Ask A PRO
“Justin, my dad recently passed away, and my mom has been hit with a surprise that we don’t know how to handle. She recently received word from the tax assessor that her house is not, and never was, in her name. Apparently, when my dad purchased it decades ago, the title company put it in his name only. I always thought that when a husband died, all his property automatically passed to his wife, but now I’m being told that’s not right and she needs a probate. What can we do to keep the house out of probate?” Steve
Answer: Steve, I’m sorry to hear about your father’s passing, and I’m sorry that your mother is running into these legal troubles on top of that. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we’ll be able to do anything to keep the house out of probate if it was only in your father’s name when he died. Even though he left a spouse, and common sense would tell you the house should automatically be hers, that’s not how the law works.
Anytime a person dies with property in his or her own name, with no co-owners and no death beneficiaries listed, that property must pass through probate no matter what his or her family situation may have been. You didn’t mention whether your father had a will, but even if he did, having a last will and testament doesn’t keep a person’s estate out of probate – it simply guides the probate court in wrapping up final affairs. It would have been ideal for your parents to have jointly owned this home, but even that would not have been enough to permanently keep the house out of probate. At your mother’s death, you would still have faced probate court without additional planning.
Every week, our firm helps families stay out of probate court, but it takes advance planning. You cannot wait until after the loss of a loved one to start your probate avoidance plan. We have offices in Springdale, Bentonville, and Fort Smith. For more information on estate planning and elder law issues please call our central number of 479.750.1101 and we will get you directed to the office nearest you!
“Which Retirement Plan Is Right for My Business?”
Answer: If you own a small business, there are many retirement plan alternatives available to help you and your eligible employees save for retirement. For most closely-held business owners, a Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account (SEP IRA) was once the most cost-effective choice. Then the Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE IRA) became a viable alternative. Today you may find that a defined benefit or 401(k) plan best suits your needs. To make an informed decision on which plan is right for your business, review the differences carefully before you choose. Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account (SEP IRA). This plan is flexible, easy to set up, and has low administrative costs. An employer signs a plan adoption agreement, and IRAs are set up for each eligible employee. When choosing this plan, keep in mind that it does not allow employees to save through payroll deductions, and contributions are immediately 100% vested.
The maximum an employer can contribute each year is 25% of an employee’s eligible compensation, up to a maximum of $270,000 for 2017. However, the contribution for any individual cannot exceed $54,000 in 2017. Employer contributions are typically discretionary and may vary from year to year. With this plan, the same formula must be used to calculate the contribution amount for all eligible employees, including any owners. Eligible employees include those who are age 21 and older and those employed (both part time and full time) for three of the last five years. Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE). If you want a plan that encourages employees to save for retirement, a SIMPLE IRA might be appropriate for you. In order to select this plan, you must have 100 or fewer eligible employees who earned $5,000 or more in compensation in the preceding year and have no other employer-sponsored retirement plans to which contributions were made or accrued during that calendar year. There are no annual IRS fillings or complex paperwork, and employer contributions are tax deductible for your business. The plan encourages employees to save for retirement through payroll deductions; contributions are immediately 100% vested.
The maximum salary deferral limit to a SIMPLE IRA plan cannot exceed $12,500 for 2017. If an employee is age 50 or older before December 31, then an additional catch-up contribution of $3,000 is permitted. Each year the employer must decide to do either a matching contribution (the lesser of the employee’s salary deferral or 3% of the employee’s compensation) or non-matching contribution of 2% of an employee’s compensation (limited to $270,000 for 2017). All participants in the plan must be notified of the employer’s decision.
Defined benefit pension plan. This type of plan helps build savings quickly. It generally produces a much larger tax-deductible contribution for your business than a defined contribution plan; however, annual employer contributions are mandatory since each participant is promised a monthly benefit at retirement age. Since this plan is more complex to administer, the services of an enrolled actuary are required. All plan assets must be held in a pooled account, and your employees cannot direct their investments.
Certain factors affect an employer’s contribution for a plan, such as current value of the plan assets, the ages of employees, date of hire, and compensation. A participating employee with a large projected benefit and only a few years until normal retirement age generates a large contribution because there is little time to accumulate the necessary value to produce the stated benefit at retirement. The maximum annual benefit at retirement is the lesser of 100% of the employee’s compensation or $215,000 per year in 2017 (indexed for inflation).
401(k) plans. This plan may be right for your company if you want to motivate your employees to save towards retirement and give them a way to share in the firm’s profitability. 401(k) plans are best suited for companies seeking flexible contribution methods.
When choosing this plan type, keep in mind that the employee and employer have the ability to make contributions. The maximum salary deferral limit for a 401(k) plan is $18,000 for 2017. If an employee is age 50 or older before December 31, then an additional catch-up contribution of $6,000 is permitted. The maximum amount you, as the employer, can contribute is 25% of the eligible employee’s total compensation (capped at $270,000 for 2017). Individual allocations for each employee cannot exceed the lesser of 100% of compensation or $54,000 in 2017. The allocation of employer profit-sharing contributions can be skewed to favor older employees, if using age-weighted and new comparability features. Generally, IRS Forms 5500 and 5500-EZ (along with applicable schedules) must be filed each year.
Once you have reviewed your business’s goals and objectives, you should check with your Financial Advisor to evaluate the best retirement plan option for your financial situation.
This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Trey Coleman, Financial Advisor in Springdale AR at (479) 756-0600.
Wells Fargo Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice. Be sure to consult with your tax and legal advisors before taking any action that could have tax consequences.
Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE
Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC, Members SIPC, separate registered broker-dealers and Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC.
“I am thinking about retiring soon and there’s so much to think about. Can someone like you help me answer all my questions?”
Answer: Congratulations on your (almost) decision to retire! You are right - there are many things to think about before you decide to retire. If you haven’t already been working with an advisor, don’t worry, it’s not too late. As far as my being able to answer “all” your questions, I have to say I probably can’t. But I can certainly answer the ones in my expertise and help you get any other answers you need.
One of the first things people worry about when they think about retiring is their income. Obviously if you are going to quit your job, you are going to need to replace that income. Being on a fixed income really is a scary thought to almost everyone so don’t think you are alone with any anxiety you feel. It’s normal.
How much income will you need in retirement. It involves some serious discussions about what your lifestyle will look like. Also, are you going to continue working part-time? Are you starting to draw social security? What kind of income can you get from your retirement plan, IRA, or other savings? Your advisor needs a detailed picture of your current financial situation.
Let’s talk about expenses. I’ve heard that in retirement, “every day is Saturday.” That sounds great until you realize that you spend most of your money on Saturdays, right? We all see those commercials with people retiring to exotic locations or taking luxury vacations. The reality for most of us looks like downsizing from your current home to something smaller. And for many, that exotic vacation involves seeing some shows in Branson. And that’s ok! Whatever the plan, you need to make sure it’s something you can live with long term. Always remember it’s “Your” plan, not your advisors.
Just being honest here… if you haven’t started preparing and you are nearing 60 or 65, your options are limited. And that’s why it’s very important that you visit with someone you trust because you have no margin for error. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. If we can help get this conversation started, please give us a call.
If you have questions about Medicare, or health insurance in general, please give our office a call at 479-855-6334. Getting the right information is critical to making the best decision. For advice on all things related to life after 60, please tune in every Wednesday at 9am to our radio program, “Medicare, Medicaid, and Long Term Care.” Listen live on KURM-AM 790 or online at www.kurm.net. Also, on August 10th at 10:30 a.m. I present, “Welcome to Medicare”, an informative hour of information at the Schmieding Center, 2422 N. Thompson St. in Springdale. There is no cost and you don’t have to pre-register.
“Mom and Dad will be needing assistance soon in their home. I have heard about a program that helps people at home. I believe it is funded through Medicaid. Do you know about this?”
Answer: Yes, you are probably referring to the ARChoices Program. ARChoices is a home- and community-based program funded by Medicaid as an alternative to nursing home care. Beneficiaries can be 21 and older with certain financial and medical need requirements. An ARChoices recipient may receive a combination of services based on medical need and the availability of services. Services that could be covered are: Adult Day Care, Adult Day Health Care, Attendant Care, Environmental Adaptations, Home Delivered Meals, Personal Emergency Response System, and Respite Care. Some areas of the state offer Adult Family Homes. A person who is an ARChoices recipient also is eligible for all other regular Medicaid services, such as prescription medications, doctors, and hospital services. Some of the services included under Attendant Care include: help with light housekeeping, meals, medication reminders, transportation, errands and personal care activities such as bathing, dressing and grooming. If you need assistance or have any other questions regarding the ARChoices program, I would be happy to help you.
Call us for a free, no obligation consultation with detailed information on caregiving assistance, contact our Fayetteville office at 2208 Main Dr. – 479-587-9551; or our Rogers office at 104 N. 37th St. – 479-636-7700.
“What is the main reason for compressor failure?”
Answer: There are several reasons for compressor failure, but the main reason is neglect. Poor filter maintenance starves the unit for air across the evaporator coil, thus causing low suction pressure and high pressure on the high side. This low suction will flood liquid Freon back to the compressor causing damage. Eventually, poor filter maintenance will cause the evaporator coil to be covered with lint and air can barely pass through the coil.
Another reason is low Freon levels. This will cause the unit to die an early death. The unit runs hot and will cook the oil. This is harder to diagnose with a heat pump. When an air conditioner unit is low on Freon and you come home to a hot house, something is wrong with the A/C unit. In the winter when your heat pump is low on Freon, it is harder to tell because it might be running on the heat strips. This is bad and will give you a high electric bill, but it’s worse if it’s sitting out there self-destructing.
I have seen bad condenser fan motors take out compressors. Even run capacitors have done the same.
The hardest thing to diagnose for compressor failure is poor installation of the unit, like a Freon line that is too long with too much lift in a two or three story house. Also, diagnosis is hard for a return air or ductwork that is too small.
In fact, I was shocked to find out that new construction, which traditionally uses bottom grade equipment, has a lesser rate of failure of compressors than retro-fit or replacement units. This is according to manufacturer’s statistics. I have thought about this and believe the guys that put in the replacement units have problems adapting the new size to the old fittings. Or, they fail to change what needs to be changed - such as proper Freon lines.
But the important thing is clear. The money you pay for a checkup is very important for the longevity of your unit. Please call Bella Vista Heating and Air if you have any questions and for all your HVAC needs. (479) 273-9640.
#3 Pruitt Lane, Bentonville, AR 72712 Phone: (479) 273-9640 • Fax: (479) 273-9702 Owner of Bella Vista Heating & Air, Inc., Since 1979 Bachelor of Science degree from Arkansas Tech Masters of Education degree from University of Arkansas Bella Vista Heating & Air Larry Pruitt
Wells Fargo Advisors 6815 Isaac’s Orchard Rd, Suite C Springdale AR 72762 479-756-0600 Vice President-Investment Officer RobertW.“Trey”Coleman III
Byretta H. Fish 2208 Main Drive Fayetteville, AR 72704 479-587-9551 Superior Senior Care
Corporon Insurance & Financial Services 1801 Forest Hills Blvd. #124 Bella Vista 479-855-6334 AR/NPN License# 7463967 President and CEO Will Corporon
Elder Law Attorneys Certified Elder Law attorneys Springdale, Bentonville, Fort Smith 479.750.1101
Justin S. Elrod