Four provisions people forget to include in their estate plan

Even if you’ve created an estate plan, are you sure you have included everything you need to? There are certain provisions that people frequently forget to put in in a will or estate plan that can have a big impact on their heirs. 1. Alternate beneficiaries One of the most important things an estate plan should include is at least one alternative beneficiary in case the named beneficiary does not outlive you or is unable to claim under the will. If a will names a beneficiary who isn’t able to take possession of the property, your assets may pass as…..

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How Medicare and employer coverage coordinate

Medicare benefits start at age 65, but many people continue working past that age. That makes it important to understand how Medicare and employer coverage fit together. Depending on your circumstances, Medicare is either the primary or the secondary insurer. The primary insurer pays any medical bills first, up to the limits of its coverage. The secondary insurer covers costs the primary insurer doesn’t cover (although it may not cover all costs). Knowing whether Medicare is primary or secondary to your current coverage is crucial because it determines whether you need to sign up for Medicare Part B when you…..

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Use your will to dictate how to pay your debts

The main purpose of a will is to direct where your assets will go after you die, but it can also be used to instruct your heirs on how to pay your debts. While generally heirs cannot inherit debt, an estate’s debt can reduce what they receive. Spelling out how debt should be paid can help your heirs. If someone dies with outstanding debt, the executor is responsible for making sure those debts are paid. This may require selling assets that you would have preferred to leave to specific heirs. There are two types of debts you might leave behind:…..

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Proving the hardship exception to the Medicaid penalty period

If you transfer assets within five years of applying for Medicaid, you will likely be subject to a period of ineligibility. There is an exception, however, if enforcing the penalty period would cause the applicant an “undue hardship.” This exception is difficult to prove and rarely granted, but it may be available in certain circumstances. Under federal Medicaid law, the state Medicaid agency must determine whether an applicant transferred any assets for less than fair market value within the past five years. If there are any transfers, the state imposes a penalty period, which is a period of time in which the…..

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Family dispute illustrates need for long-term care plan

A recent New Jersey court case demonstrates how important it is for families to come up with a long-term care plan before an emergency strikes. The case involved two brothers who got into a fight over whether to place their mother in a nursing home. R.G. was the primary caregiver for his parents, as well as their agent under powers of attorney. After R.G.’s mother fell ill, R.G. wanted to place her in a nursing home. R.G.’s brother objected, but R.G. went ahead and had his mother admitted to a nursing home without his brother’s consent. R.G.’s brother sent angry…..

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Zoning laws challenge tiny-home owners

Tiny-home building shows may be all the rage on TV, but these programs rarely explore one big hurdle that comes with tiny-home ownership: Where on earth should you put it? In many areas, zoning regulations prohibit temporary accommodations such as RVs, mobile homes, and their new close cousins, tiny houses. Zoning laws may require minimum square footage for homes, may prohibit portable structures, or may limit what’s known as “accessory dwelling units,” such as small houses placed in the backyard of an existing home. In other cases, tiny house owners may find themselves simply priced out of a home site…..

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Landlords bound by lease agreements, too

While it’s common knowledge that a tenant must pay rent on time, keep utilities the running, and adhere to various other lease provisions (e.g. routine maintenance, limits on pets and guests), it’s also true that landlords must abide by lease agreements. Some landlords may attempt to violate a lease agreement by asking tenants to leave prior to the contracted lease period, failing to make certain repairs, violating health and safety conditions, or otherwise making the property inhabitable. If a landlord fails to live up to a lease agreement and provide a habitable space, tenants may find recourse by reporting violations…..

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Your mortgage is my mortgage: How parents are financing a child’s home

With all-cash offers dominating the housing market in some highly competitive cities, first-time homebuyers are finding themselves shut out of negotiations, particularly for the more affordable and in-demand starter homes. Saving enough for a down payment and closing costs has always been a challenge for young home buyers. But in tight real estate markets, the old standby of 20 percent down with a traditional mortgage loan isn’t enough to win a home. These kids might once have looked to mom or dad for help with a down payment, but now they’re approaching their parents with a much bigger request: enough…..

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Tips for choosing your executor

Choosing your executor, who will administer your estate and carry out your final wishes, may be one of the most important decisions you make when preparing your will. Before you name someone, get his approval and make sure he feels up to the task. An executor’s responsibilities including filing court papers to start probate and validate the will, inventorying the estate, notifying banks and government agencies, sorting out finances, maintaining all property until it’s distributed or sold, filing a final tax return, and distributing assets. Depending on the size and nature of your estate, this work can seem like a…..

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Communicate with your kids before leaving unequal assets

When it comes to leaving money to the kids, some parents struggle to reconcile “equal” with “fair.” An equal inheritance treats each child the same, regardless of life situation or special circumstances. On the other hand, sometimes an unequal distribution can seem like the fairest thing to do, given a child’s age, financial wherewithal, or previous track record. To avoid unpleasant surprises and contentious family squabbles, be transparent about your plans and talk with your children ahead of time. That helps children understand your point of view and gives them an opportunity to share concerns or life issues you may…..

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