Month: June 2019

Last Will And Testament Planning Is Necessary

Last Will And Testament Planning Is Necessary

Ready to start thinking about your Last Will and Testament but don’t know where to start?

Choosing an attorney

Find a lawyer with related areas of expertise, like estate planning and taxation law.

And check with local the Bar Association to see if the attorney has had any disciplinary actions taken against him or her.

A Living Will is as Necessary as a Last Will and Testament

Tell family members, your lawyer and your doctor where your Living Will is located and what it says.

When you enter a long term care facility, give your Living Will to the director to make sure they will honour it.And make sure all your friends and relatives, know about it too in which case they will help carry out your wishes.

Make sure your Last Will and Testament is up to date as well as your Living Will. Don’t do your Living Will and Testament yourself. Office supply stores and the Internet sell computer programs that create Wills and power of attorney forms, but these often gloss over the intricacies of tax laws. You may save money on legal fees up front, but you can put yourself in a disastrous situation down the road.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a most important document. A power of attorney appoints someone to take care of your finances when you are too incapacitated to handle them yourself. This document has various clauses that can help to protect your assets if you, your spouse or your parent needs to go into a nursing home. But many things require rearranging – sometimes with gifts, sometimes by setting up financial vehicles, sometimes through purchases. But nothing can be done if you’re incompetent to deal with your finances and nobody else has authority to deal with your finances either.

A Power of Attorney For Your Last Will And Testament Can Expire

Make sure your power of attorney is up to date. Remeber you are giving the power to enforce your Living Will as well as your Last Will and Testament if necessary.

Last Will And Testament

Consider building in compensation for extra special care. People often leave their assets to their children in equal shares, but many times one child is especially involved while others are less attentive. If one child is giving you care directly, probably in their home, you may want to consider giving them more.

Make sure your Will is up to date. Laws change and your Last Will and Testament is your last chance to see wishes and bequests carried out.

Should You Pay Taxes Or Not?

Should You Pay Taxes Or Not?

The first attempt to impose an income tax on America occurred during the War of 1812. After more than two years of war, the federal government owed an unbelievable $100 million of debt. To pay for this, the government doubled the rates of its major source of revenue, customs duties on imports, which obstructed trade and ended up yielding less revenue than the previous lower rates.

And to think that the Revolution was started because of Tea Taxes in Boston?

Excise taxes were imposed on goods and commodities, and housing, slaves and land were taxed during the war. After the war ended in 1816, these taxes were repealed and instead high customs duties were passed to retire the accumulated war debt.

What is Taxable Income?

The amount of income used to arrive at your income tax. Taxable income is your gross income minus all your adjustments, deductions, and exemptions.

Some specific taxes:

Estate Taxes:

One of the oldest and most common forms of taxation is the taxation of property held by an individual at the time of death.

The US still has Estate Taxes, although there are proposals to do away with them.

Such a tax can take the form, among others, of estate tax (a tax levied on the estate before any transfers). An estate tax is a charge upon the deceased’s entire estate, regardless of how it is disbursed. An alternative form of death tax is an inheritance tax (a tax levied on beneficiaries receiving property from the estate). Taxes imposed upon death provide incentive to transfer assets before death.

Canada no longer has Estate Taxes.

Most European countries have Estate Taxes, one prime example is Great Britain which has such high Estate Taxes that it has just about ruined the financial well-being of most of Britain’s Nobility which has been forced to sell vast Real Estate holdings over time.

. Such a tax can take the form, among others, of estate tax (a tax levied on the estate before any transfers). An estate tax is a charge upon the decedent’s entire estate, regardless of how it is disbursed. An alternative form of death tax is an inheritance tax (a tax levied on individuals receiving property from the estate). Taxes imposed upon death provide incentive to transfer assets before death.

Capital Gains Taxes

Capital Gains are the increases in value of anything (including investments or real estate) that makes it worth more than the purchase price. The gain may not be realized or taxed until the asset is sold.

Capital gains are normally taxed at a lower rate than regular income to promote business or entrepreneurship during good and bad economic times.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act

Employee Retirement Income Security Act

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, is a United States federal law ratified to guard interstate commerce and the interests of members in employee benefit plans and their beneficiaries, through necessitating the reporting and disclosure to participants and beneficiaries of financial and other information with respect thereto, through setting up standards of responsibility, conduct, and obligation for fiduciaries of employee benefit plans, and through providing the appropriate sanctions, remedies, and ready access to the Federal courts.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s interpretation and enforcement is handled by the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Labor. ERISA protects the retirement assets of Americans through putting into practice rules that qualified plans must follow for ensuring that fiduciaries do not misuse plan assets.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act generally defines a fiduciary as anyone who implements discretion authority or administers over a plan’s management or assets, including anybody who provide investment advice to the plan. Fiduciaries should follow the principles of conduct at all times and anyone who does not do so, may be held responsible for restoring losses to the plan.

The right of members to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty is also provided by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, including guaranteeing payment of certain benefits if a distinct plan is terminated through a federally chartered corporation known as the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The act also protects the plan for misconduct and misuse of assets through fiduciary provisions.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act requires pension plans to give vesting of employees’ pension rights after a particular minimum number of years to meet certain funding requirements. I t does not however, require employers to establish pension plans, instead only applies those plans that an employer has created. Likewise, the Act, as a general rule, does not require employers that have created pension plans to give any minimum level of benefits instead regulates the way in which an employee can get vested rights to a pension and the manner in which the pension benefits can be lessened due to events such as early retirement or return to work in the business after retirement.

The Act on the other hand, does necessitate employers to provide some forms of benefits such as survivor and joint annuities that permit married couples who have chosen for such coverage to give for continuing benefits to a surviving spouse that plans may not have offered.

The Employee Retirement Security Act was enacted to deal with irregularities in the administration of particular large pension plans, specifically the Teamsters Pension Fund, which had a quite colorful history concerning questionable loans to certain Las Vegas casinos.

One Less Furrowed Brow For 401k Plan Sponsors

One Less Furrowed Brow For 401k Plan Sponsors

There was a sneak preview of the Dept of Labor’s preliminary guidance on setting up 401k default investment options. These situations occur when 401k participants fail to select an investment option for their 401k contributions or a 401k default fund is used in 401k plans with automatic enrollment features.

Currently, 401k plan sponsors are rethinking their default fund decisions because they are concerned about the risk associated with their fiduciary responsibility and about the risk of the earnings performance of the default investments of those participants who failed to choose any.

When a participant fails to make a choice, the default fund is the choice made for them by the plan’s fiduciaries. And because the participant is NOT making the decision when a default investment is used, the plan fiduciaries are responsible to prudently invest their funds.

Many plan sponsors feel that their decision on the default investment is protected by the safe harbor exemption of Internal Revenue Code Section 404c. Section 404c provides an exemption to plan sponsors from liability for investment decisions when participants are given the choice to choose their own investments. Section 404c transfers liability to plan participants for their choices of investment options. Here, sponsors believe that by not making an active choice, the participant has decided to take the default investment.

And if the default investment is a Stable Value or Money Market Fund, the participant does not loose any of his principal. Plan sponsors feel that the participant’s funds are not at risk and so neither are they.

Because the participant is not making the decision when a default investment is used, there is no 404c defense for plan fiduciaries. Also, sponsors are required by ERISA to invest with a reasoned, thoughtful process for evaluating risk and returns and for providing investment options that are diversified and prudent.

Under the forthcoming guidance — which, said a Dept of Labor law specialist in the Office of Regulations and Interpretations, is subject to change – 401k fiduciaries are given a safe harbor on 401k investment management decisions and any breach that is “the direct and necessary result of investing a participant or beneficiary’s account” in a default investment. Investment managers and advisers, on the other hand, are solely responsible for any decisions they make with regard to the 401k investments or any resulting losses and do not get that kind of relief.

In order to qualify for that 401k safe harbor, however, 401k fiduciaries must allow participants:

– the opportunity to move their investments into an alternate account
– provide advance notice of the default investment and
– invest the assets in a certain kind of qualified default investment.

Moreover, that choice, which can be a lifecycle fund or a managed account, among others, must limit the presence of employer stock in the portfolio, as well as allow funds to be transferred out of the default.

The 401k fiduciary responsibility associated with selecting funds for the default investment options in a 401k plan has now been tempered with this new preliminary safe harbor.

One less furrowed brow for 401k plan sponsors.