Making Federal Estimated Tax Payments

A picture of a tax return form

I often get phone calls from clients asking how to calculate estimated federal and state income tax payments. The payment for the first quarter estimate is due on April 15th.
In general, estimated taxes must be paid on any income which is not subject to withholding, including taxable income from self-employment, interest, dividends, alimony, gambling winnings, unemployment compensation, social security, rent, and gains from the sale of assets. You may also have to pay estimated tax if the amount of income tax being withheld from your salary, social security, pension or other income is not enough to cover your tax due. Estimated tax is used to pay income tax and self-employment tax, as well as other taxes reported on your personal income tax return. If you do not pay enough tax, either through withholding or estimated tax, or a combination of both, you may have to pay a penalty. You may be charged a penalty even if you are due a refund when you file your return. Estimated tax payments are made in four quarterly installments and can be based on a regular tax method or an annualized income installment method.

If you choose not to use the “Regular installment method”, the annualized installment method allows you to compute your estimated tax based on actual income earned in each of four specific periods. As a result, tax on income which is seasonally earned will not be paid until the period in which it is earned. For example, if a significant percentage of your income is earned in the last quarter of the year, then utilizing the annualized income installment method will allow you to defer the payment of tax on this income to the final quarter as opposed to paying the tax on this amount in equal installments throughout the year.

In general, under the regular installment method, the required annual payment which is paid quarterly through estimated taxes (if no tax is withheld) is the smaller of 1) 90% of the current year’s total expected tax or 2) 100% of the tax shown on the prior year return. Note that if your last year’s Adjusted Gross Income was over $150,000 ($75,000 for married filing separately); the safe harbor is 110%. Adjusted Gross Income refers to all taxable income less certain deductions such as your SEP/IRA/Other Retirement Plan contributions, alimony payments, deductible health insurance premiums paid for self-employed individuals, moving expense deductions, deductible tuition, student loan interest and fees and self-employment tax deductions.

Timing of Payments, Penalty for Underpayment

The year is divided into four payment periods for estimated tax purposes. Each period has a specific payment due date. Note that if you do not pay enough tax by the due date for each period, you may be charged a penalty through the date any underpayment remains outstanding even if you are due a refund upon filing your income tax return. The penalty is equal to the interest rate charged on tax deficiencies (3% per year as of January 20, 2015) on the amount of the installment underpayment from the date the installment is due until the earlier of the date the underpayment is made up for April 15th of the next year. Thus, generally the penalty for underpayment of an estimate is equivalent to paying the IRS non-deductible interest.

The specific due dates for estimated tax payments are as follows:

Period Due Date
January 1 – March 31 April 15
April 1 – May 31 June 15
June 1 – August 31 September 15
September 1 – December 31 January 15 of following year

Here are tips worth considering about estimated taxes and how to pay them.

  1. As a general rule, you must pay estimated taxes in 2015 if both of these statements apply: 1) You expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax after subtracting your tax withholding and tax credits, and 2) You expect your withholding and credits to be less than the smaller of 90% of your 2015 taxes or 100% of the tax on your 2014 return. There are special rules for farmers, fishermen, certain household employers and certain higher income taxpayers.
  2. For Sole Proprietors, LLC Members, Partners and S Corporation shareholders, you generally have to make estimated tax payments if you expect to owe $1,000 or more in tax when you file your return.
  3. To figure your estimated tax, include your expected gross income, taxable income, taxes, deductions and credits for the year. You can use the worksheet in Form 1040ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals for this, or just email me your year to date Profit and Loss and I will help you.

The easiest way to pay estimated taxes is electronically through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or EFTPS. You can also pay estimated taxes by check or money order using 1040ES – Estimated Tax Payment Voucher or by credit or debit card, but I do not advise using your credit card due to the expensive service charge. If you have any questions please email or call Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 of Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley park, Pennsylvania

Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) for 2015

Close up of female accountant making calculations

The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 includes the new “Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE).” ABLE establishes a new type of tax-advantaged account for disabled individuals, allowing them to save money for future needs while remaining eligible for government benefit programs like Medicaid. Here is a quick summary of the most important tax changes-starting with those that affect individuals.

Beginning in 2015, the Act allows states to establish tax-exempt Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts to assist persons with disabilities in building an account to pay for qualified disability expenses. An ABLE account can be set up for an individual (1) who is entitled to benefits under the Social Security disability insurance program or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program due to blindness or disability occurring before the individual reached age 26 or (2) for whom an annual disability certification has been filed with IRS for the tax year.

Annual contributions are limited to the annual gift tax exclusion amount for that tax year which is $14,000 for 2015. Distributions are tax-free to the extent they don’t exceed the beneficiary’s qualified disability expenses for the year. Qualified disability expenses include housing, transportation, education, job training, health, financial management and legal fees.

Distributions that exceed qualified disability expenses are included in taxable income and are subject to a 10% penalty tax. However, distributions can be rolled over tax-free within 60 days to another ABLE account for the benefit of the beneficiary or an eligible family member. Similarly, an ABLE account’s beneficiary can be changed, as long as the new beneficiary is an eligible family member.

Except for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), ABLE accounts are disregarded for federal means-tested programs.

If you have any questions or would like help setting up an ABLE account feel free to contact Gregory J. Spadea online or at 610-521-0604, of Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.

2015 Retirement Plan Contribution Limits

Jar with label Retirement Plan

The Internal Revenue Service announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for Tax Year 2015. In general, many of the pension plan limitations will change for 2015 because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. Here are the highlights:

  • The elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $17,500 to $18,000.
  • The catch-up contribution limit for employees age 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $5,500 to $6,000.
  • The limit on annual contributions to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) remains unchanged at $5,500. The additional catch-up contribution limit amount for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000.
  • Contribution limits for SIMPLE retirement accounts is increased from $12,000 to $12,500. The additional catch-up contribution limit amount for individuals aged 50 and over is increased from $2,500 to $3,000.
  • The deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by a workplace retirement plan and have modified adjusted gross incomes (AGI) between $61,000 and $71,000, up from $60,000 and $70,000 in 2014. For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the income phase-out range is $98,000 to $118,000, up from $96,000 to $116,000 in 2014. For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $183,000 and $193,000, up from $181,000 and $191,000 in 2014. For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000. Keep in mind there is no income limit for taxpayers who are not covered by a qualified retirement plan.
  • The AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $183,000 to $193,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $181,000 to $191,000 in 2014. For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $116,000 to $131,000, up from $114,000 to $129,000. For a married individual filing a separate return, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.
  • The deductible contribution for Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEPs) is $53,000, up from $52,000 in 2014.
  • The AGI limit for the saver’s credit, which also known as the retirement savings contribution credit, is $61,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $60,000 in 2014; $45,750 for heads of household, up from $45,000 in 2014; and $30,500 for married individuals filing separately and for singles, up from $30,000 in 2014.

Spadea & Associates, LLC

Contact us online or at (610) 521-0604 to schedule a free consulation. At the law offices of Spadea & Associates, LLC, in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, we represent individuals and businesses throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Montgomery County and Camden County. We also work with clients in Philadelphia and Burlington Counties.

IRS Clarifies One-Per-Year Limit on IRA Rollovers in 2015

Retirement plan documents and pen

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued guidance clarifying the impact a 2014 individual retirement arrangement (IRA) rollover has on the one-per-year limit imposed by the Internal Revenue Code on tax-free rollovers between IRAs.

The clarification relates to a change in the way the statutory one-per-year limit applies to rollovers between IRAs. The change in the application of the one-per-year limit reflects an interpretation by the U.S. Tax Court in a January 2014 decision applying the limit to preclude an individual from making more than one tax-free rollover in any one-year period, even if the rollovers involve different IRAs.

Before 2015, the one-per-year limit applies only on an IRA-by-IRA basis (that is, only to rollovers involving the same IRAs). Beginning in 2015, the limit will apply by aggregating all an individual’s IRAs, effectively treating them as if they were one IRA for purposes of applying the limit.

To allow transition time, the IRS made it clear that the new interpretation will apply beginning Jan. 1, 2015. A distribution from an IRA received during 2014 and properly rolled over within 60 days to another IRA, will have no impact on any distributions and rollovers during 2015 involving any other IRAs owned by the same individual. In other words, IRA owners will be able to make a fresh start in 2015 when applying the one-per-year rollover limit to multiple IRAs.

Although an eligible IRA distribution received on or after Jan. 1, 2015 and properly rolled over to another IRA will still get tax-free treatment, subsequent distributions from any of the individual’s IRAs (including traditional and Roth IRAs) received within one year after that distribution will not get tax-free rollover treatment. As the guidance makes clear, a rollover between an individual’s Roth IRAs will preclude a separate tax-free rollover within the 1-year period between the individual’s traditional IRAs, and vice versa.

Keep in mind Roth conversions which are rollovers from traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs, rollovers between qualified plans and IRAs, and trustee-to-trustee transfers which are direct transfers of assets from one IRA trustee to another are not subject to the one-per-year limit and are disregarded in applying the limit to other rollovers.

Therefore IRA owners should request trustee to trustee direct transfers or request a check made payable to the receiving IRA trustee and deliver it to the receiving trustee themselves within 60 days of the check date.

If you have any questions, please contact Gregory J. Spadea of Spadea & Associates, LLC at 610-521-0604.

12 Tips to Help Landords Audit Proof Their Tax Return

Tax return paper

The IRS does not audit too many returns due to inadequate staffing and poor management. However, to truly audit proof your return, I would advise you and all my landlord clients to:

  1. Make the election under Treasury Regulation 1.469-9(g) to aggregate all real estate activities as one activity for passive loss rules if you have more than one rental property. This makes meeting the 750 hour rule for all you rental properties much easier than having to meet it for each individual rental property.
  2. Keep a log on Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendars of the work you do as a Landlord to meet the 750 hour test such as:
    1. working or improving the property;
    2. researching and bidding on properties;
    3. finding and screening tenants;
    4. collecting rent;
    5. performing maintenance.
  3. Never use round numbers on your return because it looks like you are estimating your expenses.
  4. If you pay a contractor or any unincorporated person more than $600 during the year you must issue them a 1099. Therefore you should have them fill in a W-9, before you pay them so you will have their information and can prepare a 1099.
  5. Reconcile the mortgage interest and real estate taxes reported on your 1098 to the amount deducted on your return to ensure the numbers match.
  6. Do not deduct capital improvements under repairs but instead depreciate them or use Internal Revenue Code Section 179 to expense them in the tax year they are placed in service.
  7. Use Quickbooks if you have multiple properties to track rental income and expenses for each property. Deposit all your rental income into a separate bank account.
  8. Never deposit rental income into your personal account and never pay personal expenses from your rental account. Transfer money from your rental account to your personal account and then pay personal expenses from your personal account.
  9. Have a separate credit card that you use only for your rental properties and pay the monthly bill from your rental bank account. At the end of the year the credit card company will give you a summary of all your expenses making your record keeping that much easier.
  10. Make sure all your deposits into your rental bank accounts reconcile to the amount of rental income reported on your tax return.
  11. Keep your leases current and make sure the monthly rent that you deposit is the amount listed on the lease.
  12. Keep security deposits in a separate trust account and only disburse those funds when the tenant moves out.

If you have any questions about audit proofing your return or need help preparing your tax return call Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 or contact him online, of Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.

Qualifying for the Family-Owned Business Exemption from Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax

Beginning July 1, 2013, the transfer at death of certain family owned business interests are exempt from the Pennsylvania inheritance tax. Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax is currently 4.5% for linear descendants, 12% for siblings and 15% for everyone else. To qualify for the family-owned business exemption, a family-owned business interest must:

  1. Have been in existence for five years prior to the decedent’s death;
  2. Have less than 50 full time equivalent employees and a net book value of assets totaling less than $5,000,000 at the date of the decedent’s death;
  3. Be engaged in a trade or business, the principal purpose of which is not the management of investments or income producing assets;
  4. Be transferred to one or more qualified transferees – the decedent’s husband or wife, grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, or children, siblings or their children. Children include natural children, adopted children; and stepchildren;
  5. Owned by a qualified transferee for a minimum of seven years after the decedent’s death;
  6. Reported on a timely filed Pennsylvania inheritance tax return and filed within 9 months of the decedents date of death, or within 15 months of the decedent’s date of death if the estate or person required to file the return was granted the six month statutory extension.

The transferee must file an annual certification and notify the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue within thirty days of any transaction or occurrence causing the qualified family-owned business to fail to qualify for the exemption. Failure to comply with the certification or notification requirements results in a total loss of the exemption.

If you feel you qualify for the family-owned business exemption please contact Gregory J. Spadea online or at 610-521-0604 of Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.

What To Do If You Receive An IRS Summons

Notepad with sign Owe Taxes

A summons requires you to provide the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with information that is relevant to your tax. The IRS will summon information after it has already informally requested the information using form 4564 – Information Document Request. The IRS uses a summons to determine whether a tax return is correct, to prepare a substitute for return when none was filed or to collect tax. To obtain this information, the IRS may serve a summons directly on the subject of the investigation or any third party who may possess relevant information. In doing so, the IRS may examine books and records including documents such as invoices or bank statements. The IRS may also summon the testimony of the person possessing the records.

In many cases, the IRS is required to notify the taxpayer about other persons or entities receiving the third-party summons. Two significant exceptions to this notice rule are: (1) the summons was issued in connection with a criminal investigation to a person who is not a third party record keeper such as a bank, an accountant, broker, enrolled agent or investment company, (2) the summons was issued in aid of collection of an assessment made or judgment rendered against the person with respect to whose tax liability the summons is issued. In other words, there has already been a judgment or tax assessment made against the taxpayer and the summons is an effort to collect monies from the taxpayer.

You should not ignore a summons because a federal court may find and hold you in contempt or, worse, you may be subject to criminal prosecution for a failure to obey a summons. If you fail to comply with a summons the IRS may petition the Federal District Court to enforce the summons. The IRS must establish that (1) the investigation will be conducted pursuant to a legitimate purpose; (2) the inquiry may be relevant to that purpose; (3) the information sought is not already in the IRS’ possession; and (4) the administrative steps required under the Internal Revenue Code have been followed. If the IRS does so you will have to contest the summons. You can contest a summons on substantive grounds, technical or procedural grounds, or on Constitutional or other privilege grounds. Substantive defenses typically include arguments over whether a particular matter is part of a legitimate investigation, or whether the persons or documents summoned are relevant to an IRS investigation. Technical or procedural defenses usually are not worth litigating because the IRS can simply issue another summons to correct the procedural errors. You can also assert privileges under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution to prevent the summons from being enforced. These rights and privileges are asserted where the information sought is incriminating and protected from disclosure under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, or where the summons itself is so broad that it constitutes an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

If you receive a IRS summons you should contact Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 of Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. Mr. Spadea worked for the IRS for over 13 years and has extensive experience responding to the IRS and will determine when, and on what basis, you might refuse to answer the questions. Mr. Spadea will also help you evaluate which documents are relevant and, more importantly, which documents should be produced.

9 Exceptions to the 10% Premature Distribution Penalty on Individual Retirement Accounts

2 elderly people on the couch

Whenever you take a premature distribution from your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) you have to pay a 10% penalty on the taxable amount of the distribution in addition to federal income tax. However there are 9 exceptions that you can use to avoid paying that 10% penalty which are as follows:

  1. Withdrawals That Count as Substantially Equal Periodic Payments (SEPPs). This exception is the same as the one for qualified retirement plan withdrawals, except separation from service is not required. The rules for SEPPs require you to receive a series of annual payouts. This is similar to an annuity which pays you an equal stream of payments for a set period. If you have several IRAs, you do not need to withdraw from them all. You only need to annuitize one or more of the IRAs to generate annual SEPPs that are big enough to meet your cash needs. However, the entire balance in all your IRAs must be considered and annuitizing only a portion of an IRA does not qualify for this exception. Unfortunately, the SEPP exception has two important requirements that you need to be aware of:
    • (1) Once begun, the SEPP must continue for at least five years or, if later, until the owner reaches age 59 1/2. If the SEPPs are stopped too soon, all the previous age 59 1/2 withdrawals that were thought to have been taken under the SEPP exception are subject to the 10% penalty tax. The same thing can happen if the annuitized account is modified during the period when SEPPs are required, for example by making annual contributions to that account or by rolling over all or part of that account into another account.
    • (2) Annual SEPP amounts must be calculated correctly. If the correct annual amounts are not withdrawn, it is deemed to be a prohibited modification of the SEPP, which results in all the previous age 59 1/2 withdrawals that were thought to have been taken under the SEPP exception being hit with the 10% penalty tax.
  2. Withdrawals for Medical Expenses in Excess of 10% (or 7.5% if you or your spouse are over 65) of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). This exception is the same as the one for qualified plan withdrawals.
  3. Withdrawals by Military Reservists Called to Active Duty. This exception is the same as the one for qualified plan withdrawals.
  4. Withdrawals for IRS Levies. This exception is the same as the one for qualified plan withdrawals. Note that this exception is unavailable when the IRS levies against the IRA owner (as opposed to the IRA itself), and the owner then withdraws IRA funds to pay the levy.
  5. Withdrawals after Death. This exception is the same as the one for qualified plan withdrawals. Note that this exception is not available for funds rolled over into a surviving spouse’s IRA or if the surviving spouse elects to treat the inherited IRA as her own account. Therefore, the surviving spouse should leave amounts that will be needed before age 59 1/2 in the inherited IRA. This way, the 10% penalty tax can be avoided on those amounts.
  6. Withdrawals after Disability. This exception is the same as the one for qualified plan withdrawals.
  7. Withdrawals for First-time Home Purchases. This exception applies only to IRAs. It allows penalty-free withdrawals (up to $10,000 per lifetime) to the extent the account owner uses the funds within 120 days to pay for qualified acquisition costs for a first-time principal residence. The principal residence can be acquired by: (1) the account owner or the account owner’s spouse; (2) the account owner’s child, grandchild, or grandparent; or (3) the spouse’s child, grandchild, or grandparent. The buyer of the principal residence (and the spouse if the buyer is married) must not have owned a present interest in a principal residence within the two-year period that ends on the acquisition date. Qualified acquisition costs are defined as costs to acquire, construct, or reconstruct a principal residence-including closing costs.
  8. Withdrawals for Qualified Higher Education Expenses. This exception only applies to IRAs. Early IRA withdrawals are penalty-free to the extent of qualified higher education expenses paid during that same year. Qualified higher education expenses include amounts paid for tuition, books, fees and other related expenses for an eligible student. This amount will be reflected on a form 1098-T that the school will send to the student. However, the qualified expenses must be for the education of: (1) the account owner or the account owner’s spouse or (2) a child, stepchild, or adopted child of the account owner or the account owner’s spouse.
  9. Withdrawals for Health Insurance Premiums during Unemployment. This exception only applies to IRAs, and is available if you received unemployment compensation payments for 12 consecutive weeks under any federal or state unemployment compensation law during the year in question or the preceding year. If this condition is satisfied, your early withdrawals during the year in question are penalty-free up to the amount paid during that year for health insurance premiums to cover the account owner, spouse, and dependents. However, early withdrawals after you regain employment for at least 60 days don’t qualify for this exception.

If you took a distribution from your IRA and received a form 1099-R with a distribution code of 1, and feel you meet one of exceptions listed above, please contact Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 of Spadea & Associates, LLC located in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.

Preparing for the IRS Trust Fund Recovery Penalty Interview

Stop, pay your taxes!

If you fail to pay over the federal employment tax you withhold from your employees’ salaries the IRS will eventually come knocking on your door. This problem generally occurs when a business runs short of cash to pay both operating expenses and payroll. There may be enough cash to pay vendors and pay net payroll, but not enough to pay the federal government the employer and employee withholding taxes. Employer withholding taxes are 7.65% of gross payroll which consists of 6.2% social security tax and 1.45% medicare tax. The employee withholding consists of federal income tax and state income withheld in addition to the 6.2% social security tax and 1.45% medicare tax.

When the quarterly 941 federal employment tax return is filed with the IRS, the Government gives the employee credit for the tax withheld listed on the quarterly 941 returns whether the employer pays over the employer and employee withholdings or not. That is why the tax withholdings are called trust fund taxes because the employer is holding the money in trust for the federal government. The funds do not belong to the employer and if the employer uses the money for something else he is in essence stealing from the federal government.

If you fail to pay over the employer tax withholding every month or quarter a Revenue Officer will show up at your business unexpectedly and want to interview you. You should hire a tax attorney before speaking with the Revenue Officer. I have handled many trust fund recovery interviews and have been able to reduce the proposed assessments dramatically if I was involved before the IRS Form 4180 interview took place. IRS Form 4180 is the form the Revenue Officer completes during the interview. The Revenue Officer will try to determine if you are the responsible party by asking:

  1. Did you make deposits or sign the business checks;
  2. Did you determine what bills were paid;
  3. Did you have ability to hire and fire employees;
  4. Did you sign the federal employment and income tax returns;
  5. Did you sign loans on behalf of the business;
  6. Were you involved in the day to day operations of the business;
  7. Did you make or authorize payment of federal tax deposits.

If the Revenue Officer determines that you are the responsible party he will issue Form 2751 which is a Proposed Assessment of the Trust Fund Penalty. I will help you determine If you do not agree with the proposed liability you can submit an appeal request within 60 days of the issuance of the notice. If the case is not resolved in IRS Appeals you can file a complaint in federal district court.

If a Revenue Officer does call or visit your business, please call Gregory J. Spadea of Spadea & Associates, LLC at 610-521-0604, in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.

What Happens to Your Debts When You Die?

When you die, your executor has responsibility to pay all your remaining debts if your estate has enough probate assets to pay them. Probate assets are assets that were in your name alone and pass by your will. Before your executor pays any creditors he or she must first pay the estate administration expenses such as funeral costs, grave marker, probate fees, medical bills, attorney fees and rent for the previous six months prior to your death. After the administrative expenses are paid, the secured creditors are paid and any probate assets remaining will go to pay unsecured creditors.

If the estate is not solvent, and a creditor is paid more than he is entitled to receive, the executor can be held personally responsible to the extent of the overpayment. The executor also may be personally liable if he or she distributes estate property without having given proper notice to those having a claim against the estate.

As a general rule, debt collectors may not try to collect from your heirs. However, there are several exceptions. The first exception is if an heir was a co-signer of a particular debt in which case they would be responsible for that debt or if someone held property jointly with you, they would be responsible for any debts on the joint property. The third exception is if an heir inherits a car or a boat that had an outstanding loan, they would have to pay the loan off or the car or boat would be repossessed by the lender.

Creditors cannot be paid from any assets that pass directly to a beneficiary. Assets that pass directly to a beneficiary are called non-probate assets and include jointly owned bank accounts and any account or life insurance policy with a named beneficiary. Therefore a jointly held bank account would pass directly to the joint owner, and the funds in that account could not be used to pay creditors. Similarly, life insurance policies pass directly to the beneficiaries, so creditors do not have access to those funds. In addition creditors cannot access funds held in an irrevocable trust.

A debt collector may not contact your heirs or relatives to try to collect payment unless they were co-signers of the debt or the debt was a jointly owned debt. Debt collectors are allowed to contact the executor of your estate, or your spouse, or your parents if you were a minor, to discuss the debts but may not discuss the debts with anyone else.

Contact Gregory J. Spadea

If you have any questions or need help probating an estate please contact Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 of Spadea & Associates, LLC in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.

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