Estate Planning At Any Age

Estate Planning At Any Age

By definition, estate planning is a process designed to help you manage and preserve your assets while you are alive, and to conserve and control their distribution after your death according to your goals and objectives. But what estate planning means to you specifically depends on who you are. Your age, health, wealth, lifestyle, life stage, goals, and many other factors determine your particular estate planning needs. For example, you may have a small estate and may be concerned only that certain people receive particular things. A simple will is probably all you’ll need. Or, you may have a large estate, and minimizing any potential estate tax impact is your foremost goal. Here, you’ll need to use more sophisticated techniques in your estate plan, such as a trust. To help you understand what estate planning means to you, the following sections address some estate planning needs that are common among some very broad groups of individuals. Think of these suggestions as simply a point in the right direction, and then seek professional advice to implement the right plan for you. Over 18 Since incapacity can strike anyone at anytime, all adults over 18 should consider having: A durable power of attorney: This document lets you name someone to manage your property for you in case you become incapacitated and cannot do so. An advanced medical directive: The three main types of advanced medical directives are (1) a living will, (2) a durable power of attorney for health care (also known as a health-care proxy), and (3) a Do Not Resuscitate order. Be aware that not all states allow each...
Two Secrets to a Confident Retirement

Two Secrets to a Confident Retirement

Original Blog Post From DaveRamsey.com Does the thought of retirement leave you with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? If so, you’re not alone. Retirement took top billing in a recent Gallup poll of financial concerns, with 59% of Americans worried that their nest egg will fall short. Your golden years have the potential to be the best of your life. Don’t let fear sidetrack your dreams. If retirement stress is getting you down, take heart—then take control with these two steps. Secret 1: Get In the Game Every sports fan knows you can’t score points from the sidelines. Sure, there’s no risk of injury or embarrassment when you’re a spectator—but there’s also no opportunity for glory. If you want to win, you’ve got to get off the bench and in the game! Retirement’s no different. Choosing to stay out of the stock market because you can’t predict its every move—or don’t know all the plays—is a sure way to end up with a goose egg in your golden years. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, workers who participated in a retirement plan were more than twice as confident in their ability to retire comfortably as those with no plan at all. So stop worrying and start investing! Just make sure you’re debt-free with three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund first. You’ll get the most bang for your investing buck when you free up your biggest wealth-building tool—your income.   Secret 2: Give It Your Best Shot With so many factors to consider, getting retirement right can feel like trying to...
The ABC’s of 529 Plans

The ABC’s of 529 Plans

If you’re already saving for college, you’ve probably heard about 529 plans. 529 plans are revolutionizing the way parents and grandparents save for college, similar to the way 401(k) plans revolutionized retirement savings. Americans are pouring billions of dollars into 529 plans, and contributions are expected to increase dramatically in the coming decade. Where did these plans come from, and what makes them so attractive? The history of 529 plans Congress created Section 529 plans in 1996 in a piece of legislation that had little to do with saving for college–the Small Business Job Protection Act. The law on 529 plans was later refined in 1997 by the Taxpayer Relief Act, in 2001 by the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, and in 2006 by the Pension Protection Act. In this short period, 529 plans have emerged as one of the top ways to save for college. Section 529 plans are officially known as qualified tuition programs under federal law. The reason “529 plan” is commonly used is because 529 is the section of the Internal Revenue Code that governs their operation. What exactly is a 529 plan? A 529 plan is a college savings vehicle that has federal tax advantages. There are two types of 529 plans: college savings plans and prepaid tuition plans. Though college savings plans and prepaid tuition plans share the same federal tax advantages, there are important differences between them. College savings plans College savings plans let you save money for college in an individual investment account. These plans are run by the states, which typically designate an experienced financial institution to manage...
Four Money Mistakes You Might Be Making

Four Money Mistakes You Might Be Making

Three years after the economic crisis led many Americans to re-evaluate their financial picture, economic uncertainty is still the norm. While there’s little you can do about the shaky economy, you can help stabilize your own finances over the long term by evaluating what you’re doing right … and wrong. There’s no guarantee, but avoiding these four money mistakes may help you survive and ultimately thrive in any turbulent economy. Mistake 1: Jumping on the bandwagon Are you letting economic news–good or bad–control your financial decisions? For example, are you selling gold because you’ve heard that prices are at record highs or buying real estate because you’ve heard that prices are at record lows? Have you decided to pull most of your money out of the stock market because you’ve seen headlines warning of a possible financial crisis? Unless you’re basing your decisions on your own needs and circumstances rather than on the opinions or actions of others, you can’t be sure you’re doing what’s right for you. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to your finances, no matter what economic news you’re hearing or what other investors are doing. Revisit your tolerance for risk and your own financial goals, and try to prepare yourself for a variety of scenarios. Avoid basing money decisions on emotion, or you may find yourself facing unanticipated consequences down the road. Mistake 2: Only saving what’s left over Do you continue to worry that you’re not saving enough? Do you routinely rely on credit rather than cash to pay for the things you want or need?...