Signup to receive email updates




or follow our RSS feed

Blog Archives

485 Total Posts

follow our RSS feed

Blog Banner

Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
Estate Planning
ThinkstockPhotos-76728729

I Want it My Way: Power of Attorney Can Help

On a good day, I wonder if my family hears what I say or if all they hear is "blah, blah, blah!" However, when I talk about what I want to happen if I'm in an accident, hospitalized or die, I'm SURE some of my family completely blocks my words. That's why I think it's so important that I write down how I want my health and my property handled if I can't talk for myself. Luckily, we have...

Read More >

Venn diagram

Are there advantages to a trust compared to wills and beneficiary designations?

There are lots of different tools you can use for estate planning. (See the last part of my post from March for a list.) So it's not surprising that a lot of us don't know how they work together, or which ones we should use. Last month , I answered the first part of a reader's question, about whether you need a...

Read More >

Venn diagram

Do I need a will if I have named beneficiaries on most of my assets?

After my recent post about mistakes people make about naming beneficiaries – and the unintended outcomes that result – I received this question from a reader: If our beneficiaries are in place, is a will still important for transferal of things? In what areas and ways? Does it speed up the process or limit lawyer ent...

Read More >

Designation of Beneficiary v2

Naming Beneficiaries: Have you made any of these mistakes?

I bet you've named a beneficiary on something: maybe an IRA, a life insurance policy, or your 401(k). It's quick and easy to do. And being named as a beneficiary makes it quicker and easier for your heirs to receive what you've left to them, compared to the costs and delays of probate. But that doesn't mean beneficiaries are fool proof. Check out these stories. Have you made any of thes...

Read More >

Last  Will and testament

Who Gets Your Money When You Die? Maybe Not Who You Think

Who gets your IRA when you pass away – assuming there's still money in it? Who will get your house? Your life insurance payout? Your 401(k)? The answer could be different from what you think. An Example Your will says that your daughter gets all these things. That's how you want all your worldly good to be distributed, so you think everything is fine....

Read More >

Follow Up

Follow Up…Talking about Death over Dinner

Prior to Thanksgiving last year, I wrote this post: Talking about Death over [a dead] Turkey . What I didn't know was how timely this post would be in my family's life. You see, my husband's grandma came home from rehabilitation the day before Thanksgiving. The financial educator in me wanted to "practice what I preached." As we were getting r...

Read More >

PWRW blog Death over a dead turkey

Talking about Death over [a dead] Turkey

Thanksgiving is a time where families and friends come together to be thankful for all that they have. However, one conversation you should consider having around your family dinner table is about death. Did she just say "death"? That's right, I said death. As much as an uncomfortable topic as it is, it's one you should be having with almost every family member you have. Whether it's wi...

Read More >

blogaward2

Plan Well Retire Well Wins National Award

I'd like to take a minute to toot our own horn. The writing team behind the Plan Well Retire Well blog just won two awards for Internet Education Communications from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) at their annual conference held November 2-5, 2015 in White Sulfur Springs WV. We received first-place in the Central regi...

Read More >

Guardian

Naming a Guardian for Your Young Child

Recently I had a conversation with my sister about her estate planning. She is expecting and I was curious to know what she had planned in the event that she and her husband were to pass away. Her response floored me: she told me "That's what godparents are for." Although godparents can definitely be a potential choice for a guardian, without documentation from a will to nominate a personal gua...

Read More >

April 15

Losing a Loved One: 1099s and Interest on Savings Bonds

It's been a year since Kathy Sweedler and I started our series of posts about losing someone close to us. For my final post on this subject, I guess it's appropriate that taxes get the last word. My father died toward the end of January of last y...

Read More >

thumbs up down

Health Savings Accounts: Ten Things to Do and Not Do

My husband is contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA), so of course I wanted to learn all the in's and out's of this relatively new animal. If this is new to you, check out the benefits and who qualifies in last month's post . If you take a few moments to learn the rules, you can reap significant benefits for y...

Read More >

Death Over Dinner

Two major events for me happened this month. One, my cousin was killed in a traffic accident involving him on a bicycle and a car. The car of course won in spite of Dook taking all the right precautions as he traveled on a course he had ridden hundreds of times. And while his death was sudden, tragic and unexpectedly early (he was only 65!), as a lawyer I am reasonably certain that he was prepa...

Read More >

Death and Taxes

Probably everyone has heard the saying, Nothing is certain but death and taxes. Based on my experience since the death of my father, I would say that income taxes are even more certain (or at least more persistent) than death. Why? Because income tax liabilities (and the responsibility to file) continue even after death. It just becomes someone else's responsibility. When my father pass...

Read More >

Inheriting an IRA When You Lose a Loved One

If there was one thing that I thought I understood thoroughly about managing someone's affairs after death, it was IRAs. I've taught about the rules for taking distributions – including taking distributions as a beneficiary – for years. But I was surprised by a couple of things about father's IR...

Read More >

Bills, Surprises, and Quick Decisions when You Lose a Loved One

When our father, died, I think my sister and I both felt like we were wading through a sea of details. Individually, most of them weren't a big deal. But the volume and speed with which they had to be handled made it stressful. Depending on the situation of your loved one, these things might be different for you. But perhaps reading about our experience will help you think about the things you...

Read More >

Protect Your Loved One's Identity after Death

In Loved One's Documents Go Missing and Others Materialize Karen wrote about the challenges of tracking down documents after her father died. Sometimes when a close relative dies it can be hard to find needed documents. My experience with my mother-in-law's death was a little different; we had way too many papers! S...

Read More >

Loved One's Documents Go Missing and Others Materialize

Settling the affairs of a loved one involves a lot of forms and documents. With so many papers, I suppose it's inevitable that some things go missing. But some surprising ones may also turn up. When my sister and I (Karen Chan is our guest blogger today) made Daddy's funeral arrangements, we were asked if he was a veteran. And yes, h...

Read More >

Yes, Advance Directives Do Help

This is a continuation of a blog thread that Karen Chan began a couple of weeks ago. Karen and I both recently lost a loved one and thought our experiences dealing with this loss (especially the financial aspects) might be an interesting blog series. Neither of us is an...

Read More >

Losing a Loved One

In the past few months, both of us – Kathy and Karen – have lost a close relative. We have been experiencing firsthand some of the challenges that, up until now, we have only heard and read about. We decided to share some of those experiences with you here on our blog. Neither of us is an attorney or an authority on estate planning, and these posts will NOT give any kind...

Read More >

Financially Savvy Ideas to Do for Love

Are you looking for a new way to express your love on Valentine's Day? You don't have to spend a lot of money to say "I love you." What low-cost creative ways have you used to express your feelings? Click on the comments link below to share your ideas. I'll post all g-rated ideas for readers to enjoy. Here's a few ideas to start with: Plan a romantic date with your part...

Read More >

Advance Directives Help Families during Difficult Times

On any one day most of us are juggling time, work, family, money, and more! But on some days, the demands of making decisions and juggling priorities become almost overwhelming. Caring for an older family member during an illness is one of these times. I'm dealing with this situation now and it's hard. However, I'm thankful that some planning and decision-making has already taken place....

Read More >

What If? An Inventory of Financial Accounts Can Help

Are you the one in your household that pays the bills and manages your investment accounts? If so, would someone else be able to step in and take care of your finances if you couldn't? Does someone know which financial accounts you have, and the passwords or account numbers needed to access them? Planning ahead for times when you can't manage your finances can be very helpful to signifi...

Read More >

The Simplest Estate Planning Tool: POD

According to a survey conducted for Lawyers.com in December 2009, 65% of Americans do not have a will. But here's the good news: Even without a will, you can manage who will inherit many of your assets and make it easy for them to take ownership of those accounts. This little t...

Read More >

More Roth Conversion Questions

There are more great questions from readers. Let's see what we can learn. Question #3 – "The Cream in the Coffee" Rule I have several vexing questions, but most of all about your statement regarding "having to add together the balances in all of your tax-deferred IRA accounts, and calculate the proportion of that total that is from nondeductible contributi...

Read More >

Your Roth Conversion Questions Answered

Several of you have sent questions about Roth conversions since my previous posts: The (New) Rules and Factors to Consider . Today, I'll review some of those questions, and share my responses with you....

Read More >