Articles Posted in Asset Protection

4.25.18The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act have made the Roth more attractive as retirement savings vehicles.

Here are the two biggest tax advantages from Roth IRAs: withdrawals are tax free, and you don’t have to worry about required minimum distributions. According to MarketWatch’s article, “How the new tax law creates a ‘perfect storm’ for Roth IRA conversions,” today’s federal income tax rates might be the lowest you’ll see for the rest of your life.

Tax-Free Withdrawals. Unlike traditional IRA withdrawals, qualified Roth IRA withdrawals are federal-income-tax-free and most often state-income-tax-free. A qualified withdrawal is one taken after you, as the Roth account owner, have met both of the following requirements: (i) you’ve had at least one Roth IRA open for more than five years; and (ii) you’ve reached age 59½ or become disabled or dead. To satisfy the five-year requirement, the clock starts on the first day of the tax year for which you make your initial contribution to your first Roth account. That initial contribution can be a regular annual contribution or a conversion contribution.

11.15.17It may sound whimsical, but the moment you open a business is also the time to start thinking about how you’ll exit the business, whether you intend to sell to a partner, leave the entire business to a family member or sell as soon as you come up with the next big idea.

One of the biggest mistakes made by entrepreneurs is failing to create a written plan for their long-term exit strategy. What they don’t understand is that by creating a succession plan, which includes ways to boost the value of the business years before you want to sell or retire, they’ll have a created a road map for a more successful business.

Springfield (MO) Business Journal’s recent article, “Starting a business? Plan your exit now,” advises that you begin with creating a culture of success with your employees, especially the key people. That means fostering an ownership mentality, so they see their critical role in the company’s long-term success and their role in helping that to continue in the future, long and short term.

10.30.17There’s more than retirement savings power in a Roth IRA. Used properly, it can help cut your beneficiary’s tax liability, regardless of if and when tax reform becomes reality.

If you’re interested in reducing the taxes your heirs will have to pay, you’re probably concerned about the discussion about tax reform going on in Washington these days. Unfortunately, there’s no way to be certain what, if any, changes will actually occur. In the meantime, your estate planning attorney can help you structure your estate, so that less of it ends up being consumed by taxes. That includes moving funds into non-taxable accounts, including Roth IRAs.

Motley Fool’s recent article, “A Clever Way to Cut Your Heirs' Income Taxes,” says the money you put into a Roth retirement savings account has already been taxed. It was taxed on the contributions you made or as a rollover from a tax-deferred retirement savings account. As a result, everything in that account is now non-taxable for income-tax purposes. As the Roth has been open for at least five years prior to your death, the money in that account won’t be subject to federal income taxes.

9.27.17Statistically speaking, women live longer and earn less than men. That makes financial and retirement planning far more important for women.

It’s not pleasant to contemplate, but because women often take time out from their careers to raise children or take care of elderly parents and still earn less than their male colleagues, their life-time income is usually lower than the average male. While both sexes need to do financial and retirement planning, women are more likely to find themselves facing financial difficulties as they age.

The Marietta Daily Journal’s article, “With women living longer, more financial planning may be needed,” notes that while the gender pay gap is narrowing, in 2015 women earned 83% of what men earned, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. This can mean that women get fewer Social Security benefits, save less for retirement, and have smaller pensions. Women are also more likely to live on their own in their senior years, either by choice, divorce or the death of a spouse.

8.11.17Living trusts can achieve different goals, depending upon how they are drafted. Knowing the fundamentals will help you decide how to go forward.

It’s important to know that not all living trusts are the same. However, common reasons for using a living trust are for privacy and avoiding probate. Placing assets in a living trust also provides protection to beneficiaries from divorce, nursing home costs, legal actions and creditors. Should a living trust be part of your estate plan?

The Green Bay Press-Gazette’s recent article, “Common questions about a living trust,” notes that this can be especially important for a beneficiary who may have special needs. A Special Needs Trust can be created so their government program benefits, like Medicaid, won’t be impacted by their inheritance. Let’s look at some specific situations:

7.19.17If you plan on leaving the family home to your heirs when you die, be aware of the tax liabilities that are associated with inheriting a house.

This is the type of estate planning decision that requires a closer look with an estate planning attorney to evaluate the pros and cons, as well as the short and long-term consequences. First, you’ll need to know the value of the house, which will be based on its fair market value on the date of the owner’s death, according to a recent article from NJ.com, “Complex inheritance taxes on a home.”

If you have a home valued at over $1 million, it may sell for close to that amount. Let’s say that you’re single and are 80 years old. You live with your widowed sister. Your will instructs that your sister should have life ownership when you pass and then it is left in trust for nieces and nephews. What would their tax bill be?

6.21.17Unintended consequences can occur when dividing up real property, which is often harder to distribute than investment accounts or savings accounts. Planning for real property division must take into account the different circumstances of your heirs.

You may have envisioned a time in the future, when your children and grandchildren enjoy the same lakeside home as you have for years after you’re gone, and are pleased with the idea of leaving the family vacation home to the next generation. But think again, says a recent article in Financial Planning, “Save clients from tax pitfalls, family strife when passing on that lake cabin,” because your vision may not translate into reality.

Some of the kids may be attached to the family vacation home and want to keep it. If possible, the best solution is a buyout among the siblings. That’s not as simple if finances don’t allow it, and the sentimental siblings are forced to sell, resulting in hard feelings. Another option is to put the vacation home in an irrevocable trust to remove it from the estate.

5.19.17Some states are cheaper to die in than others, that is, when it comes to death taxes.

The average American doesn’t have to worry too much about paying a federal estate tax, as the current federal estate tax exemption is a generous $5.49 million for 2017 and twice that if you are married. But that’s not the only death tax you and your heirs may encounter, depending on where you live or, more accurately, where you die.

MarketWatch’s article, “Here are the 20 most expensive places in America to die,” reminds us that about 20 states and DC have their own estate or inheritance taxes, or both. Some have exemption thresholds below the federal amount. Therefore, if you live in one of these states, you may be exempt from the federal estate tax, but still exposed to a significant state death tax bill.

4.26.17Without the spending habits of Michael Jackson and the involvement of members of his inner circle, the Jackson estate has been transformed into an efficient multi-million dollar empire.

As it stands now, the only factors that might keep the Michael Jackson money machine from moon-walking into eternity are his heirs.

The estate recently severed ties to Jackson’s publicist and former management team, after a multi-year courtroom battle. The losers said they stood by the star at a really low point in his life. In return, they claimed, he promised them 15% of his business. Trust Advisor’s recent article, “Michael Jackson Estate Reveals Mr. Hyde Side: Dead Star Now Fighting His Friends,” explained that since the estate wanted all of the cash, whatever Michael really wanted is of little consequence without legal documentation. Since a judge has dismissed the claim, the estate can continue consolidating its hold over every aspect of the Michael Jackson brand. All the old relationships that he once had with partners and advisors are gone.

4.25.17Even if you are still working, once you turn 65, you have to navigate your way through an entirely new and complex health care system. While there’s no HR department, there are resources.

It starts the day you turn 65, and it’s a bit of a challenge. Seniors need to get up to speed fast on the many requirements of Medicare. A recent post of Kiplinger’s, “FAQs About Medicare,” warns that mistakes can be extremely costly and difficult to fix. You’ll want to study up on this in advance.

For starters, if you signed up for Social Security before age 65, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare parts A and B and receive your card three months before your 65th birthday. Part A covers hospitalization and is generally premium-free. Part B covers outpatient care, such as doctors’ visits, x-rays and tests, and costs $134 a month for people who enroll in 2017 (or more for high earners).

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