What Assets Need to Be Included in My Estate Inventory?

Each person’s estate inventory will look unique, but a careful consideration of the different types of assets that should be included can make it easier for your estate executor and your loved ones when you pass away.

One of the primary reasons that people sit down to establish an estate plan is to ensure that their assets are simply transferred to the new owners that you have chosen and with minimal tax consequences. In order to establish a plan of distribution, you have to know the assets inside the estate.

This makes sure that your family members know exactly what you own so nothing falls through the cracks and so there is no additional conflict or challenges that emerge if you suddenly pass away.

Some of the most important assets to include in your estate plan include:

  • Life insurance policies, even though these will pass outside of your will and are managed through beneficiary designations.
  • Personal property like art, jewelry, furniture and books.
  • Investment accounts.
  • Vehicles
  • Real estate.
  • Ownership interests in any business.
  • Intellectual property.
  • Investment accounts.

When you list out these assets, it is valuable to know how these assets are owned and whether or not you have already designated any beneficiaries on these accounts.

As mentioned above, beneficiary designations may be handled separately from what is outlined in your will, although you should still have an idea of the beneficiaries listed on this account because these will supersede anything listed in your will.

These will matter significantly if they need to be transferred upon your incapacitation or death. Talk to a Virginia estate planning lawyer if you need more advice or help with your planning.

Study Shows There May Be a Gap in Terms of Retirement Savings and Gender

A new Merrill Lynch study indicates that women may have to work harder than men to save for retirement. This may not come as a surprise to many of the women who are now approaching increasing longevity numbers and who must find a way to make things work in their future, possibly without the support of a spouse.
Retirement issues are extremely important for anyone who is looking ahead to the future regardless of their age, but these issues obviously have a much more pronounced effect on those people who are nearing retirement.
Women must save for retirement earlier and work longer in order to maximize their pension and social security benefits, according to a new study completed by Merrill Lynch. They found that there are unique financial challenges that women continue to face, despite the fact that a great deal of progress has already been made. Although women now graduate in greater numbers than men from college, they also hold more than two thirds of all student debt.
The gender pay gap in the workforce makes it difficult for these women to be able to pay back their debt over time, presenting unique and different challenges to women as they approach retirement. With different financial considerations, it is important for women to be on top of their retirement planning now. Likewise, all singles and couples should consult with an estate planning attorney about how to protect their assets.

What Happens to Your Social Media Accounts When You Pass Away?

The sudden loss of a loved one can present many unique legal challenges to your family members and those responsible for managing your estate but a common question that has become increasingly important in recent years is what happens to your social media. Social media sites such as Facebook have their own rules about how they you can pass things on to a beneficiary when you pass away.  
You need to carefully read their terms of service and ensure that you have followed these and clearly set up the structures inside their website to maximize your chance of effectiveness. Furthermore, it is a good idea to store these passwords in a safer location so that your family members can take action quickly in the event that you were to pass away suddenly.
Having this information stored in a couple of safe places such as directly with your estate planning attorney, can make it easier for your loved ones if something happens to you so that they can carry out your intended wishes for your social media accounts sooner rather than later.
This is important because you may wish them to take action such as saving all of the photos on your account or memorializing the account, if available. Knowing the options you have in front of you, is very important, but planning ahead can make things much easier for your family members when they are already going through a difficult time. Scheduling a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney in Virginia is often the first step.

The Connection Between Your Estate Plan and Your Real Estate in Virginia

Elegant new villa with backyardMost people don’t like to think about the prospect of estate planning, but it is also a necessity that needs to be dealt with. What will happen to your home when you pass away?The final wishes for a loved can become extremely messy and even controversial with your loved ones if you have not made these necessary decisions well in advance.
Many people may question whether or not you need a will to pass down real estate. You do not necessarily need a will to pass on real estate, but it is still a good planning tool. The intestate statute within your state will automatically pass your assets and your land to your closest relatives along with the laws within your individual state. However, if you wish for the land to stay together and go to a specific person than you need to put together a will.
Aside from specific plans you have about where you want certain property you go, you might also feel strongly about certain beneficiaries not receiving real estate assets.
Without a will, you will be unable to allocate where you want the property to go in lieu of individuals that you do not want to receive it. If you do not plan to have any children and do not currently have any children, you can select siblings, nieces, nephews or a charity as a beneficiary, but make sure that you identify primary and continued beneficiaries.
Want to talk about your property in Virginia and how to plan for it properly? Contact a Virginia Beach law firm today.

Why You May Want to Choose Trusts Over Wills

Last Will Concept
Last Will Concept
After you have consulted with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine whether or not the estate tax will influence your assets after you pass away, it is then important to move on to the process of planning for your beneficiaries after you pass away. There are several different avenues for you can do this. Most people are familiar with wills. Bear in mind that a will is basically a document that gives clear intentions to the probate court, making them aware of how to handle your assets after you pass away.
The disadvantage to putting together a will, however, is that it may have to go into probate court and could ultimately be contested. A revocable living trust is an ideal option for those individuals who may not be fall under the umbrella triggering estate tax issues. Revocable refers to the fact that it is eligible to be changed.
The three different parties making up a trust include the grantor, the trustee and the beneficiary. You will serve as the trustee and the grantor because you are alive when you put together a revocable trust. Trusts give you ultimate power and control over your assets even after you pass away. This can give you a great deal of peace of mind and will help to remove these assets from going through the probate process, which can be extremely beneficial for you as well as your loved ones.
Ready to talk to your Virginia estate planning lawyer about putting together a trust? Reach out today.

Business owners often overlook business in estate planning

When it comes to estate planning, many business owners make plans that overlook their most obvious asset: the business.
“The mathumb_estate_planningjority of business owners do not have a business succession plan in place,” according to an article on the website of the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils by Susan P. Rounds, director of wealth management for Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas (http://www.naepc.org/journal/issue24a.html). “The list of reasons can be quite long, but boil down to the Three T’s: Time (not enough of it); Training (there has been no discussion of the alternatives for management and ownership succession); and, Team (the business owner does not have the right team of advisors on which to rely on for this kind of advice.)
The third factor is on us. Those of us in the estate planning community can use this development as an opportunity to perk interest and start the conversation. Don’t let your business owner client, or any client, go with the ‘No Plan Plan.’ ”
“Do you know how you are going to exit your business?” asks the website of the Small Business Administration (https://www.sba.gov/managing-business/closing-down-your-business/plan-your-exit). “You may have a dream of going public, selling to the highest bidder, or retiring and handing over your business legacy to your family. Big dreams aside, the truth is that many small business owners have no exit strategy for their businesses in the event of their disability, retirement, or death. Given the current economy, it isn’t surprising small business owners focus their energies on business survival, future growth and even remaining active in business after retirement. However, a business exit strategy not only means having a plan for the unexpected, including financial hardship, injury, disability and even death, it also means having a plan for the succession or transfer of ownership of your business when it comes time to hang up your hat and retire.”
“Continuing a business beyond one generation of leaders requires planning,” offers the Service Corps of Retired Executives (https://www.score.org/resource/developing-succession-plan). “Whether through private shares transferred to a senior manager, or a leadership transfer to family members, a succession plan smoothes the way for continued business success. Don’t shy away from succession planning because it looks too far in to the future. Devising a formal plan that outlines who will own and operate the company, once you are not in the day-to-day role, is a critical path decision that has a direct impact on long-term business profitability.
SCORE offers a five-point plan:
1. Choose Your Successor
2. Develop a Formal Training Plan for Your Successor
3. Establish a Timetable
4. Prepare Yourself for Retirement
5. Install Your Successor

Caregivers of growing elderly population increasingly diverse

As America ages, it is also growing more and more diverse.
The confluence of these factors is that the entire realm of caregiving, family members or friends taking care of an older loved one, are increasingly diverse. Society, and those involved with helping older people make their way through the rest of their lives, has to take into account the ways of which different cultures are going to approach caregiving differently.
“Rates of caregiving vary somewhat by ethnicity,” according to an article on the website of the American Psychological Association (http://www.apa.org/pi/about/publications/caregivers/faq/cultural-diversity.aspx). “For example, among the U.S. adult population, approximately one-fifth of both the non-Hispanic white and African-American populations are providing care to a Asian caregiver loved one, while a slightly lower percentage of Asian-Americans, 18 percent, and Hispanic Americans, 16 percent, are engaged in caregiving.”
The article goes on to cite a national study that focused only on people 70 and older that found that 44 percent of the Latinos received home-based family caregiving. That compared with 34 percent for African Americans and 25 percent for whites.
“In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that 19 percent of the U.S. population aged 65 and older was minority,” according to an article on the website for Today’s Geriatric Medicine (http://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/archive/030209p26.shtmlelder_law). “By 2050, 39 percent of the nation’s older adults will be represented by minority groups.
“The population increase of ethnic older adults is prompting research on ways to improve care for this population. Many practitioners, such as social workers, nurses, physicians, and community workers, acknowledge that they need to consider diversity when working with elder care recipients and their caregivers. Research shows common characteristics of caregiving among various racial and ethnic groups in America, as well as differences based on attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors passed from one generation to another. It’s essential for healthcare practitioners to be cognizant of cultural differences among clients and their families and tailor expectations and behaviors with respect to ethnic beliefs and values.”
“Several studies have found that African-American caregivers experience less stress and depression and garner greater rewards from caregiving than white caregivers,” according to the American Psychological Association. “Hispanic and Asian American caregivers, however, exhibit more depression than white caregivers. Asian-American caregivers made less use of professional support services than did White caregivers. Ethnic minority caregivers had a lower socioeconomic status, were more likely to receive support from family members and friends, provided more care than White caregivers, and had stronger filial obligation beliefs than White caregivers.
“All ethnic minority caregiving groups reported worse physical health than the white caregivers experienced.”

Scammers target grandparents with emotional pleas

Some people, unbelievably, don’t love grandparents.
Instead of senior citizens who are to be revered for their experience, wisdom and ability to spoil grandchildren, con artists view grandparents as money trees to be shaken, and sometimes in the cruelest of ways.
“You get a call or an email unexpectedly from someone who claims to be a friend or relative,” according to the website of the Consumer Federal of America (http://consumerfed.org/pdfs/Grandparent-Scam-Tips.pdf). “This often happens to grandparents with the caller claiming to be their grandson or granddaughter. The caller says there’s an emergency and asks you to send money immediately.”
In some iterations of the scam, the grandson or granddaughter claims to be in jail, adding an edge of urgency that might convince the older person being called not to ask too many questions.
“Across the nation, con artists are scamming grandparents out of thousands of dollars by posing as grandchildren in distress,” states the website of the Michigan Attorney General. “In one instance, Michigan, grandparents were taken for $33,000. They wire transferred $3,000 to someone they thought was their grandson after he called and claimed he was caught fishing without a license in Canada and needed to pay a $3,000 fine. They were taken for an additional $30,000 after the supposed grandson called again to say that alcohol and drugs were found when his boat was searched, and he needed $30,000 to post bond to get out of a Canadian jail.”
“Many grandparents will drop everything to help their grandchildren,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a recent press release (http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/July-2016/Attorney-General-DeWine-Warns-of-Grandparent-Scams

Parents (Photo credit: mohammadali)
Parents (Photo credit: mohammadali)
). “That’s why this scam works. It’s terrible not only because of the money loss but because of the fear it instills in people. Our goal is to protect Ohio’s families and help them recognize the warning signs of a scam before it’s too late.”
Since the start of 2016, the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section has received about two dozen consumer complaints involving grandparent scams, the release continued.
“What else can you do to protect yourself?” the Consumer Federation of America asks. “If you get a call or email from someone claiming to know you and asking for help, check to confirm that it’s legitimate before you send any money. Ask some questions that would be hard for an imposter to answer correctly, the name of the person’s pet, for example, or the date of their mother’s birthday. Contact the person who they claim to be directly. If you can’t reach the person, contact someone else, a friend or relative of the person. Don’t send money unless you’re sure it’s the real person you know.”

Agency creates partnerships to reduce veteran suicide rate

Soldier holding folded American flag
Soldier holding folded American flag
Amid all the storm and fury of presidential politics, with little attention paid to combat hotspots around the world, it’s easy to forget our veterans.
But it’s not easy for them to forget what they’ve been through, and far too many can’t shake off their experiences on foreign soil.
A posting on the website of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation, serves to bring this home.
“According to the January 2014 Veterans Health Administration report, the suicide rate among male and female veterans and military service members exceeds the national rate for the general population,” the posting states http://www.samhsa.gov/veterans-military-families/critical-issues. “Veterans comprise 20 percent of national suicides, with approximately 22 veterans dying by suicide every day. Three out of five veterans who died by suicide were diagnosed as having a mental health condition.
“Military service members, veterans and their families are a growing community exposed to traumatic events. Involvement in combat that causes losses and fears; injuries associated with combat; repeated deployments and/or relocations; and military sexual violence all may exert an emotional toll on military personnel, their families, and their communities.”
In seeking to address this, SAMSHA has formed partnerships between the agency’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veteran Crisis Link and another with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
The former arrangement “connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text,” according to the site.
Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The arrangement with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention led to efforts by National Guard Joint Force chaplains in five states to implement Partners in Care programs “through which more than 400 faith leaders received suicide prevention gatekeeper training and partnered with the chaplain’s offices to provide coordinated support for National Guard members and their families.”

Election year could portend estate-planning uncertainty

The impending election may, then again it may not, have some implications for estate planning.

English: Seal of the President of the United S...
English: Seal of the President of the United States Español: Escudo del Presidente de los Estados Unidos ??????????: ????? ?? ????????????? ?? ??????????? ??????????? ??????. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It all depends, according to a recent article on the website of the National Law Review, on whether or not the split between a Democratic President and a Republican Congress continues to be the case.
“In the past four years, a Democratic President and Republican Congress has resulted in no significant estate tax legislation,” the article states (http://www.natlawreview.com/article/november-election-and-estate-planning). “Thus, after 10 years or so of uncertainty and change that preceded 2012, there has been an estate planning calm. It is unlikely the calm changes in 2017 if there is President Clinton and a Republican Congress. Hillary favors the same provisions as President Obama, which are reducing the estate tax exemption from $5 million per person, indexed for inflation, to $3.5 million, and increasing the estate tax rate from 40 percent to 45 percent. But as with President Obama, it is unlikely these proposals will go anywhere, unless Democrats take control of the House and Senate.”
Republican nominee Donald J. Trump, on the other hand, has said he favors eliminating the estate tax altogether.
“Perhaps a big push to eliminate the estate tax would result if large Republican majorities controlled the House and Senate. But even with a Republican President and Congress it is more likely current law, allowing married couples to protect $10.9 million from estate tax, adjusted annually for inflation, would continue.”