Changes to ABLE Accounts You Should Know
If you have a loved one with disabilities, you may be familiar with “ABLE” accounts, authorized by Congress in 2014 under the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act. ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts–similar to 529 education savings plans–whose funds can be used to pay for certain qualifying expenses of disabled individuals. As a result
The Silent Threat to Your Estate Plan
It is common knowledge that everyone needs to have an estate plan in place. Commonly, the focus is on assets, taxes, and any changes to legislation that may affect the security of your loved ones in the event of your incapacity or death. What many often forget, however, is that changes in family dynamics and
5 Reasons to Protect Your Retirement Accounts Now
During your lifetime, your retirement account has good asset protection, but as soon as you pass that account to a loved one, that protection evaporates. This means one lawsuit and POOF! Your life long, hard earned savings could be gone. Your heirs could be left penniless.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem. A special trust called a “Standalone Retirement Trust” (SRT) can protect inherited retirement accounts from your beneficiaries’ creditors.
Estate Planning Considerations for Benefits Open Enrollment
The fall, generally late-October or early-November, is the time when employers send out summaries of employee benefits offered by the company and give employees the option to enroll in these benefits. If you are contemplating new benefits and changes to your beneficiaries, give me a call so I can ensure your beneficiary designations work as expected with your current estate plan.
Your 2018 Taxes – Get Started Now
While we are not yet at the end of the year, even though it is fast approaching, now is a great time to take a moment and start your year-end tax planning for 2018. It is particularly necessary this tax year because of the changes to the tax law that became effective in 2018.
Rewarding Your Employees By Giving Them the Business
Retiring from your business can a tough decision. To ensure that what you have built continues on, there needs to be a plan for succession. For some people, they have spent years grooming a child or other family member to take over, wanting the business to stay in the family. Others look to sell to a third party for a quick way out that will also give them a nest egg for their next phase of life. However, there is a third option–transferring the business to your employees.
Retirement Planning for Business Owners
When you are the owner of a business, planning for retirement requires proactivity and strategy. It’s not just the dizzying array of choices for retirement accounts, there’s also planning for the business itself. Who will run the business after your retirement? Additionally, your estate plan must integrate into your retirement and business transition strategy.
Protecting Your Children’s Inheritance When You are Divorced
Consider this story. Beth’s divorce from her husband was recently finalized. Her most valuable assets are her retirement plan at work and her life insurance policy. She updated the beneficiary designations on both to be her two minor children. She did not want her ex-husband to receive the money.
Beth passes away one year after her divorce. Her children are still minors, so the retirement plan and insurance company require an adult to be appointed to receive the inheritance Beth left behind. Who does the court presumptively look to serve as the caretaker of this money? Beth’s ex-husband who is now the only living parent of the children. (In some states, this caretaker of the money is called a guardian, whereas in others it is the conservator. The title does not matter as much as the role, which is to manage the funds on behalf of a minor, since the minor is not legally able to handle significant assets or money.)
Sadly, stories like Beth’s are all too familiar for the loved ones of divorced people who do not make effective use of the estate planning tools. Naming a beneficiary for retirement benefits or life insurance, or having a Will can be a good start. However, the complexities of relationships, post-divorce, often render these basic tools inadequate. Luckily, there is a way to protect and control your children’s inheritance fully.
3 Things You Must Do During and After Divorce
The divorce process can be long and expensive. However, the work does not end once the divorce decree is signed. In order to ensure that your assets and estate planning wishes are carried out in light of this major life change, there are three things you must do as soon as possible: Changing beneficiaries on life insurance policy, changing beneficiaries on retirement accounts and creating and/or updating your estate plan.
If you do not have any estate planning documents in place, now is the perfect time to get everything in order. After going through the divorce, you probably have a good idea as to what assets you own and the value of them. This will be very helpful as we discuss the right estate plan for you.
Your estate plan is more than just a Trust. It is a customized plan that ensures that you, your family and your assets are taken care when “something happens.” Something will happen and we do not have the fortune of knowing when, where and how. If you have an estate plan, this is the time to review them as many changes occurred post-divorce. Chances are you no longer want your ex-spouse to have the authority to sign documents on your behalf or make medical decisions for you. To avoid confusion by third parties as to who should be acting on your behalf, make sure to call me, your Personal Family Lawyer so we can update these essential documents.
Roth IRA Conversions After Tax Reform…Still a good idea?
Twenty years ago, the Roth IRA first became available to investors as a financial tool for their estate planning needs. These accounts have maintained their popularity because unlike their traditional IRA counterpart, a Roth IRA provides account owners tax-free income during retirement. In fact, many people chose to convert their traditional IRA or 401(k) plan into a Roth IRA to benefit from this long-term tax advantage. (Of course, there is a current tax bill that has to be considered when you make a conversion.) The recently enacted tax reform, however, has removed one helpful opportunity: the ability to recharacterize — or undo — a Roth IRA conversion.
You can think of these recharacterizations as a second-look at whether the conversion made financial sense. Now, this second-look that a recharacterization offered is closed, so a Roth IRA conversion is just a little riskier than is used to be.
How and When to Talk to Your Children About Money
Whether you consider yourself wealthy or not, you need to think about how (and when) you’ll talk with your children about money, whether they’re little kids, tweens, teens, or already adults.
The Wall Street Journal article “The Best Way for Wealthy Parents to Talk to Children About Family Money” offers guidelines for how and when “the money talk” should take place. Based on interviews with multiple financial experts, the article suggests these discussions should happen in three stages during the child’s lifetime.
Here, I’m showing you how each of these three stages apply to your family wealth as a whole, regardless of how much—or how little—money you have at the moment.
Not Married? You’re not alone – but you still need a plan
While much of the discussion involving estate planning focuses on married couples, this topic is just as important for a single person. In fact, many times it is even more important that a single person have a well-coordinated estate plan. This is because the default laws governing estates often work poorly for people without a spouse and may not adequately provide for a significant other or unmarried partner. Having a cohesive and well-drafted estate plan will ensure that you have an incapacity plan in the event of the unexpected and protect and provide for those you truly care about upon your death.
Five Surprisingly Common Planning Mistakes Many Baby Boomers are Making
Baby boomers – the first generation tasked with the responsibility of planning for and funding their golden years. This generation, which includes those born between 1946 and 1964, have entered and continue to enter into retirement. As they make this financial transition into retirement, many are learning that they have made some of the most typical retirement mistakes.
But, even if you’ve made a financial mistake or two, there’s still time to avoid these five surprisingly common planning mistakes baby boomers are making in droves: Mistake #1: Believing Estate Planning is Only for the Wealthy; Mistake #2: Checklist Mentality; Mistake #3: Not Completing Your Estate Planning Homework; Mistake #4: Leaving Out Little (And Not So Little) Things and Mistake #5: Not Preparing for Life Events & Emergencies. With my guidance, you will not make these common mistakes.
IRAs, Annuities and Guardianship: Providing for Your Minor Children after You Die
Deciding guardianship for your minor children may very well be the most vexing decision you’ll make regarding your estate planning. Not only must you trust the appointed guardian to raise your children as you’d want them raised, but you also need that person to be financially responsible with your children’s inheritance. For example, if you have an IRA or an annuity that you wish to pass to your minor children, how can you ensure those funds will be used properly—especially if the person you trust most to raise your kids isn’t necessarily the best with finances? This article will unravel each aspect of this important question.
Four Reasons Why Estate Planning Isn’t Just for the Top 1 Percent
There is a common misconception that estate plans are only for the ultra-rich – the top 1 percent, 10%, 20%, or some other arbitrary determination of “enough” money. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. People at all income and wealth levels can benefit from a comprehensive estate plan. Sadly, many have not sat down to put their legal house in order.