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Name Alternate Beneficiaries

When drafting a Will or trust document it is always important to consider multiple contingencies. One such contingency is the possibility that the primary beneficiary of your estate will not survive you. If a new beneficiary is not named, by default the state will decide how assets and property are to be distributed, according to state law. And the law may not correspond with your wishes.

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Starting January 1, 2010, the rules governing conversion of traditional IRA or 401(K) accounts to a Roth IRA will change. Through the end of 2009, only people with a modified adjusted gross income of less than $100,000 are eligible to convert traditional accounts to a Roth IRA. The income restriction will be lifted in 2010, and all investors will be able to convert funds.

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Until the end of 2009, the inheritance tax, also referred to as the estate tax, stands at 45 percent for estates over $3.5 million. The tax will sunset at the end of the year, for one year only. It will then be reinstated in 2011 at the rate of 55% with an exemption of $1 million.

It is still unclear whether the tax will be repealed in 2010. Earlier this month, the House passed a one-year extension of the tax, essentially freezing it at current levels until 2011. The House has also passed smaller extensions, from one to three months, in an attempt to give the Senate time to come up with a more permanent solution.

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A revocable living trust is an arrangement by which you transfer ownership of your property into a trust throughout the course of your lifetime, the contents of which are transferred to your beneficiaries upon death. In some cases, a revocable living trust is used as a partial substitute for a Will. As with any trust, you must name a trustee to manage the trust. Some people name themselves while others …

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Estate Planning and Trust Protectors

A trust protector is an individual who will oversee a trust and make sure it is not affected in the event that laws or other circumstances change. A trust that will be in effect for a lengthy period of time may benefit from a trust protector. Appointing a trust protector makes a long-term trust more flexible and able to adjust to unexpected events.

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GLBT couples face several unique challenges, many of which are due to the fact that the federal government does not recognize state-sanctioned marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships. Social Security provides one key example of inequality built into the law. Social Security is a federal law, and the federal government determines eligibility rules. The failure of the government to recognize GLBT marriages results in the loss of benefits for same sex couples.

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People who are familiar with the costs associated with nursing home care are acutely aware that care is getting more and more expensive every year. Fortunately, a portion of the cost of nursing home care, like other medical expenses, can be deducted as an itemized expense on federal tax returns. Medical expenses, including some longterm care expenses, are deductible once they exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.

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When planning for the future care of minor children, same sex couples living in New York State can and should take advantage of state adoption laws. Unlike some states that prohibit some or all types of GLBT adoption, New York State provides three legal adoption routes for gay and lesbian parents: single adoption for unmarried individuals, joint adoption for married couples or domestic partners and second parent adoption. ..

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The Obama administration Justice Department drew criticism from LGBT groups in June when it moved for the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The administration’s argument for dismissal is based on the premise that DOMA remains law until repealed by Congress, and as law must be defended by the justice department. DOMA, passed in 1996, bans federal recognition of samesex marriage even if state law …

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Failure to organize this information and leave accurate instructions about how to retrieve it can be costly. If you own assets such as  stocks, bonds, real estate, insurance policies, and even bank accounts, these assets, if unknown to your family, may be turned over to the state government. This happens more than people may think, with millions of dollars going into state treasuries each year.

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