Password sharing presents risks for family and fiduciaries

Keeping careful records of the usernames and passwords for your online accounts and sharing them with a trusted family member or agent may seem like the start of a responsible estate plan. But you need to be aware of the risks for those you empower with the information. Even with your permission, fiduciaries (executors, trustees, conservators), agents and family members who manage assets as part of your estate plan could be committing a federal crime by accessing your online account with your password. That’s because most terms of service agreements governing websites or online accounts specify that passwords not be…..

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Are LLCs your best option for asset protection? Know the risks

Limited liability companies can offer better asset protection than ordinary stock corporations, but there are potential adverse economic and tax results if investors are not alert. Investors increasingly use LLCs to operate a trade or business, to hold real estate or to hold other investment assets, as opposed to state law corporations. But when investors transfer LLC interests to a spouse, children, trust or others, as opposed to ordinary corporate stock, they can risk losing control of the business or decreasing the basis for heirs — with a corresponding increase in the beneficiary’s income tax. An LLC owner or “member”…..

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What millennials need to know about estate planning

A recent survey by senior-living focused website Caring.com, quoted in USA Today, revealed that 78 percent of Americans under the age of 36 don’t have a will or trust in place. But even with youth on their side, the millennial generation needs to be planning for the unforeseen. If most would consider the following three issues, they’d be off to a good start: Incapacitation provisions: No one expects to be incapacitated, but there are at least two documents needed in the event that occurs. The first is a durable power of attorney that identifies who will make financial decisions on…..

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Protect your power of attorney from legislative changes

Medical and financial powers of attorney are a critical aspect of effective estate planning, but did you know they must be kept up to date? It is recommended to have them reviewed every 2-3 years. Several legislative changes over the years have given financial institutions and healthcare providers reasons to reject powers of attorney. As new laws are enacted, necessary provisions must be incorporated into your power of attorney, as failing to including certain language could mean your documents will not be accepted. Notable issues include: Your medical power of attorney was executed prior to your state adopting the Uniform…..

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Learn from celebrities’ estate planning blunders

There are many lessons to be learned about estate planning from the bad experiences of some of the world’s most famous people. The AARP recently gathered their stories, and here are the highlights: Florence Griffith Joyner: Before her death in 1998, Olympic gold medalist Florence Griffith Joyner never told anyone the location of her will. Without the original document, it took four years to close her probate estate due to a long battle among her relatives. Lesson learned: Don’t keep the location of your will a secret. Prince: When Prince died in 2016 he left no will. Now a Minnesota…..

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How to sell your rented investment property

Are you ready to sell that investment property, but unsure what to do because it’s currently being rented? You have options, but first you need to understand the legal restrictions on selling a property while a tenant is renting it. Most states do not see selling the property as a valid enough reason to terminate a lease agreement early. So if there is still a set term on the lease, you may need to wait the tenant out before selling. Otherwise you can offer to pay him or her to vacate early. For tenants on a month-to-month lease, be sure…..

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Why more millennials are opting for adjustable-rate mortgages

Cash-strapped millennials looking to keep interest-rate costs down are opting for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) instead of the more traditionally popular fixed-rate mortgages. ARMs are particularly attractive for young homeowners who do not plan to retain property long term. Experts say the best way to select an ARM is to match the fixed period to the time the buyer plans to be in the home. For example, millennials planning to move where their jobs take them within a few years might find a 3/1 ARM provides a rate advantage in the short term. Know a millennial thinking of trying an ARM?…..

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When can a tenant legally withhold rent?

Although it’s never ideal, sometimes it may become necessary to withhold rent until problems with a rental unit are corrected. Tenants need to be very careful when doing so. A tenant must provide notice and be sure to follow state or local laws. Not following the rules can lead to an eviction for failing to pay rent. First, always give the landlord a reasonable opportunity to fix any problems. But if you have repairs that need to be made and your landlord refuses to make them, or won’t even return your call, eventually withholding rent may be an option. Unless…..

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Precautions to take before starting a home-improvement project

You’ve selected the right contractor, picked out the materials and set aside the necessary budget. It might seem like you’re ready to embark on that home-improvement project. But have you contacted your insurance agent? Experts recommend that homeowners get in touch with their insurance agent before a home-improvement project to make sure they have sufficient coverage, and after the project is done to see if policy limits need to be increased to provide for enough insurance to rebuild the home. Some projects, such as replacing a roof or installing impact-resistant windows, may even qualify you for an insurance discount. If…..

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Weigh the risks in contractor disputes

Construction projects can get tense, and when a dispute arises mid-project it takes some finesse to maintain working relationships or at least get the project done. It’s always best to bring up any concerns right away and see if by talking it out you and the contractor can find resolution. Often contractors will be willing to redo work, or make changes to completed work, for a discounted price. That can be the most cost effective way to resolve an issue, and can also help keep your project close to the original timeline, as the contractor will want to maintain the…..

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