I'm guessing only planners may think like this but I have always been fascinated after a celebrity passing, what type of planning they may have done to protect their estate and pass their successes on to the next generation. Recently we lost Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher in the same week and I couldn't help but take a peak at what their various estates looked like and what level of planning may have been accomplished.
By Roy Larsen, CFP®, AAMS®
What if’s are very rarely top of mind for most of us but with a little knowledge, time and most importantly execution, peace of mind for a possible incapacitation can be quickly addressed. In this article I hope to address the basic differences in Power of Attorneys’ and when this simple document simply isn’t enough. Lastly, what powers do you have if something happens to your adult children and grandchildren?
Did that last one get you thinking? Let’s start there:
As the surviving spouse, you have several filing choices that may be appropriate. You may be able to choose married filing jointly, married filing separately, qualifying widow(er), or head of household.
Married filing jointly: You can usually file a joint return for the year your spouse died. Generally, you'll have to file in cooperation with the executor or administrator of your spouse's estate. If you remarry before year-end, you cannot file a joint return with your deceased spouse for that year.
Married filing separately: To determine the most advantageous approach, you should figure taxes according to both the married filing jointly status and the married filing separately status.
Qualifying widow(er): If you meet certain requirements (e.g., you support a dependent child for whom you can claim a tax exemption, and you have not remarried), you can file as a qualifying widow(er) in each of the two years following the year of your spouse's death. This status allows you to use the married filing jointly tax rates.
Head of household: If you are ineligible to file jointly or as a qualifying widow(er), the head of household filing status may be possible. To qualify, you must provide support for a relative and meet several conditions.
Regardless of whether you file a joint return or a separate return for your spouse, you must write "DECEASED" across the top of the return, along with your spouse's name and date of death.
If you file a joint return and no personal representative has been appointed, write your (and your spouse's) name, address, and Social Security number in the regular name/address space at the top of the return. To sign the return, write "Filing as Surviving Spouse" in the space for your spouse's signature, then sign in the space for your own signature. If you are not filing a joint return, write your spouse's name at the top of the return and the personal representative's name and address in the remaining space. If a personal representative has been appointed, he or she must sign the return. Again, you must also sign if it is a joint return.
For additional details, consult a tax professional.
Roy Larsen, CFP®, AAMS® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner, financial advisor and wealth manager. Roy is President and CCO of Larsen Wealth Management, LLC, a Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisory firm in Cumming, Georgia. Roy is an expert in successful retirement living and specializes in holistically managing the multiple planning and investing issues surrounding the receipt of a large lump sum. Roy Larsen, CFP®, AAMS® is available in all 50 States. He can be reached for comment at 678-456-8138,email@example.com or www.investinretirement.net
Roy Larsen is a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and Fee Only Wealth Manager who resides outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
Roy's Financial Blog contains articles on multiple financial life events as well as his favorite questions from he receives from around the country as a an expert panel member for Investopedia's Advisor Insights.