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Divorce: A challenging topic to broach with kids

If you're one of many Ohio parents who are currently preparing for divorce, you likely have a thousand things on your mind at any given moment. From thinking about your future and how to execute a fair and agreeable settlement to helping your kids adapt to a new lifestyle, divorce can be quite challenging at times. Regarding your children, like most good parents, you have their best interests in mind.

You may wonder what the best way might be to explain the upcoming changes in their lives. Divorce need not ruin your kids' futures. In fact, children are typically quite resilient and adaptable by nature. There is no one way to talk to them about divorce; however, by keeping certain issues in mind, you may have a more positive experience. It's also a good idea to know where to seek support if a problem arises.

Dealing with retirement funds during divorce

When older couples in Ohio decide to divorce, they may face different concerns than those who end their marriages at a younger age. While concerns about child custody and support may no longer be relevant, financial concerns can be a top priority for those approaching retirement. Divorce among Americans over 50 has doubled in the past two decades and continues to rise. For people in this demographic, a split in retirement investments can have a significant impact on financial outlooks for the future.

In addition, it is important for people going through a divorce to properly split these funds. Even in an amicable situation where the parties are fully prepared to divide a 401(k), the proper procedures must be followed in order to avoid a costly and unnecessary hit in taxes, fees and penalties. Some kinds of assets, like annuities, can be more difficult to divide. Therefore, it might make more sense to keep them in the name of one spouse in return for other properties or investments.

What to know about being an executor

Ohio residents who are named the executor of an estate may have many resources at their disposal to help them do the job properly. For instance, there is literature that explains different estate plan documents and what they do. An attorney may also be consulted by an individual who needs help settling an estate. An executor is more likely to need legal or other assistance if the estate is large or otherwise complicated.

The executor is the person who is tasked with overseeing an estate through the probate process. He or she will need to locate assets, distribute them according to the will and pay taxes. It is important for anyone in this role to act in the deceased person's best interests. Otherwise, the executor could face legal consequences. Those who are concerned with legal issues may refuse to carry out the role, and in this case, another person will be appointed to act as the deceased's representative in court.

How special needs trusts are used

Some Ohio residents might wonder what a special needs trust is and if one might be helpful in an estate plan. A special needs trust can help a person who receives government benefits get additional assistance without having to forfeit the benefits.

Trusts are, in general, documents that create a three-way relationship. There is the person who creates the trust, the trustee and the beneficiary. The job of the trustee is to manage the trust responsibly.

Divorce can place additional stress on retirement assets

Half of the households in Ohio and around the country may struggle during retirement, according to an index developed by Boston College's Center for Retirement Research. Unfortunately, the figures are even more alarming for those who have been through a divorce. Researchers say that this is largely because divorced spouses are no longer able to save money by sharing expenses. In addition, they may be facing important financial decisions for the first time.

Couples who divorce after decades of marriage may find it especially difficult to plan adequately for retirement. The problem also seems likely to get worse in the years ahead. While the overall divorce rate in the United States has remained fairly steady in recent decades, the number of couples aged 50 or older choosing to end their marriages doubled between 1990 and 2010. Many older divorced spouses rely on alimony payments to make ends meet, but changes to the nation's tax laws could make spousal support negotiations far more contentious in the future.

What kind of estate plan should I have now that I'm a parent?

After welcoming a new child into the world, your end-of-life preparations are probably the last thing on your mind. More than likely, sleep schedules, diapers and getting to know your new baby will dominate your thoughts. While there is nothing wrong with taking the time to adjust to your newly expanded family, you shouldn't forget about the future. Now is the perfect time to create an estate plan.

If you did not take the time to create an estate plan -- even a basic one -- before your child's birth, now is the time. Updating existing wills and other documents is also necessary to ensure that the child has everything he or she needs should anything happen to you.

Tips for including collectibles in an estate plan

Some people in Ohio might wonder whether and how they should include valuable collectibles in an estate plan. This could include art, fine wine, gems, antiques and more.

Accurate valuation is an important element of passing these collectibles on to loved ones. A person may want to have collectibles appraised while creating the estate plan or might want to suggest two or more auction houses or appraisers to provide some guidance to the executor. It may be a good idea to get a certificate of authentication for rare items of high value. People may want to make a list of all the collectibles. If there have been previous buyers for the collection, they might want to include this information as these buyers may be interested in purchasing additional items. Other information that could be helpful includes purchase date, price and the cost of any improvements.

Why estate planning is important

Estate planning can be helpful to people in Ohio and throughout the country. It can ensure that some or all assets avoid probate, facilitate greater asset protection and allow for greater control of assets after death. At the very least, an individual should have a will to increase the odds that their final wishes are met. Failure to have this basic estate plan document could lead to the state deciding where money or property goes after a person passes on.

Asset protection can take many forms. For example, one may buy an insurance policy to provide protection in the event of an injury. It may also make sense to prevent assets from being eroded in a Medicaid spend down. A spend down is done to allow a person to qualify for benefits in the event that he or she is placed in a nursing home.

Couples aim to be more financially stable after divorce

Increasingly, couples are looking at ways to divorce that costs less and leaves them with greater financial stability. To achieve this, people in Ohio who are getting a divorce might want to consider hiring a financial planner and negotiating a divorce settlement instead of going to litigation.

The first step for a person heading for divorce may be to assemble a supportive team. This team could include family members, the financial planner and an attorney. The team can offer both financial and emotional support.

Creating a reliable estate plan

When creating an estate plan, Ohio residents should consider their needs as well as the needs of those who will receive their assets. For instance, an estate holder could establish a legacy of giving by donating money to charity after passing on. However, this legacy could also be established by donating time and money while still alive as a way to set an example for future generations.

If family members are going to receive money, they should understand that it's a blessing and not an entitlement. Instead of learning to love money, beneficiaries should be taught how to use that money to do good for others. Family members should also understand that they may receive an inheritance based on their needs. This means that a school teacher who has worked hard will get more than a doctor who already has money.

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