability, once inheritance occurs.
It is recommended to put your money towards this trust if you have a lot of taxable income. You can use this charity to lower your taxes and help your family. You can also get savings through estate and gift taxes as well when you have charitable lead trusts.
4. Local Community
Does your business play a large role in the local community?
By donating to local community foundations you can help the people in your area, feel good about it, and save on taxes. Typically businesses will donate to nonprofits of any size.
Most community foundations revolve around the arts, education, and health services. Disaster relief and environmental corporations in your area can also accept donations. There are more than 750 community foundations in the United States. They can be found in rural and urban areas.
The purpose of community foundations is to help improve the lives of the people in a certain area. This area is determined by geography and can help individuals and businesses. The money will go towards clubs and other charities that put arts, sports, and culture back into the community.
5. Private Family Foundations
Most private family foundations are set up by families with assets.
If you wanted to start a private foundation to donate to, you must come up with a name and fill out some paperwork. You can also donate money to other private foundations. When you donate to them, you will be able to use it as a tax write off and will save you money.
Many people choose to donate to private family foundations because they have a connection with it. If you want to make an impact on a family and their cause you should consider this type of donation.
It will bring you closer to your customers and can make the biggest impact.
Not only will you get tax deductions immediately, but you can also avoid capital gains tax and have minimal estate tax liability.
Giving Charitably Can Help You
Did you know that you can improve your business and cut your taxes by giving charitably to various foundations and trusts?
If you have the extra money in your business and want to put it to good use, you have several options. Charitable remainder trusts and lead trusts can ensure that your family and business are safe even after you pass.
By giving to the local community and family-run foundations, you can help the people in your area that support your business. Not only does giving charitably help lessen your taxes, but it can also help get you more business.
Be sure to contact our team today for assistance with Charitable planning, business law, and more!
It is important to review your estate plans regularly to adjust for any changes that occur, whether they are legal or personal. This year, that is especially true. The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Act, or SECURE Act, has made substantial alterations to how certain retirement benefits and IRAs should be treated after death. This means that you should take the time to review and update your estate plan. This article on Forbes.com highlights some key points regarding these changes and why you should take the time to consider making changes to your plan.
The SECURE Act changes could possibly result in revision of beneficiary designation forms, revision of wills and trusts, possible modifications of existing conduit trusts, and complete restructuring of the planning for the IRA account. One major change that the SECURE Act brings with it is the death of the “Stretch IRA.” With this death, the ramifications will shake things up for many. The stretch technique permitted heirs to defer IRA over a long period of time, which essentially would permit the IRA balance to compound income tax free. Now, however, most heirs of an IRA dating after 2019 will be required to completely withdraw all assets within 10 years of the date of death.
There are a few exceptions to the 10-year rule. For heirs who qualify as “eligible designated beneficiaries” do not need to adhere to the 10-year payout. Those who are considered eligible designated beneficiaries are surviving spouses, chronically ill, or disabled heirs.
The SECURE Act significantly affects many estate and retirement plans, so it is critical to review your plans today. The team of legal experts at Rhodes Law Firm is ready to help ensure that your plan is structurally sound and your wishes will be upheld. Don’t wait until it’s too late – come see us today to review or create your estate and retirement plans!
Family consulting notary public at office
In the United States, 60% of couples in a second or subsequent marriage have at least one child from a prior relationship. In 2008 one-third of people divorcing were actually re-divorcing (divorcing again).
In blended families, it is important to make sure the children from your first marriage are not unintentionally disinherited. To make sure your intentions are met, second marriage inheritance issues should be addressed before or immediately after your marriage.
Estate Plans Must be Updated
Often in second marriages you and your spouse are older and may already have a will and trust. Those items need to be updated each time you remarry.
Blended families are common. There are special considerations that need to be considered in estate planning. You and your spouse may have children from prior relationships, expenses or income from child support or alimony, joint property with a former spouse, and retirement investments.
Updating your estate plan will prevent inheritance problems. Whether to combine estates from prior relationships or keep them separate will be one of the decisions you need to make. It is important to talk to an estate attorney before you combine any assets.
Common Second Marriage Inheritance Issues
In second marriages inheritance issues become more complicated. There is a high failure rate for second and third marriages. 50% of first marriages, 67% of second marriages, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.
When you consider 3 out of every 4 divorced people will remarry, inheritance issues and proper estate planning are critical. If you die before your spouse, your spouse could remarry and leave everything to their own children. This would eliminate your first marriage children from receiving any inheritance. Special consideration must be given to each individual factor in inheritance planning.
The first decision is whether to combine estates or keep them separate. Assets made joint provides your new spouse with entitlement to that asset. Assets kept separate may be designated for children of your first marriage.
Income and property obtained during a marriage are considered community property. Income and property obtained prior to the marriage and never comingled remain your sole property.
If your assets have been comingled your spouse will inherit 100% interest in the house, bank accounts, stock accounts, etc. In most cases, the second spouse changes everything and leaves assets to their own children, nothing to the spouse’s children.
Long-Term Care Considerations
In many states spouses have a legal obligation to support each other. If one spouse needs long-term nursing home care the assets of the other may be used to pay bills. This could include personal income and draws from an IRA. In other states, the income and IRA of the spouse may not be affected.
You may want to seek legal advice before deciding to tie-the-knot. It may be financially better to become partners rather than getting married.
You must update beneficiaries on investments and life insurance. The beneficiary designations on these documents supersede anything you put in your will. If your life insurance still lists your ex-spouse as a beneficiary and your will lists your new spouse, the beneficiary designation holds and your ex-spouse will receive the payment.
At the same time, if all of your life insurance and investments have your second spouse listed as a beneficiary, they will inherit everything and your children from your first marriage receive nothing.
401(k), IRA and Financial Investments
The older you are when you remarry the more likely it is you and/or your new spouse will bring assets into the marriage. This may include retirement savings, life insurance, brokerage accounts, and real estate.
401(k) plan rules require the current spouse to be the beneficiary unless he or she legally agrees not to be designated. On all other investments, you may designate who you want to inherit the money. This is an excellent way of ensuring your children receive a financial inheritance from you.
Bank accounts or brokerage accounts held jointly with a child will go to that child upon your death. An IRA goes to the person named as a beneficiary on the account.
Family Heirlooms and Memorabilia
You may be in possession of family heirlooms and memorabilia that are important to your children but are not of any significance to your current spouse. Specifying how those items are distributed in your will or trust will guarantee they are distributed according to your wishes.
Houses Owned Prior to Marriage
If you owned a home prior to your second marriage and your spouse is going to move in, consider whether or not you want that home to eventually go to your children. If you add your spouse to the title, they will inherit the home upon your death and your children get nothing. The title of the home supersedes anything you put in your will.
One consideration is to keep the home in your name only but set up a trust that allows your spouse to reside in the home until their death. When your spouse dies the home will pass to your children.
Medical Power of Attorney
Should something happen to you, who do you want to be able to make medical decisions on your behalf, your children or your spouse? Make sure both your spouse and adult children know your intentions and the appropriate documents have been completed.
The Purpose of Estate Planning
Estate planning legally ensures your assets end up where you wanted them to. If you fail to plan, the children from your first marriage could be unintentionally disinherited.
If you die intestate (without a will) the courts will decide where your assets go. If there is no will or trust and you are married, all your assets will pass to your spouse.
Consider a Prenuptial Agreement
You may want to meet with an attorney prior to your second marriage to discuss having a prenuptial agreement prepared. More than 40% of weddings have a bride or groom that was previously married. This will provide you and your spouse with full financial disclosure of the assets and debts of the other.
The agreement lays out in a legal contract what happens to your assets in the event of divorce or the death of the other person. You may want to make sure your adult children have a copy of this agreement, as their inheritance may depend on it.
Make Sure Your Inheritance Goes Where You Want
The majority of children born to married couples are born during the first marriage. Many couples in a second marriage do not have common children, so there is no desire to preserve the family.
Make sure you speak with a legal professional about second marriage inheritance issues. Take this important step now.