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September 5, 2017

Why property investment should be a key part of Estate Planning?

plan for your estatePeople underestimate the importance of property investments within estate planning until it’s too late. Estate planning is your declaration after you pass away. You may not want your family to receive money and other assets you intended for your wife and children. Molly McCollough found out how essential property investment within estate planning is the hard way.

Meet Molly

Molly McCollough is a 54 year old woman who is the founder of Theature Company. Molly thought she and her husband has everything figured out. They never thought they needed life insurance or a strategy for financial planning because they were married and didn’t have children, so everything would be left to Molly. After her husband, Joe died, Molly found out being his wife didn’t carry much weight in collecting his estate.

The Issue

Molly’s husband didn’t have a will, and the money he left behind was in a foreign bank account that did not have her name on it. Because Molly’s name was not on any of the accounts, she didn’t have access to anything.

Molly was afraid and mourning the death of her husband. Molly needed to figure out a way to gain access to his estate before his family tried to claim any part of the estate. Molly felt her husband was hiding secrets, and she didn’t know where to turn or who she could trust.

Molly said, “There’s just something about death and greed and money and long-buried resentment that bubbles to the surface when there’s any substantial inheritance. It tears families apart. People lie and steal and cheat.” In her situation, she was right. Joe’s family did just what Molly hoped they wouldn’t. They came and took all of his estate and left her with nothing. Inheritance drama is something no one wants to deal with and it can cause years of frustration, and put a rift between families.

Life insurance, financial planning, and estate planning are things you need to discuss with your partner before it’s too late. Make sure you and your partner have a will whether you have children or not. If these things are not in place before you pass away, the state will do what they see fit, and most of the time, it’s not what you wanted.

The Solution

At Unified Lawyers, we work tirelessly to help people who don’t understand wills, trusts, estate planning, and similar assets. We understand the urgency in these situations and always put our best foot forward. We are not a traditional law firm. We believe in helping people instead of collecting a check. All our fees and costs are straightforward so each of our clients know how every cent of their money was spent. We are here to help you get your situation resolved.

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June 29, 2017

7 Tips on How to Buy a Luxury Home

luxury home buyingLooking for a luxury home or condo? Don’t know how to find the best deal. The following 7 tips can help you buy your dream home.

1. Get familiar with the search process

Many luxury homes do not protect the privacy of their sellers. Those properties are quite often found later through the personal connections of Realtors. The large search engines don’t always cover everything you need. So, you may need to check a lot of online sources when searching for a real estate.

2. Go beyond the photos

Do not dismiss a real estate based on its front elevation photographs. The large homes and condos are often not photogenic. Your best bet would be to see a property in person. It’s also a good idea to do some search on Google Earth. This computer program can help you explore the property itself and its vicinity as well. This way you will be able to see what is around the home you’re looking for. You can also use the online search tools when searching for the luxurious properties. If you’re looking for a real estate within Hilton Head Island, make use of such a tool to find the best sea pines real estate.

3. Contact a local expert and reliable adviser

Once you’ve determined the location of your property, you should contact a buyer agent. A local expert can provide you with important info about the property you want to buy. Some high-end areas have a controlled access with the fewer open houses. Sometimes, you will have to make a few appointments to get access. Besides a local buyer agent, you should also hire a reliable Realtor for some suggestions.

4. Gather your financial documents

It is critical to document everything before heading to the high-end market. Pay attention to financial documentation in particular. People who are making a lot of money have an accountant or a manager to shelter their money.

5. Bank on your relationship

The banks keep the portfolios of their clients for many years. So make sure to go to the bank(s) you have the relationships with. It’s good to know the difference between the prequalification letter and pre-approval letter.

6. Don’t forget your title insurance

The title insurances ensure that you’re protected against possible issues that may occur. Before closing time, you need to take a look at the exceptions page. This page is included in the title insurance, but many people are not aware of it.

7. Get familiar with co-ops and condos

You need to know in advance what to expect with condominiums and cooperatives. Your attorney should represent you for condos and co-ops when you enter the field. The attorney should also do a thorough research on the financial viability of the real estate you are interested in. There is always a room to negotiate before you make an offer. Let your agent investigate the comparable real estates that have recently sold in that area. That will help you get the more affordable closing price.

Look into the future. Try to find out what buildings are planned around your property in the near future. And be aware of the timeline. Don’t tie your money up for an extended period of time. You may miss a good opportunity due to the construction delays.

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June 17, 2017

Saving Money When Renting, Buying or Renovating

money saving purposeWhether you’re getting ready to rent your first apartment, buy your forever home, thinking of renovating your current one, or anywhere in between, there are many ways in which you can still save money.

Statistics show that more and more people are choosing to rent rather than buy a home. This may be due to financial issues or the desire to remain mobile. However, it does not mean you can’t still use your money wisely.

Consider a professional advisor. They can sit down with you and examine your finances, help you decide whether to rent, or – often for the same cost – invest in a house with a mortgage.

If you choose to rent, you can also save money by selecting a property that comes furnished. This will allow you to recoup some costs by selling your furniture, and lowers moving costs, as a van and movers can be a significant expenditure.

Before you sign any contracts, make sure to conduct a walk-through with the landlord. Point out seemingly minor details such as chipped paint and broken appliances. By taking photos and videos, you could be saving yourself money in the future if the landlord were to claim you were the cause of the damage.

Purchasing your first house or moving into your forever home can be an exciting time. You have scrimped and saved for months or years, but that doesn’t mean your saving work is done.

Research is your best friend. There are a plethora of comparison sites such as Colleton River Real Estate that are easy-to-use and allow you to search based on specific criteria. These include: location, price range, property type, and amenities, to name a few. Most of these sites also provide material such as photographs and video; local information on schools, transport, and house prices; and in some cases, the ability to receive price change updates.

For those who feel capable, you can also save money by giving up the traditional agent. Though it is still a new avenue, when done right it can end up saving your thousands of dollars.

If you are already close to living in the house of your dreams, sometimes renovating can be the right choice. Once again, research will be your saving grace.

Get multiple quotes, make sure everything is in writing (including differentiating between labor and material costs), and don’t be afraid to haggle or ask for a price-match. Always use a company that is fully registered and licenced. Check with your local laws and regulations before beginning any work, to avoid your work being demolished at your own expense.

At a time when anxiety is high and all of this might be going over your head, it’s important to remember that, whichever route you choose, there are ways to save money. Take your time, and enjoy this new stage in your life.

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June 10, 2017

Time to Honor your Parents by gifting them a House

property to giftNo matter who you are and where you are, you can never fully repay your parents for all the care, love and sacrifices that they have made. Isn’t it?

But increasingly, many people who have already taken care off their financial responsibilities (like buying a house, paying for children’s education, etc.), are honoring their parents by gifting them a house. Also, father’s day is around the corner.

This is indeed a great gesture that shouldn’t be only evaluated from the financial angle.

Gift or not, there is no doubt that house purchases are major decisions. And they cost a lot of money. But if you too are planning to gift your parents a house, then it shouldn’t be a problem as home loans are easily available at very low rates. Ofcourse you need to have a good credit history and a reasonably good repayment capacity to avail home loans.

But even before getting into the financial aspect of the house purchase, you need to be careful before selecting a house for your parents. More so if they would be living in that house.

Any house that is to be occupied by senior people should be built keeping in mind the ease-of-use from seniors’ angle. Like if you are looking to buy a flat, then it should have the lift facility or it should be on the ground floor. To ensure proper ventilation and lighting, its better to opt for a house/flat that has more open windows/balconies.

Security is another factor while selecting a property for parents. If the flat being considered is in a residential society, then security aspect is taken care off. But if it’s a standalone house, then you need to think about how secure would the property be, if the parents were to live there alone. Of course all these factors will reduce the number of options (properties) that fit all your criteria. But that is necessary considering the limitations that seniors have.

So all in all, once you have taken care of most of your financial responsibilities, go ahead and surprise your parents with the biggest gift of their lives.

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December 16, 2016

NPS and How to Maximize Asset Allocation

asset allocationsThe National Pension System (NPS), introduced by the Indian government in the year 2004 is mandatory for all government employees except the armed forces personnel.This scheme was extended to the private sector in 2009. It is a portable retirement savings account, which can be efficiently used to provide financial security to senior’s through a pension income.

This scheme offers benefits such as tax deduction of INR 1.5 lacs under section 80CCD (1) of the Income Tax Act (IT). An additional tax deduction of up to INR 50,000 under section 80CCD (1B) of the IT Act is also available. Subscribers also have the flexibility of choosing asset allocation between equity, fixed income instruments, and government securities.

NPS is known as a defined contribution scheme because returns under this scheme are market driven. The NPS interest rate changes based on the performance of the market and the asset allocation chosen by the subscribers.

Asset allocation under NPS

Funds invested in NPS can be invested into 3 types of assets namely equity, corporate bonds, and government securities. There are two investment options available under this plan;auto choice and active choice.

Under auto choice, funds are automatically allocated in a pre-determined proportion based on the age of the subscriber. For example for subscribers under the age of 35 years, funds are allocated as follows: 50% in equity and balance amongst corporate bonds and government securities. As the subscribers age, the exposure to equity is reduced and investment in government securities increase.

Under the active choice option, subscribers may choose the asset allocation as per their preferences. The NPS scheme allows subscribers to allot upto 50% of their contributions to equity. Subscribers may use this option to their advantage to maximize the potential returns. For instance, an Investor approaching retirement age (between 45 to 50 years) may opt for a conservative allocation by investing a substantial portion of his funds in government securities.

Maturity and Annuities

The primary objective of NPS is to create a corpus that is used to buy an annuity plan for regular income during the post-retirement years. At the age of 60, the subscriber may with draw a maximum of 60% of the funds as a lump sum. The remaining corpus is used to purchase an annuity that will provide regular income to the subscriber.

Subscribers may choose not to withdraw any funds and use 100% of the corpus to buy an annuity. However, if the corpus at the time of exit from NPS at the age of 60 years is less than 2 lacs, the subscribers may withdraw the entire amount in lump sum. To determine the potential income, individuals may use an online pension plan calculator.

Joining NPS

In order to join the NPS scheme, the subscribers must submit the NPS application form, along with Know Your Customer documents to a Point of Presence (POP). Upon submitting the documents, the subscribers are issued with a Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN), T-Pin and I-Pin. Subscribers are informed of their PRAN application status via email and SMS. They may also know their application status by contacting the issuing bank. However, the subscribers may get in touch with the Central Record Keeping Agency (CRA) which manages the issuance of PRAN, in case the PRAN card is not received.

NPS is focused on offering financial security to the individuals after their retirement. The flexibility available for investors to allocate their contributions in different asset classes allows them to maximize the returns and accumulate a higher post-retirement income.

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