Archive for June, 2010
Firstrade is an online discount brokerage. They shifted their business to the internet in 1997 and have won numerous accolades since then such as the “Top Clean-Hands Firm” in the online brokerage industry from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in 2006 and the “Best Deal” among online discount brokerages from SmartMoney in 2005.
For consumer reviews of Firstrade check out www.epinions.com. There is also a good comparison of online brokerages at http://www.thesunsfinancialdiary.com/investing/discount-broker-reviews-scottrade-zecco-tradeking-firstrade-sharebuilder-qqqdirect/. Firstrade reviews seems to have a clear split switching from mostly negative reviews in their early years until about 2001 to a more balanced picture after 2006. Firstrade complaints appear to focus on the lack of speed of transfers and trade executions. These complaints have stuck with the company over the years so while it is possible that they have improved in this area, they don’t seem to have caught up to their competitors.
Firstrade features several promotions. There is no Firstrade promotional code but there are specific conditions attached to each promotion. Many of their promotions require paperwork to be filed in order to receive the promotional rebate and all require that the account remain funded for a certain amount of time, usually 9 months after opening a new account. One of their promotions is free trades for a month. If you read the fine print, you will notice that for a regular account, you actually have to pay the fees when trading and then they are refunded the fees after two months. If you were planning to do some heavy day trading this can really cut into your investment funds.
Their commission for stock trades is a flat fee of $6.95 for stocks with a per share price over $1 and a quantity order of less than 5000 shares. Firstrade securities include most stocks listed on the U.S. Markets or exchanges. The feature I like is the free dividend reinvestment program available. This allows you to reinvest cash dividends paid by companies whose stock you own back into those companies without having to pay a commission. Firstrade is not the only online brokerage offering this feature but it is nice to have if you own dividend paying stocks.
Overall, Firstrade’s brokerage services are competitive with other discount brokerages. My biggest problem with them is the lack of banking services. I prefer to limit the number of companies I have to deal with. For you that may be a benefit if you are the type of person that needs to force themselves to save. It certainly isn’t easy to just dip into your stock funds to pay for that vacation that looks so enticing right now. Having your online brokerage account and your spending account completely separate will definitely help you limit your binge spending, at least from available funds. It won’t help you control any credit card purchases you make.
Their website, www.firstrade.com, says they have no hidden fees. That may be true but you do need to read the fine print. The website also states that they have $6.95 flat rate unlimited shares stock trades but when you read the fine print, you discover that unlimited shares apparently ends at 5000 shares. This kind of advertising does not make me trust them. Unlimited should mean unlimited. So while this company does seem to offer a good product, they do have hidden fine print and paperwork you have to complete in order to benefit from all the deals they offer.
Know what you are signing up for. This company could save you money if you deal with them with open eyes. Find out all the rules for whatever business you plan to conduct with them and be sure to follow them so you can benefit from the deals they do offer.
Bullion Direct has been online for ten years. They offer a trading platform for precious metals including gold, silver, platinum and palladium. You can trade gold bullion or gold coins such as the American Eagle or the South African Krugerrand. Coins are easy to store and come in different weights which make them affordable to more people. Trading on Bullion Direct is anonymous so you do not know who you are buying from. Only Bullion Direct knows who the two parties are similar to stock trading with online brokerages.
You can find a Bullion Direct review at http://inflation.us/reviews/bulliondirect.html. What I liked about that one is that they actually tried their service. Bullion Direct also has an online forum which they claim not to white wash. Since I was able to find an inflammatory posting on there claiming Bullion Direct fraud, I tend to believe them. In my experience, checking reviews by actual customers is the best way to find out if it is the kind of company you would like to do business with.
Checking the Better Business Bureau website at www.bbb.org led me to discover that Bullion Direct has a BBB rating of A with A+ being the highest possible. The BBB has been keeping track of this company for the last ten years and has only a minimal number of Bullion Direct complaints listed. All of the complaints were resolved. Bullion Direct advertises heavily and I was not able to discover a Bullion Direct scam.
Since silver is considerably cheaper than gold, you can buy a 1 ounce silver bullion bar which is .999 pure for less than $20. Prices change in real time and orders are also executed in real time using Bullion Direct’s Nucleo exchange. The only thing that won’t happen in real time is shipping the product. That part of their service seems to be on the slow end. With the volatility in the markets many people have added gold investments to their portfolio. Bullion Direct seems like a reasonable place to consider purchasing coins or bullion if you want to be able to hold your investments in your hand.
Personally, I am still debating whether having physical possession of an asset is a good thing. There are obvious benefits to actually knowing you can go down to your secret hiding place and have an emergency stash of assets but what if a natural disaster strikes and your emergency stash is wiped out? What if your emergency hiding place gets discovered and robbed? Security is a tricky thing. Just look at the debates this country has had for nearly ten years now about airline security. Have we actually made any progress? Being a frequent traveler, I can’t say that I feel any safer traveling now than I did then. Do I still travel? Of course.
Should you diversify your investments. Of course. How you do that is still up to you. You have to know what makes you feel the most secure. Is it owning gold bullion? Is it having a large sum of money in a FDIC insured savings account? Do you want to have some of it all? Perhaps you are a numismatist and want to combine your financial security with your love of coin collecting. Why not? The American Gold Eagle coin is quite beautiful as is the Chinese Gold Panda. I am not as fond of the South African Krugerrand but then I am not as fond of images of people as I am of animals. Personal preference.
Investing is a highly personal choice. You have to know your own propensity for risk as balanced towards your need for security. Is Bullion Direct the right company for you to deal with? Your call.
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services has been a Better Business Bureau accredited business for 12 years. They have earned their top rating, A+. The Canadian branch of this company has been accredited since 2008 and has an A rating. The US company has had 60 complaints reported to the BBB over the last three years, all of which seem to have been resolved. That is about as good as you can expect a company to perform.
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services is a non profit organization. You can find more information about them at their website at www.consolidatedcredit.org. Their debt management program consolidates your debt into a single monthly payment which is easier to handle than a laundry list of creditors. They tend to discourage you from using a debt settlement company. Debt settlement companies offer to handle the bill paying for you but don’t necessarily reduce your payments overall. Scams are wide spread in this industry.
A Consolidated Credit Counseling Services scam seems to be possible as well. If you read the reviews at http://www.consumeraffairs.com/debt_counsel/consol.html, you will notice some stories that sound like less than stellar business practices. This is in stark contrast to the BBB rating. I tend to put these into the buyer beware category. Make sure you know exactly what you are signing up for and follow up to make sure you get it.
I can see how this would be tricky in this particular case. After all, you are contacting Consolidated Credit Counseling Services because you have had a problem keeping track of your personal finance. You are making the right move in seeking help. In a perfect world, the company you hire to help you would be the most ethical of companies with perfect employees. Even the best of companies does not always hire perfect employees.
My recommendation would be to enlist the help of a friend that is great with personal finance. Don’t expect them to solve your problems for you, just ask them to help you sign up for a service you need to help you get your financial life straightened out. Have them read the contracts with you and explain them to you in a way you can understand. Let them be your safety net so they can make sure you have noticed all the fine print you may need to know about. You may want to make a list of the things to pay attention to.
Just because you enroll in a debt management program does not mean all of your problems are taken care of. You need to take advantage of all that is made available to you. Companies do not usually run after you to get you to learn about personal finance. They make counseling available to you but it is up to you to make the appointments to take advantage of the learning opportunities. Simply deciding that it is time to do something about your debt isn’t enough. You have to pursue it. This is an area of knowledge you have decided you are lacking in. Now fix it. Actively pursue every program you signed up for until you have learned everything you need to know.
Once you know what you need to do, you actually have to implement your new knowledge. Don’t charge to those credit cards. Spend less money than you earn. Can you believe that almost half of American households actually spend more than they earn? It is no wonder debt management is such a big topic. Consolidated Credit Counseling Services can help you. Their record appears to be good enough. Just make sure you know what they are doing for you and what you need to take care of yourself.
FNBO Direct is an online bank which offers a savings account paying 1.1% APR at the moment. There are no minimum balance requirements and the minimum deposit required to open an account is just $1. On their website, www.fnbodirect.com, they point out that this rate is 5 times the national average for traditional savings accounts. That may be but at an interest rate of 1.1% your savings aren’t going anywhere fast.
You may wish to have your money directly deposited into your savings account if you are using FNBO Direct. The FNBO Direct routing number is 104000016. With this number and your account number your employer can set your paycheck up for direct deposit. Since FNBO Direct is an online bank that is definitely the way to go rather than having to send your paycheck in the mail to have it deposited. Not having branch offices available is the main drawback of an online bank. Otherwise, online banking is very convenient. A few clicks of the mouse and you can check your account balance, pay bills, and transfer money to another person.
You can find a FNBO Direct review at http://www.moneybluebook.com/review-of-fnbo-direct-high-yield-savings-account/. It can be hard to find reviews on online banks. Many reviews online were written several years ago when the financial markets had not dropped so far down yet. Back then it was far easier to look at an interest paying account and consider it high yielding if it was paying 5%. These days even 1% is considered high yielding. You may not be able to purchase the same amount of goodies with the money you earn today but you are still receiving what is considered a high interest rate when you look at the FNBO Direct rate.
As with any online business be on the lookout for any scam associated with a website. Do not assume a business is legitimate unless you get it in writing. Even then, be careful. Online savings accounts with no minimum balance are a great tool for letting your children experience managing an account. The only hard part is getting the start up capital. Let them experience having to wait a few weeks to see their money deposited.
Patience is a hard trait to teach but at least you can teach them how to manage their expectations. How many 5 year olds do you know that have the patience to check on their investments in case something unexpected happened to their investments. Many adults still don’t have the required patience.
Banks try all sorts of promotions to entice you to become their customer. Currently the wave of incentives is in full-swing and you can easily get a promotional gift from any bank you choose. Gifts range from additional cash to be deposited a few weeks after the first use of the card, over toaster ovens to high performance water bottles. Keep in mind that children are not eligible for credit cards so withdrawing any money from a child’s account is fairly difficult. Make sure the child realized this before opening an account.
The FNBO Direct savings account seems to be a great training tool. Put aside an amount of money you may need to remain flexible such as your grocery budget or emergencies that need instant access to cash. Take the rest of your funds and distribute them among the various accounts you have set up for the purpose. This method will effortlessly streamline your funding issues. With interest rates as low as they currently are, savings accounts work better as budgeting tools than as savings tools.
Emigrant Direct is an online bank. There are no physical branch offices associated with this bank. It was founded as an off shoot of a bank founded in the 1800s by immigrants from Ireland. Emigrant Direct offers different products such as savings accounts, certificates of deposit and credit cards.
I opened an account with them several years ago when they offered one of the highest interest rates available on savings account. The account was called the American Dream Savings account. Along with the decrease in interest rates since then, Emigrant Direct has also lowered their interest rates. It is still on the higher end of interest rates but when you are looking at less than 2% interest, it is not very impressive. Certainly a far cry from the greater than 5% interest rates they were paying when they started out.
The Emigrant Direct Credit Card is available along with any Emigrant Direct account. They offer an Emigrant Direct Mastercard. I have not tried these but according to their website, www.emigrantdirect.com, it is available with a low introductory APR on transfer balances. I am somewhat skeptical of this since I can’t find this rate listed anywhere and their so called high interest savings account currently pays 1%. Since when did 1% become a high interest rate? In order to earn the 1.4% cash back on your purchases, you have to maintain an average balance of $10,000 in your American Dream Savings account. Not a great deal in my opinion.
Over the years I have had my account, Emigrant Direct has made a number of improvements to their product. Online transfers to accounts at other bank institutions are simple once you have the account linked to your Emigrant Direct account. The delays in transferring money are compatible to other banks. In most cases my money transferred faster using Emigrant Direct than other online accounts. Having had a savings account with them, I have been pleased to find that I have always received the documents for tax preparation on time.
Finding the Emigrant Direct routing number can be a bit tricky. It is 226070319. So setting up direct deposits isn’t that difficult with the routing number and your account number. You may have a slight problem with the bureaucracy involved in having an accounting firm set up direct deposits of your paychecks. Generally, when depositing into a savings account, they like to receive a signed letter from the bank listing the routing and account numbers. Not an easy thing to obtain with Emigrant Direct’s online banking.
They have added more levels of security to their login system over the years. I wouldn’t be surprised if they added more as the years go by. After all, the thieves aren’t resting. Emigrant Direct currently offers certificates of deposit paying 2.5% APR. This isn’t great either. They started out with very attractive interest rates but have not been able to maintain them. At this point, I just keep my account to hold a soon to be spent amount of money simply to keep it separate from other funds. The Emigrant Direct account is still good at that since there are no account fees.
To find more Emigrant Direct reviews check http://www.mybanktracker.com. Most reviews on Emigrant Direct are several years old which isn’t surprising since that is when they were actually attractive.
Emigrant Direct competes with other online banks such as ING. They are not considered to be among the top ten players in the Internet only bank group.
How do you know which insurance company to trust and which one to stay away from? With the well-known companies such as Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield it is easy. They have been around for decades and have well known track records. When they have a significant problem it is reported in the news but what about the lesser known companies such as Cinergy Health Insurance.
The first thing I tend to do is check the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.com. If the company has been around for a while, it is likely to have a record there. If there are Cinergy Health Insurance complaints, you should see the number of complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau and how many were resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. When I checked on Cinergy Health Insurance in the state of Florida, I discovered that they had lost their BBB accreditation in that state on February 17, 2010. The BBB stated that the business had failed to meet the standards of conduct expected of a BBB member.
In fact, many of the Cinergy Health Insurance reviews I have read seem to indicate that their product is closer to a scam than health insurance. Check out www.complaints.com/cinergy. It appears Cinergy Health Insurance isn’t an insurance company at all. Yet another source for reviews is http://www.consumeraffairs.com/insurance/cinergy.html. They sell insurance products administered by other companies. This means they don’t really have control over the products they sell. The providing companies could change their products and Cinergy Health Insurance could not do anything about it. So if some coverage gets dropped, Cinergy Health Insurance may have promised coverage for something that is no longer covered.
The company has a website www.cinergyhealth.com which does list a Cinergy Health Insurance phone number. It is 1-800-847-9151. The website does not provide much information which isn’t surprising if they aren’t in full control of their product. It does include a link to get health insurance quotes. The website suggests that Cinergy Health Insurance is not meant to replace regular health insurance, catastropic health insurance or primary medical insurance. What is left? Discounts on medical products and possibly some preventive care.
You can look up the rating of an insurance company with a rating service such as A.M. Best or Moody’s. Cinergy Health Insurance does not have a rating I could find. So their financial strength is in question. When you look this up, don’t confuse Cinergy Health with the energy company Cinergy which does have a rating.
With the internet as an advertising tool, it is very easy to create a store front that looks legitimate but with this company I would be very careful. There are a lot of caution flags flying up when I read about this company. Having your Better Business Bureau membership revoked is a huge flag in my book since I know of plenty of companies with non stellar records that are reported on the BBB site. Unfortunately, I have had experience with some of those companies. Personally, I would not care to repeat some of those experiences, especially not with something as important as health insurance.
You want your health insurance provider to be fiscally stable and rock solid as far as their conduct goes. After all, you only need the insurance when you are sick. Exactly the time when you don’t want to have to deal with questionable business people. Before you consider buying insurance from Cinergy Health Insurance, double and triple check their record in your state. I always give a business the benefit of the doubt, but with this company you should be very careful with your research.
The magic age for both the Roth IRA and the traditional IRA is 59 ½. If you are older than that you can withdraw your funds tax and penalty free. Otherwise, the early withdrawal penalty is 10% as with the traditional IRA. That is on top of the taxes you will have to pay. However, there are exceptions. You were expecting that, weren’t you?
Since you contribute to a Roth IRA with money you have already paid taxes on, you can withdraw your contributions anytime without penalty. The rules state that the money that comes out of a Roth IRA is considered to come from the contributions portion of your funds first. However, if you converted a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA, you have to wait at least 5 years before making any withdrawals or you will have to pay the penalty.
Roth IRAs are funded with earned income. That means you actually have to work for your money, not just receive it through investments. All earnings within your Roth IRA are tax exempt not just tax deferred as with a traditional IRA. The great thing about the Roth IRA is that you can get at your money more easily than with a traditional IRA so if you are in the lucky position to retire before the magic age of 59 ½ you can. So when can you cash out a Roth IRA account? You can cash out at 59 ½. You can withdraw any of your earnings after 5 years and they will still be tax free if they meet certain conditions.
For example you are allowed to withdraw funds from your Roth IRA for qualifying college expenses at any age and you will not have to pay the early withdrawal penalty of 10%. You will have to pay taxes on any Roth IRA earnings you withdraw for this purpose though unless you meet the 5 year test. Another condition with allows you to withdraw up to $10,000 is a first time home purchase.
Should you find yourself disabled you can also dip into your Roth IRA earnings penalty free. To be tax exempt, the earnings will have to pass the 5 year test. So while there are penalties to keep you from spending your retirement savings before you actually retire, there are some reasonable exceptions to the penalties so you don’t get punished when you are already in a bind. Disability is one of those situations all of us hope we never have to deal with but if it happens you at least know you can get at the money you have been saving.
So a Roth IRA makes a reasonable ultimate disaster fund in case of emergencies. As long as your emergencies fall into the categories that congress thought of for reasonable life events that could require more funds than anticipated, you can cash out your Roth Ira. Do keep in mind that this is supposed to be your retirement savings though. If you find yourself dipping into your Roth IRA earlier, you will impact your retirement. Especially, if you do it early on such as for college costs. As with any investment, the cumulative power of time is crucial and if you plunder your funds, you will want to replenish them as soon as possible so you minimize the loss of investment time for your retirement savings.
What I think is great about the Roth IRA is that you can get at your contributions without penalties so there is no risk in starting your retirement savings early. You may as well start saving now. If you find you were overly ambitious, you have not made your funds inaccessible.
If you haven’t started a Roth IRA yet, you may be missing out on one of the best ways to save for retirement. The great thing about Roth IRAs is that once the money is in it, any profit you make in it is tax free. You do have to pay taxes on the money you put into a Roth IRA at the time you put the money in. If you already have a traditional IRA account, 2010 may be the right year for you to convert the traditional IRA account into a Roth IRA.
What is special about 2010 is that the legislature passed a law that allows you to pay the taxes with your 2011 and 2012 taxes instead of all in the year you converted it. So if you decide your money would be better off in a Roth IRA than a traditional IRA, 2010 would be the year to act since you can spread your tax burden over two years. This change for the year 2010 was enacted in section 512 of the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005, a summary of which can be found at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-4297&tab=summary.
To find out if a Roth IRA is the best option for you, you can enter your particular financial data into a Roth IRA calculator such as the one found at http://www.statefarm.com/learning/calc/iracalc2.asp. This one gives you the comparison between how much money you will have at retirement in a traditional IRA versus a Roth IRA. From my tests if you are younger than 50 years old, the Roth IRA is the better choice. You should definitely do your own financial analysis though. Your situation may not be average.
So how does a Roth IRA make money? The same way a traditional IRA does. You can invest the money in a Roth IRA as you would otherwise. The difference lies in when you pay the taxes. In a Roth IRA you pay taxes on the money when it goes in. In a traditional IRA you pay income taxes when you take the money out. So in a Roth IRA you never pay taxes on the investment income, in a traditional IRA you do but you get to take a deduction for the money on your taxes the year you put the money in. If you have a long time available and earn huge profits, the Roth IRA is the clear winner.
The Roth IRA adjusted gross income determines how high your contribution for the year may be. This figure changes almost annually. For 2010 the maximum income you may earn without having a lower Roth IRA contribution limit is $105,000 for singles and $167,000 for married couples filing jointly. The annual contribution allowed currently is $5000 for people under 50 years of age and $6000 for people 50 years and older. The money you put into a Roth IRA does have to be earned income.
Since you will obtain the greatest benefit by investing in a Roth IRA early on, this is one of those financial tools you should tell your teenagers about as soon as they have their first paying jobs. They may not have retirement on their minds yet but if you can get them to put some of that money they earn into a Roth IRA now they will be set when it comes time to retire assuming they choose wise investments. What a wonderful time to teach them about investments too! If you want them to know what they are doing in financial matters, the younger they are when they learn, the more time they will have to use those lessons.
Yes, you can. As of 2010 there are no income limits prohibiting you from doing this. However, you will have to look at your personal financial situation to decide whether it makes sense for you. There are many factors that affect whether a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA works best for you.
Your Roth IRA taxable income is just one of those. A 401k consists of tax deferred savings. A Roth consists of tax free savings once the tax has been paid on the money you put into it. When you choose to roll a 401k into a Roth IRA, you will have to pay the income tax on the entire amount you are rolling over. For 2010 you do get a small break, you will be able to spread the taxes over the next two years instead of one. If you have to pay the taxes out of the money you are rolling over, it may not be worth it.
Your tax bracket also makes a big difference. Do you expect it to be higher or lower when you retire? If you expect it to be higher then you are better off paying the taxes now and increasing your funds tax free after that. You also should consider your retirement plan. Do you have at least five years before you need the funds? If not Roth IRA withdrawals will force you to pay the 10% penalty. That could easily wipe out any benefit the Roth IRA provided.
If you have a significant number of years left before retirement and you can afford to pay the income tax on the 401k to Roth IRA conversion from other funds, you will most likely find that you will be better off by the time you reach retirement if you convert the 401k into a Roth IRA. Of course, this assumes that you have earnings.
If you are like most people that saw their 401k funds dwindle over the last few years, you may have lost your faith in the stock market. Stocks are not the only investments you can hold in a Roth IRA. When you estimate your earnings, make sure you put in a reasonable figure for the amount of growth you expect to average each year.
You can find a Roth IRA calculator at http://www.dinkytown.net/java/RothIRA.html . Other tips for what to consider when making your decision can be found at http://personal.fidelity.com/products/retirement/rollover/rolloverintro.shtml.cvsr . Every person’s situation is slightly different, so there are no universal rules.
Personally, I found the Roth IRA conversion attractive. Having made the decision ten years ago, before the disastrous stock market conditions, I have already reached the point where the Roth IRA was the better investment choice but then I was a fairly aggressive investor. If your risk tolerance is lower, it may be difficult to see the benefits within that time frame. All you have to do, is look at the stock market performance for the last few years to know how difficult it can be to have any earnings. If you end up with no earnings, converting to a Roth IRA will not have been worth the effort.
Look at your investment style, your past performance and your risk tolerance. Those will provide you with additional clues as to whether you can expect to benefit from a roll over of 401k funds into a Roth IRA. Many financial advisors will caution you to take a slightly less aggressive approach to investing with your retirement funds. That could also have an affect on your decision and your results. Choose wisely.
I know this isn’t anyone’s favorite topic but there just isn’t any way around it. We all have to deal with it at some point in our lives. You can expect probate to take anywhere from 3 months to several years. According to the article at http://library.findlaw.com/2000/Aug/1/127980.html the average around the country is 13 months. If the only person involved is a surviving spouse, probate can be avoided but you may not want to do that if any of your property was held in your spouse’s name, either individually or jointly. Going through probate will allow the transfer of those assets into the surviving spouse’s name. The other way to manage those assets is through a living trust.
In a living trust assets are held in the name of the trust so no probate is necessary. If the reason for setting up a living trust is avoiding probate, make sure all of your assets are held by the trust or it will have missed its purpose. If you do go through probate, the probate service gives the executor a grant of representation which can come in several forms depending upon whether the estate has an administrator or executor. The document issued will allow that person to conduct the affairs of the deceased by proving their legal authority to do so to banks etc.
Usually, a will automatically causes an estate to go into probate. You can expect probate to cost up to 10% of the value of the estate. That is one of the reasons, people with larger estates are motivated to avoid probate. Avoiding probate will not avoid inheritance tax, however. Dying in 2010 in the United States will though. Due to a law passed in 2001 under President George Bush, the inheritance tax is abolished for people that die in 2010. It will return in 2011. It has been reported that people on artificial life support in 2009 were kept alive long enough to live into 2010 so their heirs could benefit from this rare event.
Inheritance tax is also known as death tax or estate tax. The limits below which you did not have to pay estate tax had risen to $3.5 million in 2009 but will reset to $1 million in 2011. The level of the estate tax will also return to 55%. You can see why it is so attractive for the millionaires and billionaires in the United States to die in 2010 or, if they happen to have scheming relatives, why they should be extra cautious this year if they aren’t ready to pass it on. Imagine the incentive provided here for the disgruntled children of a wealthy grinch. People have been killed before by their own relatives so the relatives could enjoy their riches sooner. Having just a one year window to benefit from this tax freedom makes me grateful I do not have scheming relatives or a large estate.
I would like to think my next of kin love me and would not wish me any harm. If you die without a will the state decides who inherits your estate. In most cases the estate will be divided between your spouse and your children. Check your state of residence to confirm the laws applicable to you. If you should die without any next of kin, generally the state will inherit your assets unless you have a will. In most states next of kin are considered in the following order: spouse, children, grandchildren of dead children, parents, siblings.
As with most legal and financial considerations, everyone’s case is slightly different. The cost and length of probate depends in large part on the size of your estate, the size of your family and the thoroughness with which you prepared for the event.
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