Make Sure Your Plan Beneficiary Choices Are Up to Date

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Many people periodically update their wills or other estate plans, but don’t remember to update who will receive distributions from their retirement plans (such as IRAs and 401(k)s) upon their deaths. Every year you should review your entire estate plan, and the review should include retirement plan “beneficiary designations” to make sure they aren’t outdated. The following are some tips for naming a retirement plan beneficiary: It is important to name a beneficiary. Do not assume that your retirement plan will be distributed according to your will. If you don’t name a beneficiary, the distribution of benefits may be controlled…

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What to Do With an Inherited IRA

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Inheriting an IRA may seem like a good thing, but there can be tax consequences if you aren’t careful. If you inherit an IRA, you should check with an attorney or financial advisor as soon as possible to find out your options. IRAs are personal savings plans that allow you to set aside money for retirement and get a tax deduction for doing so. Earnings in a traditional IRA generally are not taxed until distributed to you. At age 70 1/2 you have to start taking distributions from a traditional IRA. Earnings in a Roth IRA are not taxed, nor…

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How Much Money Will You Need for Retirement?

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The main goal before you retire is to make sure that you have enough money when you do retire so you can maintain your standard of living. How much is enough depends on when you wish to retire, what your anticipated living expenses will be, what rate of return you can expect on your savings, and whether you will continue to work at all after retirement. The anticipated date of your retirement affects two important factors: how much time you will have to save up for retirement and the number of years you can expect to live after you retire….

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Introduction to Retirement Planning

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Retirement has changed radically over the last several decades in America. Years ago, when you expected to work most of your life for a single, large employer, you could count on a pension. Retirement planning meant figuring out how to use your free time when you stopped working, not calculating rates of return and deciphering tax rules. You didn’t have to worry — enough money would be there from your pension and Social Security. Currently, with the exception of federal and state employees, most workers are not enrolled in pension plans, and the numbers continue to drop. Because fewer and…

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Caregiver Contracts: A Growing Planning Trend for Families

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Many people are willing to voluntarily care for a parent or loved one without any promise of compensation. Even so, a growing number of people are entering into caregiver contracts (also called personal service or personal care agreements) with their family members. Having such a contract has many benefits. It rewards the family member doing the work. It can help alleviate tension between family members by making sure the work is fairly compensated. In addition, it can be a be a key part of Medicaid planning, helping to spend down savings so that the elder might more easily be able…

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The Need for Medicaid Planning

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One of the greatest fears of older Americans is that they may end up in a nursing home. This not only means a great loss of personal autonomy, but also a tremendous financial price. Depending on location and level of care, nursing homes costs over $120,000 per year. Most people end up paying for nursing home care out of their savings until they run out. Then they can qualify for Medicaid to pick up the cost. The advantages of paying privately are that you are more likely to gain entrance to a better quality facility and doing so eliminates or…

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Estate Administration

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Estate administration is the process of managing and distributing a person’s property (the “estate”) after death.  If the person had a will, the will goes through probate, which is the process by which the deceased person’s property is passed to his or her heirs and legatees (people named in the will). The entire process, supervised by the probate court, usually takes about a year. However, substantial distributions from the estate can be made in the interim. The emotional trauma brought on by the death of a close family member often is accompanied by bewilderment about the financial and legal steps…

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Why Plan Your Estate?

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The knowledge that we will eventually die is one of the things that seems to distinguish humans from other living beings. At the same time, no one likes to dwell on the prospect of his or her own death. But if you postpone planning for your demise until it is too late, you run the risk that your intended beneficiaries — those you love the most — may not receive what you would want them to receive whether due to extra administration costs, unnecessary taxes or squabbling among your heirs. This is why estate planning is so important, no matter…

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Five Topics to Discuss With Your Spouse Before You Retire

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You may have a vision for your retirement, but does your spouse share that vision? Spouses often disagree about many key retirement details. It is important to work together to come up with a plan you both can accept. A 2011 study by Fidelity Investments found that many husbands and wives are not in accord about retirement. For example, the study found that one-third of couples disagreed or don’t know where they were going to live in retirement and 62 percent didn’t agree on their expected retirement ages. Here are some important things to discuss with your spouse as you…

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