April 15th is still a few weeks away; and while many people who expected refund checks have already received them, there are still quite a number of people who have not filed their returns yet and will be entitled to a refund. This means that scam artists are still lurking in an attempt to get those checks.
This weeks word from the estate planning dictionary is will. What is a will? Do I need one? And what happens with them?
It is easy to think that bankruptcy is only for people with terrible spending habits or people who want to do everything they can to cheat creditors. It is especially easy to think this given how the economy has improved and more people are back to work, which commonly means that they would like to save money and pay off bills. However, the notion that only greedy, irresponsible people and folks who skirt their financial responsibilities need bankruptcy has been debunked.
Well, yet another client of mine had a death in his family. We talked about the importance of estate planning but never got around to it. Unfortunately, they are another example to go into my book of cautionary tales.
Insurance is the forgotten side of estate planning. So many focus on the investment side of estate planning and financial planning that they ignore the huge role that insurance can and should play. From my chair, I believe that both life and long term care insurance are vital to a complete estate plan.
While many people are preparing their taxes in anticipation of receiving a refund, there are some who are toiling in debt who are genuinely concerned about how they are going to pay their federal or state income tax bills. Chances are that these questions come up every year. It is not uncommon for people to accrue tax debt for multiple years, only to have it catch up with them. When this happens, they may be subject to liens and garnishments that make their financial situation worse.
Estate planning is full of terms that most people have vaguely heard of but don't know what they mean. Knowing what terminology means is important to being an informed person and an informed client. When I was going through my classes to be a high school basketball official, my instructor stressed that if you learn definitions, then it's easy to learn the rules. That stuck with me. So, I am going to devote every Tuesday to a new estate planning definition. We started with "probate"; in the last few posts. This week's phrase is "living trust".