Transfer On Death Vehicle Registration

The biggest reason you don’t want a vehicle to go through probate is because they depreciate over time. The longer the probate process drags on the less the vehicle is worth. A car worth $15,000 this year might be worth $10,000 the next. The sooner your heirs can get the vehicle transferred into their names, the more they will be able to sell it for. It only makes sense to pass your vehicles to your heirs outside of probate.


Surviving Spouse as Sole Beneficiary of Retirement Accounts

More often than not, spouses choose to leave their assets to each other when they die.  When it comes to retirement accounts this decision makes good financial sense as there are specific state and federal rules that favor leaving the account to a spouse.

Benefits of Naming Spouse as Sole Beneficiary of Retirement Account
For instance, a surviving spouse who is named as the sole beneficiary of a retirement account is not required to withdraw the money right after the deceased spouse's death.  This allows the surviving spouse to keep the tax deferred status of the money and not begin making withdrawals until the later of (1) the year the deceased spouse would have turned 70 1/2; or (2) December 31 of the year following the deceased spouse's death.


Tax Advantages of IRA's (Traditional and Roth) and 401(k)'s

I remember working in the banking industry over a decade ago when the Roth IRA was first introduced. For months after the Roth came out I was approached by clients about how the Roth worked and whether they should roll their money into the Roth from their traditional IRA's. Although brand new at the time, it was clear to me that the Roth might work well for my younger clients, but not necessarily for those nearing retirement age.

As the Roth v. Traditional IRA issue has recently come up with a client of mine, I thought I would take a moment to briefly outline the tax advantages of each.

Traditional IRA Tax Advantages
The real benefit to a Traditional IRA is that any money you deposit into the IRA each year (up to the legal limit) can be deducted from your taxes.

Five Methods for Avoiding Probate

There are numerous ways a person can avoid having his or her property probated.  The following are some of the most common methods for avoiding probate:


POD Accounts and the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)

It is common for adults to want minor children to inherit money from a bank account without having to go through the probate process.  The most common way to do this is by using a Pay on Death bank account and naming a "P.O.D. Payee" to receive the money once the account owner passes away.  If the minor child is about to turn 18 or the amount of money in the bank account is never intended to be more than a few thousand dollars, the account owner may just name the minor child as the P.O.D. Payee. 

But when the minor child is not yet ready to assume responsiblity for his or her finances it would be better for an adult to be appointed to manage the minor child's finances.

Four Reasons To Avoid Probate

Probate proceedings consist of five basic steps: 

(1) submitting a deceased person's will to probate court, 

(2) proving the will is authentic and properly executed, 

(3) inventorying and appraising the deceased's assets, 

(4) notifying creditors and relatives of the probate proceedings, and 

(5) publishing notice of the proceedings in a local newspaper.

While these steps may appear simple and easy, the following are four reasons to avoid having your estate probated:


Bankruptcy For The Individual Under The Newly Revised Bankruptcy Code

An individual person can currently file bankruptcy under one of two Federal Bankruptcy Chapters: Chapter 7 (clean slate/start over) and Chapter 13 (restructure of indebtedness). Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is used to discharge the individual from his or her debts. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is used to restructure a person’s debts and allow him or her to keep certain assets under a revised payment plan.

Recent Changes in the Bankruptcy Code
Until a few years ago just about everyone who had not filed bankruptcy within the preceding six years and had no disposable income to pay the bills was eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
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