th-2-300x225“Intestate” is the term used to describe the estate of someone who dies without a will or a trust. Each state has laws called “intestacy laws” that govern how probate assets are distributed, if someone dies without having a will, at minimum. These laws establish the inheritance hierarchy based on a person’s family structure. As explained in The Daily News’ article “’Are You My Heir?’-Who Inherits When You Die Without a Will,” all of your assets will pass to your next of kin, also known as your “heirs-at-law” or heirs in accordance to the state’s laws of intestacy. Continue reading

guns-rifle-weapon-target-50571-300x199“Most gun owners are cognizant of the strict regulations concerning ownership of a firearm. However, their family members and heirs are often unaware of the laws governing the disposition of a firearm, when the gun owner dies.”

The NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, enacted in response to the Sandy Hook shootings, amended many of New York’s laws to provide strict regulations, including guidelines and a timeframe for safeguarding firearms after a gun owner dies.  However, do the new laws leave family members and heirs at risk of criminal liability? Continue reading

calculator-1044172_640-300x200“Retirees living abroad have to take special care with their tax returns. If you forget to check it off this box on Schedule B when you live overseas, it could mean big trouble with the IRS.”

It’s something you don’t hear discussed often, but there are people who like to hide money overseas. Others just love the idea of retiring to a European country where they can live out a life-long dream. However, according to a recent article from CNBC titled “How to retire overseas and avoid IRS penalties,” Congress enacted the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, in 2010 expressly to increase tax compliance by Americans, who keep financial assets outside of the U.S. Continue reading

pexels-photo-796606-300x194The 50s are the time of life when your kids are starting to become more independent and may have already moved out. If that’s true, you may have a little more disposable income. That presents a good opportunity to ramp up your retirement savings, advises Sioux City Journal in the article “In Your 50s? Do These 3 Things to Plan for Your Retirement.” Continue reading

heartbeat-163709_640-300x169“An advance directive comes up frequently in conversations about health care decision-making, as people age. Their purpose is to provide written instructions for medical care, in instances where a patient is unable to communicate them herself.”

An advance directive is a legal document that states a person’s preferences for medical treatment and medical decision-making, reports Valley News in an informative article titled “Advance Directives Provide Clear Guidance for Care.” Continue reading

bigstock-Family-Couple-Relationships-Cr-5604405-300x185

“The problem is that my parents want to designate me as their power of attorney, for both health care and financial decisions, since I live in their community. Unfortunately, my siblings feel slighted.”

The reader who posed this scenario is not alone in facing siblings who live far away but feel like they are not being included in their parent’s plans. For this family, one sibling lives 500 miles away and another lives 800 miles in the opposite direction. The one daughter who lives in the same community is the logical choice for power of attorney. What can be done? Continue reading

pexels-photo-271722-300x169“There is no doubt that, for the most part, parents are much more involved with their children and their children’s more numerous activities, than parents were when we were kids.”

If this describes you and your kids, then you need to prepare yourself for the adjustments that happen when the last child leaves the house. It can be emotionally and financially challenging, according to the Daily Messenger in the article “John Ninfo: Some advice for empty nesters” Continue reading

hand-2906456_640-300x223Aging in place is what most people hope for as they enter their 60s and 70s.  However, to make it a reality, there is a need to plan, according to the article “BBB On Homes: Focus on several things when aging in place,” from LMTonline.com. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define aging in place, as the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably regardless of age, income or ability level.

Changes in health or finances don’t always allow this to happen. Here are four things to keep in mind, when considering whether you or a parent will be able to remain at home: Continue reading

investment-3247252_640-300x200“Most Americans enter retirement age with access to Social Security benefits. Many people also have Individual Retirement Accounts, including those that were funded by transferring money from workplace 401(k) plans.”

One trick to a successful retirement is to make your Social Security benefits coordinate optimally with your Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), says AZ Central in the article “Retirement planning: Connecting the dots between Social Security and IRAs.”

Not everyone takes a step back to think this way.  However, it is a smart thing to do. With proper planning, your retirement could lead to better results for your investments and a better decision on when to take Social Security benefits. Continue reading

pexels-photo-544965-300x200As business owners start thinking about the most valuable asset that they own, they need to make some major decisions about their estate plan: do they want to pass the company to the next generation or sell it? In both cases, says Smart Business in the article “Questions for business owners to consider when estate planning,” starting the process of planning needs to begin early to ensure a smooth transition.

If the owner waits until illness or disability occurs to begin planning, chances are good that it will be too late. Continue reading