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Four Lessons We Can Learn From Tony Soprano’s Estate

“You woke up this morning and got yourself a gun, Mama always said you’d be the chosen one.” Am I the only who sorely misses seeing the Soprano’s on an HBO Sunday night?  No matter what happened during the weekend, I could always count on a gripping hour of Drama and seeing the slicked back hair of Paulie Walnuts.   With the recent death of TV and movie superstar James Gandolfini, he will be sadly missed for some of his great work as Tony Soprano.    At times like this, there are always lessons to be learned.   Gandolfini did a few smart things with his estate, but he made some major mistakes that you can learn from so you don’t get capped down the road. Not making use of the unlimited marital deduction– Gandolfini left his $70 million dollars estate to his two sisters, his wife, and his daughter.  His son was the beneficiary of a life insurance policy not including in ...

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Personal Finance 101 – How do I protect assets for my kids?

How do I protect assets for my kids after my spouse and I die? If your kids are still minors, then the laws in your state likely prevent them from owning property until they reach a certain age (usually 18), so a legal representative must be appointed to manage the assets left to the kids. There are a couple options you can choose from that can protect assets for the kids. First, you can nominate a “Conservator” (sometimes called a Guardian for property) to manage assets on behalf of any minor children inheriting property from you. You can nominate the Conservator in your Last Will and Testament, or, if you don’t have a Will, the courts will appoint a Conservator since someone must manage property for the minor children. While the assets are held by the Conservator, they are generally protected from creditors, but state laws can also limit how easily the assets can be accessed for the benefit of ...

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Personal Finance 101 – This Week: Dying Without A Will

What happens if I die without a Will? First, a little context is required. If you own any property when you die, then your surviving spouse or family will need to go through a legal process called “Probate” in order to legally wind up your affairs, pay off your debts, and transfer your remaining property to surviving family. The Probate process applies whether you have a Will or not. The only way around the Probate process is to own all of your assets through a Living Trust, but that’s a whole different story… If you have a valid Will, then the Probate process plays out according to the specific wishes in your Will, which should include details about who is responsible for administering your estate (the “Executor”), who is guardian for your minor children, who gets your assets, and whether those assets are left outright to people or in creditor protected trusts, just to name a few considerations. After that ...

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5 Important Financial Questions To Ask Your Parents

Talking about money is never an easy subject.  Let alone discussing it with your partner or your kids, it can be incredibly uncomfortable to talk about money and estate planning with your parents. As you watch your parents get into their 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s, there are some key questions that you will want to talk about with them to ensure your parents finances are in good shape.  Good or bad, you will have to deal with these issues down the road. 1. Do you have a will? If they don’t have a written one, then the state they live in will have one for them.  My guess is that you don’t want the state to decide how your parent’s assets should be distributed.  The will has many features to it, but most importantly it allows for your parent’s to essentially say which personal items go to which children along with an orderly administration of the estate.  Depending on the ...

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What a GRAT trust to fund before 2010 ends!

Who knows where the estate tax limits will fall in 2011.  It might be 1 million or 3.5 million or higher depending on how the legislators settle on this issue. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Congress is trying to put limits on a popular trust families have used for years to avoid the estate tax. Since this type of trust works best at times when interest rates are low and asset values are depressed, we are urging high net worth clients to look at setting one of these up before Congress decides to make these trusts look like a rainy day in the tax world. This type of trust is known as a GRAT or grantor-retained annuity trust, which allows people to give a portion of an asset’s future profits to heirs tax-free. The trusts we have found can be very popular for clients who have a family business that is expected to increase in value or may have stock ...

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