218 North 14th Ave, P.O. Box 317, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

920.743.9117

Door County Estate and Trust Settlement

Monday, October 20, 2014

14 Things to do Before the End of 2014

The end of the year will be here before we know it, but there is still time to get some major estate planning goals accomplished. Here are ten things to do before the end of 2014.
 
1. Get Organized.

Would your family:
a.         Be able to find your accountant, lawyer financial advisor or insurance agent?
b.         Be able to determine if there is an advance care directive, a Health Care Power of        Attorney, or Financial Power of Attorney, and where to find them?
c.         Have the necessary passwords for your on line activities?
d.         Create an inventory of what you own and what you owe: A comprehensive list of your assets and debts, including account numbers and contact information,  stored in a convenient location.

2. Update health care documents. Everyone over the age of 18 needs a Durable Power of Attorney for Heath Care, which gives another person legal authority to make health care decisions (including life and death decisions) for you if you are unable to make them for yourself; and 2) HIPPA Authorizations, which give written consent for doctors to discuss your medical situation with others, including family members. Give copies to your agents and your doctors. Make sure they are stored in a convenient location readily accessible by your family. Hint: Not in your Safety Deposit box.

3.  Prepare a Financial Power of Attorney. Who do you want to be in control of your finances? Without a written Financial Power of Attorney, the Court will be in charge of your affairs if you are incapacitated. Do it right. A power of attorney needs to be well-thought out so it is effective when you need it most.

4. Have your estate planning done. Set the end of the year as your deadline to finally get this completed. Stop procrastinating. If it’s because you don't have an attorney, ask friends and acquaintances for referrals. If it’s because you aren’t sure who you want to be the guardian for your minor children or who you want to be your trustee or how to divide your estate, your attorney can help you decide. (You can always change your mind later. Don’t let these decisions keep you from putting a plan in place now).

5. Review and update your existing estate plan. Personal and financial circumstances will change throughout your lifetime, and your plan needs to change with them. Revisions should be made any time there are changes in your family (birth, death, marriage, divorce, remarriage), your finances, tax laws, or if a trustee or executor can no longer serve. Now is a perfect time to do this; if there are changes you want to share with family members, you can do that when they are home for the holidays. 
 
6.  Review/update beneficiary designations. This is especially important if your beneficiary has died or if you are divorced. If your beneficiary is incapacitated or is a minor, setting up a trust for this person and naming the trust as beneficiary will prevent the court from taking control of the proceeds.

7. Make tax-free gifts. Under current federal law, you can give up to $14,000 to as many people as you wish each year. This is a great way to reduce the size of your estate (and potentially save estate taxes) over time. Charitable gifts are unlimited. So are gifts for tuition and medical expenses, if you give directly to the institution.
 
8. Review/update your insurance. Check the amount of your life insurance coverage and see if it meets your family’s current needs. Consider getting long-term care insurance to help pay for the costs of long-term care (and preserve your assets for your family) in the event you and/or your spouse should need it due to illness or injury.
 
9. Talk to your children about your estate plan. You don’t have to show them bank and financial statements, but you can talk in general terms about what you are planning and why. The more they understand it, the more likely they are too readily accept it—and that will help to avoid discord after you are gone. You can also talk to them about your values and the opportunities that money can provide. Even better, show your values by doing charitable work together —the holidays are an excellent time for families to do this.
 
10. Get basic documents for your unmarried kids who are over 18. It’s a mild shock when we learn we can’t see our college kids’ grades without their permission, even though we pay the tuition. It can be much worse if they become ill. Adults (18 and over) need to have a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and HIPPA Authorization so you can act on their behalf in a medical emergency. And, while you’re at it, go ahead and have your attorney prepare a Simple Will and Durable Power of Attorney. Hopefully, these will not be needed but if an event does occur, you will be glad you have them.
 
11. Get Your Free Credit Report. We are all entitled to one free credit report every year at  https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. IF you haven't gotten yours yet, make sure you do this before the end of the year.
 
12. Make Your Contributions to your Retirement Plan. Now is the time to get those contributions into your plan. If you have not contributed enough to get your employers full match change your contribution amount in your remaining paychecks. If you have an IRA or better a Roth IRA make your contributions. Think about a ROTH IRA conversion. See your tax advisor now to discuss this planning opportunity.
 
13. Make Your Charitable Contributions.  Donate to your favorite Charity. Some of the best donations are appreciated assets like stock. You also will want to clean up your clutter and give those gently used items to Goodwill.
 
14. Get Tax Ready. Make an appointment with your tax advisor so you can make adjustments before the end of the year. Get your bills, receipts and income items organized now. Make the upcoming tax season easier on yourself.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Inherited IRA'S are Not Creditor Protected

Over the last few years there have been a number of changes about how the IRS treats inherited IRAs and the necessary provisions if you name a trust as the IRA beneficiary. On June 12th of this year the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in  Clark v. Rameker  that inherited IRAs are not afforded the same protections from creditors as regular IRAs.

 I am asking all clients to review the beneficiary designation for their IRAs.

Planning Tip:
First, if you are married your spouse should be the primary beneficiary. This gives the greatest flexibility to “stretch out” the distributions from the IRA, have creditor protection, and get maximum tax deferral.

Second, if you are single the question of who to name as beneficiary is a bit more complicated. The answer depends upon the size of the IRA. If the size of each beneficiary’s IRA share is too small to make use of stretching out distributions over their life expectancy, then you should name them directly, but no creditor protection. If asset protection is a concern, then you would name a trust that you create for their benefit (Castle Trust). 

Third, In the past the Revocable Trust was named as the beneficiary to take advantage of all of the planning built into the Trust. Experience and a change in IRS rules has eliminated this opportunity. The beneficiary form needs to be updated.

Read more: http://www.rossestateplanning.com
See my Article entitled the Six Biggest Beneficiary Designation Mistakes.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The New Wisconsin Trust Code.

The new Wisconsin Trust code has gone into effect on July 1, 2014. It has updated  many of the rules and regulations for Trusts. For example:

Revocable Trusts.  Contrary to prior law, the new Code provides that a trust is revocable by the trustmaker (the person who created the trust) unless the trust instrument provides otherwise.  Not only may a trust be revoked by the Trustmaker, but also by a properly authorized agent, such as a guardian, if a Trustmaker is incapacitated.

Modification and Termination of Irrevocable Trusts.  The Code makes it easier to modify or terminate an irrevocable trust.

Decanting Trust Assets.  Subject to certain restrictions that are designed to protect the interests of beneficiaries, the trustee of an irrevocable trust (the “first trust”) may transfer trust assets to the trustee of another trust (the “second trust”), a procedure commonly referred to as “decanting.”  Trustees or beneficiaries might wish to decant the assets of an irrevocable trust to a second trust to (i) change the state law that governs the trust, (ii) change how and when beneficiaries receive distributions, or (iii) modernize an outdated trust document.

 Directing Parties/Splitting up the Duties.  The Code introduces a new concept to Wisconsin trust law by authorizing a trustmaker or a court to appoint “directing parties” who are granted powers to direct the trustee to make investment or distribution decisions.  This allows a trustmaker to divide the traditional duties of a trustee and assign them to other parties.

Trust Protectors.  The Code introduces another concept to Wisconsin trust law, (which has been around for may years in Irrevocable Trusts) by authorizing the appointment of one or more trust protectors.  A "trust protector" is a person who is granted certain powers over the trust, the trustee, or trust property.  Trust protectors are often used to modify terms of the trust for various reasons such as a change in tax laws or changes in circumstances.

Nonjudicial Settlement Agreements.  The Code permits parties interested in a trust to enter into agreements concerning any matter involving the trust without having to take court action.  Such an agreement, called a nonjudicial settlement agreement, becomes part of the terms of the trust.

Creditors' Claims.  In general, the Code preserves current law related to spendthrift provisions in a trust document and the rights of creditors to make claims against a trustmaker’s or beneficiary’s interest in a trust.  The Code also preserves current law that allows a trustee to limit the claims of a creditor of a trustmaker upon the trustmaker's death by providing or publishing notice to the creditors.  Those looking for Wisconsin to join the ranks of states with strong asset protection trust laws will not be disappointed when using Castle Trusts.  The Code makes clear, however, that a beneficiary's use of real or tangible property owned by a trust does not subject the property to the claims of the beneficiary's creditors. A Major change is that the beneficiary can be a sole Trustee and retain creditor Protection.

Certification of Trust.  A third party may rely upon a certification of trust that sets out certain required information including a statement that the trust has not been revoked, modified, or amended. The certification of trust protects the privacy of the trust instrument because it does not need to contain the private distribution provisions of the trust.

Uneconomic Trust. The WTC increases the value of what qualifies as an uneconomic trust from $50,000 to $100,000 or less as indexed for inflation. 

Read more: http://www.rossestateplanning.com


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) changed estate planning.

There is a new paradigm in estate planning.

The new law increases the estate tax exemption to $5.34 million per person and $10.68 million for a married couple.  Portability of the deceased spouse unused exclusion (DSUE) has been made permanent in theory.

Estate planning is now changed for estates above the $5.34 million threshold,

  • For those estates below the exemption more true planning will be the norm.
  • Applicable exclusion amount should not be used to transfer low basis assets,
    • Taxpayers should consider keeping as much as possible in order to obtain a “step-up” in basis for those assets in order to minimize capital gains taxes
  • Income tax considerations are now more important than estate taxes.
    • Can save more in income taxes by getting a basis step-up at death
  • State of Residence
    • Will give rise to very different types of estate planning because several states (19)  have a death tax.
    • You or your heirs may move to one of those states
  • Updating credit shelter trusts to maximize step-up in basis and provide broad flexibility in tax planning upon death of the first spouse should now be a priority for most married couples.  Widows and widowers who are beneficiaries of a credit shelter trust may need to consider distributing assets out of the trust – assuming the trust allows for this  – or decanting the trust to a more flexible trust if it does not.

    Read more: http://www.rossestateplanning.com


    Monday, April 7, 2014

    Estate Plan Review Triggers

    Planning Tip: Like your car, your estate plan needs regular "servicing." Set aside a specific time every year (your birthday, anniversary, family gathering) to review it. Become familiar with it. Keep it current so it will perform the way you want when you need it.

    The following situations should trigger the need to seek immediate legal help to review or revise the family's current estate and tax plan: 

    • Serious or life threatening illness
    • Illness or death of a spouse
    • Contemplation of marriage, or remarriage
    • Birth, death or illness of parent, sibling, child or grandchild
    • Disability of parent, sibling, child, grandchild, or a dependant or handicapped dependant that may require special considerations or a special needs trust
    • Marriage or divorce of a child or grandchild
    • Your chosen Health Care Agents can no longer serve
    • Business has grown (or declined) significantly in the last few years
    • Personal net worth has grown (or declined) significantly in last few years.
    • Your successor trustee, guardian or administrator moves, becomes ill or changes mind
    • Retirement
    • Move to a new State
    • Buy Property in another state
    • Estate Tax Law Changes
    • You change your mind

    This list is not meant to be all inclusive and are only some of the situations that may require revisions to an estate plan.

    Read more: http://www.rossestateplanning.com

    Monday, March 17, 2014

    Is a Living Will the Same as a Will or a Living Trust?

     Is a Living Will the Same as a Will or a Living Trust?

    This is confusing to many people, and quite understandably so, because the names are so similar. But these are very different documents and they do very different things.

     

    A Will is for Instructions upon your Death.       A Will is a written set of instructions that tells the Probate Court Judge;   who will receive your estate (your property that does not pass by beneficiary designation or joint ownership) after you die; who will raise your children if you die while they're still minors, and your spouse is unavailable to care for them; whether your beneficiaries receive their inheritance outright or in a trust; and who will serve as your personal representative – that is, the person who will pay your bills and taxes and distribute the rest of your estate to your beneficiaries.

     
    A living trust is for financial affairs. It is similar to a traditional will because it gives instructions for the disposition of your assets after you die. But, unlike a traditional will, a living trust also provides instructions in the event you become incapacitated before you die. After a living trust has been established, you transfer your assets to it by changing the titles and beneficiary designations of your assets to your trust. This keeps you, your family and your assets out of the courts if you become incapacitated and avoids probate after you die.
     
    A living will is for medical affairs. It is a document that lets your physician know the kind of life support treatment you would want in case of terminal illness or injury, in the event you cannot otherwise communicate your wishes to your physician. Through your living will you appoint one or more health care “proxies” – people you trust who will communicate your end-of-life decisions to medical personnel. The wording in a living will is short and standard; you can get a copy from your attorney, doctor or hospital. But because the issues can often be confusing, it’s very important that you discuss your options with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.
     
    Living wills have limitations:

    • A living will only addresses the use of life support and artificial nutrition and hydration in the event of a terminal medical condition or irreversible, permanent vegetative state.

    • In some states, they are legally binding—if a doctor or hospital refuses to honor one, they must withdraw from the case. But in other states, they are not legally binding on anyone—if you have one, it is simply an expression of your wishes to your medical care providers.

    • Doctors and hospitals are often reluctant to discontinue any life-sustaining treatment because they have been trained to save lives. If a family member objects to your wishes, it’s almost certain the doctor and hospital will not follow through as you have requested, for fear of being sued by unhappy families.


    As a result of these limitations, many people also now have a durable power of attorney for health care. This document is legally binding and enforceable, and it applies in much broader medical circumstances. It lets you give legal authority to another person (called your health care agent) to make any health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself, and regardless of whether you have a terminal condition or are in a coma.
     
    The critical part of health care planning is to share your thoughts and wishes regarding end-of-life issues not just with your agent, but also with your family, other loved ones and your doctor.


    Tuesday, March 4, 2014

    Don’t Let Failure to Plan Tear Your Family Apart

    An estate is more than just money

    Even if your kids are grown-up with families of their own, you can probably remember scenes of intense sibling rivalry when they were younger. In some families, that competition continues into adulthood; for others, it recedes as children age and mature. But it can all come flooding back while trying to divide up your estate after your death, as your kids argue over who gets what.

    If you die without a will, a court will decide, based on state law, who will inherit your property. In most cases, the result might be contrary to your wishes. Think of all the assets you’ve accumulated: house, car, jewelry, investments, family heirlooms and more. “It is simply not enough to say ‘let them just divide it evenly or work it out themselves,’” says Gerald A. Youngs, president of the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC). This is sure to create problems and expenses due to probate laws, state laws and court appointed strangers making family decisions.

    “While many people worry about the federal estate tax, the truth is most of us won’t have a tax problem under the current tax laws,” says Youngs. “But the ‘family tax’ is a very real concern,” he adds. The family tax is the price paid by children, grandchildren and favorite charities when you do not express your wishes legally. The family tax is paid not only with money, but also with hard feelings.

    But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can make it easy on you and your family by taking a few simple steps to make sure your estate is in order. Whatever the size of your estate, the first step is to have your intentions put in writing, either in a basic will or a will plus the trust documents that will be needed to carry out your wishes. An estate planning professional can help you make the best decision for your situation.

    Once you have a plan in place, discuss it with your family. If anyone has any questions about the details, or any quibbles, you can address them and put to rest any future squabbles. While your family shouldn’t dictate your actions, they should be informed about them.

    This is also a good time to discuss dividing up personal property. I refer to it as the SPECIAL STUFF. Those items that have a story. People often arrange for the executor of their will to divide personal property their spouse doesn’t want (such as furniture and jewelry) among their children. Simply leaving it at that can cause problems. It is better to put together a list with a description of the property (Along with photo's) who you’d like to have it, what is the story  and why did you choose the person you did. You can put this list together with input from your children to alleviate any hard feelings later.

    Putting together an estate plan is not as daunting as it might seem at first, and it pays big dividends in the long run. Not having an estate plan in place can cost you not only in dollars and cents, but also in family discord.

    See Bob Ross' tips for passing your family values, traditions and history on to future generations.


    Archived Posts

    2015
    2014
    2013
    2012
    2011
    2010



    © 2019 Ross Estate Planning | Disclaimer
    218 North 14th Ave, P.O. Box 317, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
    | Phone: 920-743-9117 | 866-743-9117
    2300 Riverside Drive, Green Bay, WI 54301
    | Phone: 920-743-9117 | 866-743-9117

    Overview of Services | Estate Planning | Long Term Care / Nursing Home Planning | Specialty Planning | Trust Administration / Probate | | Resources | About Our Firm

    FacebookGoogle+

    Attorney Website Design by
    Amicus Creative


    Client Login

    LegalVault Acccount
     

    Hospitals

    Healthcare Providers