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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Contingencies create a way out of real estate contracts

You’ve signed the contract and transferred the earnest money, but just how binding is your real estate contract? That depends on the nature of any contingencies built into the agreement. For buyers, such contingencies provide an exit strategy if the house doesn’t live up to initial impressions. Here are some common contingencies that could allow a buyer out of a real estate contract:   * Financing. The buyer may be unable to get financing from his or her lender, or unable to get financing within defined terms. * Appraisal. This is another financing issue that comes into play if the…..

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Tips for choosing your next mortgage lender

Home buyers today have a variety of options when it comes to finding a mortgage lender. They can choose a traditional face-to-face relationship with a lender at their local bank, opt for a mortgage broker who will shop the best deals for them, or go it online with a range of non-bank lenders, such as Quicken Loans, Rocket Mortgage, or Lenda. Be aware, however, that more than a quarter of first-time home buyers regret their choice. According to a mortgage satisfaction study by J.D. Power, 27 percent of first-time buyers and 21 percent of all home buyers wish they had…..

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Pre-litigation claims can be effective in estate tax disputes

Pre-litigation is activity that occurs before a legal suit is filed. If you are involved in an estate transfer and your rights are unclear, pre-litigation may be an effective way to establish your position and head off a more costly legal conflict. Pre-litigation claims are typically made in an effort to get the other party to back down or engage in negotiations. This process may be the first step in claiming a will or trust is invalid, challenging a premarital agreement, or charging that an executor is engaged in misconduct. In a much-publicized conflict over the estate of former “Growing…..

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How to leave your home to the kids

Deciding when and how to relinquish the family home can be one of the most challenging issues seniors face. For many, a home is their most valuable asset and a cornerstone of the wealth they’d like to transfer to their family. If you’re one of AARP’s estimated 87 percentage of older adults who wants to stay at home and “age in place,” you may be planning to stay put as long as possible with the goal of transferring your house to your heirs after you die. Here is a review of the ways you can go about leaving your home…..

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Proposed regulations curtailing valuation discounts withdrawn

The Treasury Department and the IRS have announced that proposed regulations that would have drastically limited valuation discounts for transfers of family businesses are being withdrawn. The regulations would have curbed valuation discounts commonly used when family business owners transfer minority shares to other family members. The withdrawal means that family business owners will still be able to transfer a portion of their business to their children while applying valuation discounts. Primarily, those discounts include adjustments for lack of control and lack of marketability. Proponents argued that such valuation discounts are fair and legitimate because a minority transfer does not…..

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Home sellers relinquish control after a sale

If you sell your home, the new owners can paint the house pink, tear out the stone wall your grandfather built, and cut down the maple tree you carved your initials in. Once you sell your home, there’s pretty much nothing you can do to prevent the new owners from making changes. Even if you try to stipulate certain provisions prior to a sale, such conditions aren’t usually enforceable in a court of law. That said, neighborhood associations can pass certain covenants and restrictions that limit changes such as house color, additions and landscaping. These conditions typically do hold up…..

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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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