https://grreid.com/ G.R. Reid Blog G.R. Reid Associates LLP - G.R. Reid Wealth Management, LLC - G.R. Reid Health Management, LLC - G.R. Reid Insurance Services, LLC - G.R. Reid Consulting, LLC - Woodbury, New York - Great Neck, NY

A

A

A

News

Our news articles are posted on a regular basis to give our clients relevant and timely information about matters pertaining to our financial services. Browse through our current and archived articles to learn more.

Category: Disability Insurance

Financial & Wealth :: How Can I Control the Distribution of My Estate?

There are a number of ways your estate can be distributed to your heirs after your death. Each allows a different degree of control over distribution, and each poses different challenges and opportunities. If you haven’t taken steps already, it’s important to consider planning now for the distribution of your assets.

control_distribution~001

 

Intestacy

If you die without a will, it is called dying “intestate.”

In these situations, the probate court will order your debts paid and your assets distributed. Unfortunately, your assets will be distributed according to state law. Since the state doesn’t know your preferences, the probate court may not distribute your assets according to your wishes.

Because intestacy is settled in the probate court, your heirs may have to endure a long, costly, and public probate process that could take six months to a year or more. They will have to wait until the probate process is over to receive the bulk of their inheritance.

And depending on the state, probate fees could consume more than 5 percent of your gross estate.

Wills

A will is your written set of instructions on how you would like to distribute your estate upon death.

While using a will guarantees probate, it is a more desirable alternative than intestacy.

In a will, you can name a “personal representative” of your estate. This person or institution (e.g., a bank or trust company) will act as the executor and will be appointed to carry out your wishes according to your testament. You can also nominate a guardian for your minor children and their estates. Without such a nomination, the court can appoint a guardian based on other information, often depending upon who volunteers.

A will can also set forth the terms of a trust of which you have named a trustee who can manage the assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries. This is often referred to as a “testamentary” trust because it is created as part of the last will and testament and comes into being at the probate of the will.

Trusts

A trust is a legal arrangement under which one person, the trustee, manages property given by another party, the trustor, for the benefit of a third person, the beneficiary. Trusts can be very effective estate planning tools.

Trusts can be established during your life or at death. They give you maximum control over the distribution of your estate. Trust property will be distributed according to the terms of the trust, without the time, cost, and publicity of probate.

Trusts have other advantages too. You can benefit from the services of professional asset managers, and you can protect your assets in the event of your incapacity. With certain types of trusts, you may also be able to reduce estate taxes.

If you use a revocable living trust in your estate plan, you may be the trustor, trustee, and beneficiary of your own trust. This allows you to maintain complete control of your estate.

While trusts offer numerous advantages, they incur upfront costs and ongoing administrative fees. These costs reduce the value of future probate savings.The use of trusts involves a complex web of tax rules and regulations. You might consider enlisting the counsel of an experienced estate-planning professional before implementing such sophisticated strategies.

Joint Ownership

Another way to distribute your estate is through jointly held property — specifically, joint tenancy with rights of survivorship.

When you hold property this way, it will pass to the surviving co-owners automatically, “by operation of law.” Because title passes automatically, there is no need for probate.

Joint tenancy can involve any number of people, and it does not have to be between spouses. “Qualified joint tenancy,” however, can only exist between spouses. In common law states, this arrangement is generally known as “tenancy by the entirety.” Qualified joint tenancy has certain income and estate tax advantages over joint tenancy involving nonspouses.

How you hold title to your property may have substantial implications for your income and estate taxes. You should consider how you hold title to all of your property, including your real estate, investments, and savings accounts. If you’d like to know more about how the way you hold title may affect your financial situation, consult a professional.

Contracts

The fifth and final way to pass your property interests is through beneficiary designations.

If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, an IRA, life insurance, or an annuity contract, you probably designated a benefciary for the proceeds of the contract. The rights to the proceeds will pass automatically to the person you selected. Just like joint tenancy, this happens automatically, without the need for probate.

It is important to review your employer-sponsored retirement plan, IRA, life insurance, and other contracts to make sure your beneficiary designations reflect your current wishes. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Many Considerations

There are a variety of considerations that will determine the distribution methods that are appropriate for you. For example, you must consider your distribution goals. By examining your situation and understanding how your assets will pass after your death, you may be able to identify the methods that will help you achieve your goals most effectively

Likewise, the larger your estate, the more you may want to consider using a trust to help guide your estate distribution. In addition, you will have to consider any special situations you may have — such as a divorce or a disabled child. All these are important considerations.


The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2015 Emerald Connect, LLC.

 

 

Posted on in category: Disability Insurance, Financial & Wealth | Tagged | Leave a comment

Healthcare & Benefit Services :: Health Care Reform Updates

Updated Model COBRA Election Notice Includes Information Regarding Health Insurance Exchanges

Revised Notice Informs Individuals of New Coverage Alternatives

A revised Model COBRA Election Notice is now available for group health plans to inform eligible employees and dependents of the right to continuation of coverage under federal law and how to make an election when a qualifying event occurs. The updated model notice includes information regarding coverage alternatives that will be available through the new Health Insurance Exchanges (also known as Marketplaces).

COBRA Election Notice Requirement
COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) generally applies to group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or employees (including both full- and part-time employees) on more than 50% of their typical business days in the previous calendar year.

In general, an individual who was covered by a group health plan on the day before a qualifying event (such as termination of employment) may be able to elect COBRA continuation coverage upon a loss of coverage due to the qualifying event. Upon the occurrence of a qualifying event, the plan administrator is required to provide these individuals (called “qualified beneficiaries“) with an election notice, generally within 14 days after the administrator receives notice of the qualifying event.

Revised Model COBRA Election Notice
The updated Model COBRA Election Notice includes additional information for qualified beneficiaries who may want to consider and compare health coverage alternatives to COBRA that will be available through the Insurance Exchanges, which are expected to begin operating in 2014. The revised notice also describes the availability of premium tax credits for purchasing coverage through the Exchange.

 

Posted on in category: Disability Insurance | Leave a comment

Healthcare & Benefit News :: Health Care Reform: New Guidance on “Pay or Play,” Annual Limit Rules, and More

A new wave of final rules and FAQs provides guidance for employers and group health plans on a number of upcoming requirements under Health Care Reform.

The following are key highlights:

Determining Minimum Value for Employer “Pay or Play”
Beginning in 2014, certain large employers (generally those with at least 50 full-time employees and full-time equivalents) may be required to pay a penalty if they do not offer full-time employees affordable health coverage that provides “minimum value.”

A final rule outlines acceptable methods for plans to determine minimum value, including a Minimum Value Calculator (now available for informal external testing) for use by employer-sponsored group health plans that are not in the individual or small group market.As an alternative to using the calculator, an employer-sponsored plan will be able to use a number of safe harbor checklists (not yet available) to determine whether the plan provides minimum value without the need to perform any calculations.

Guidance on Integrated vs. Stand-Alone HRAs for Compliance with Annual Limit Rules

A new set of FAQs provides guidance regarding the distinction between integrated and stand-alone HRAs for purposes of compliance with the upcoming prohibition on annual dollar limits with respect to coverage of “essential health benefits.” In general, HRAs that are “integrated” with other coverage as part of a group health plan that itself has no annual limits will be deemed to comply with the requirement to eliminate annual limits, while “stand-alone” HRAs will violate the rules.

The FAQs clarify that:

  • An HRA is not considered integrated with primary health coverage offered by the employer unless the HRA is available only to employees who are covered by primary group health plan coverage provided by the employer and meeting the annual limit requirements.
  • An employer-sponsored HRA cannot be integrated with individual market coverage or with an employer plan that provides coverage through individual policies.
  • An employer-sponsored HRA may be treated as integrated with other coverage only if the employee receiving the HRA is actually enrolled in that coverage.
  • Future guidance is expected to provide that unused amounts credited before January 1, 2014, consisting of amounts credited before January 1, 2013 and amounts credited in 2013 under the terms of an HRA as in effect on January 1, 2013, generally may be used after December 31, 2013 to reimburse medical expenses in accordance with those terms without causing the HRA to fail to comply with the annual limit rules.

Standards for Essential Health Benefits and Limits on Cost-Sharing

Also beginning in 2014, non-grandfathered health plans offered in the individual and small group markets will be required to cover “essential health benefits” and meet certain actuarial values (the percentage of total average costs for covered benefits a plan will cover), detailed in the final rule.

In addition, non-grandfathered group health plans will need to ensure that cost-sharing under the plan for such coverage does not exceed certain limitations, including limits on both out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles. Under the final rule and FAQs:

  • The annual limitation on out-of-pocket expenses applies generally to all non-grandfathered group health plans, and is tied to the enrollee out-of-pocket limit for high deductible health plans in connection with health savings accounts (HSAs); and
  • Non-grandfathered plans in the small group market must comply with the annual limitation on deductibles, which may not exceed $2,000 (for self-only coverage) or $4,000 (for non-self-only coverage) for plan years beginning in calendar year 2014. Contributions to flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) are not taken into account when determining the deductible maximum.

Guidance on Coverage of Preventive Services
A new set of FAQs addresses a number of issues related to the requirement that non-grandfathered group plans cover recommended preventive services without cost-sharing, including clarification regarding coverage of over-the-counter recommended items and services and preventive services for women.

Guaranteed Availability of Coverage and Limits on Premium Variations

A final rule has been issued regarding the requirements related to guaranteed availability of coverage and fair premiums for issuers offering non-grandfathered health insurance coverage in the individual or small group market.

  • For plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014, issuers are required to accept every individual and employer in the state that applies for coverage, subject to certain exceptions.
  • In addition, issuers will be allowed to vary premiums only based on age (within a 3:1 ratio for adults), tobacco use (within a 1.5:1 ratio for adults and subject to wellness program requirements in the small group market), family size, and geography.

Contact G.R. Reid Healthcare & Benefit Services for more information regarding these updates and to stay on top of changes.

Posted on in category: Disability Insurance, Group Health Benefits | Leave a comment