Estate Planning

Test Your Estate Strategy Knowledge

Creating an estate strategy is all about helping ensure that your final wishes are carried out in the event of your death and your assets are transferred to your heirs with managing taxes in mind. How well do you know the fundamentals of estate management? Take our short quiz and see. 1. Probate is defined as: a.The legal document that must accompany any will b. A court-supervised estate administration process c.The assets that a lawyer manages d.The untaxed portion of an estate 2. The difference between the probate estate and the gross estate is: a.There is no difference b.The probate…

Estate Tax Planning Tips for Single People

  Estate planning is an important part of your overall wealth management strategy, especially if you’re unmarried. Single parents may worry about who will care for their minor children and whether their surviving kids’ financial needs will be met until adulthood. Likewise, wealthy single people have less flexibility when it comes to shielding transfers from gift and estate taxes. Fortunately, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), estate tax issues are less of a concern. The exemption amounts have been temporarily raised, so you’re less likely to be hit with the federal estate tax. But you may need to…

A Living Trust Primer

A living trust is a popular consideration in many estate strategy conversations, but its appropriateness will depend upon your individual needs and objectives. What is a Living Trust? A living trust is created while you are alive and funded with the assets you choose to transfer into it. The trustee (typically you) has full power to manage these assets.1 A living trust will also designate a beneficiary, or beneficiaries, much like a will, to whom the assets are structured to automatically pass upon your death. If you create a revocable living trust, you may change the terms of the trust,…

Estate Tax Planning Tips for Married Couples

For married people with large estates, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) brings welcome relief from federal estate and gift taxes, as well as the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax. Here’s what you need to know and how to take advantage of the favorable changes. Estate and Gift Tax Basics The TCJA sets the unified federal estate and gift tax exemption at $11.4 million per person for 2019 (up from $11.18 million for 2018). For married couples, the exemption is effectively doubled to $22.8 million for 2019 (up from $22.36 million for 2018). The exemption amounts will be adjusted annually…

Is Your Estate Plan Bulletproof? Techniques to Help Avoid Fighting Later

An inherent problem with wills and other estate planning documents such as trusts is that, when the time comes to put them into action, you won’t be around to explain or interpret them. Fortunately, there are strategies you can use during your lifetime to minimize the risk of a fight over your estate after your death. Treat Heirs Fairly If someone succeeds in getting your will or trust thrown out in court, your estate will be distributed as if you had no will or trust — that is, according to the laws of intestate succession. The more closely your will…

Estate Planning for Personal Property: Why You Should Sweat the Small Stuff

When planning their estates, most people focus on major assets, such as business interests, real estate, investments and retirement plans. But it’s also important to “sweat the small stuff” — tangible personal property. Examples include automobiles, jewelry, clothing, antiques, furniture, artwork, photographs, music collections, personal papers, collectibles (such as stamps, coins or baseball cards) and mementos. Ironically, these personal items — which often have modest monetary value but significant sentimental value — may be more difficult to deal with, and more likely to result in disputes, than big-ticket items. Distributing $4 million in stock or other liquid assets among your…

Four Reasons Millennials Need an Estate Strategy

You’re young, have little in savings and likely have no one yet relying on you financially. So why do you need to think about estate management?¹ Here are four great reasons: Estate Strategies: They Not Just for Old People You need a will. You may ask why a will is important if there’s not much to pass on. A will is not just about transferring assets. It can be used to accomplish other tasks, such as who should manage your social media accounts once you’re gone, or inherit items you’ve accumulated, like collectibles or your car. Don’t burden others with…

Yours, Mine and Ours: Estate Strategies for Second Marriages

If you are one of the many Americans who are in a second marriage, you may need to revisit your estate strategy.¹ Unlike a typical first marriage, second marriages often require special consideration that should address children from a prior marriage and the disposition of assets accumulated prior to the second marriage. Second Marriages Here are some ideas you may want to think about when updating your estate strategy: You may want to ensure that your children from your first marriage are set up to receive assets from your estate, even as you provide your second spouse with adequate resources…

Critical Estate Documents

Financial Documents   Question Joint Ownership Durable Power of Attorney Living Trust What does it do? Enables you to own property jointly with another person Authorizes someone to handle legal and financial decisions if you become incapacitated Holds your belongings until your death Can it authorize someone to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to communicate? Generally, no Generally, no Can it specify how you want your belongings transferred after your death? But only those belongings owned jointly Generally, no Is it private? When does it go into effect? As soon as joint ownership is recorded Either immediately…

Estate Management Checklist

Effective Estate Planning requires attention to a number of important details. The following checklist will get you started developing an estate management plan. Consult with your professional adviser after reviewing the following questions. 1. Do you have a will? A will enables you to specify who you want to inherit your property and other assets. A will also enables you to name a guardian for your minor children. 2. Do you have healthcare documents in place? Healthcare documents spell out your wishes for health care if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. They also authorize a person…