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.
The number of senior citizens in the United States is expected to jump from 45 million in 2010 to 86 million in 2050 thanks to advances in medicine and technology.
The growing number of elders means a growing number of uncomfortable conversations with parents and grandparents.
One of the topics that should be discussed is aging and long-term care. Do you have plans in place to help care for your loved ones?
This article serves to help you talk about the uncomfortable subjects with your elders.
Driving is universally associated with identity and responsibility. The conversation to try and limit or eliminate your parents’ driving privileges will be met with ardent protest.
Keep the concern on their health and safety. It’s natural for aging people to lose mobility, reflexes, and vision. Letting your mom or dad know they aren’t alone can help alleviate fears of losing the keys.
If you present a problem, be sure to include an answer. Outside of family giving rides, provide a list of elderly transportation services.
Your loved ones might not have a debilitating illness or condition, but the medication they take could impair their abilities required to operate a vehicle.
Finally, it is imperative to bring up their safety and the safety of those around them. Accidents and small collisions can cause serious damage to their bodies.
Talking about driving privileges is the first step to a larger conversation about long-term care.
Aging and Long-Term Care
Health and wellness can take a quick dive for a person in advanced age. Start the conversation with your parents about aging and long-term care.
Even before health gets too bad, aging and long-term care offer a wide array of helpful services to support daily living. Home health care, adult day care, and long-term care facilities are the major options.
There is a full complement of benefits to hiring home health care to provide services for your parents.
- Caregivers can provide one task or multiple tasks
- Care plans are customizable and individually created for patients
- The patient maintains a level of independent living
- Home health care can be flexible with scheduling
- Companionship to look after parents especially those with memory-loss conditions
Caregivers that come to your parents’ residence can be tasked with multiple assignments like cleaning, laundry, and cooking. They can also assist with bathing, transportation, and errands.
Some home health care companies have trained nurses to assist with bowel movements or other medical chores.
Adult Day Care
Adult day care provides a solution if your loved one is cared for by family and friends but cannot be watched during the day.
Like daycare for children, adult day care watches your parent and provides a suite of services.
- Give regular caregivers a break
- Hygiene such as bathing and personal grooming is provided
- Other seniors can interact socially
- The facility will have activities to keep people engaged
- Meals are provided
- Transportation to and from the facility
Adult day care may also offer ancillary services like support groups, counseling, and social workers.
Long-Term Care Facility
In some cases, the only option is to place your parent into a 24/7 care facility. A conversation with other family members is important before talking with your loved one.
Various reasons can lead to a nursing home, but be sure to know the benefits.
- The main attraction is 24/7 care
- Trained nurses are on staff
- Normally, there is a certain level of security and access control
- Activities and entertainment planned throughout the week
- Regular visiting hours
Nursing homes provide peace of mind for all family and friends. The social engagement aspect is a benefit that home-health care can’t always give.
A concern your parent or parents will have is the cost. If it’s not an obstacle for you, then weigh the options carefully. A senior may be too embarrassed to discuss their current financial status.
See if any of the options apply to your family:
- Some insurances do cover aging and long-term care services. Check your parents’ plan to see if they are protected.
- Look to purchase long-term care insurance before health problems arise.
- A local government may also subsidize care for seniors. It is generally limited to a few hours a week, but it may be a great way to test what you need.
- See if there is financial aid available to families that qualify
The financial obligation of choosing in-home caregivers is vastly cheaper than putting a parent in a full-time care facility. You may not have the option but to place a loved one in the more expensive nursing home.
Convey to your elders that a caregiver or facility will make their life easier. It will free up time for them to rest or pursue leisure activities.
It will be easier to convince someone to start small by having a caregiver come over a few times a month to help with a small task. As time goes on, they will see the joy and help caregivers can provide.
If you’re having discussions with one of your parents about long-term care, then you should be talking about plans for their passing.
Have they seen a lawyer to create a will? Do they want to be resuscitated if anything causes them to lose consciousness?
While your parents are still sound of mind, help them navigate the plans for their death. Help them understand what happens to their money, possessions, and property.
Show your parents a will legally binds their last wishes without causing confusion or frustration for their kin. They can keep their money from going to the IRS by setting it up to benefit family members.
Frame the conversation in a way to give them control and power of their belongings. This will help them accept certain limitations while still feeling a sense of responsibility and power over their life.
Have the Conversation
Talking about the declining health of a loved one is never easy. People want control of their lives.
You can help your parents keep their dignity and some of their independence by discussing the benefits of aging and long-term care.
If you need help navigating the financial obligations of long-term care, contact us and we will give you solutions.
End of life estate planning can be a difficult thing to confront. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
Most Americans understand how helpful having a living trust is. In fact, 76% of Americans think it’s important to have one. Unfortunately, only 40% of those people actually do have a living trust.
And even fewer will spend time updating a living trust.
Your living trust is similar to a car.
It needs to be maintained regularly so that it can stay in good working order. Our lives, circumstances, and relationships change over time. And our wills should reflect these changes.
However, unlike getting your tires rotated or your oil changed, you can update your living trust in just a few minutes. And from the comfort of your own home.
Interested in learning more? Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about updating a living trust.
Reasons for Updating a Living Trust
You might think that if you’ve already got a living trust, you don’t have to worry about it ever again. On the contrary, having an outdated living trust might not end up being very effective when the time comes to put it to use.
Let’s go over some of the most important reasons why you should update your living trust.
Changes in Your Family or Relationships
Have the relationships that you have with the people who are named in your living trust changed over the years? Have you become divorced or estranged with former loved ones?
You might want to think twice before leaving your precious valuables to people who you don’t even like anymore.
And, more importantly, you might’ve changed over the years too. You might want to donate your valuables to a charity or other group after your death.
On a brighter note, there might be many new and wonderful people in your life that you’d like to give to. Perhaps you got married, had a child, or have become closer to grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or made new friends.
No matter who’s been added to your life, you’d want to update your living trust if you’d like those people to get a piece of the action.
Also, if you’ve had a child in the intervening years between now and the writing of your living trust, it’s highly recommended that you review your living trust. You’ll want to name a guardian for your child should something happen to you or your spouse.
And if your kids have reached the age of majority in your state, you might want to consider giving them responsibility as your executors.
Comb through your list of representatives, trustees, heirs, executors, and guardians. Think about if the circumstances of your life and relationships have changed in anyways.
For example, are these people that you listed still able to fill the roles that you’ve assigned for them? Are they even still alive?
It’s reasons like these that you need to be updating your living trust once a year.
Changes in Assets
Another major reason for why you should update your living trust is if you’ve experienced a major decrease or increase in value in your estate.
Maybe you sold or bought a large asset or started or closed a business. Also, you might have new pension plans or insurance policies that affect the naming of beneficiaries in your living trust.
Changes in Location
If you’ve moved to a state that is different than where you originally wrote your living trust, you should speak with a lawyer in your new area. Determine with the attorney if the will is still valid.
The laws regarding living trusts vary by state. Because of this, you should never assume that an old will can meet the requirements that are demanded by your new state.
Changes in Tax Laws
Federal, as well as state tax laws, are changing constantly. You are going to want to stay informed of any changes in your state that might have an effect on your living trust and estate plan. By staying informed and consulting with a lawyer who specializes in estate planning and living trust, you can stay on top of all the different law changes.
What to Look for When Updating a Living Trust
There are several important aspects of your living trust that you are going to want to make sure are always up to date. These factors include:
- Divorce and Marriage
- Children have reached the age of majority
- You’d like to give to an organization like a charity
- You started a new business
- You’re approaching or reached the age where you’re required to start taking distributions from your 401(k), IRA, or other plans
- It’s been at least three years since you last reviewed your living trust
- Birth of a child or grandchild
- Death of a person who’s listed in your living trust
- A change in relationship with people in your living trust
- A change in the circumstances of your trustees, guardians, executor, etc.
- A large decrease or increase in your estate’s value
- A change in your tax laws
- If you’ve moved to a new state
Although you should look over everything in your living trust, these are some of the most important points to consider.
The Importance of Updating Your Living Trust Every Year
Updating your living trust once a year is a simple task that is nonetheless extremely helpful. Although it can sometimes be seen as uncomfortable or morbid, having and maintaining your living trust may save your family from a lot of confusion and arguments in the long run.
Need help with your estate planning? Contact us today to get started!
Social Security is a truly wonderful program that distributes nearly 64 million benefit checks to more than 15 million retired workers. These monthly payments also benefit the survivors of deceased workers and those on long-term disability. This is a lifeline many cannot afford to lose. However, many might not realize that your Social Security benefit might be taxable.
This article by The Motley Fool has a great article that delves into the history behind the taxation of social security benefits as well as offers more information on whether or not you may be taxed. Social Security taxation, a controversial addition to the Amendments of 1983, was originally aimed to only impact upper-income households in order to avoid cutting benefits for retired workers.
The odds of future retirees’ benefits being taxed is currently at about a 50/50 chance. When the taxation of benefits was put into place, people or couples whose modified adjusted gross income exceeded $25,000 and $32,000 were subject to the tax. In 1993, the second tier of taxation was created, aimed at those whose MAGI were more than $34,000 and $44,000. However, these thresholds have never been adjusted for inflation, and therefore more and more seniors are being subjected to the taxes of Social Security benefits.
This taxation, while unpopular, is a large chunk of what is helping keep Social Security benefits afloat. Social Security is facing an imminent funds shortfall, and the Board of Trustees has anticipated the program’s $2.9 trillion in asset reserves will be depleted completely by 2035.
Read more about the taxation of Social Security benefits here. With Social Security’s wellbeing in flux, it is more important than ever to have a plan for your retirement and later years. Contact us at Rhodes Law Firm today to get started on your future.
Taking care of loved one’s assets and debts while also grieving their passing is not an easy task. When it is time for you to choose an executor for your estate, there are a few things that would be beneficial to take into consideration. This article by the Washington Post discusses factors that should be contemplated before naming your executor.
First, success is not everything. You may think that your child who works as a successful accountant may be the obvious choice to take care of your estate. However, oftentimes people who are successful with their line of work struggle to tie that discipline over into their personal lives. Taking care of a parent’s estate requires patience above all, as it could take years to handle.
Second, you don’t have to automatically choose your firstborn. Just because this child is the eldest does not mean he or she can inherently handle all that comes with being the executor of your estate. Also, while one child may be great at dealing with finances, it may be best to choose one that will prioritize keeping the peace between family members during this delicate time. A child who is a mediator is often the wisest choice.
Carefully planning your estate is the best way to minimize any emotional and/or financial chaos in the wake of your death and leave your loved ones in a much better position to handle these matters.
Rhodes Law Firm can help walk you through the entire estate planning process, including choosing executors. We know this is a tough topic for most, but we are here to help you make the best decisions for your family and loved ones. Let us help you today! Give us a call or stop by our office to speak with our experienced team.
The numbers are also growing: 57% of people aged 35 to 44 whose first marriages end go on to enter a second marriage, and 63% of those 45 to 54 do the same. Even half of all people 65 and older tie the knot again. The trend is more prevalent among those 55 and older, but singles under 35 are likely to couple up again, just perhaps without signing the dotted line.
When you remarry, you need to update any estate plans you had with your first spouse. If you don’t and something happens, your survivors could wind up seeing real – and expensive – complications in probate court.
What changes when you enter your second marriage? Keep reading for an introduction.
1. Consult Your Divorce Agreement
In most states, including South Carolina and Georgia, spousal support ends with the remarriage of the supported spouse or death of either of the former spouses. So spousal support generally isn’t a concern for your estate.
However, there may be other financial or contractual obligations lodged in there, especially if you own property together that you maintained without splitting.
Start any second marriage estate planning by including any necessary provisions from the first marriage. These either need to be resolved in advance or written into your estate to avoid complications during probate.
2. Talk With Your Children
If you have children from both marriages (biological, step-children, or adopted), you need to update your estate plan to reflect all children.
The estate should include both guardianship issues (if your children are under 18) and long-term financial goals for providing for your children.
As with the divorce agreement obligations, these need to be hashed out with both your current spouse and your ex-spouse when possible so they can plan accordingly too.
3. Decide Whether to Combine Your Estates
Your estate has changed dramatically since your divorce. It no longer includes your ex’s property, and it could now feature your current spouse’s assets.
It’s at this juncture that you need to decide whether to keep the assets you both brought into the marriage separate or to join them. South Carolina, like most states, is a marital property state. As a result, your spouse has a right to all the real and personal property you accumulate during your marriage, but not before it.
Deciding whether to combine your estates is difficult compared to the decision during your first marriage.
You might be significantly older than you were when you entered your first marriage, which means one of you might bring substantially more into the union after several years of a successful career.
The issue of combining assets impacts childless couples, but it tends to affect couples with children from a previous marriage most. You may find you prefer to keep assets aside to save for your biological children. It’s not uncommon to want to set aside the assets you brought into the union for your children outside it.
It’s Okay to Leave Pre-Marriage Assets out of Your Married Property
Why? Because bringing them into the estate risks losing those assets for your children.
A good example is when a newly married couple moves into the home purchased by one of the spouses before the second marriage.
If you’re the owner and decide to bring it into the estate, then your new spouse gets the house if you pass away first. If they have the right to the home, they can do as they please with it, even if it goes against what your will says.
For example, they can leave it to their children. They have a legal right to do, so even if you wanted to pass it on to yours.
This makes second marriage estate planning more complicated: the plan you might’ve chosen with your first spouse – with whom you share children – won’t work because you don’t legally share the children.
Similar issues arise with retirement plans and life insurance. If you name your new spouse as the new beneficiary, they can then pass it on as they see fit in their estate.
These are difficult discussions to have, but you must make them early. The conversations become even harder if you’re not there to broker them and express your wishes.
However, it’s also important to remember that the reverse can also be true. If you don’t update your estate, you could leave your spouse and any children from your second marriage out in the cold, even if that wasn’t your intent. It’s very difficult and expensive for them to fight these things in probate court.
4. Consider Remarriage Protection
Just as getting married once doesn’t automatically guarantee a second marriage, neither does your second wedding mean you’ll get married a third time. But things don’t always go as we plan. If your second marriage ends pre-maturely – either through divorce or death – then the estate becomes even more complicated, particularly if the surviving or ex-spouse remarries.
Think about all the intricacies of restructuring your estate above. Now, consider your first marriage twice removed from your estate.
Remarriage protection doesn’t just apply to second marriages; all couples benefit from it.
In most cases, remarriage protection involves a trust, which provides protected assets for each spouse’s children. However, it can also include other options. An estate attorney can help you work through the possible options to prevent the complexity that comes with commingled assets.
A Second Marriage Always Requires Estate Updates
Whatever your circumstances and whatever your assets, a second marriage always requires at least some estate paperwork, if only to switch your life insurance beneficiary.
Although the conversations aren’t easy, it’s essential to work them out early and to communicate with all parties involved. You also shouldn’t feel bad about wanting to protect the assets you want to give to your children from a previous marriage. It’s both reasonable and smart to take steps that ensure your estate is executed according to your wishes.
Do you have questions about updating your estate? Share your questions with us and start your second marriage off on the right financial footing.
There are many different issues to take into account while making your estate plan, specifically when it comes to beneficiary designations. This article by Forbes highlights seven of the most common issues that can really impact your plan if your beneficiaries were not carefully chosen. While it may seem like a simple task, but there are many factors that ultimately can undermine your intended plan. It is very important to go over your choices and your overall plan with a qualified estate planning attorney. Here are just a few of the possible issues you should look out for when making your estate plan.
- All about the cash – Make sure that you have enough money in your estate if you plan to give monetary gifts to people or various charities.
- Make sure to have your estate tax liability covered – if assets pass outside of your estate to a beneficiary, there should be enough money in your estate and trust to pay estate liability tax.
- Keep your tax savings protected – it is a good idea to make sure enough assets go into your trusts to maximize estate tax savings. If there aren’t enough assets in your trust, your beneficiaries may end up paying more in taxes.
- Double Check Everything – Make sure all information on the change of beneficiary form is correct and up to date.
- Choose wisely about naming your spouse as a beneficiary – This may defeat your estate planning.
- Think twice about making any last-minute changes – It could be wise to trust the choices that have already been made with much thought and consideration.
- Be Wary of Qualified Accounts – Always consult your attorney before naming a trust as a beneficiary of a qualified account such as an IRA.
If you want to revisit your estate plan and beneficiaries, contact us today. We can work with you to help make the best decisions for your specific plan.
According to the Longtermcare.gov the average cost of a nursing home is
- $6,844 per month for a semi-private room
- $7,698 per month for a private room.
Many elderly individuals are not thinking about how to pay for long-term care. However, the cost of long-term care requires proactive planning to ensure that you have the resources you need to care for yourself, while still leaving something for future generations.
Read on to learn more about long-term care planning.
What is Long-Term Care Planning
Long-term care planning determines how you will live if you have require in-home or residential care as you age. Its goal is to make your assets last as long as possible and to ensure that you are provided for in the way you want if you are unable to advocate for yourself due to illness or injury.
What is Estate Planning?
Everyone needs some sort of estate planning. Estate planning is simply protecting the resources you have accumulated over your lifetime while at the same time providing for your family after you pass.
If done correctly, and Estate Plan ensures that your assets are divided and used the way you want them to be versus the way the courts decide. It also removes the emotional burden of making those decisions from your loved ones.
Estate planning covers a variety of matters:
- Living Will
- Long-term care planning
- Business succession planning
- Asset protection
- Charitable support
The other reason to estate and long-term care plan is to help prevent arguments over your final wishes. If you make them clear, family members are less likely to argue over them.
Components of A Long Term Care Plan
You should begin planning for long-term care in the early part of your life so that you can be ready as you age. It is, however, never too late to start planning.
If you are diagnosed with Alzheimer or Dementia you should begin planning as soon as possible.
A long-term care plan can be as simple or as complex as you need. Below are common components of a long-term care plan.
As you age, do you want to stay in your home? Most people prefer to stay in their home as long as possible. It is important to consider how that will look if you can no longer care for yourself.
Do you have a family member that is able to help you or will you hire help? This can be as simple as who will manage the maintenance and lawn care of your home, to who will take you to doctor’s appointments and manage medications.
One other thing to consider here is can you modify your home to allow you to stay in it longer. This could include plans to remodel the first floor to allow for a 1st-floor bedroom or remodeling a bathroom with a walk-in shower.
You should also plan for the scenario that you cannot stay in your home. Ideally, you can identify the nursing or assisted living facility you would like to move to.
Below is a discussion of advanced directives that will help your family members make decisions for you if you can’t. These are important.
An equally important part of long-term planning is taking care of your health and health issues, now.
If you keep yourself healthy it helps to prolong the time you are able to live independently. Explore options to improve your health today.
Activities to improve your health can be as simple as getting regular exercise, improving eating habits, stopping smoking, and limiting alcohol.
Advanced Directive and Living Wills
An advance directive allows you to decide how much intervention you receive at the end of your life.
A living will is one type of advanced directive. It determines if you want to be kept on life support if you become terminally ill or injured.
The goal of both is to ensure that your medical wishes are followed. when you can no longer speak for yourself.
Decisions About Finances
The cost of long term care is high. The amount of money you will need for long-term care is unknown. it is important to consider how to pay for the different services you might need ahead of time.
Some individuals use personal funds to pay for long-term care needs. This can be retirement accounts, savings, and investments.
Long-term care insurance is also a popular method to pay for your care needs.
Veterans and individuals covered by the Older American Act have benefits they can use for long-term care.
Note: Medicaid covers long-term care, but Medicare does not.
Talk to Your Family about Long-Term Care
It is important to talk to your family about your long-term care wishes. It will help you, and them, understand why you are making the plans that you are.
In addition, it may help to reduce conflicts after you need them to make decisions for you. Finally, consider the potential situations objectively.
You may want to stay in your home forever, but is it realistic for a family member to care for you during that time? Do you have the funds for 24/7 in-house nursing care? These are all questions to consider as you develop your plan.
Long-term care planning helps you to protect your current assets, ensure that your wishes are implemented, and provide for your family after your death.
Begin your long-term care planning now, you will appreciate the peace of mind it provides.
Are You Ready to Plan for Your and Your Family’s Financial Future?
We want to help you protect your assets while you are alive and after you pass. Estate planning and long-term care planning are both important pieces of insuring that you take care of yourself and provide for your family’s future.
Contact us, our talented team is here to help.
Talking about you or your loved ones’ inevitable passing can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary in planning your estate. It is very important to discuss your assets and estate plan so that when you do pass, the people who are closest to you won’t have added difficulty on top of their grief. This article explains the importance of having all of your assets are updated and your estate plan is current.
According to the article, roughly 50 percent of people do not have an estate plan in place. If you are one of these people, the state will designate your assets. This will, more often than not, result in ways you would not have intended and is usually very complicated and time consuming.
There are a few dos and don’ts for estate planning that you should know. If you have a blended family, there is a statutory formula that depends on how many children there are and can affect who gets what. It’s important to sort these things out now, as it can get very complicated. Do make a plan and keep it updated as your family grows.
Also, while difficult to discuss, it’s important to consider who you want in charge of your healthcare decisions should you become unable to do so yourself. Who would you trust to make the tough choices if you were hit by a bus tomorrow?
Don’t assume that a will can control all of your assets. A lot of people don’t realize that a will does not control things like joint bank accounts, life insurance policies, or retirement accounts. It’s very important to designate a beneficiary on these accounts.
If you are ready to make an estate plan or update an existing plan, Rhodes Law Firm is here to help. Call or come by our office today!
You know what they say — giving is better than receiving. That might be why donor advised funds, or DAFs, rocketed past $100 billion for the first time in recent years.
Want to give but don’t know if a donor advised fund is right for you? Have questions about charitable planning?
There are many things to know before pledging donations to a charity. Our guide to sponsored donations will answer any questions you have about guidelines and regulations related to charitable giving.
What is a Donor Advised Fund?
The IRS defines a donor advised fund, or DAF, as a separate account run by a 501(c)(3) organization. Multiple donors contribute to the one account, called a sponsoring organization.
Once funds are placed in the sponsoring organization’s control, they are the ones in charge of the money. The donor at this point can’t make a guarantee or specific pledge with the assets.
What Assets Can Go Into a DAF?
While money is always an easy option, it’s not the only thing to put into your DAF. Anything valuable that the charity can use is welcomed.
Some options are stocks or even real estate. Valuable holdings, like artwork, can even be put into your sponsoring organization’s account.
This flexibility is one of the reasons a DAF is appealing to so many people. Let’s examine some other reasons you might want to set one up for yourself.
Benefits of Having a DAF
DAFs are a popular way for individuals to give back to their favorite charities. There are tons of benefits to managing your donations through them.
As we mentioned before, you can use almost any kind of asset for donations to your sponsoring organization. You can donate as often as you’d like as well.
When you work with a DAF, you don’t have to stick with just one charity. You can suggest different ones, and ask to allocate funds accordingly.
One of the biggest reasons DAFs remain popular? You get an almost instant tax refund from contributing to them — a win/win!
Different Kinds of DAFs
In general, there are three types of DAFs. Each comes with their own set of guidelines that donors and sponsoring organizations are to follow.
Here’s a quick overview of the three main kinds you’ll see:
- Single-issue funds: usually focused on one cause or institution, like a university or religious institute
- Commercial funds: managed by separate non-profit branches of commercial investment services, like Goldman Sachs
- Community-foundation funds: these are more local and engaged organizations, great for those who want to be involved but need help
There are overall legal guidelines each DAF has to follow. The type you choose to join might have its own set of rules and regulations you’ll have to abide by.
Make sure to ask questions before committing your funds in any specific organization.
Pledging Donations Through a DAF
Now that we understand the basics of sponsoring organizations, what about fulfilling pledges using a DAF? The IRS has made some changes in recent years to clarify their position on the matter.
The short answer is that no, your DAF can’t be used to fulfill a legally binding pledge. If the IRS suspects that any of your DAF funds have been used to fulfill a pledge, they’ll tax it.
Ultimately, if the donation is assumed to give some sort of benefit to the donor, it’s taxable. In this example, it would be because the donation fulfills the original donor’s pledge.
But there is a gray area. Let’s look at ways your DAF can help you fulfill a pledge.
Gray Areas for Pledges
Once an asset is handed over to the DAF, the donor loses control of it. They can’t get it back, either.
At that point, the donor becomes the advisor. The sponsoring organization is under no obligation to use funds as suggested by the original donor.
Each state has its own laws concerning what it means to fulfill a pledge. Adding on that, each case of donation is different, too.
As you can see, this muddies the waters when trying to determine if someone does or doesn’t fulfill a pledge. Because nailing down these facts is murky, the IRS doesn’t require DAFs to figure out if a donation qualifies as a pledge.
One note of concern: the charities themselves can’t ask the sponsor if the gift is for a pledge. The sponsoring organization can’t mention pledges either.
What to do Instead of a Pledge
Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be.
When you can’t fulfill a pledge through a DAF, you still have options.
For example, recommending a pledge isn’t the same thing as demanding it. As we mentioned before, your sponsoring organization is under no obligation to fulfill it.
As long as your pledge isn’t legally binding, you can suggest your funds be used to fulfill it. Some organizations even have online forms where you can mention non-legally-binding pledges.
Be Careful with Your Wording
The most important thing is to stay vague. Don’t make written promises and be careful with anything you say.
Some states consider verbal promises a legally binding pledge. Make sure that you’re within what local laws allow.
A non-binding letter of intent can also be your friend in this situation. That way you can give your preferred non-profit an idea of how much they can expect in the future and budget accordingly.
Make Your Donations Count and Pledge the Right Way
Pledging donations through a DAF can be a little complicated but not impossible. It’s important to make sure any promises made aren’t legally binding, or considered so, in your state.
Our guide can help you with the basics of charitable planning. If you want to do it right, consider finding someone to help you navigate the murky waters of donating with a DAF.
There are financial institutions that can help you form a sponsoring organization. There’s also those with knowledge of local laws ready to help.
We’re here to answer any legal questions you might have about charitable giving. Contact us today and get the answers you need!