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Salt Lake City Law Blog

Charitable giving in an estate plan

Some estate owners in Utah might be interested in the benefits of incorporating charitable giving in an estate plan. Taxes are one reason to consider charitable giving, but it can also be a way for a person to create a legacy. Philanthropy can also be indirectly beneficial to other heirs.

First, a person must decide what charity to contribute to. Estate owners who are uncertain might consider their personal values and concerns. They might also consider what they want their long-term legacy to be.

Negotiating child support when the parents share custody

Utah parents who have ended their relationship and are negotiating child custody should be aware of how joint parenting and child support work in relation to each other. They should also consider that there are three aspects of custody that they must negotiate for as they work toward a fair, sustainable custody and support settlement.

The three aspects of child custody are legal and physical custody and parenting time. Legal custody gives parents the ability to make major decisions about their children such as medical and educational decisions. In some states, not having legal custody means a parent is considered non-custodial, which can take away more rights from the parents if not handled correctly. Physical custody is the time the child will spend with the parent, and the ideal is 50 percent with each parent. Parenting time helps protect the relationship between the parent and child.

Why an estate plan is important

Some Utah residents may think they do not need an estate plan because they do not have many assets, and other people simply put off creating one. One survey found that more than 40 percent of people do not have one. However, there are a number of reasons all adults should have an estate plan.

An estate plan designates who will receive which assets. At minimum, people should make sure their beneficiary designations for retirement accounts, life insurance and other accounts are current. Without a will or a trust, the state will decide how other assets are distributed. However, an estate plan is also important in making plans in case a person becomes incapacitated. Documents that appoint people to manage finances and health care can ensure that the person's wishes are carried out.

Preparing for a child custody case

When Utah parents decide to divorce or end their relationships, they may not know what to expect when they enter the child custody system. The idea of going to court to determine the future caregiver of a child can be intimidating and confusing. However, by preparing for a child custody hearing, parents can put plans in place so that they can achieve their desired outcomes. It is important for a person who is seeking custody to be aware of and ready for a court hearing, including dressing appropriately, being prepared to present positive testimony and readying relevant arguments.

A family law attorney can work with someone to prepare his or her presentation for a custody hearing. This argument can address how the person can provide for the child emotionally as well as practically and financially. It is important for parents to present solutions to logistical problems, such as how child care will be provided when they are at work. People should also be able to show that they can provide appropriate privacy and living space for the child. Witnesses can also help support a person's case for custody. People like babysitters and teachers can speak about the individual's parenting ability and personal experiences.

Protecting your relationship with your child after divorce

Utah parents know how difficult it is to navigate matters related to child custody and visitation during the process of divorce. These matters are emotionally complex and often quite contentious, and in some cases, can lead to complex disputes that do not necessarily diminish after the divorce. You may find yourself embroiled in custody difficulties even well after the finalization of the process.

Some parents may attempt to interfere with the other parent's relationship with his or her child through various methods. This is parenting time interference, and it is a type of custody dispute that can greatly affect your role in the life of your child. If you are experiencing this type of problem, you will find it beneficial to take quick action to protect your rights and interests.

Documentation and access vital for cryptocurrency estate planning

State law in Utah has begun to catch up with the realities of digital assets. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have become mainstream investments, and the law now recognizes that executors need to manage digital assets as well as traditional assets. A benefactor writing a will still needs to declare how to distribute these assets and how to access them.

Cryptocurrency accounts are kept safe with technological controls like personal identification numbers, passphrases, timelocks and multisignature systems. A person wishing to pass on these assets needs to record where and how to access them. Without access information, no one can ever claim the assets, not even with a court order. A person should create two copies of a printed list containing the access information and store them in places where heirs can access them when the time comes. An old-fashioned paper document could serve this purpose better than a digital storage device because a USB drive might not work with a future computer's operating system.

Challenges parents face when dividing an estate among children

Decisions about how to bequeath assets to children and grandchildren sometimes challenge Utah residents. Conflicted feelings could arise among parents struggling to choose between equal distributions or fair distributions. No single approach defines fairness, and parents also might worry about the prospect of creating resentment among heirs.

Problems usually happen when some children have done well financially and others live paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes the children with few financial resources have already received support from their parents. When the socioeconomic circumstances vary among children, parents might feel compelled to provide larger shares to the less fortunate compared to their affluent offspring. The more fortunate siblings, however, could feel insulted by these choices, especially if they believe that their parents are rewarding irresponsible behavior.

How tax laws impact divorce planning

Those who are getting divorced in Utah may be impacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). This law has altered how alimony is treated for divorces that are finalized in 2019 and later. For instance, alimony is no longer considered income to the recipient and a tax deduction for the person making the payment. This could have the effect of lowering spousal support.

While many assume that this will only impact women, it may affect men who are receiving alimony as well. According to the 2010 census, 3 percent of alimony recipients were men. Generally speaking, alimony goes from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse. Since the higher-earning spouse typically has a higher tax rate, that person benefited more by deducting larger alimony payments each year.

Estate planning still has benefits even if you do not have kids

Everyone has unique reasons for wanting to create an estate plan. As beneficial as they can be, some people may think that for one reason or another that they do not need to create a plan. However, this notion could lead to considerable complications later on, and you may want to remember that all adults could benefit from having an estate plan.

You may find yourself among the many adults who do not have children. As a result, you may think that you do not need an estate plan because you do not have children to bequeath assets to. This mindset may not actually suit your circumstances. Even without children, you could have a number of reasons to create an estate plan.

How money problems may lead to divorce

Some marriages in Utah might end because of disputes about money. While this is a common reason for divorce, financial issues may take different forms.

Communication is one major problem, and failing to effectively communicate about finances is likely to lead to problems later. Some people may even keep secret accounts, and this can be a breach of trust that is hard to come back from. One solution is for couples to sit down every month and go over their finances, including how much each has saved and spent.

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