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West Virginia Law Blog

Protect retirement accounts in a West Virginia divorce

Many West Virginia residents work for years to save money for their retirement. Whether through individual retirement accounts or company-sponsored retirement plans, money can often be set aside on a tax-deferred basis. However, tax implications can arise should an individual go through a divorce prior to receiving the contributions from a retirement account. Careful consideration should be given to handling these types of accounts to avoid potential problems with the Internal Revenue Service.

When it becomes necessary to divide retirement accounts in a divorce settlement, a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, is necessary. A QDRO designates a portion of benefits payments or a retirement account balance to be paid to an ex-spouse. It also stipulates that the recipient of those payments is responsible for any related incomes taxes. If a plan allows, the ex-spouse may be able to roll over the distribution from the account into an IRA and defer paying taxes until withdrawals are made.

Young parents should consider estate planning early

Many West Virginia residents may seriously begin thinking about their retirement years when their children are older. As children move away from home and begin life of their own, parents often believe that it is time to begin estate planning. However, experts recommend that estate planning begins when children are very young.

Common thinking is that an estate plan is only necessary when someone has a lot of money. While asset management and distribution is important to consider, the most critical thing for parents to address is their children. Even if they do not have a lot of assets, parents should always consider the issue of guardianship for their children in the event of their death. How a person's children will be cared for should be of primary concern. Careful consideration should be given before selecting a potential guardian since everyone, no matter how wonderful a person, is not suited to parenting.

5 steps to take after you're in a car crash

You knew it was going to happen before the cars touched. You saw the other driver looking down, and you knew she wouldn't look up in time to stop her vehicle from hitting yours. You had nowhere to swerve. If you had, you might have run your vehicle onto the sidewalk or into the other lane, causing other accidents.

Now, you're left battered and bruised after a significantly serious car accident. She stayed at the scene, and you've both called for help. Now, you just need to wait for emergency medical care to arrive.

Young bicyclist on life support after personal injury accident

There is probably no greater tragedy than when a parent loses a child in an accident. Whether the child is just beginning to toddle or is standing on the brink of adulthood, a parent may agonize to watch him or her suffering. One West Virginia family is now experiencing a parent's worst nightmare following a personal injury accident late one recent night.

The 18-year-old girl was riding her bike around midnight along a four-lane highway that includes a narrow bike path. Details of the incident are few, but reports say the girl was struck by a car and critically injured. Police originally reported that the girl had died from her injuries, but her parents denied this. In fact, the girl's mother says her daughter is on life support but will be removed from it soon.

Be prepared for the unforeseen costs of divorce

When a marriage ends in West Virginia or elsewhere around the country, most people think about the emotional impact the split will likely bring. However, many may not consider the financial toll a divorce can have on their lives. While steps can be taken to protect someone's financial position, there may be costs associated with a divorce that are unforeseen.

To adequately assess the financial impact of a divorce, experts suggest the use of a divorce calculator. One can help a person understand how a divorce would actually cost. Experts suggest considering several expenses that are often hidden or unexpected in a divorce.

Make sure beneficiary designations are correct in estate planning

Many West Virginia residents have life insurance policies and accounts at banks, brokerage firms or retirement investment firms. These types of accounts are frequently included in an individual's estate planning portfolio. Financial experts stress the importance of ensuring that one's beneficiary designations for every account is correct and up to date.

Analysts share situations when investors failed to update specific accounts. Upon the investors' deaths, life insurance benefits and pension benefits have gone to people not likely intended by the deceased. This is often because there was either no beneficiary designated or names had not been changed after significant life events. Courts tend to rule that the beneficiary designations take precedence over what is stated in a will.

Should divorce wait until the children are older?

When a marriage ends, most West Virginia residents likely think first about the impact it has on the couple involved. However, divorce often has a tremendous impact on the children of a couple. Traditional thinking is that it is better to wait until children reach adulthood before spouses decide to divorce. However, experts are weighing in on why that may not be the best decision for a family.

It is important to note that children need to feel secure in their families, no matter how old they are. The belief that college-age students could handle news of their parents' divorce better was widely held. However, family therapists state that the college experience itself is new for those students. They are often leaving home, making new friends and establishing new routines. Many regard coming home on weekends or holidays as a familiar, stable part of their new lives.

What happens after a serious crash with a commercial truck?

One moment, you're driving peacefully down the highway, the next you're stunned and stopped. It takes a few moments to understand what happened. Only when you see the massive truck stopped in the road do you realize that you've been in a crash. After all, you were driving safely, and the truck driver made some kind of mistake, like merging into the lane where you were driving. Now, instead of getting to your destination, you're headed to the hospital, but only after dealing with law enforcement and filing a police report about the accident that just destroyed your vehicle.

You receive emergency medical services. After your condition is fully stabilized, you start to wonder about how you'll handle these expenses. Your vehicle is demolished and needs to get replaced. You just took a very expensive ride in an ambulance. You've got medical bills already and more on the way. If your injuries are severe, you may not be able to return to work for some time. Suddenly, you've got to worry about paying your mortgage, buying groceries and handling these unexpected medical costs, all without going broke in the meantime.

Estate planning is a process, not a one-time event

While many West Virginia residents have developed plans for their retirement years, most do not realize the need to periodically review and update the documents. Financial experts stress that estate planning is not something someone can do one time and be done with it forever. An individual's situation can change as could pertinent laws that may affect an estate. It is vital to review an estate plan regularly and avoid several mistakes.

One common pitfall is not fully understanding the total estate. A person needs to determine the value of an estate and specify how assets and liabilities will be handled. Another problem is not making family members aware of the estate plan. While a third-party professional would share the information with them following a death, it is typically important for the family members to personally hear someone's desires.

Divorce rate growing for those over 65

When West Virginia couples or others from around the country have been married over 50 years, the likely assumption is that the marriages are going to last. However, divorce among couples age 65 and older is becoming more common, according to a national research organization. Many of those people who thought their marriages would last forever are now facing life as singles.

Divorce within this demographic is often referred to as a gray divorce. As statistics show that the divorce rate for this age group tripled over the last 25 years, some experts are not surprised by the trend. Often, divorce among seniors is less contentious since many of the hot button issues, such as child custody, are not in play. Some simply want a fresh start as they approach retirement years.

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