How to Judge a Retirement Community’s Financial Health

Are you considering moving to a retirement community? In addition to the facilities amenities, you should examine the financials of the places you are considering and learn how each invests the entrance fees that residents pay in addition to what any monthly costs are. Read on for more information in this NYT article. By Peter Finch | New York Times Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt has it all figured out. With their three children grown and out of their New Jersey home, she and her husband, William, will move into a full-service retirement community this year. It will be someplace “interesting and Continue Reading

A new trend in death planning is the green burial

A new trend in death planning is the green burial in which people cut down the impact of their burial on the environment by planning to use eco-friendly options in the disposition of their remains. Green burials require fewer resources for the care of the body which make them better for the environment; another benefit of a green burial is lower funeral costs. For more information about green burials, follow our link to the New York Times. Thinking About Having a ‘Green’ Funeral? Here’s What to Know By Sonya Vatomsky | New York Times A typical American funeral usually involves Continue Reading

Detail Your Last Wishes

An important part of estate planning is designating a health care proxy and developing an advance directive for your care. It is important to give your primary care physician and health care proxy copies of these documents. In addition to giving them copies, you should request they are part of your electronic health records. Currently, the national standard for electronic records is that they need to have the capacity to show whether or not you have an advance directive somewhere. To learn about a real-life example of the importance of your advance care planning, read this NYT article. By Daniela Continue Reading

If you don’t have children, what do you leave behind?

How do people without children create a legacy after their death? Marci Alboher, married but without children,  tried to answer this question while filling out a questionnaire from her estate planning lawyer.  She reached clarity about how she wants to live.  Read the complete NYT article: By Marci Alboher | New York Times The questionnaire from the estate lawyer has been sitting on my desk for six months. “Just focus on the hit-by-a-bus version,” he advised, knowing wills tend to fall to the bottom of everyone’s list. “You can always update it.” Still, I’m paralyzed. My husband and I don’t Continue Reading

Who is your support system as you age?

For most people, it is their children but those who are childless are faced with creating their own support network to help them negotiate housing, social-service and health care options in addition to legal and financial considerations. One of the first steps is for “elder orphans” should take in creating their support system is to hire an elder law lawyer who can draw up documents that will protect them if they become incapacitated. For more advice about how to plan for your later years, follow our link to the NYT article. Single? No Kids? Don’t Fret: How to Plan Care Continue Reading

You Can Give Away More Tax Free in 2018

After staying the same for five years, the amount you can give away to any one individual in a particular year without reporting the gift will increase in 2018. The annual gift tax exclusion for 2018 is rising from $14,000 to $15,000. This means that any person who gives away $15,000 or less to any one individual (anyone other than their spouse) does not have to report the gift or gifts to the IRS. If you give away more than $15,000, you do not necessary have to pay taxes, but you will have to file a gift tax return (Form 709). The Continue Reading

HUD Makes Reverse Mortgages a Little Less Attractive

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced changes to the federal reverse mortgage program. Citing the need to put the program on better financial footing, HUD will raise reverse mortgage fees for some borrowers and lower the amount homeowners can borrow. A reverse mortgage allows a homeowner who is at least 62 years old to use the equity in his or her home to obtain a loan that does not have to be repaid until the homeowner moves, sells, or dies. In a reverse mortgage, the homeowner receives a sum of money from the lender, usually a Continue Reading

Be Aware of the Kiddie Tax Before Leaving an IRA to Children

Grandparents may be tempted to leave an IRA to a grandchild because children have a low tax rate, but the “kiddie tax” could make doing this less beneficial. An IRA can be a great gift for a grandchild. A young person who inherits an IRA has to take minimum distributions, but because the distributions are based on the beneficiary’s life expectancy, grandchildren’s distributions will be small and allow the IRA to continue to grow. In addition, children are taxed at a lower rate than adults—usually 10 percent. However, the lower tax rate does not apply to all unearned income. Enacted Continue Reading

Four Provisions People Forget to Include in Their Estate Plan

Even if you’ve created an estate plan, are you sure you included everything you need to? There are certain provisions that people often forget to put in in a will or estate plan that can have a big impact on your family. 1. Alternate Beneficiaries One of the most important things your estate plan should include is at least one alternative beneficiary in case the named beneficiary does not outlive you or is unable to claim under the will. If a will names a beneficiary who isn’t able to take possession of the property, your assets may pass as though Continue Reading

Is It Better to Use Joint Ownership or a Trust to Pass Down a Home?

When leaving a home to your children, you can avoid probate by using either joint ownership or a revocable trust, but which is the better method?If you add your child as a joint tenant on your house, you will each have an equal ownership interest in the property. If one joint tenant dies, his or her interest immediately ceases to exist and the other joint tenant owns the entire property. This has the advantage of avoiding probate. A disadvantage of joint tenancy is that creditors can attach the tenant’s property to satisfy a debt. So, for example, if a co-tenant Continue Reading