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3 ways you can avoid probate

Have you heard the word probate before? If so, you likely know that this is a legal process that can wind up costing you a lot of money in taxes. Many people will set up their estate plan in ways that prevent it from reaching the probate stages. Today, we will take a look at three ways that can help you avoid probate, which will put more money in the pocket of your beneficiaries when you are gone.

Make sure that all of your property is owned jointly between you and your spouse. This includes all vehicles, boats, land, commercial real estate and your home. If you have a vacation home, make sure both of you are listed as the owners. When there is joint tenancy present, it means that the ownership will automatically pass to your spouse upon your death and avoid probate.

How to tell if divorce is the right step for your marriage

Not every marriage will end happily ever after. There will be fighting. There will be infidelity. There will be irreconcilable differences. All of this can add up to one or both spouses agreeing that it is time to go their separate ways. It doesn't mean the marriage was a failure. It just means that the two people are no longer compatible. Here's how to tell if divorce is the right step.

The lack of effort to share common interests, or any interest, with each other is a sign that things have taken a wrong turn in your marriage. Couples that share in each other's interests, or find common ground, will be able to do a lot of things together.

The smart uses for alimony payments

Alimony is always a contested topic of discussion between two divorcing people. When the couple cannot come to an agreement, it will go in front of a family law judge. The judge will make the determination on the amount to be paid based on various factors. If you receive alimony in Memphis, here's the smart uses for these payments.

First and foremost, make sure you stay insured. You will be dropped from your former spouse's insurance policies, so purchase your own. This includes health, dental, vision, homeowners or renters, automotive and any other policy you feel you should have in your name.

Life events that lead to a review of an estate plan

If you already have an estate plan in place for yourself and your spouse you cannot simply file it away and sit on it for years to come. The estate plan is a set of legal documents that should be reviewed every so often to ensure that they still reflect your wishes and your familial situation. Here are the most common life events that should force you to review and update your estate plan.

Having a child is one of the first times you should review and update your estate plan. Don't want until you are done having children to make the necessary changes. An estate plan should be updated with each new child in your family. The same goes for when grandchildren are born to you and your spouse.

Preparing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Everyone goes through tough financial times occasionally. An unexpected car repair, an illness that requires days off work or a rare splurge may set you back for a few weeks. Unfortunately, for many, even the slightest bump in the road can cause their budgets to crumble, leaving them struggling to stretch their paychecks further each week. Soon, the money coming in no longer covers the bills, and creditors begin to demand their payments.

If you are in the situation of facing a mountain of debt you can't pay each month, you may be giving serious consideration to filing for bankruptcy. When your priority is to keep your home, Chapter 13 may be the option that best fits your circumstances. You may have many questions about how this process works and what is expected of you.

Can your spouse get assets from your trust in a divorce?

Trusts are a common component of many estate plans today. People often set up living trusts to hold their assets, including their homes, bank accounts and other property. Many people establish them to hold funds for their children to inherit when they're older. Some trusts can provide protection from creditors and lawsuits. Even if you don't have a trust of your own, you may be the beneficiary of someone else's trust -- perhaps one set up by parents or grandparents.

If you are considering divorce, should you be concerned that your spouse will be entitled to a share of your trust? It all depends. If the trust was set up before you married, it is not considered marital property, and therefore, typically is not subject to division in a divorce.

What is a Ne Exeat Bond?

If your co-parent has family, business or other ties to one or more countries outside the U.S., you may be concerned that they'll take your children abroad and fail to return them. We've all seen heartbreaking cases of parents fighting to get their children back after a parent has taken them to another country. The legal actions necessary to do this can be expensive and offer no guarantee of success, regardless of a couple's custody agreement.

That's where a Ne Exeat Bond may be helpful. Ne Exeat is Latin for "no leaving." This is a surety bond. If a parent takes a child and doesn't return them as required by the custody agreement, the amount of the bond must be paid to the other parent. This is intended to help the other parent pay for the legal costs associated with working to get their child back. The possibility of having to pay the amount of the bond (as opposed to the one percent it costs to get one) is meant to deter parental abduction.

Not paying credit card bills can have major effects

Using credit cards can prove tricky for many Tennessee consumers. You may have some people tell you that you need credit cards to help your credit score, and you may have others who tell you to avoid credit cards if possible. Really, whether credit cards help or harm your financial situation depends on how you use them.

If you are someone who has a steady income, only uses a credit card for small purchases and pays off your balance every month, you may have no problem with credit card use or the potential for that use to harm your credit. However, if you face sudden job loss or another emergency, and need your credit card to pay for an expensive purchase or just to get by when it comes to daily needs, your situation could turn dire quickly.

Dealing with foreign assets in your estate planning

As it becomes easier, less expensive and more common to travel and do business overseas, more people are investing in assets in other countries. Maybe you used some of your retirement savings to buy a little beach house in Mexico. Perhaps you bought an investment property in Italy. Maybe you are part owner of a pub that an old friend opened in England.

It may seem hard to believe, but some people don't realize that they need to include these assets in their estate plan. Unless you want your loved ones to have to figure out what to do with these assets in probate court after you're gone and possibly end up paying unnecessary taxes on them, you need to deal with your foreign assets correctly in your estate plan.

Are you hiding your car from a repossession company?

Missing a car payment can quickly send you spiraling, and soon you receive notices and phone calls warning you of the consequences of your delinquency. Since your vehicle was collateral for the car loan, failure to pay the loan means the lender can claim the vehicle and sell it to get its money back.

In Tennessee, the lender can hire a repossession company to take your vehicle after only a few days of delinquency. You probably need your car to get to work and other important errands. Therefore, the smartest move may seem to be hiding your vehicle from your creditor. Unfortunately, this action almost always ends badly.

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