When sellers leave their junk behind

Ever toured a home and gotten a sneaking suspicion that the sellers were going to leave a lot of useless junk? If the seller intentionally leaves personal property behind, it could be considered “abandoned.” That means you now own all that stuff, and you’re on the hook for cleaning it out. To prevent that from happening, it’s a good idea to include language requiring sellers to be out of the house by a certain period of time prior to closing. Stipulate that all personal property, garbage and debris not included in the sale must be removed by that deadline. If…..

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Biden administration has big plans for nation’s housing market

Last fall, the Biden campaign put forward an ambitious housing agenda designed to eliminate housing insecurity for millions of Americans. The plan received little election-time focus or debate, and that relative inattention, pundits say, could make the proposals more “politically feasible” to initiate. Here’s a recap of the major themes: Expand the housing choice voucher program: Biden’s plan is to make Section 8 housing vouchers available to every family who qualifies. Currently, only 1 in 5 eligible households receives assistance because the pool of federal dollars is too small. Expand affordable housing: Biden’s campaign plan includes a $100 billion affordable-housing…..

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Foreclosures, short sales may rise post-pandemic

Real estate analysts are struggling to predict how the pandemic will affect the housing market. Many experts are forecasting a post-pandemic spike in foreclosures and short sales once forbearance programs have expired. At the end of 2020, an estimated 2.8 million homeowners had mortgages in forbearance, according to Black Knight, a mortgage analytics company. Forbearance agreements allow homeowners to suspend their payments without penalties. While borrowers have permission to miss payments, these loans are still considered delinquent. But what happens once forbearance programs expire? While lenders can’t require borrowers to make the back payments in one single lump sum, they…..

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Helping your children buy a house

As home prices rise, many young homebuyers need assistance to get into the market. More than a quarter (27%) of homebuyers between the ages of 22 and 29 funded their down payment with cash gifts from family, according to a 2020 report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Parents have a number of options when it comes to helping their children purchase a home, but various arrangements have tax and legal implications. Here are some possible scenarios: Gifting a down payment: In 2021, the gift tax exclusion is $15,000 per recipient, per taxpayer, per year. That means that you…..

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SEC expands accredited investor definition

In order to participate directly in private equity markets, individuals must meet the Security Exchange Commission’s definition of an “accredited investor.” Now, new rules have expanded that definition, opening a few more opportunities for investment in private equity and hedge funds. Previously, requirements were based largely on financial status. An individual needed an annual income of at least $200,000 (or $300,000 combined with a spouse) and a net worth of at least $1 million, not including one’s primary residence, to qualify. Effective late last year, the SEC ruled that investors who can demonstrate a certain level of professional knowledge or…..

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Moving? Remember to unpack that estate plan

There’s a lot to think about when you move. In all the hustle and work of a relocation, certain things can get forgotten. Once you have the utilities on and the boxes unpacked, it’s time to have your estate planning documents reviewed by an attorney in your new home state. Here’s a list of updates that might be needed: Estate taxes: Currently, 12 states and the District of Columbia have state-specific inheritance or estate taxes. Your estate plans may have been drafted to address local taxes which no longer apply. You could wind up with an unexpected tax bill or…..

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Don’t shut me down: Planning for digital assets

In a world gone increasingly remote, managing your digital assets has become an even more important part of estate planning. From email accounts to digital photos and cloud-based storage, almost everyone owns some kind of digital asset. Terms-of-service agreements and privacy policies govern these accounts and generally expire when you die. That means surviving family members may not be able to access your email, photos, social media accounts, etc. However, emerging laws are providing a legal path for your executors to manage these assets. These laws also provide a framework to allow tech company “custodians” (e.g. Facebook, Google, or Apple)…..

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Demands for wills surged during pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a rise in estate planning, and yet too many Americans still aren’t planning ahead. Last spring, news reports were rife with stories of advisors experiencing a surge in demand for wills and estate planning. Power of attorney and health care directives were also a focus, as people made decisions about who could access their medical and financial records and who could make decisions on their behalf. The Q4 Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index showed that close to half of investors have neither a will nor an estate plan. About a third say they have…..

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Looking towards estate planning changes under new administration

Tax changes are expected under the new administration. We don’t know how quickly President Joe Biden will move to enact his tax proposals, or whether the Democrats’ thin margin in Congress will be a moderating force. Many analysts believe that economic recovery will be the administration’s first priority, meaning we might not see immediate action. But the pandemic has required high levels of government spending that could accelerate demand for tax increases. Now is the time to be talking with an estate planning attorney to review potential tax changes and consider whether you want to implement certain strategies sooner rather…..

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Final Rules Issued for ‘Opportunity Zones’

The Treasury Department recently issued final regulations regarding investments in so-called opportunity zones. The Qualified Opportunity Zone program, which offers tax incentives for investing in economically blighted communities, was created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Investment vehicles known as Opportunity Zone Funds allow investors to defer capital gains for up to 10 years, and possibly receive greater tax advantages, when they reinvest capital gains (from any investment, such as stocks, real estate or business interests) into census tracts designated opportunity zones. (There are 8,700 opportunity zones under the law.) As of this year, opportunity-zone investments are no…..

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