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March 2014 Archives

Debt on family home can leave heirs in difficult situation

Reverse mortgages are often seen as a good way to help keep retirees in their homes even though their fixed income may not be enough to enable them to do that on their own. For those who are unfamiliar, a reverse mortgage is a process through which a bank or other financial institution will pay the homeowner in exchange for an interest in the value of the property. The loan does not need to be paid back until they leave the home or pass away, at which point their estate is often used to fund the repayment.

Debate continues over student athlete pay

The debate over whether student athletes on the college level should be increasingly compensated for their efforts continues, stoked by recent comments from the NCAA president made during an interview about the upcoming basketball championship games. Student athletes are not paid during their time playing for their school. Although many of them hope to go on to careers in the professional leagues, only a small fraction will. Now some are arguing that they should be paid in more than just discounted or free tuition for their time playing for colleges. 

Governor proposes simplification of gift and estate tax

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton submitted a proposal to state lawmakers last week asking for various tax reforms, including a change to the state gift and estate taxes and exemptions. At the present time the estate tax exemption is $1 million, so many families meet the threshold and must pay an estate tax. Dayton proposed raising the exemption to $2 million for the estate tax and imposing a 10 percent tax on the value of an estate that exceeds that amount.

Minimum wage reform gains more political support

Advocates seeking to raise the federal minimum wage have gained the support of small business groups and the White House. A recent proposal by the Obama Administration asked to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour with a tie to the rising cost of living. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour which is generally accepted as too low a wage to live on in any state in the U.S.

Court finds no violation of FMLA in farm worker's termination

A poultry farm did not violate the Family Medical Leave Act when it terminated a woman who had worked there for almost two decades, according to a recent decision from a federal appeals court. The case involves a woman who had taken paid time off to care for her father who was in the hospital but stayed away from work past her last day of vacation and did not return or contact human resources within the limits of their three day policy. She was terminated from her job as a result of that, with supervisors saying that she had specifically declined to take unpaid leave under the FMLA which would have been job-protected. 

Do you plan on leaving an inheritance for your children?

A recent survey of international savings, retirement, and estate planning habits found that the United States ranked surprisingly low in terms of how many parents planned to leave a gift for their children and how much. About 59 percent of those surveyed in the United States said that they planned to leave an inheritance for their children. Depending on your perspective that could seem very high or very low, but it does raise an interesting question of who chooses to leave assets behind and why.

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