Monday, July 9, 2012

Estate tax changes for couples

The clock is ticking to make strategic changes before the end of 2012.

Fidelity Viewpoints
– 01/13/2012

Couples with estate planning needs only have a one-year window of opportunity to make changes or adjustments to their estate plans before federal estate tax exemption levels change and tax hikes set in on January 1, 2013.

For 2012, the current law provides a generous $5,120,000 per person federal estate tax exemption and taxes estates over that amount at a top rate of 35%. This compares with a $1 million per person federal estate tax exemption and a 55% effective top tax rate scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2013.

Perhaps even more important for some married couples, the current law contains a portability provision. During 2012, if one spouse dies without using up his or her federal estate tax exemption, the unused portion may be transferred to the surviving spouse if elected by the executor of the estate of the first-to-die spouse.

To read more click here Estate Tax Changes for Couples, cont.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Chicago Sun-Times
By DAVID PITT AP Personal Finance Writer May 15, 2011 4:54PM

There’s a tremendous lack of knowledge when it comes to planning for health care costs in retirement.
A new survey by Sun Life Financial found that 92 percent of workers said they don’t know how much their health care will cost in retirement or vastly underestimate the amount.
Forty percent said they have “no idea” what their health care costs are likely to be in retirement. Only 8 percent were in the correct ballpark estimating costs of $200,000 or more. Another 51 percent estimated less than $200,000 would be needed.
Developing a plan should alleviate anxiety. Here are four ideas to help prepare for unexpected medical costs.

Friday, March 30, 2012

How is a 90% long-term care insurance rate hike OK? - Chicago Sun-Times

How is a 90% long-term care rate hike OK? - Chicago Sun-Times
TERRY SAVAGE March 18, 2012 7:26PM

Bob Levy, age 69, and his wife, Cheryl, age 64, each bought John Hancock long term care insurance policies 10 years ago. And every year since then they have paid a combined premium of $3893.40 per year. The couple live on a fixed income and the low interest they earn on their savings. So they were shocked when Cheryl received a notice of a 90 percent increase in the annual premium for the policy. Then Bob got a similar notice. It means they would now pay $7,385.52 a year.

“Needless to say I was shocked and disappointed. . . . what a waste of money!,” says Bob. “How can that kind of increase be approved by the State of Illinois? Why hasn’t there been any media coverage? And what should we be doing?”
* * *

They did the right thing — hoping to avoid the dreaded outcome of being older, alone, and in need of everyday care that is not covered by Medicare or supplements. They knew that long-term custodial care — at home or in assisted living or in a nursing home — now costs $7,000 a month, and rising yearly.

So they purchased Long-term Care Insurance — something I have highly recommended to defray the future cost of care if it is needed.
But now, many people who purchased long-term care insurance are getting a shock. The insurance companies that wrote these important policies are sending out notices of huge rate increases. In the case of John Hancock LTC policies, the increases are as high as 90 percent annually. ... Click here for the full story.

*Terry Savage is the Chicago Sun-Times’ nationally syndicated financial columnist, and a registered investment adviser. Post personal finance questions on her blog at and