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What Does “Probate” Mean?

The term “probate” is one you’ve probably heard and might associate with negative connotations. But you may not fully understand what it is. For some people, the term conjures images of lengthy delays waiting for wealth to be transferred as well as bitter disputes among family members. Others, because the…

At your own risk: The pitfalls of DIY estate planning

There’s no law that says you can’t prepare your own estate plan. And with an abundance of online services that automate the creation of wills and other documents, it’s easy to do. But unless your estate is small and your plan is exceedingly simple, the pitfalls of do-it-yourself (DIY) estate…

Provide for your spouse, then your kids, with a QTIP trust

If you want to preserve as much wealth as possible for your children, but you leave property to your spouse outright, there’s no guarantee your objective will be met. This may be a concern if your spouse has poor money management skills or if you two don’t see eye to…

Converting traditional IRA to a Roth IRA can benefit your retirement & estate plans

Retirement planning and estate planning often go hand in hand: The more you save in retirement, the more you’ll have to pass on to the next generation. If you currently have a substantial balance in a traditional IRA, you may be considering whether you should convert the IRA to a…

Have you named contingent beneficiaries?

Although your will or revocable trust governs the distribution of many or most of your assets, certain assets — such as retirement plans, insurance policies, and bank or brokerage accounts — require you to name a beneficiary (or beneficiaries). This can be an advantage, because when you die, the funds…

Do You Have a Will?

The need for a will as a key component of your estate plan may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of people — even affluent individuals — who don’t have one. A reason for this may be a common misconception that a revocable trust (sometimes called a…

Estate planning for the young and affluent can be tricky

Events of the last decade have taught us that tax law is anything but certain. So how can young, affluent people plan their estates when the tax landscape may look dramatically different 20, 30 or 40 years from now — or even a few months from now? The answer is…

What happens if your spouse fails to designate you as beneficiary of his or her IRA?

One advantage of inheriting an IRA from your spouse is that you’re entitled to transfer the funds to a spousal rollover IRA. The rollover IRA is treated as your own IRA for tax purposes, which means you need not begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) until you reach age 72….

Does your estate plan address your grandchildren in a fair manner?

Many people, when planning their estates, simply divide their assets equally among their children. But “equal” may not necessarily mean “fair.” It all depends on your family’s circumstances. Specifically, providing for grandchildren is one area where equal treatment may inadvertently result in unfairness. Consider this scenario Bob has two adult…

A difficult decision: Choosing a guardian for your children

If you have minor children, choosing a guardian to care for them should you die unexpectedly is one of the most important estate planning decisions you must make. It’s also one of the most difficult. So difficult, in fact, that avoiding it is one of the most common reasons people…