Category Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

Life insurance can be a powerful estate planning tool for nontaxable estates

For years, life insurance has played a critical role in estate planning, providing a source of liquidity to pay estate taxes and other expenses. It’s been particularly valuable for business owners, whose families might not have the liquid assets they need to pay estate taxes without selling the business. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the estate tax exemption has climbed to an inflation-adjusted $10 million through 2025 (projected to be just over $11 million for 2018). Even before the increase, federal estate taxes weren’t a concern for the vast majority of families, and now even fewer families are

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Have you taken state estate taxes into account?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has doubled the federal gift and estate tax exemption, with inflation-adjustments projected to raise it to $11.18 million for 2018.This means federal estate taxes are a concern for fewer families, at least in the short term. (The doubled exemption expires December 31, 2025.) But it’s important to consider how state estate or inheritance taxes may affect your estate plan. There’s uncertainty about how states will respond to the increased federal estate tax exemption. One line of thought is that many states will continue to “decouple” from the federal exemption and impose their own estate

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Tax Cuts and Jobs Act expands appeal of 529 plans in estate planning

It’s common for grandparents to want to help ensure their grandchildren will get a high quality education. And, along the same lines, they also want the peace of mind that their wealth will be preserved for their children and grandchildren after they’re gone. If you’re facing these challenges, one option that can help you conquer both is a 529 plan. And it’s become even more attractive under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). 529 plan in action In a nutshell, a 529 plan is one of the most flexible tools available for funding college expenses and it can provide

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Preserve wealth for yourself and your heirs using asset protection strategies

There are many techniques you can use to protect your assets, from giving them to loved ones to placing them in offshore trusts. It’s important to understand that asset protection isn’t about evading legitimate debts, hiding assets or defrauding creditors. Rather, it’s about preserving your hard-earned wealth in the face of unreasonable creditors’ claims, frivolous lawsuits or financial predators. Assess your risk The first step is to assess the risk that creditors, former spouses or opportunists will go after your assets or those of your beneficiaries. If your risk is relatively low, but you seek added peace of mind, you

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Appointing the right trustee for your living trust provides peace of mind

A living trust is a cornerstone of many estate plans. During your life, you can serve as the trustee and manage the assets just as you would if you owned them outright. However, you must choose a trustee to oversee and administer the trust after your death (and during your lifetime, should you become unable to act as trustee). Job description The trustee must: Manage all trust assets, perhaps including securities and business and real estate interests, until they’re distributed, Maintain detailed records and prepare transaction statements, Handle collections, distributions and payments,  Ensure all tax returns are prepared and filed,

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Most individual tax rates go down under the TCJA

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) generally reduces individual tax rates for 2018 through 2025. It maintains seven individual income tax brackets but reduces the rates for all brackets except 10% and 35%, which remain the same. It also makes some adjustments to the income ranges each bracket covers. For example, the 2017 top rate of 39.6% kicks in at $418,401 of taxable income for single filers and $470,701 for joint filers, but the reduced 2018 top rate of 37% takes effect at $500,001 and $600,001, respectively. Below is a look at the 2018 brackets under the TCJA. Keep

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Make the holidays bright for you and your loved ones with annual exclusion gifts

As the holiday season quickly approaches, gift giving will be top of mind. While gifts of electronics, toys and clothes are nice, making tax-free gifts of cash using your annual exclusion is beneficial for both you and your family. Even in a potentially changing estate tax environment, making annual exclusion gifts before year end can still benefit your estate plan. Understanding the annual exclusion The 2017 gift tax annual exclusion allows you to give up to $14,000 per recipient tax-free without using up any of your $5.49 million lifetime gift tax exemption. If you and your spouse “split” the gift,

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A charitable remainder trust can provide a multitude of benefits

If you’re charitably inclined but concerned about having sufficient income to meet your needs, a charitable remainder trust (CRT) may be the answer. A CRT allows you to support a favorite charity while potentially boosting your cash flow, shrinking the size of your taxable estate, reducing or deferring income taxes, and enjoying investment planning advantages. How does a CRT work? You contribute stock or other assets to an irrevocable trust that provides you — and, if you desire, your spouse — with an income stream for life or for a term of up to 20 years. (You can name a

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Who should own your life insurance policy?

If you own life insurance policies at your death, the proceeds will be included in your taxable estate. Ownership is usually determined by several factors, including who has the right to name the beneficiaries of the proceeds. The way around this problem is to not own the policies when you die. However, don’t automatically rule out your ownership either. And it’s important to keep in mind the current uncertain future of the estate tax. If the estate tax is repealed (or if someone doesn’t have a large enough estate that estate taxes are a concern), then the inclusion of your

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ABCs of HSAs: How an HSA can benefit your estate plan

One health care arrangement that has been soaring in popularity in recent years has been the pairing of a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA). The good news is that not only does an HSA provide a tax-advantaged way to pay for health care costs, but it also can help you achieve your estate planning goals. How does it work? An HSA can be offered by an employer, or an individual can set up his or her own account, similar to an IRA. Contributions to an employer-sponsored HSA are pretax and may be made by employers,

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