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December 2011 Archives

Dec 31: Last Day for I.R.A. Gifts

People that are 70 1/2 years or older have until Dec. 31 to make charitable donations of up to $100,000 directly from their I.R.A.'s, reports the New York Times.

Just as background, an I.R.A. is an account in which a person may deposit up to a stipulated amount each year and that is not taxable until retirement or early withdrawal.

So what do you stand to gain from giving a gift directly from an I.R.A. as opposed to taking the money out and then gifting? Well, the answer is that if you take money out of the I.R.A. you could end up in a higher-tax bracket because it looks like you have a higher income. By giving a gift directly from the I.R.A. (which is a sort of tax-free haven) you would be able to give gifts much larger than those you are otherwise able to give.

How to Donate Your Body to Science

If you are looking answers reagarding how to donate your body to science look no further. For some people, one way of putting their bodies to rest after death is through donating their body to science. You can help the advance of medicine; and it is a free way of getting cremated (down the road).

The researchers at FindLaw have put together a handy bit of advice for people contemplating body donation.

Details Emerge About Heiress Huguette Clark's Millions

The spending habits of Huguette Clark, the reclusive heiress who died at the age of 104, and left behind an estate worth $400 million, which excluded most of her family and friends, are now being revealed, reports MSNBC.

The details are coming out from documents in a Manhattan probate court called the Surrogate's Court. The case was brought after Huguette Clark's relatives challenged her last will and testament which left about $34 million to her nurse and more than $17 million to her attorney Wally Bock and to her accountants.

Widows and Widowers Watch Out: Reverse Mortgage Loans

As the year draws to a close, looking back we find that there was some good news in the area of reverse mortgage loans in 2011, reports the New York Times.

Specifically, the surviving spouses of reverse mortgage loan holders were being put on the hook for the loan even if they weren’t a party to the original loan or listed on the papers. But after pressure from some lawsuits from the AARP Foundation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development backed off from its policy.

New York Medicaid Estate Recovery Law

Under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1993, each state had to develop and implement an estate recovery program.

Estate recovery is a program, required by federal law, whereby Medicaid members with qualified assets reimburse the taxpayers for long term care and home and community-based services provided through Medicaid. Funds are recovered from the member's estate, after death, for the cost of these services.

In New York, medicaid estate recovery is governed by Section 53 of Part H of Bill Number S2809. It states:

2012 Estate Tax Even Better Than 2011

If you are a millionaire and were planning to die on December 31, 2011, you may want to wait till January 1, 2012, so your heirs can get an extra $120,000 in estate tax exemptions, reports Forbes. Yes, these days there is strategy even in dying.

According to Forbes there are some real benefits:

Estate Tax Explains Joe Paterno House Sale?

In the midst of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal at Penn State some people pointed to head football coach Joe Paterno’s sale of his house to his wife for $1 as possible evidence of the 84-year-old coach’s culpability.

But what if the Joe Paterno house sale for $1 had more to do with estate tax, asks the New York Times.

Whispering about the house started when people learned that the home worth nearly $600,000 had been sold to Joe Paterno’s wife for $1. Speculation was rife with the idea that Paterno had sold the house because he expected personal injury lawsuits from sex abuse victims of his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Top 5 Estate Planning Essentials

If you haven't begun estate planning, or haven't reviewed your estate plan in years, thinking about these topics can seem like a daunting task. Taken together, the various considerations in estate planning (e.g.; taxes, heirs, powers of attorney, etc.) can give anyone a headache.

But when considered individually, having realized that you don't have to tackle all the aspects of estate planning at once, estate planning may not be that challenging after all. The following are five estate planning essentials to consider, reported by the AARP:

Introduction to Term Life Insurance Basics

Life insurance can be an important part of estate planning, especially for the parents of young children or a disabled child. The purpose of an insurance policy is to provide cash for the beneficiaries upon the premature death of the policyholder.

For a person that does not receive regular income from investments or other assets, an insurance policy can replace lost earned income. There are even instances where a divorcing couple with children will have to declare their former spouses as beneficiaries in the event of the death of one of the parents. This means that life insurance affects a great number of Americans.

But the question is, how much do we know about this important subject? Luckily, the researchers at FindLaw have put together various resources about life insurance options.