Your Money: Sharing Family Getaways Without Any Cottage Conflicts

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Picture it: 40 picturesque acres nestled in Wisconsin lake country.

That is the ideal getaway the grandfather of Chicago financial planner Tim Obendorf’s wife built around 50 years ago. Then the property passed to the next generation, with ownership shared by four people.

Now they are thinking about the next generation: 11 potential owners.

Without the right planning, that paradise could turn into hell.

As brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents gather this summer at family homes to go hiking, canoeing or swimming, there will also be arguments over schedules, property taxes or mortgage costs, and upkeep duties, along with the thousand other matters that come with shared homeownership.

“Whenever a number of families are under the same roof, conflicts are going to arise,” said Jill Shipley, managing director of family dynamics for Abbot Downing, a division of Wells Fargo that handles high-net-worth families and foundations.

That is why Obendorf’s family has already logged a couple of family meetings. “It’s never going to be perfect, but you have to decide you value the place, more than the hassles of working through family issues,” said Obendorf.

It is not surprising that vacation homes have become a point of contention. Many vacation homeowners are baby boomers: They possess the bulk of the nation’s assets and are projected to hold over 50 percent by 2020, according to a study by the Deloitte Center for Financial Services. They are now beginning to retire as they hit their 60s and 70s.

The potential problems are plentiful: Is the place big enough for everybody? Who gets it on July 4th weekend? Do they split costs equally? Who cleans up, handles repairs, or stocks the fridge?

And the big one: When the owners eventually pass on – who gets the place?

How can families get the most out of shared vacation properties this summer, without either going broke or killing each other? Some tips from the experts:

Draw Up a Calendar

Just like season tickets for a sports team, some dates will be in high demand. So if the property is not big enough to handle multiple families at once – or, let’s face it, you just do not get along – pick your spots. “Establish a rotating lottery each year, and allow each family member to pick their respective dates,” suggests Kevin Reardon, a financial planner in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

Write Down a Policy

Everyone has different opinions of what a getaway should be, so hash it out and put it all down on paper. One key item: Whether ongoing costs like property taxes, homeowner’s association dues and repairs are split equally, or allocated based on usage.

Create an Opt-out

A sure way to guarantee family resentment: One member being forced into an arrangement they do not want. If a family cottage is being passed to the next generation, allow an escape hatch that permits one member’s share to be bought out by their siblings. After all, not everyone might be able to use the property to the same extent, especially if they have moved far away.

Bring in a Pro

Siblings, of course, do not always get along. In fact, 15 percent of adult siblings report arguing over money, according to a new survey from Ameriprise Financial. To make sure everyone is heard, bringing in a trained facilitator is probably your best bet, advises Shipley.

Have the Discussion Now

“I have been in many family meetings where the kids ask, ‘I wonder what mom and dad would have wanted?'” says Shipley. So if you are fortunate enough that the family matriarch and patriarch are still around, arrange a family meeting and find out what they envision for the property in the decades to come.

Maybe they want it to stay in the family, as a legacy for the grandkids. Or maybe, because of family circumstances like far-flung siblings, it would be wiser to just sell the property and split the proceeds.

Set up a Trust

One way to take future financial squabbles out of the equation altogether: If families have the resources, they should create a trust to “fund the maintenance and ongoing use of the property in perpetuity,” says Shipley. “That is one solution to reduce conflict, and keep the property in the family for generations.”

 

 

 

Written By: Chris Taylor
Source: Reuters

2017 Tax Planning Guide

During this Tax Season, we want to provide you with a great Tax Planning Guide to help you evaluate your options and outline tax planning strategies with your accounting professional.

In addition to referencing this guide during the tax season, it can also be a helpful year-round tool. Staying actively involved in these and other underlying areas of tax planning will keep you in a position to preserve and create longer-term wealth for yourself and your family.

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Are You Leaving the Same Amount to All of Your Beneficiaries?

Father Holding Daughter's Hand
Spirit-Fire/Flickr

One-third of all parents with wills have divided their estates unequally among their children, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). The study found bequests in complex families – families with stepchildren or estranged children – are more likely to be unequal. The Squared Away Blog reported:

“…parents with stepchildren are considerably less likely to include all of their children than are parents who have only biological offspring. This is more true for women with stepchildren than for men with stepchildren. Divorced and widowed parents are even less likely to divide their assets evenly if they have stepchildren.”

The blog reported there were some mitigating factors. Wealthier parents were more likely to include stepchildren and children with whom they had little or no contact during their lifetimes than less wealthy parents. However, parents who suffered from poor health were less likely to divide their estates equally. Bequests sometimes were used as an incentive to provide long-term care.

Since children may interpret unequal inheritance as an expression of unequal love, why do parents play favorites? Researchers at Ohio State University delved into the question in 2003 and reported altruism (equalizing income differences among children), exchange (bequests in return for services), and/or evolution (bequests to biological children rather than adopted or stepchildren) played a role when distribution of assets was uneven.

You Won the Lottery, Now What?

Lottery
Provided by Bryan Cave

With up to $1.4 Billion at stake in Wednesday’s Powerball, those who play the lottery are busy making plans for what to do with all the money they may win.  If you win it, you won’t ever have to worry about money again – right?

Wrong.

With good financial planning, estate planning and money management you and your loved ones could live well for many, many years. However, without smart planning, your new found fortune could be gone as quickly as it was acquired.

Here are a few steps to help you stay clear of “the curse of the lottery:”

  • Safeguard the Ticket. The first thing you should do is sign the back of the ticket, make a Xerox copy of it and place it in a safe location.
  • Remain anonymous if your state allows it. Lottery rules vary state by state. Depending on where you live, you may elect to stay anonymous or you might be allotted a certain amount of time before going public with your winnings. Some states even allow continued anonymity by establishing vehicles such as trusts or limited liability companies to receive the winnings. Check your state rules to assess your options. Remaining anonymous can help prevent friends, families, and strangers from contacting you or asking for unwarranted hand-outs and donations.
  • Assemble a team of legal, tax and financial advisors. Find trusted lawyers, certified public accountants and financial advisors who preferably have experience with representing lottery winners or other high-net worth individuals. The advisors will be able to help you navigate risk and tax liability.  For example, you will quickly be faced with the choice between taking the prize money in one lump sum or having it paid out over a certain time period.  Your advisors can help you analyze the best payment plan for you and consult with you on how the lottery check(s) should be deposited.
  • Review and update your estate planning documents. You likely now have significantly more assets than you did prior to winning the lottery. Review and update any estate planning documents to ensure that upon death your assets transfer according to your wishes.

Written by Tiffany McKenzie and Stephanie Moll of Bryan Cave

(Source: Bryan Cave)

3 Smart Ways Senior Citizens Can Save Money

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

If you’re a senior citizen, one of your primary financial goals should be to make sure the money you’ve saved lasts as long as you do. Of course, the most obvious ways to do this are to save as much as possible before you retire, and to use the money from your nest egg wisely. With that in mind, here are three smart ways you may be able to lower your expenses in retirement, and make your savings last as long as possible.

Take advantage of senior discounts

Don’t be afraid to ask for a senior discount when you’re out shopping or dining. Many establishments offer senior discounts, and not all of them are advertised.

Just as a reference, according to theseniorlist.com, there are about 100 restaurant, retail, and grocery store chains that offer senior discounts, and some are quite generous. To name just a few, seniors are entitled to

  • 15% off at Belk on the first Tuesday of each month
  • 20% off at Rite Aid on the first Wednesday of each month
  • 10% off at Chick-Fil-A, or a free drink or coffee
  • 10% off at Wendy’s
  • 5% off at Kroger one day per week

Finally, keep in mind that this just refers to the discounts offered by large chains. Thousands of local and regional businesses offer senior discounts as well. Many are offered to people as young as 55. So, whether or not you consider yourself to be a “senior citizen” just yet, those 10% and 15% discounts can add up to hundreds or even thousands in savings each year.

Join AARP

You can join AARP as early as age 50 at a cost of just $16 per year, and your membership can pay for itself many times over. For starters, many businesses offer additional discounts to AARP members beyond what is discussed above, such as 25% off at Papa John’s and 20% off at Denny’s.

Many travel discounts are available, such as 15% off from Starwood Hotels and Resorts and 5% off from Norwegian Cruise Lines. In addition, AARP runs its own travel center in partnership with Expedia, where members can enjoy discounted rental cars, flights, and hotel rooms that aren’t available to the general public.

AARP members are entitled to other potentially money-saving resources including:

  • Free tax help — the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide helps 2.6 million taxpayers with their returns each year
  • Financial planning and estate planning resources
  • Free webinars covering topics such as Social Security and Medicare
  • Member-exclusive insurance programs offered through companies such as The Hartford and New York Life

Spend your money wisely

One of the smartest ways seniors can save money is with some responsible tax planning. Specifically, many seniors have their retirement savings spread among several different types of accounts, and the order in which you tap into these can make a big difference.

Any money you have saved in a traditional (taxable) brokerage account should be the first place you turn to withdraw money to meet your expenses. Tax-advantaged accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs should be left alone for as long as possible in order to take advantage of tax-free compounding (you don’t pay capital gains or dividend taxes each year in these accounts).

Once your taxable accounts are exhausted, then and only then does it make sense to tap into retirement accounts. First to go should be your tax-advantaged accounts, such as traditional IRAs and 401(k)s. These have required minimum distributions beginning when you are 70 1/2 years old, and your withdrawals are taxable, so it makes sense to use these next.

Finally, any money you were wise enough to save in Roth accounts should be used last. Roth accounts have no RMD requirements, and all withdrawals after age 59 1/2 are tax-free. So, it makes sense to take advantage of the tax-free growth in your Roth IRA for as long as possible.

The point here is that order matters when it comes to your retirement savings. If you’ve saved money in several account types, by tapping into your savings in a strategic manner, you can save yourself thousands of dollars in taxes over the course of your retirement.

Written by Matthew Frankel of The Motley Fool

(Source: The Motley Fool)