Articles & Information

Help guide your family with a road map for your estate plan

Posted On: JUNE 2021

You’ve likely spent a lot of time working with your advisor to plan your estate. While documents such as your will, various trusts and a power of attorney are essential, consider adding a “road map” to your plan.

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Stephanie Keating Attorney

Posted On: JUNE 2021

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Are you holding a joint title to property with a family member or friend?

Posted On: JUNE 2021

Owning assets jointly with one or more of your children or other heirs is a common estate planning “shortcut.” But like many shortcuts, it may produce unintended — and costly — consequences.

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Protect your assets with a “hybrid” DAPT

Posted On: MAY 2021

One benefit of the current federal gift and estate tax exemption amount ($11.7 million in 2021) is that it allows most people to focus their estate planning efforts on asset protection and other wealth preservation strategies, rather than tax minimization.

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A difficult decision: Choosing a guardian for your children

Posted On: MAY 2021

If you have minor children, choosing a guardian to care for them should you die unexpectedly is one of the most important estate planning decisions you must make. It’s also one of the most difficult. So difficult, in fact, that avoiding it is one of the most common reasons people put off drafting an estate plan.

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4 reasons to revisit your powers of attorney

Posted On: MAY 2021

Although much of estate planning deals with what happens after you die, it’s equally important to have a plan for making critical financial or medical decisions if you’re unable to make them for yourself.

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Plan carefully to avoid unpleasant tax surprises

Posted On: MAY 2021

For 2021, the federal gift and estate tax exemption has reached its highest level ever. Individuals may transfer up to $11.7 million by gift or bequest without triggering federal transfer taxes, while married couples can shield up to $23.4 million from tax.

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You own real estate in more than one state

Posted On: MAY 2021

One goal of estate planning is to avoid or minimize probate. This is particularly important if you own real estate in more than one state. Why? Because each piece of real estate titled in your name must go through probate in the state where the property is located.

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Taking steps to protect your will from being contested

Posted On: MAY 2021

Well-crafted, up-to-date estate planning documents are an imperative for everyone. They also can help ease the burdens on your family during a difficult time. Arguably, the most important document is your will.

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Can beneficiaries borrow from a trust?

Posted On: MAY 2021

Interest rates remain extremely low, enhancing the benefits of intrafamily loans. These loans allow you to provide financial assistance to loved ones — often at favorable terms — while potentially reducing gift and estate taxes. But what about families that lack the liquid assets to make such loans? Are there other options?

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Should a tax apportionment clause be in your estate plan?

Posted On: MAY 2021

Even though the federal gift and estate tax exemption is currently very high ($11.7 million for 2021), there are families that still have to contend with significant federal estate tax liability. Plus, the exemption is scheduled to drop significantly in 2026, and reducing it sooner has been proposed.

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Together Towards Tomorrow Virtual Mini Symposium

Posted On: APRIL 2021

Our Virtual Symposium Last October was such a success and we received overwhelming feedback from our members to create two virtual symposiums this year as an opportunity for members to gain credits, learn and network with one another.

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Spendthrift trusts aren’t just for spendthrifts

Posted On: APRIL 2021

Now that the federal gift and estate tax exemption has reached an inflation-adjusted $11.7 million for 2021, fewer estates are subject to the federal tax. And even though President Biden has proposed reducing the exemption to $3.5 million, it’s uncertain whether that proposal will pass Congress. If nothing happens, the exemption is scheduled to revert to an inflation-adjusted $5 million on January 1, 2026. Nonetheless, estate planning will continue to be essential for most families. That’s because tax planning is only a small component of estate planning — and usually not even the most important one.

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What happens if your spouse fails to designate you as beneficiary of his or her IRA?

Posted On: APRIL 2021

One advantage of inheriting an IRA from your spouse is that you are entitled to transfer the funds to a spousal rollover IRA. The rollover IRA is treated as your own IRA for tax purposes, which means you need not begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) until you reach age 72. This differs from an IRA inherited from someone other than a spouse, when the entire IRA balance must be withdrawn within 10 years of the original owner’s death. (Note that different rules apply to IRAs inherited before January 1, 2020.)

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Keep it all in the family: Transferring your vacation home

Posted On: APRIL 2021

If your family owns a vacation home, you know what a relaxing refuge it can be. This is especially true these days due to the limited travel options you may have because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. However, without a solid plan and ground rules that all family members agree to, conflict and tension may result in a ruined vacation — or worse yet, selling the home.

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A revocable living trust works only if you properly fund it

Posted On: MARCH 2021

A revocable living trust is often used to complement a will. For instance, you might transfer specific securities to the trust. Notably, these assets generally don’t have to go through the probate process, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

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Do you need to file a gift tax return?

Posted On: MARCH 2021

It’s tax-filing season and you’re likely focused on your income or business tax returns. But don’t forget about another type of return. In 2020, if you made substantial gifts of wealth to family members you may have to file a gift tax return.

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Dissecting the contents of a will

Posted On: MARCH 2021

For many people, the first thing they think of when they hear the words “estate plan” is a will. And for good reason, as it’s the cornerstone of any estate plan. But do you know what provisions should be included in a will and what are best to leave out? The answers to those questions may not be obvious.

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Creating an education legacy using a family education trust

Posted On: MARCH 2021

For many people, an important goal of estate planning is to leave a legacy for their children, grandchildren and future generations. And what better way to do that than to help provide for their educational needs? A 529 plan can be a highly effective tool for funding tuition and other educational expenses on a tax-advantaged basis. But when the plan’s owner (typically a parent or grandparent) dies, there’s no guarantee that subsequent owners will continue to use it to fulfill the original owner’s vision.

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Take control of your charitable donations using restrictions

Posted On: MARCH 2021

Did you know that you can put restrictions on charitable donations you make through your estate? If you want the peace of mind that your donations are used to fulfill your intended charitable purposes, you’ll need to take the steps to add restrictions.

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Not disclosing all of your assets helps no one

Posted On: FEBRUARY 2021

People sometimes keep assets hidden without letting their families know about their location or even that they exist. Similarly, they may have life insurance policies no one knows about. Using a fictional example, here’s why full disclosure of your assets to your family is recommended.

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Now or later: When is the right time to transfer your wealth?

Posted On: FEBRUARY 2021

To gift or not to gift? It’s a deceptively complex question. The temporary doubling of the federal gift and estate tax exemption — to an inflation-adjusted $11.7 million in 2021 — is viewed by some people as a “use it or lose it” proposition. In other words, you should make gifts now to take advantage of the exemption before it sunsets at the end of 2025 (or sooner if lawmakers decide to reduce it earlier).

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Reduce gift and estate tax exposure by making direct payments of tuition and medical expenses

Posted On: JANUARY 2021

Now that the gift and estate tax exemption has risen to $11.7 million for 2021, you may be less concerned about these taxes. But if you have children or grandchildren in college or with medical expenses, you may want to take advantage of the exemption for direct payments of tuition and medical expenses. It can provide a valuable opportunity to reduce your potential gift and estate tax exposure down the road.

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4 questions single parents should ask about their estate plans

Posted On: JANUARY 2021

Did you know that the United States has the highest rate of children living in single parent households? According to the Pew Research Center, nearly a quarter (23%) of U.S. children under the age of 18 live with one parent. This is more than three times the share (7%) of children from around the world who do so. If your household falls into this category, ensure your estate plan properly accounts for your children.

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A SPA trust can improve the flexibility of your estate plan

Posted On: DECEMBER 2020

We live in uncertain times. There’s uncertainty about the economy as well as the possibility of tax increases to address the rising federal debt. For example, there’s renewed interest in proposals that would slash the historically high gift and estate tax exemption. In light of this uncertainty, it’s a good idea to consider estate planning tools that offer asset protection as well as flexibility to adjust your plans to changing circumstances. One such tool is the special power of appointment (SPA) trust.

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Valuation in the age of COVID-19

Posted On: DECEMBER 2020

Valuation and estate planning go hand-in-hand. After all, the tax implications of various estate planning strategies depend on the value of your assets at the time they’re transferred.

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Appointing a guardian for your children can be a difficult task

Posted On: DECEMBER 2020

It’s often said that a main reason people put off creating an estate plan is because of the difficulty in choosing a guardian for their children. However, that decision is one of the most important estate planning decisions you must make.

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You don’t have a will

Posted On: DECEMBER 2020

The need for a will as a key component of your estate plan may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of people — even affluent individuals — who don’t have one. A reason for this may be a common misconception that a revocable trust — sometimes called a “living trust” — obviates the need for a will.

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Make your legacy last by educating your children about wealth management

Posted On: DECEMBER 31st 2020

If you’ve worked to build a large estate, you undoubtedly would like to leave a lasting legacy to your children and future generations. Educating your children about saving, investing and other money management skills can help keep your legacy alive.

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Estate Planning And Maximizing Modern Technology For Seniors

Senior Living Options, Knowing When Is The Right Time And Getting Prepared.

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Does your estate plan clearly communicate your wishes?

Posted On: DECEMBER 23rd 2020

Precise language is critical in wills, trusts and other estate planning documents. A lack of clarity may be an invitation to litigation. An example of this is the dispute that arose after Tom Petty’s death between his widow and his two daughters from a previous marriage. (The two parties have since resolved their differences and dismissed all litigation matters.)

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