We just launched our new weekly Internet radio program called “Tuesday with Tom”. New episodes will be available on Tuesday mornings by 8am.
According to a recent American Academy of Estate Planning Attorney’s article, when emergency medicine physicians were surveyed about the availability of advanced directives (i.e. Health Care Powers of Attorney):
•93% reported less frustration in situations where advance directives are easily accessible
•88% said having an advance directive helped ensure better quality patient care
•85% indicated that families were more we’re more comfortable with how doctors cared for their love ones when they patient had an advance directive
•and 55% were relieved upon learning that a patient already had an advance directive.
If you do not already have an advance directive, you should make getting one prepared a priority. Moreover, if you have one, you need to make sure that it is readily available when it is needed. One author suggests taping a copy to your refrigerator or carrying one in your glove box. An alternative that we are now making available to our clients is to enroll in DocuBank, a service that makes your advance directive available 24/7 through a simple phone call to DocuBank.
More information on DocuBank and how to enroll is here.
Passage of time has no effect on the validity of a Will. So, even though your family needs likely have changed over the past 10 or 20 years, that long ago prepared Will is still controlling. Tax laws, and laws concerning Wills might have changed as well.
To be sure your estate plan is up to date, it should be reviewed by you annually. Have there been major life change such as a death in the family, the birth or adoption of a child, a divorce or marriage, or a significant change in assets.
The recently passed Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 made Charitable IRA rollover legislation permanent for 2015 and future years.
With the Charitable Rollover IRA, you can make a contribution to a public charity directly from your IRA (or Roth IRA). To qualify:
- you must be at least age 70 ½ on the date of the contribution
- the contribution may not exceed $100,000
- the contribution has to be made directly by the IRA custodian to the charity.
To take advantage, simply direct the custodian of your IRA to make the charitable contribution. The portion of the IRA so contributed (up to $100,000) never comes into your income.
Please note, a 401k or other retirement plan is not eligible unless it is first rolled into an IRA.
Did a company share your personal information without your knowledge or consent? The FTC wants to know, and has made it easier for you to report privacy-related complaints.
Just go to the FTC’s Complaint Assistant and click the banner that says: “Concerned about how a company is handling your personal information? Click here to report privacy concerns.”
Did you recently get a notice that your personal information was exposed in a data breach? Or learn that an online account was hacked? Depending on what information was lost, here are steps recommended by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) that you can take to help protect yourself from resulting identity theft: Lost or Exposed Personal Information.
Did someone steal and use your personal information? You must act quickly to limit the damage. Fortunately, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) provides detailed instructions on what you need to do at IdentityTheft.gov.
In a popular obituary scam, the con artist begins by searching obituaries from the local paper looking for a recent widow. A messenger then arrives at the home of the recent widow with a cash-on-delivery package. The messenger claims that the recently deceased spouse ordered it, and requires immediate payment.
Only after paying for the package, when the messenger is long gone, does the victim open the box and discover that it contains old magazines or newspapers that are worthless.
To avoid the scam, don’t be afraid to ask for more information (i.e. where package is from, etc.) so you can look into it before accepting delivery. A legitimate delivery service will give you information so you can make a decision about accepting the package. If you are still not sure, then don’t accept the package.
Here is a link to a Morningstar interview of Vanguard retirement expert Maria Bruno in which she discusses strategies for managing retirement withdrawals to minimize tax consequences. Maria explains which accounts (i.e. taxable investments, IRAs, 401ks, Roth IRAs) should be used before others in order to minimize your taxes.
You can help prevent a loved one’s identity from theft after their death by contacting the credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You will have to provide their Social Security number, and tell the credit bureau that the person has died. Request that their credit report be flagged with the note “Deceased. Do Not Issue Credit.”
If you are in charge of settling the estate you can, also, request a copy of the deceased’s credit report so you know what accounts need to be closed. You might have to provide the credit bureau with a death certificate and your Letters of Authority.