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

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

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

Could a text you send be your will?

Technology has outpaced the law. In the United Kingdom, the Law Commission is proposing a radical overhaul of inheritance laws so that people will be able to use notes, voicemail and text messages to make their wills. Current UK law regarding wills dates back to 1839; it states that a will needs to be written and signed by the testator as well as two witnesses to be valid. The new proposal would give new powers to county and high court judges to to decide on the balance of probabilities whether a recording or note could be an accurate summary of Continue Reading

Study Finds That Social Security Workers Often Provide Incomplete Information

Americans are misinformed about many aspects of Social Security, and local Social Security offices may not be helping, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The study found that the Social Security field offices often did not provide key information that would help people make well-informed decisions about when to file for benefits. Deciding on the right time and the right way to apply for benefits can be confusing for many people. While you can apply for Social Security at age 62, your monthly benefit will be much lower than if you waited until your full retirement 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

Things Seniors Should Remember at Tax Time

Tax day, which is April 18th in 2017, is approaching and it is time to begin crossing T’s and dotting I’s in preparation for paying taxes. As tax time draws near, you want to make sure you file all the proper forms and take all deductions you’re entitled to. Following are some things to keep in mind as you prepare your tax form. Gifts. Did you give away any money this year? The gift tax can be very confusing. If you gave away more than $14,000 in 2016, you will have to file a Form 709, the gift tax return. Continue Reading