Curated Content

Articles + Insights

05 Feb 2021
Personal Trustee

Shining a Spotlight on the Role of a Personal Trustee

The pandemic has put a spotlight on legacy planning by highlighting the need to get estate plans in order — a task most of us have admittedly neglected. Factor in the prospect of a lower estate tax exemption in the near future and an aging, affluent baby boomer population and it seems that 2021 is the perfect time to focus on estate planning, including creating, updating and finalizing formal estate planning documents.

25 Jan 2021
inheriting property mortgage

Inheriting Real Estate: 5 Situations You May Encounter

There’s nothing more difficult than losing a loved one. While pushing through the stages of grief, you may also have responsibilities to manage, like sorting through belongings or taking on inherited real estate. Do you have to keep the inherited real estate? Are you responsible for paying the mortgage? What happens if you can’t afford the home?

12 Jan 2021
cryptocurrency bitcoin estate planning

Leaving Cryptocurrency Through a Trust

When you have cryptocurrency, you need to consider how to include this asset in your estate plan. If you don’t, your beneficiaries may not be able to access your crypto-investments after you die. Using a trust to transfer cryptocurrencies keeps information about your coins private and out of probate... saving your beneficiaries time and money.

06 Jan 2021
guardianship eldercare estate planning

Elder Law— Guardianship Alternatives

The standard under which a person is deemed to require a guardian differs from state to state. Generally, a person is judged to be in need of guardianship when he or she shows a lack of capacity to make responsible decisions. Because guardianship involves a profound loss of freedom and dignity, state laws require that guardianship be imposed only when less restrictive alternatives have proven to be ineffective.

05 Jan 2021
end-of-life wishes conversation

What to Do When a Loved One Dies

Advice to keep a sad event from becoming even more painful... Know the Person's Wishes. Responsibility for the various actions can be divided among family members and close friends of the deceased.

30 Dec 2020
how to broach the conversation

Talk Estate Planning With Your Parents

We often think of estate planning as the process of designating who receives what assets and how to settle any debts. But an estate plan also involves detailing who would make decisions should a parent be incapacitated... Encourage a still living parent to engage with you and get the paperwork handled. You want this in place before there’s an issue. You need to know where all this information and paperwork is actually stored.

18 Dec 2020
debt liabilities estate planning

Take Steps to Keep Assets Out of Creditors’ Reach

While creating a will or a trust will certainly clarify and simplify the disbursement of your belongings when you die, these tools will not prevent a creditor from making a claim on your assets. To effectively prevent claims, you’ll need to make sure that assets never enter your trust or your estate in the first place. Here are ways to keep assets away from those arenas.

16 Dec 2020
high net worth estate planning guide

Quick Guide To High-Net-Worth Estate Planning

Not only are the nuances of estate planning fairly complicated, but things in the industry are also constantly changing, which often makes it difficult to keep up. From tax laws to tax liabilities to other issues that affect the family, there are so many things you have to consider. How do you navigate this complex process?

03 Dec 2020
IRA beneficiary designation form

Beneficiary Designation For Your IRA

The bank, brokerage firm, or mutual fund family acting as custodian undoubtedly has a standard beneficiary designation form; it’s likely that you took only a moment or two to write in the name of your spouse or the names of your children. If you have a large asset, shouldn’t you devote more effort to planning for its ultimate disposition?

02 Dec 2020
generational wealth gap

Charting The Growing Generational Wealth Gap

As young generations usher into adulthood, they inevitably begin to accumulate wealth. However, over the last 30 years, the U.S. Federal Reserve shows that older generations have been amassing wealth at a far greater rate than their younger cohorts. With more wealth being concentrated in aging populations, how and when will the pendulum swing back?

02 Dec 2020
average funeral cost

How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

Funeral costs have been rising steadily since the 1980’s. Today, it’s not uncommon for the average funeral to cost up to $9,000 or more depending on whether the body is buried or cremated. Pre-planning for events you know will occur can help take some of the pain out of those expenses for yourself and your family – including funeral expenses.

26 Nov 2020
unpaid debt estate planning

Will Family Members Inherit Your Debt?

What happens to unpaid debt when a person passes on? There are laws governing exactly how the debts of decedents are handled. They vary from one state to another. In most cases, you will be able to protect your family members from creditors with advance planning. Find out how to protect your loved ones from facing creditors during an already difficult time.

14 Nov 2020
life insurance covid-19

Estate Planning: A 7-Step Checklist of the Basics

You don’t have to be rich to need estate planning. One goal is to ensure beneficiaries receive assets in a way that minimizes estate tax, gift tax, income tax and other taxes. Here's what estate planning is and 7 things you can do to get started.

13 Nov 2020
life insurance covid-19

3 Life Insurance Moves to Consider as COVID-19 Surges

With U.S. hospitalizations due to COVID-19 hitting new highs, sadly, some families are reviewing life insurance coverage in case of the worst. Not all may be aware of options that can help a policy owner who is seriously ill, or could soon become so. Here’s a rundown of three life-insurance features that can help in case of serious medical issues.

12 Nov 2020
infighting over inheritance

Executor of a family estate? Here’s how to avoid infighting over inherited wealth

After a loved one passes, one of the biggest hurdles families face is passing wealth onto the next generation. Unfortunately, family dynamics can spur conflict and infighting among descendants. Over 75% of advisors polled by Key Private Bank said that the hardest part of estate planning is navigating interfamily dynamics.

09 Nov 2020
pet care estate designations

Planning For Your Pet’s Care After Your Death

If you died tomorrow, what would happen to your pet? Many pet owners can’t answer this question, and the tragic result is that their companion animals end up neglected and abandoned. Every pet guardian needs a basic plan to pass caretaking responsibilities and ownership of their pet to a person or organization they trust. And the more unique your pet’s needs, the more important it is that you make a plan for it.

02 Nov 2020
covid-19 funeral guidance

Holding Services During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the ability of friends and family to come together in person and grieve in typical ways. This is true regardless of whether the person’s death was due to COVID-19 or some other cause. Family and friends are finding alternate ways to connect, support each other, and grieve after their loss. They understand the need to possibly plan for additional memorial services when COVID-19-related restrictions are lifted.

30 Oct 2020
prepare your heirs to inherit

Readying Your Children For Their Inheritance

Financial literacy is top of mind for a growing number of families thinking about their estate. Preparing your children to be sound stewards of your wealth goes beyond the technical aspects of estate planning. Teaching them the skills, confidence and independence they need to manage wealth —whether inherited or earned— is just as important. Prepare your wealth to be transferred and prepare your heirs to inherit it.

27 Oct 2020
bank accounts beneficiaries

Adding Beneficiaries to Checking or Savings Account

Your heirs may get tied up in probate dealing with specific financial accounts unless you designate beneficiaries. You can add a beneficiary or a payable-on-death (POD) to most savings and checking accounts. Sometimes your bank will ask for this information when you’re opening a new account, but they don’t always. Call the bank directly to ask how you can designate beneficiaries for each of your accounts.

22 Oct 2020
inherit house mortgage

Does The Home You Inherited Include a Mortgage?

When a family member passes away, there are often questions about wills, inheritances and how best to settle financial affairs. It can be a stressful time, and complicated, especially when real estate is involved. What happens if you inherit your loved one’s home? What if they still have payments to make on their mortgage?

19 Oct 2020
estate planning documents

5 Key Estate Planning Documents You Need

Estate planning is a vital component of every financial plan, regardless of the size of an estate. Unfortunately, the need for estate planning is commonly overlooked. This often results in wasted dollars and emotional hardship that could otherwise be minimized with proper advance planning and action. There are five estate planning documents you may need, regardless of your age, health, or wealth.

13 Oct 2020
is your life insurance sufficient

Planning For Your Family’s Future: Is Your Life Insurance Sufficient?

It is important to periodically review your life insurance to make sure that you have a policy that will stay in-force long enough to accomplish your estate planning objectives. Recent actions by the life insurance industry to increase costs associated with some policies make it very important to have your insurance reviewed.

28 Sept 2020
funeral conceirge services

What Services Does a Funeral Concierge Offer?

Planning a funeral can be overwhelming. A funeral concierge works on your behalf to educate you on the funeral services available, then gets you the best prices at your funeral home of choice. One of the biggest benefits of a funeral concierge is that they’ll help you select only the services you want.

22 Sept 2020
estate planning checklist

Estate Planning: 16 Things To Do Before You Die

There's more to estate planning than simply writing a will. Accounting for all of your assets and wishes will ensure your plan is executed smoothly after your death. Along with implementing your plan, you must make sure others know about it and understand your wishes.

17 Sept 2020
beneficiary designations

Designating Beneficiaries: 5 Common Mistakes

Chances are you have a beneficiary. They are pretty common, from retirement accounts to trusts to wills. And they figure prominently in life insurance policies. But just as common are certain mistakes that get made around beneficiary designations. Here are five that financial professionals like to warn people about.

15 Sept 2020
life insurance estate plan

Life Insurance | An Essential Part Of Your Estate Plan

Whether your estate is small or large, life insurance is an essential part of your estate plan and should not be overlooked. Life Insurance provides liquidity to your estate and it increases the value of your estate. Benefits are paid quickly to your beneficiaries, once a death claim form and original death certificate is provided to the life insurance company.

11 Aug 2020
life insurance beneficiary minors

Naming a Child as a Life Insurance Beneficiary

Avoid naming minors as life insurance beneficiaries. Instead, choose a reliable adult or designate a trust account as your policy’s beneficiary to ensure your children’s financial protection. Creating a strong estate plan —and updating your life insurance policy beneficiaries after every major life event— will keep your kids financially safe.

07 Aug 2020
transfer heirloom real estate properties

How to Transfer Real Estate to Family, Heirs and Beneficiaries

Heirloom real estate includes vacation homes or other second homes, farms, a longtime residence and similar properties, but not business or investment properties. There are ways you can ensure a property remains heirloom real estate. But have candid conversations with the next generation to ensure they understand the full picture and are interested in retaining the property.

03 Aug 2020
why you need estate planning

Estate Planning: Why You Absolutely Need it

One goal of estate planning is to make sure your wealth and other assets go to those you intend (and not to others), with particular emphasis on minimizing taxes so that your beneficiaries can keep more of your wealth. But good estate planning also can reduce family strife, and provide clear end-of-life directives should an individual become incapacitated. Here’s why you absolutely need it...

20 July 2020
getting your affairs in order

Getting Your Affairs in Order

Preparing and Organizing Legal Documents for the Future— it's this kind of planning that can make all the difference in an emergency. Getting your affairs in order can be difficult, but it is an important part of preparing for the future, for you and your loved ones. It is important to gather as much information as possible to help ease the process.

20 July 2020
filing a life insurance claim

How Does a Life Insurance Beneficiary File a Claim?

Losing a loved one is never easy, but falling into financial hardship can make a loss even more difficult. Filing a life insurance claim can take at least one worry off of your mind, and ensures that the policyholder’s premium payments over the years don’t go to waste. Filing a life insurance claim is straightforward and easy if you’re prepared.

13 July 2020
estate sale inheritance

How to Hold an Estate Sale on Your Own

Considering the percentage professional estate sale companies take, you may be wondering if you can do it yourself. Planning an estate sale takes much longer than you expect it will, especially if it's your first time. It's a lot of work, but you absolutely can hold an estate sale without hiring a pro.

11 June 2020
life insurance estate planning

Protect Your Estate With Life Insurance

Life insurance may play a vital role in an estate plan because insurance proceeds can be counted on to provide liquidity when it’s needed. With proper planning, insurance money can pay expenses such as estate tax and keep other assets intact.

18 June 2020
auto insurance estate inheritance

What Happens To Auto Insurance When Someone Dies?

In the event that a policyholder passes away, his or her heirs should understand what will happen with the automobile insurance so that they can take the appropriate steps. The insurance company should be notified right away following someone’s death.

08 June 2020
estate planning 101 key steps

Estate Planning 101: Your Guide...

It's never too early to start working on how your things will be handled once you pass away. But it's an ongoing process, and your documents will need to be updated throughout your life. Here are some of the key steps in getting started.

08 June 2020
charitable donations in lieu of flowers

Memorializing With a Donation

Have you ever noticed that some people request donations "in lieu of flowers" after a loved one passes? The idea behind it is that the flowers will fade over time, but a donation will help someone who is living. It's always a good idea to follow the wishes of those requests. Sometimes the request is for a specific charity, while others request a donation to your favorite cause.

27 MAY 2020
technology estate planning digital

Why You Must Include Technology in Your Estate Planning

The technology you use regularly must be incorporated into your estate planning. The key issue for all your online activities is there is no paper trail unless you create one. Unless you tell them, your executor and heirs have no way of knowing about your e-mail accounts, electronic banking and brokerage accounts, online social networks, blogs, and more.

19 MAY 2020
estate planning checklist 12 steps

Estate Planning Checklist: 12 Steps You Need to Take

You need an estate plan. This is true even if you don't have a lot of assets. It's also true if you're young, or if you don't have close family members. Estate planning means preparing for the inevitabilities of life. People get sick or hurt… become incapacitated, unable to make important decisions on their own, or unable to live independently. Estate planning helps to protect your family and your assets in any of these unfortunate situations.

18 MAY 2020
estate-planning-divorce

Estate Planning Documents to Update When Getting a Divorce

If you are considering divorce or beginning the process of getting divorced, you must review your estate plan to make sure it reflects your life change. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how far along the divorce is or how long the action has been pending, the law considers you to be legally married until the judge signs the final decree ending the marriage.

16 MAY 2020
guardian-for-your-minor-children

Naming a Guardian for Your Minor Children

Naming someone to serve as a guardian for your child may seem overwhelming. While there is a lot to consider, the bottom line is that you'll need to put these seven considerations in order of priority for you and your children.

09 MAY 2020
covid-19-estate-planning

Estate Planning During The Covid-19 Crisis

Across the country, Americans are reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. But as volatility impacts all areas of our daily life, many wealthy Americans are looking at their estate planning to see if there are any unique opportunities. While this may seem to be an odd time to focus on estate planning, when it comes to wealth transfer, timing is everything.

30 APR 2020
covid-19-estate-plans

Pandemic highlights importance of estate planning

In these challenging times, estate planning can be at the forefront of ensuring that clients and their loved ones are protected. Certain high-risk groups may be more motivated to update existing plans or establish estate plans for the first time. Others who have perhaps put them on the back burner now want to get their plan over the finishing line.

29 MAR 2020
estate-planning-mistakes

Estate Planning Mistakes People Make Over and Over

You should talk to your heirs while you're still alive about your wishes. Confused loved ones and stressed families must endure long, complex legal processes when a proper estate plan isn't put into place, and lawsuits may ensue.

16 MAR 2020
great-wealth-transfer

What the Great Wealth Transfer Means For the Economy

The baby boomers hold more than half of all the wealth in the United States. As they age they’re going to begin transferring that wealth to their adult children. That comes with significant consequences for personal finances and the financial advice industry, not to mention ensuing generations.

03 MAR 2020
intrafamily loans debt liabilities

Intrafamily Loans: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

There are many tools in the bag of any good estate planner, one of which is the intrafamily loan. Most planners will recommend this option, depending on a family’s internal dynamics and the liquidity needs of the patriarch/matriarch. Before you lend a family member money, make sure you understand how these loans work. And examine some pitfalls that can make these loans perilous.

24 FEB 2020
beneficiaries bank accounts

Bank Accounts & Beneficiaries: Ask Your Institution

You may wish to convert your checking account to a POD (payable-on-death) account if you want someone specific to receive the money in it. POD accounts bypass the estate and probate process. To claim the money, the beneficiary simply has to show up at the bank, prove his or her identify, and produce a certified copy of the account holder’s death certificate.

14 FEB 2020
preneed-prepaid-funeral

What Is a Prepaid Funeral Plan?

A prepaid burial plan isn’t as much a product as it is a preparation strategy. It’s simply taking steps to layout everything connected to your funeral, and prepaying the funeral home. Create your plan now so loved ones don't need to do it later.

10 FEB 2020
firearms estate planning

Special Estate Planning Challenges: Firearms

Estates with firearms present unique challenges because guns are one of the most regulated products in the country. In addition to federal laws, every state has its own rules regulating the possession, transfer and storage of firearms. If firearms are a part of your estate, it is critical that you speak to a professional to protect your inheritance. Without proper planning, your beneficiaries, executors and trustees could easily break the law.

04 FEB 2020
estate planning in the digital age

Power of Attorney: 5 Different Types Explained

A power of attorney, or POA, is an estate planning document used to appoint an agent to manage your affairs. There are several different types. Each serves a different purpose and grants varying levels of authority to your agent. The most commonly used types of power of attorney are: Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, General Power of Attorney, Limited Power of Attorney, and Springing Power of Attorney.

03 FEB 2020
estate planning in the digital age

The Ultimate Guide To Estate Planning In The Digital Age

Given the nature of our digital world, today, as well as the privacy, security and identity theft precautions you must take, the last thing you want is a notepad in a drawer somewhere. Estate planning is essential. Learn how to be prepared for what is inevitable!

31 JAN 2020
How to Distribute Family Heirlooms

How to Distribute Family Heirlooms

The sentimental value of the family heirlooms is priceless, of course. But it’s important to establish a financial value as well. With careful planning, you can make sure the items are divided among your heirs exactly how you choose, without causing conflict among your loved ones. From pieces of art to antique jewelry, here are tips on how to distribute family heirlooms after death.

30 JAN 2020
passing on your guns ontario

Passing On Your Guns— Ontario

One of the most thoughtful things you can do for your loved ones is to plan for the dispersal of your firearms should you be unable to do so. If you own firearms, but aren’t licensed, then you’re in illegal possession. For the sake of your spouse, executor, and inheritors —who shouldn’t have to deal with that complication— your "PAL" (Possession and Acquisition Licence) is essential to the development of an estate plan.

21 JAN 2020
what is a living tust

How Living Trusts Can Safeguard Your Assets

A living trust is a type of estate planning tool that allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to a separate fund while you're still alive. Figuring out who should get your assets after you die can be tough. You want to ensure that each heir gets the right amount, in the way you want to give it and without unnecessary delays. For this reason, a living trust can be very attractive.

10 JAN 2020
estate-planning-pets

How to Make Plans to Provide Care for Your Pet

If you have a pet, you undoubtedly take steps to be sure he or she is cared for if you go on vacation. Consider what would happen if you became incapacitated without provisions for your pet. The best way to take precautions and ensure your pet will be well cared for is by doing some estate planning.

27 DEC 2019
debts mortgages liabilities

How To Handle Debts and Mortgages in Your Estate Plan

Grieving the loss of a loved one is a grueling process, and being responsible for their finances after they die adds further levels of responsibility and anxiety. One matter that is often overlooked is how to deal with debts and mortgages left after death and who is responsible for the payments. Knowing what preliminary steps to take when organizing finances, however, can bring needed relief.

28 NOV 2019
inheriting firearms in Canada

Inheriting Firearms— Canada

If a court has prohibited you from possessing firearms, you cannot take possession of firearms left in an estate. But generally —for a reasonable amount of time, while the estate is being settled— you are still able to act as executor and transfer the firearms to someone who can lawfully have them.

25 NOV 2019
inheriting-property

What Happens When You Inherit a House?

Inheriting a house — while a generous gift from a loved one — kicks off a process that can be fraught with emotion. You’re likely receiving this property as a result of a loved one’s death, and the financial decisions that come with inheriting property can be stressful and confusing.

20 NOV 2019
important-papers

Important Papers to Locate After Someone Dies

Family members will need to locate all of the decedent's important papers. It will give family members and, if necessary, the estate attorney assisting the family with settling the decedent's final affairs, all of the pertinent information needed. Copies of the documents are fine unless otherwise noted.

04 NOV 2019
funeral-conversation

How to Make Your Funeral Wishes Known to Your Loved Ones

The Final Arrangement Documents You Need for Your Funeral Wishes. Creating a final arrangements document can ensure your final wishes are carried out upon your death and ease the burden of making those difficult decisions for your loved ones.

25 OCT 2019
intergenerational-wealth-transfer

How Much Inheritance Is Too Much?

Some wealthy parents are concerned that —after a certain point— money passed down will be damaging to the next generation. The worry is not necessarily a groundless rich-person neurosis. Whatever today’s parents and grandparents decide to leave to the next generations, hopefully the heirs will know what’s coming— and be ready for it.

02 OCT 2019
death-of-parent

A Financial Checklist After the Death of a Parent

No one thinks dealing with the loss of a parent will be pleasant. We expect a morass of unfamiliar and uncomfortable emotions. We anticipate unprecedented grief. But no one warns us about how much math and paperwork it entails.

17 SEP 2019
estate-planning-canadians

Canada’s Deemed Disposition Tax— What You Need To Know

The deemed disposition tax, which is similar to the estate tax in the U.S., is deferred when assets are transferred to or held in a spousal trust for a surviving spouse. Creating a trust allows you to transfer assets while you are still alive, which avoids probate costs.

19 AUG 2019
secure important documents

Best Ways To Secure Important Financial Documents

Let’s face it, when it comes to storing important financial documents, a shoe box under your bed doesn’t really cut it. Estate-planning documents — such as wills, trusts, living wills, medical directives and powers of attorney —are very important... So where do you keep them safely secured?

04 AUG 2019
secure important documents

Digital Asset Inventory

So much of our lives take place online, but we don’t often think about what happens to our digital assets when we’re no longer here to manage them. It’s important to plan— to prevent any financial or sentimental losses. And while laws and regulations surrounding data and digital assets are still evolving, there are steps you can take now to prepare.

17 July 2019
charities estate planning

What is the Difference between a Nonprofit Organization and a Charity?

While all charities are nonprofits, not all nonprofits are charities. A nonprofit is based on the simple premise that none of the corporation’s net profit will benefit any individual. A charity is an organization with philanthropic goals that aims to improve the quality of life for the community and beyond.

09 July 2019
inherit-car

Inheriting a Classic Car

When we talk about inheritance, we usually think about land, money, or a house, but rarely a classic car which is why a lot of people have no idea on what to when they inherit one, especially if they have no idea about its value, its make and model, or have little idea about cars altogether.

28 JUNE 2019
selling an inherited car

How To Sell a Deceased Family Member’s Car

Being thorough and organized is key to selling a deceased family member’s car. This guide can help you through the process of selling that car and relieve some of the stress that accompanies the death of a loved one. Taking care of these details will help you navigate the legal process, ease your stress, and sell the vehicle.

14 MAY 2019
emotional-blocks

5 Emotional Blocks to Estate Planning

Death and taxes are two subjects that are both emotionally charged. Nobody wants to talk about either one of them. Do you break out in a cold sweat when discussing your will? Can you bear to think about whether there will be enough money to live on if your husband dies? Can you even think about which kid will run the business when you die; let alone talk about it in a family meeting?

20 MAR 2019
funeral-on-a-budget

Planning a Funeral With a Budget

The loss of a loved one takes a heavy emotional toll and —if you’re not careful— it can take a financial one as well... So, what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones?

18 MAR 2019
prepaid-funeral

How to Create a Financial Funeral Plan

Funeral costs can create a financial burden for your loved ones if they're not prepared to pay for them. Planning Now for Funeral Expenses Can Help Your Loved Ones Later.

11 MAR 2019
digital-estate-plan

How To Create A Digital Estate Plan

The digital world is now an integral part of our personal lives. Few people consider their digital assets and what should be done with them when they pass away. This is where having a digital estate plan in place can be a great idea.

10 JAN 2019
estate-plan-roles

Personal Representative vs. Trustee

If an estate plan includes a trust, those concerned should understand the fundamental differences between these two roles. Both are types of "fiduciaries" with a responsibility to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries, but each plays a very different role in an estate plan.

04 OCT 2018
notary

12 Documents to Prepare Now for Your Heirs

It's crucial for you to have important documents ready. At best, loved ones are left trying to sort through paperwork while dealing with grief. In a worst-case scenario, your heirs may miss out on life insurance benefits and tax deductions, or overlook accounts because they don't know they exist. Being prepared for the inevitable is not only a smart thing to do, it's also a kind thing to do.

02 July 2018
self storage unit death

The 4 D’s of Self Storage: Death, Divorce, Dislocation, and Downsizing

Just because a storage tenant passes away doesn’t mean their rights pass away with them. Unless you have the codes and keys to get into the storage unit on your own, you will need to obtain some legal papers to access the unit. Management can’t unlock the unit for anyone unless they have an official death certificate and court letter.