January 2015 Archives

Elder Rights in Guardianship

This spring, Florida lawmakers will have a chance to stem abuses in the state's little-understood adult guardianship system by taking up measures that would make it harder for guardians and attorneys to disregard the best interests of the wards they're supposed to protect. Critics say the process of stripping away an elder's rights and taking over that person's assets happens too quickly in Florida, without enough notice to family, friends or even the prospective ward. With more Americans living into their 80s, cases of age-related dementia are increasingly becoming matters for litigation. In most states, anyone can apply to the court to determine that an elder lacks the capacity to make decisions, and place that individual under guardianship.

Tips on College Education Savings

The government encourages saving for a college education by providing tax advantages through college savings plans. The world of these plans is a complicated one, with many, many alternatives available, each with slight variations and differences. To simplify, there are three basic tax advantaged vehicles to help save for college: 529 plans, Coverdall Education Savings Accounts and Roth IRAs. You contribute to each of these in post-tax dollars and each allows your savings to grow free of Federal taxes on the gains. The Coverdall and Roth IRA's both have both income limits on the contributors and relatively low limits on annual contribution amounts, while the 529 plans generally don't have those restrictions. 

The President's New Plan for the Middle Class

Tax and economic reforms are on the President's agenda for 2015 as he seeks to close what he terms "unfair loopholes that are only available to the wealthy and big corporations" (perhaps another inappropriate use of the term "loophole"). 

If I Sue the IRS, Do I Stand a Chance?

What happens when a taxpayer disagrees with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)? Some people think that the matter ends there: the IRS always wins, right? Not necessarily. There are a few ways to appeal an action with IRS. Ironically, most of those appeals actions are actually taken up with IRS meaning that if you disagree with IRS, you then ask IRS to change their minds. There is an exception: you can take your tax matter to court. Most often, that means that you head over to United States Tax Court. 

Planning for Retirement with a Plan

Developing a financially sustainable plan for retirement can be one of life's most stressful processes. Those considering retirement need time to look at the many factors - some of which are unknown - that affect us when we look into a future that we have not yet experienced firsthand. As retirees, we need to not only consider our income, but also our expenses over a retirement that could last as long as 30 years. Retirement for baby boomers and beyond includes a future where two of the most critical aspects of retirement planning - our health and longevity - remain unknowable. 

Resolve to Plan Your Estate Wisely

Fifty-four percent of Americans planned on making a financial resolution for 2015. According to a new poll by GOBankingRates, as reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, saving money, paying down debt and improving spending continue to top the list. Given only 8 percent of people actually achieve their resolutions, it might be time to change things up a bit. 

Estate Tax 101

The estate tax is one of the most complex parts of the tax laws, drawing a lot of controversy among Americans. Even as opponents label it an unfair death tax on already-taxed money, proponents believe it's one of the only ways of addressing rising inequality in wealth levels within the nation. Still, with the government collecting almost $12.7 billion from estate tax filings last year, it's worth your while to know enough about how estate tax rules change from year to year that you can avoid or minimize any tax you might owe. With that in mind, The Motley Fool gives us some rules you need to know about the estate tax for 2015. 

Helping Your Parents Downsize

A mother who just turned 75 wants to downsize from her four-bedroom house. Her husband passed away six years ago, and she owns her home outright. At the time of her husband's death the value of the house was estimated at $1.2 million. Right now she has enough income from retirement accounts and investments to live comfortably. She could even buy another smaller property if need be. The executor of her estate is trying to help her decide what to do with the house. She could let another family member live in it who couldn't pay rent but could help with upkeep; she could rent it out for market value; or she could sell. 

Advice for Adult Caregiving

Adult children who become caregivers often pay a steep price. According to a 2011 MetLife study, women older than 50 who leave the workforce early to fulfill this role forfeit about $324,000 in wages, Social Security payments and retirement benefits. However, with some smart strategies, you can avoid sabotaging your financial future. 

Ring in the New Year's Estate Tax Changes!

When the glittery ball fell in Times Square on New Year's Eve, it brought a roar from the revelers - and more quietly, good news for asset owners and their heirs who may not be uber-rich: In 2015, only estates worth more than $5.43 million per individual would owe federal estate taxes if the estate owner dies this year. Such estate-friendly news for those embarked on personal estate planning strategies for 2015 comes thanks to the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which became law in January 2013. Among its provisions, it made permanent the temporary $5 million federal estate tax exemption, created in 2010, that's been inflation-adjusted since 2012. 

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