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Articles & Information

Does your estate plan include a formula funding clause?

Posted On: May 2nd 2019

The gift and estate tax exemption is higher than it’s ever been, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which temporarily doubled the exemption to an inflation-adjusted $10 million ($20 million for married couples who design their estate plans properly). This year, the exemption amount is $11.4 million ($22.8 million for married couples)…

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College Financing May be an Integral Part of Your Estate Plan

Posted On: April 29th 2019

The staggering cost of college makes it critical for families to plan carefully for this major expense, and in many cases, grandparents want to play a role. As you examine the many financing options for your grandchildren, be sure to consider their impact on your estate plan. Make Direct Payments A simple, but effective,…

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Donating to Charity? Watch out for New Appraisal Regulations…

Posted On: April 24th 2019

If you make substantial non-cash gifts to charity, it’s important to familiarize yourself with new requirements for qualified appraisals. A qualified appraisal must accompany non-cash gifts over $5,000 (with certain exceptions), including groups of similar items whose total value exceeds $5,000 (even if donated to separate recipients). Recently, the IRS finalized 10-year-old proposed regulations regarding…

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Stay True to your Family with a Total Return Uni-Trust

Posted On: April 21st 2019

Even in the strongest families, conflicting interests between income and remainder beneficiaries can create tension and turn the trustee’s job into a delicate balancing act. By aligning your beneficiaries’ interests, a total return uni-trust (TRU) can relieve this tension and allow your trustee to concentrate on developing the most effective investment strategy. A Difficult Job…

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The HSA: A Healthy Supplement to Your Savings Regimen

Posted On: April 17th 2019

Longer life expectancies and rising health care costs make saving for retirement more important than ever before. A Health Savings Account (HSA) can be a powerful tool for financing health care expenses while supplementing your other retirement savings vehicles. And it offers estate planning benefits to boot. An HSA in Action Similar to a traditional…

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You have Assets in Payable-on-Death Accounts

Posted On: April 14th 2019

Payable-on-death (POD) accounts provide a quick, simple and inexpensive way to transfer assets outside of probate. They can be used for bank accounts, certificates of deposit or even brokerage accounts. Setting one up is as easy as providing the bank with a signed POD beneficiary designation form. When you die, your beneficiaries just need to…

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Life Insurance can be a Powerful Estate Planning Tool for Nontaxable Estates

Posted On: April 9th 2019

For years, life insurance has played a critical role in estate planning, providing a source of liquidity to pay estate taxes and other expenses. Today, the gift and estate tax exemption has climbed to $11.4 million, so estate taxes are no longer a concern for the vast majority of families. But even for nontaxable estates, life…

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If art donations are part of your estate plan, consider these four tips

Posted On: April 4th 2019

Charitable giving is a key part of estate planning for many people. If you have a collection of valuable art and are charitably minded, consider donating one or more pieces to receive tax deductions. Generally, it’s advantageous to donate appreciated property to avoid capital gains taxes…

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Companion Piece: Create a “Road Map” for your Estate Plan

Posted On: April 4th 2019

No matter how much effort you’ve invested in designing your estate plan, your will, trusts and other official documents may not be enough. Consider creating a “road map” — an informal letter or other document that guides your family in understanding and executing your plan and ensuring that your wishes are carried out. Navigating Your…

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Properly Funding your Revocable Trust is the Key to Unlocking its Benefits

Posted On: April 1st 2019

If your estate plan includes a revocable trust — also known as a “living” trust — it’s critical to ensure that the trust is properly funded. Revocable trusts offer significant benefits, including asset management (in the event you become incapacitated) and probate avoidance. But these benefits aren’t available if you don’t fund the trust. Funding…

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Moving a Trust Over State Lines can Offer Tax Savings and Other Benefits…

Posted On: March 20th 2019

People who live in states with high income taxes sometimes relocate to a state with a more favorable tax climate. A similar strategy can be available for trusts. If a trust is subject to high state income taxes, you may be able to change its residence — or “situs” — to a state with low…

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What you Need to Know About Filing Gift and Estate Tax Returns…

Posted On: March 15th 2019

Have you made substantial gifts of wealth to family members? Or are you the executor of the estate of a loved one who died recently? If so, you need to know whether you must file a gift or estate tax return. Filing a Gift Tax Return Generally, a federal gift tax return (Form 709) is…

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Have you Properly Substantiated your 2018 Charitable Gifts?

Posted On: March 12th 2019

Donating to charity is a key estate planning strategy for many people. It reduces the size of your taxable estate and it can help you leave a lasting legacy with organizations you care about. The benefit of making such gifts during life rather than at death is that you may be eligible for an income…

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No, It’s Not Unusual to Include Your Pet in Your Estate Plan…

Posted On: March 8th 2019

An unexpected outcome of the recent death of designer Karl Lagerfeld is that the topic of estate planning for pets has been highlighted. Lagerfeld’s beloved cat, Choupette, played a major role in his brand. The feline was the subject of a coffee table book and has a large Instagram following. Before his death, Lagerfeld publicly…

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Using Non-Grantor Trusts to Bypass SALT Deduction Limit

Posted On: February 28th 2019

If you reside in a high-tax state, you may want to consider using non-grantor trusts to soften the blow of the new $10,000 federal limit on state and local tax (SALT) deductions. The limit, which was added by last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), can significantly reduce itemized deductions if your state income…

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You’ve Made Non-Deductible Contributions to your IRA

Posted On: February 20th 2019

If, like many people, your traditional IRA holds a mixture of deductible (after-tax) and nondeductible (pretax) contributions, it’s critical to track your contributions carefully to avoid double taxation of distributions. Why? Because the IRS treats distributions as a blend of pretax and after-tax dollars. If you treat distributions as fully taxable, you’ll end up overpaying….

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Do you Need to File Gift Tax Returns?

Posted On: February 12th 2019

Avoid these Common Mistakes For 2019, the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption has reached a whopping $11.40 million ($22.80 million for married couples). As a result, few people will be subject to federal gift taxes. If your wealth is well within the exemption amount, does that mean there’s no need to file gift tax…

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Hastily Choosing an Executor can Lead to Problems After your Death

Posted On: February 4th 2019

Choosing the right executor — sometimes known as a “personal representative” — is critical to the smooth administration of an estate. Yet many people treat this decision as an afterthought. Given an executor’s many responsibilities and complex tasks, it pays to put some thought into the selection. Job Description An executor’s duties may include: •…

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If you’re Driven to Transfer a Vehicle’s Ownership to a Trust, Know the Risks…

Posted On: January 30th 2019

A revocable trust — often referred to as a “living trust” — can help ensure smooth management of your assets during life and avoid probate at death. And you may know that the trust isn’t effective unless you “fund” it — that is, transfer ownership of your assets to the trust. But what about assets…

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Have you had your Annual Estate Plan Checkup?

Posted On: January 24th 2019

An annual estate plan checkup is critical to the health of your estate plan. Because various exclusion, exemption and deduction amounts are adjusted for inflation, they can change from year to year, impacting your plan. 2019 vs. 2018 amounts Here are a few key figures for 2018 and 2019: Lifetime gift and estate tax exemption…

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