Thursday, July 27, 2017

Irrevocable Vs Revocable Trust


Establishing a living trust is critical to the ability to protect your assets and beneficiaries when you die. But many people don't know that there are two types of trusts - irrevocable trusts and revocable trusts. With irrevocable trusts, the grantor's assets are moved out of the estate. In a revocable trust, assets stay in the grantor's estate. There are advantages to each type depending on the grantor's specific circumstances. Here is a rundown on the differences between the two types of trusts.

Irrevocable Trust

Most people are unaware of the advantages that this type of trust provides:

  • Asset Protection - Moves assets out of the grantor's hands, keeping it safe from lawsuits or creditors. A trustee has the power to make decisions with or without the input of the grantor.
  • No Estate Taxes - Many people are attracted to these trusts because they are protected from federal estate taxes.
  • No Capital Gains Taxes - A skilled lawyer will be able to move assets into irrevocable trusts so as to avoid capital gains taxes. This cannot occur with revocable trust.

Before placing assets into this type of trust, make sure that the grantor will never need them. While it is possible to retrieve assets, it is very difficult and time consuming.

Revocable Trust

Most people have an idea of what this type of trust is. Grantors without complicated tax issues that want to still maintain control over their assets, often choose to have a this trust.

  • Mental Disability - Individuals who fear that they will one day be incapacitated, may want to designate a trustee to handle their assets which can include extensive instructions that the trustee must carry out. This is called a Disability Trustee.
  • To Protect Beneficiaries and Property - Keeps your property and assets out of probate. This ensures that your documents stay private and out of the public record. If privacy is important to you, consider a Revocable Living Trust as opposed to a Last Will and Testament which becomes a matter of public record that can be seen by anyone.
  • To Avoid Probate - Assets at the time of a person's death will pass directly to the beneficiaries named in the trust agreement and avoid probate.
  • For Flexibility - These types of trusts can be changed. If you have a second thought about a particular item or beneficiary, you can modify the document through a trust amendment. If you don't like the trust as a whole, then you can revoke the entire document.
Word of Caution: These trusts offer not creditor protection. If the asset holder is sued, the items in the trust are fair game. Upon your death, those assets will be subject to federal and state estate taxes.


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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Three Lessons on Durable Powers of Attorney


Durable Powers of attorney are an essential ingredient in a complete estate plan, which allow for continued financial management in the event of incapacity. Under a durable power of attorney, an attorney in fact makes financial decisions on behalf of the principal. The attorney in fact can be given broad and sweeping powers. Conversely, powers granted by a durable power of attorney can be limited to particular assets or powers. Accordingly, the level of control given to the attorney in fact should reflect the particular requirements of the estate as well as the principal's comfort with a broad grant of authority. In this article, the author teaches three lessons on effective execution and implementation of durable powers of attorney.

First Lesson: Why would I Need One Now?

The legality of durable powers of attorney stems from the law of agency. Under agency law principals, an individual with capacity may give an agent powers-to contract, to represent the principal or to revoke or amend a trust, for instance. In the case of a non-durable power, the agency terminates upon the principal's incapacity. Durable powers survive incapacity, but the principal must have capacity at the time of execution in order to effect a valid power. Accordingly, executing a durable power of attorney for financial management should be done prior to incapacity.

Waiting until one becomes unable to coherently express one's wishes with regards to financial management decisions is too late, and a court-appointed conservatorship may become necessary. What about the successor trustee designated in my trust, or the executor of my will? Would they be able to step in? Since the principal does not die at incapacity, only an attorney in fact designated under a properly executed power of attorney may step in to make financial management decisions. A last-minute durable power of attorney executed during incapacity would not survive a court challenge, however expensive or damaging the result.

Second Lesson: Consider making the Power Immediately Effective

Often, unwary estate planners will execute "springing durable powers of attorney," which only become effective upon the incapacity of the principal. Incapacity is determined according to a test set out in the power, such as a determination made by a medical doctor or a court rendered decision. But who wants to go through the expense, difficulty, and uncertainty of initiating a legal procedure to determine incapacity? Isn't one of the goals of estate planning to prevent unnecessary expense and delay? Moreover, doctors frequently hesitate to make determinations of incapacity because of liability they may face.

In most cases, a better strategy would be to execute an immediately effective durable power of attorney, which gives an attorney in fact the power to make decisions on behalf of the principal without any finding of incapacity. Many are fearful of an immediately effective power of attorney, reasoning that no one should be given such power over their financial affairs unless they are totally incompetent. If they have such a lack of trust for the attorney in fact, why are they executing a power of attorney in the first place? One would think that even more trust would be required when the principal is incompetent and has little influence over the attorney in fact. Finally, simple measures can be taken to avoid disasters before incapacity. Consider sealing a copy of the durable power of attorney in an envelope labeled "do not open until my incapacity." In addition to oral instructions, this can help to avoid the scenario of a run-away attorney in fact who uses the power of attorney to access financial accounts before incapacity.

Third Lesson: What powers should the Attorney-in-Fact be given?

The powers given to an attorney in fact depend upon the principal's desires and the particular concerns that stem from the types of assets held. The durable power of attorney should be coordinated with the will, trust and advance health care directive to ensure that they do not contradict each other. Namely, should the attorney in fact have the power to create trusts? To rescind or amend existing trusts? Should the attorney in fact have a power to make gifts to himself or to others? These powers can help ensure that preparation for long term care (medical) or tax planning can take place even after incapacity. Before executing a power of attorney, individuals should be fully informed of the powers that they are granting, and the possible consequences of such sweeping grants of power. In all cases, it's best to consult with an attorney who can advise on specific risks.

Conclusion

Durable Powers of Attorney are one of the five essential documents in estate planning discussed in this article series. Unlike a will or trust, which mostly deals with decisions that are made upon one's death, the durable power of attorney deals with life-time financial management and estate planning questions. Individuals should be aware of the risk in waiting to execute the power of attorney; the hazards of "springing" powers; the range of powers that can be given to the attorney in fact; and the risks associated with a sweeping grant of authority to the attorney in fact. --

This article is intended to provide general information about estate planning strategies and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney. Treasury regulations require a disclaimer that to the extent this article concerns tax matters, it is not intended to be used and cannot be used by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/John_C._Martin/176675

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Features of a Revocable Living Trust


Financial advisor Ric Edelman discusses why a revocable living trust is a key part in the estate planning process.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Tax Benefits of a Limited Liability Company


A limited liability company, or LLC, is one of the most popular business entities today but also one of the newest. An LLC is unique in that it's a pass-through entity. The IRS does not consider an LLC a legal separate entity in terms of taxation, so all business income, losses, and expenses are "passed through" to individual owners to report on their personal income tax returns.

By default, a single member (or single owner) LLC is taxed as a sole proprietorship. An LLC with more than one member is taxed as a partnership by default. There are many tax advantages (as well as drawbacks) to forming an LLC instead of a corporation.

Flexible Taxation

One of the biggest benefits to forming an LLC is you can choose how you are taxed. This is one of the lesser understood advantages of a limited liability company. When you file your taxes, you can choose to file as a "disregarded entity" and get the default tax treatment or you can choose corporate tax treatment. If you choose the corporation taxation structure, your business will be taxed at a much lower corporate rate on the first $75,000 in income. Keep in mind an LLC's tax rate is completely dependent on the owner's income. If you have higher income, you will likely pay lower tax rates by choosing corporate treatment.

Lease Assets

With a limited liability company, you can lease your personal assets to the company. This means you can run your LLC from your home office and have the LLC leasing the office from you. Doing so means you are creating a business expense that you may be able to write off while improving your personal financial situation. This is a tricky area, however, as the expenses must be legitimate business expenses and you will need a formal lease agreement in place.

No Double Taxation

Corporations are subject to something known as double taxation, which means a corporation first pays taxes at the corporate level then again on income from dividends that are distributed to owners. LLC owners are not subject to double taxation; business income is reported on your personal income tax return and taxed once.

Tax Disadvantages

While there are certainly tax benefits to an LLC, there are drawbacks as well. LLC owners are required to pay taxes on their distributive share of the company's profit, even if they do not receive the distribution because the money stays with the business. Corporate owners are not required to pay taxes on business profits unless the profits are distributed (usually as dividends).

Finally, as an LLC owner, you will also be required to pay self-employment taxes, even if you are a single member LLC. Corporate owners who work as employees of the company, meanwhile, only pay half of this tax amount on their salaries while the corporation pays the rest.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Christine_Layton

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Advance Directives: A Need for All Ages



Emergencies or a health care crisis can happen at any time, and the time to think about how you would want your medical care is now.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Ever Considered an LLC?


There are no hard and fast rules as to what is the best way to structure a business, and naturally, the decision will be based on your own individual circumstances. But there are certain pros and cons to each business structure that you should be aware of, as there are certain rules that regulate the way business may be conducted in the U. S.

Strategy - Consider converting your business to a Limited Liability Company to avoid personal exposure to business liability.

Sole Proprietorship and Partnerships do not offer owner(s) protection from business debts, whereas Corporations do.

For this reason alone, you should consider forming your business entity as a Corporation - to provide the owner(s) "1st Level" protection from business creditors. Of course, this only applies to debt that has not been "personally guaranteed" by any business owners.

This same level of protection can also be accomplished, without incorporation, using a "Limited Liability Company" (LLC). A "Limited Liability Company" is taxed as a partnership form of organization-using a Form 1065, (or as a corporation, using a Corporate Tax form) and issuing K-l (Form 1065) Schedules to each owner.

This is the newest method of structuring a business and is a fairly recent innovation. An LLC is like a Sole Proprietorship; however it provides the same protection from liabilities as that of a "C" or "S" corporation. In fact, this structure allows you to elect to be treated as a corporation without having to deal with the formalities of a corporation.

If there is only one owner, you can file and be taxed as a Sole Proprietorship. If there are two or more owners, you will be taxed as a partnership.

Here's why you may want to consider using the LLC form of business organization.

Advantages

· Limits liability just like a regular corporation.

· One person can own the LLC, which eliminates the need to file a separate tax return.

· Other entities such as a C Corp, trust, or partnership can own an LLC.

· Does not require the formal meetings and documentation of a "C" or "S" corporation.

· Tax filing and other paper work is simple and inexpensive.

· You can claim all the same tax advantages of Sole Proprietorship and partnerships.You don't have to hold shareholder meetings or keep meeting notes.

· Management control need not be proportional to ownership.

The advantages of a "Limited Liability Company" over an "S" Corporation form of business organization are as follows:

· An "LLC" is not limited to 100 owners;

· An "LLC" allows foreign individuals to be owners, and

· An "LLC" cannot have its status revoked if it engages in real estate activities.

Disadvantages

· The major disadvantage of an LLC is that it does not provide a FICA tax break like an "S Corporation" does (except in the case of hiring a spouse or children... their salary is not subject to FICA taxes if they are under the age 18).

· The laws which govern an LLC are not uniformly written among the states. Because there is no uniformity between states with regard to the tax treatment of an "LLC", there may exist some potential for exposure to additional liability at your local and/or state level.

Under a "Limited Liability Company" its owners are not called owners or partners, but rather are referred to as "members." Each member enjoys an upper limit on their own personal liability potential in an amount equal to the dollars they personally invested in the "LLC"-just like the liability protection afforded "S" Corporation shareholders.

One final thought on multiple ownerships within partnerships, LLC's or corporations. What happens if you and one other owner in your business do not get along? Bad relationships have resulted in some of the most expensive and protracted legal battles around. This kind of business contention is as bad as a divorce.

Thus, take the following advice:

If you incorporate or structure your business as an LLC and have multiple owners, always set up a "buy-sell" agreement at the launch of your business. This will eliminate a lot of problems you could encounter later. Think of "buy-sell" arrangements as some sort of business prenuptial agreement.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Brad_Gillies

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What Happens During Probate



Probate is the court process that determines whether your will is legally valid. The probate court is also where your estate is officially distributed to your creditors and the beneficiaries under your will. Depending on the value and complexity of your estate, the probate process can take several months .... or it may be eligible for a simplified process.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

How to Properly Use a Power of Attorney


A power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes one person to act on behalf of another in the legal or business dealings of the person authorizing the other. This type of document has a lot of relevance when, for example, somebody needs to execute some business or legal matter but is unable to do so for whatever reason. In the absence of the person, another person may be authorized to execute the matter through use of a power of attorney, which in common law systems or in civil law systems, authorizes another person to act on behalf of the person so authorizing the other. The person authorizing is known as the "principal" and the person authorized is called the "agent". The agent may, on behalf of the principal, do such lawful acts such as signing the principal's name on documents.

An agent is a fiduciary for the principal and, as this is an important relationship between principal and agent, the law requires that the agent be a person of impeccable integrity who shall always act honestly and in the best interests of the principal. In case a contract exists between the agent and the principal for remuneration or other form of monetary payment being made to the agent, such contract may be separate and in writing to that effect. However, the power of attorney may also be verbal, though many an institution, bank, hospital as well as the Internal Revenue Service of the USA requires a written power of attorney to be submitted by the agent before it is honored.

The "Equal Dignity Rule" is the principle of law that has the same requirements of the agent as it does to the principal. Suppose that the agent has a power of attorney that authorizes him or her to sign the sales deed of the principal's house and that such sales deed should be notarized by law. The power of attorney does not absolve the agent from the necessity of having the sales deed notarized. His or her signature to the sales deed must also be notarized.

There are two types of powers of attorney. One is the "special power of attorney" and the other, "limited power of attorney." The power of attorney may be specific to some special instance or it may be general and encompasses whatever the court specifies to be its scope. The document will lapse when the grantor (principal) dies. In case the principal should become incapacitated due to some physical or mental illness, his power of attorney will be revoked, under the common law. There is an exception. In case the principal had in the document specifically stated that the agent may continue to act on his behalf even if the principal became incapacitated, then the power of attorney would continue to enjoy legal sanction.

In some of the States in the USA, there is a "springing power of attorney" which kicks in only in case the grantor (principal) becomes incapacitated or some future act or circumstance occurs. Unless the agreement has been made irrevocable, the agreement may be revoked by the principal by informing the agent that he is revoking the power of attorney.

Making use of standardized power of attorney forms helps in framing a legally sound and mutually beneficial relationship for principal and agent. With the ease of use and ready availability of such forms, it is highly recommended that they be utilized when thinking of granting a power of attorney to someone. However, care should be taken not to let unscrupulous persons defraud innocent persons such as the elderly through ill-conceived agreements.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Wade_Anderson/70430

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