Tag Archives: Estate Planning

One thing you should do when putting your affairs in order

A friend sent this to me the other day.  I thought it was worth sharing.

The doctor, after an examination, sighed and said, “I’ve got some bad news.
You have cancer, and you’d best put your affairs in order.”

The woman was shocked, but managed to compose herself and walk into the waiting room where her daughter was waiting.

‘Well, my dear daughter, we women celebrate when things are good, and we celebrate when things don’t go so well.

In this case, things aren’t well. I have cancer. So, let’s head to the club and have a martini.’

After 3 or 4 martinis, the two were feeling a little less somber. There were some laughs and more martinis.

They were eventually approached by some of the woman’s old friends, who were curious as to what the two were celebrating.

The woman told her friends they were drinking to her impending end, ‘I’ve been diagnosed with AIDS.’   The friends were aghast, gave the woman their condolences and beat a hasty retreat.

After the friends left, the woman’s daughter leaned over and whispered, ‘Momma, I thought you said you were dying of cancer, and you just told your friends you were dying of AIDS! Why did you do that?’

‘Because I don’t want any of those bitches sleeping with your father after I’m gone.’

And THAT, my friends, is what is called, ‘Putting Your Affairs In Order.’

Actually, she could protect her money by setting up a trust to ensure that her children got her money, not her husband’s new sweetie.   But it’s still a good story,

For more information about estate planning, wills and trusts, go to www.diesmart.com.

Is there an unclaimed life insurance policy in your future?

I came across an old article in the New York Times about this topic and thought it worth reviewing. 

When someone who purchased a life insurance policy dies, the amount due to the beneficiary is set aside and the insurance company waits to be contacted by that person.  After a period of time from two to seven years (it varies by state) has passed with no one coming forward, the money is turned over to the unclaimed property division of the state in which the person died. 

Since many people do not know whether a family member who died purchased a life insurance policy in their name, hundreds of millions of dollars go unclaimed.  In fact, New York alone, in the period 2000 to a few years ago, received more than $400 million in unclaimed life insurance property and only paid out about $64 million.  That means the bulk of that property remains unclaimed and probably will never be claimed.

If a family member has died and you think he or she might have had a life insurance policy, the first thing to do is to check for any payment receipts or check stubs so you can identify the name of the insurance company.  Contact that company, ask what their procedure is for filing a claim and then follow their instructions. 

If a great deal of time has lapsed, two good places to start are unclaimed.org and MissingMoney.com.  If they have no record of any funds, check the website for the unclaimed property department of the state in which the person died. 

Don’t leave your money in the state’s coffers.  Claim the funds due to you today.

For information about estate planning and other relevant topics, go to www.diesmart.com.

One week to be aware of – National Estate Planning Awareness Week

The week of October 21st is National Estate Planning Awareness Week.  It’s a good time to think about what you want to have happen to your estate when you die.   It really all boils down to how you’ve titled your property and who actually owns what.

There’s a really good article by Julie Garber  that sums it up and gives you specifics to think about.  Read it, decide what you want to do and get started.  You never know what the future will bring and it’s best to be prepared.

For more estate planning information, go to www.diesmart.com.

 

 

 

 

DOMA – It’s defeat causes more tax headaches

Reuters article - DOMA and taxes 7-23-13

If you live in a state that recognizes gay marriage, you are entitled to federal tax breaks that other married couples get.  However, if you have business income from a state that doesn’t recognize same sex marriage, you’ve got a problem.

This week, Reuters published an article about a married California couple, Jeremy and Randy.   They don’t know how to report the business income Randy gets from Florida – a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage.

The chief of the IRS, Danny Werfel, was quoted as saying that the IRS hopes to publish rules that will address issues like this one as soon as possible.  But there are more than 200 tax code references to marriage that have to be evaluated before this can happen.

Do you think the couple should get tax breaks based on income earned in a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage?  Let us know what you think.

For information about other financial matters like estate planning, go to our website, diesmart.com.

5 things you should know before you agree to be an executor

When my father died ten years ago and I found out he had named me as his executor, I thought “Okay.  It’s no big deal.”  Was I ever wrong!  I didn’t realize how much time, effort and frustration would be necessary to get everything settled. And I didn’t know that I would also have to be a detective.

 AARP recently published an article that listed five questions you should ask yourself before you agree to become an executor.   You might feel flattered if asked but think carefully about the questions and be sure it’s something you’re comfortable taking on.

1.  Do you have the time to take on this project?  When I started the process, I didn’t realize that it would be more than a year before my dad’s estate would be settled and that, during that year, getting all of the paperwork done and answering all of the government’s questions would often feel like a full time job.

2.  Do you have the skills to handle the process?  You have to be very organized and good with numbers.  Keeping massive spread sheets and tracking all of the paperwork nearly drove me crazy.

3.  Do you have the temperament to deal with all of the details?  I am a fairly calm, easy going person but I found myself getting very frustrated when confronted by people who made ridiculous demands.  One example I can remember is when the state of New Jersey (where my father died) asked me to sign a bunch of papers in black ink, get them notarized and send them in.  I did that and was shocked when I received a letter from a government office saying that I needed to resign them in blue ink, get them notarized again and send them back.  I did it and got one more letter.  It told me that I had not completed the forms correctly.  Believe it or not, it the letter said that the forms needed to be signed in black ink! 

4.  Do you know the rules of the state in which the estate is being settled?  Estate rules are very complex and I ended up hiring an attorney to help me get everything processed correctly.  Many people take this step after realizing what is involved.  For example, if you incorrectly declare the value of the estate, there can be legal repercussions, not just for the estate but for you as well.

5.  Can you afford to be the executor of the estate?  I lived in California and my dad died in New Jersey.  Some things just couldn’t be handled by phone; this necessitated a few expensive trips back and forth across the country.  And it’s not just the money.  What’s your time worth?  Can you afford to handle this job for nothing?  In some states, executors are permitted to charge a fee that is a percentage of the value of the estate.  However, since this money comes out of the estate, taking a fee may cause conflict with family members.

If you agree to be an executor, be prepared to devote a great deal of time to the project.  Be patient and don’t let little things get to you.  Stay organized and check every detail.  You will get through settling the estate…eventually.

For more information about estate planning and settling an estate, go to www.diesmart.com.