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Common Mistakes of Estate Planning

Even though planning your estate isn’t an enjoyable job it’s necessary so that you can efficiently and successfully transfer all of your assets to those you leave behind. With a bit of careful planning, your heirs can avoid having to pay estate taxes and federal taxes on your assets. A well planned estate avoids confusion for your loved ones.

Still, with all the advantages of estate planning, many people make a great many mistakes in the process. The most common mistake when it comes to estate planning is not getting around to doing it at all. Make sure that you take the time to plan at least the financial portion of your estate so that you leave your loved ones behind with some amount of security. The following seven mistakes often put families into great difficulty after a loved one’s passing.

1. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that estate planning is just for the rich. This is completely false as planning your estate is essential for anyone who has any amount of assets to leave behind. Many people don’t realize that their estate is as large as it really is, especially when they fail to take into account the assets from their home.

2. Remember to update your will and to review it at least once every two years. Factors that can change information about your beneficiaries include deaths, divorce, birth, and adoption. As your family structure changes so does the change in your assets and who you want to leave them to.

3. Don’t assume that taxes paid on your assets are set in stone. Talk to your financial planner about ways that your beneficiaries can avoid paying taxes on your assets. There are several strategies for tax planning so that you can minimize taxes or avoid them altogether.

4. All of your financial papers should be in order so that it’s easy for someone to find them. Make sure that one of your loved ones has information on where to find the papers necessary for planning after your death.

5. Don’t leave everything to your partner. When you leave all of your assets to your spouse you are in reality sacrificing their portion of the benefit. You’ll get an estate tax credit but will forfeit part of this if your spouse is your only beneficiary.

6. Ensure that your children are well planned for. Many people take a lot of time deciding what to do with their assets and forget that they need to appoint guardianship for their children. There are many details to take into consideration when it comes to guardianship.

7. If you don’t have a financial advisor, get one. Financial Planners and Advisors are trained intimately in these matters and can provide asset protection well above whatever fees they may charge. If you need help selecting the right financial advisor, get the Financial Advisor Report.

The above mistakes are common when people are planning their estate. Take the time to plan for your death even though you think that you have years before it becomes an issue. The key to successful estate planning is being prepared.

Financial Planning: Get Answers About Bankruptcy Before Its Too Late

The very word “bankruptcy” puts fear into many people’s hearts. For years, the word has been equated with being destitute, being unable to pay bills and being financially insecure. Is that all that bankruptcy is about? The truth of the matter is that many people simply don’t understand what bankruptcy really is. For many people, bankruptcy is a way out of a bad situation and a hand up when they need it most. It is also a life changing experience. These questions and answers are designed to teach you about bankruptcy, what it is, what it can do and what it can not do.

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal declaration of the inability to pay your creditors. This does not mean you have no money. On the contrary, many people who declare bankruptcy have enough money to live on. Instead, it means that you do not have enough money to match your basic living expenses and pay people to whom you owe money. How much this is can vary from person to person because every person needs a slightly different amount of money to meet their living expenses. Since there is no set amount, bankruptcy is often granted by a judge.

How do I apply for bankruptcy?

Laws very from state to state, of course, but applying for bankruptcy isn’t very hard. At its base, it simply requires the filling out of bankruptcy paperwork. This paperwork will ask you about various items, such as your current income and your current assets. Using this paperwork, the bankruptcy judge will decide if you qualify for bankruptcy and how it will work for you. You may want to speak with a lawyer before filling out this paperwork. A lawyer will be able to inform you of what kind of bankruptcy would best suit your needs and will help you identify some of the particulars.

How does bankruptcy help me pay my debts?

There are several different types of bankruptcy, all of which function in different ways. Businesses have several different versions of bankruptcy, some of which are useful for individuals. In general, should you need to file for bankruptcy, one of three things will happen. Either you will be required to pay a fixed amount per month until your debts are paid off, your assets will be liquidated and sold off to pay your debts and you will pay monthly to cover the rest, or your assets will be liquidated and sold off and then you will be absolved of any further debt. With any of these options, creditors can not attempt to collect above and beyond the agreed payment.

What are the most common types of bankruptcy?

The most common types of bankruptcy are called Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 type of bankruptcy is a basic liquidation. This is when the courts sell your assets, use the money to pay off creditors, and call it even. After that, creditors are not allowed to attempt to seek further payment. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is rehabilitation with a payment plan. This is the kind of bankruptcy you file if you have steady income. It cancels debts up to a certain date and fixes a payment per month for anything else owed. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, assets are not liquidated, but it does require certain amounts of payment every month.

What happens to businesses that file for bankruptcy?

Essentially, the same thing as happens to individuals. Either the business is shut down, their assets liquidated and their creditors paid off or they set up a payment plan and pay a certain amount per month. The only difference is when it comes to Chapter 13 bankruptcy and what is considered “disposable income.” For businesses, disposable income is generally taken to mean “profits,” although there is still some wiggle room here. Some less than honest business people will quickly give themselves a raise before filing, thus making it look like they make less profit than they do. Barring small details, it is essentially the same for a business as it is for an individual.