Articles Tagged with Houston Tax Planning

Multigenerational familyMake no mistake. Estate planning is, and should be, a serious business, along with financial planning and wealth management, notes The Wilmington Business Journal. These are all on-going activities and part of a well-managed, successful life, at any age or stage.

In its article "Do You Really Want To Leave a Large Inheritance?" the Journal advises seniors that having enough retirement funds is critical. But what about this other school of financial planning: Don't Die Rich!

The "Don't Die Rich!" philosophy is based on the premise that money is best used while you are around to enjoy it and appreciate the benefits. Due to lengthening life spans, in many cases, parental assets aren't going to be around to be inherited by children until those children are near retirement age.

100 billsSo, you didn’t win the big lottery? The country’s first billion dollar jackpot got a lot of folks dreaming about a lavish lifestyle and living the good life. Reality hit and your Houston lifestyle includes that Monday morning commute. Reality doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a plan.

US New & World Report's recent article "Lottery Winner or Not, Have a Windfall Plan," says let's have fun with the fantasy that your purchase of a $2 lotto ticket will make you a billionaire by discussing a lottery game plan:

Lottery Game Plan

Woman toastingSeventy may not exactly be the new 50, but it's not that far off. According to a recent article in Money, "Happy 70th Birthday, Boomers!" researchers say that members of this generation – born from 1946 through 1964 – are healthier from a physical and mental standpoint than previous generations. This also means that the oldest boomers, who will turn 70 in 2016, are more likely to see their 85th birthday. Their grandparents at 70 had only a 28% chance to reach age 85. Want to feel even better? More than one in 10 of the oldest members of the baby boom generation will live to age 95, compared to their grandparents' generation of only three in 100.

You've plenty of time left to invest, protect, and enjoy your money. So, Roll Over Beethoven! Here's a financial to-do list that rocks!

To keep from pulling money out of a declining market for living expenses, have at least 12 months of cash on hand to cover day-to-day costs. Also, you should be taking Social Security now, since there's no upside to delaying once you hit 70.

Baby feetAn unmarried father-to-be asked what he needs to do to protect the mother of his child in the column "Having a baby, but not married? Some financial advice," from New Jersey 101.5. His concern is well founded because if something unfortunate happened to him, she would not be first in line for his assets. He also asks if the necessary documents are prepared while they are unmarried, what needs to be changed when and if they do get married?

In many states, the rights of unmarried couples are different than those of married couples. As far as a minor child, child custody issues are the same whether or not you are married, as the courts make decisions based upon the best interest of the child. Of course, the surviving parent will be the default guardian, but in the event that both parents die, issues can arise without a will and the designation of an alternate guardian. In addition to an unforeseen death, you also need to consider what could happen if you and your partner split up.

Distribution of property is very different between married and unmarried couples that break up. If you are married, almost all property will be distributed equitably and alimony can be awarded. However, when unmarried couples split up, individual property is retained by the original owner—and only jointly-owned property, like a home with both names on the deed, is divided between the parties. Further, neither party of an unmarried couple gets alimony, but this can be addressed by an unmarried couple if they sign a Cohabitation Agreement.

Bigstock-Extended-Family-Outside-Modern-13915094According to a recent study, "The Bank of Mom and Dad: a Source of Comfort for Everyone," an increasing number of parents in the U.S. are worried about their adult children's financial status and would be willing to sacrifice their own fiscal health. The study, issued by the BMO Wealth Institute and described in CNN Money's "Half of U.S. Parents Would Retire Later to Support Adult Children Financially," makes it clear that parental worry needs to be balanced with concerns about the parents' own finances.

An experienced estate planning attorney can assist parents with this concern to reach their own financial goals, including retirement—and to add in financial support to their children into a comprehensive plan.
Parents should remember that today's young adults face unique financial challenges and may require different levels of support than they themselves received. If parents and children talk about the amount of support they expect to provide or receive, they can avoid misunderstandings that could jeopardize their financial futures. The report offers parents the following financial planning tips:

• Start Early. You should try to teach your children about money at an early age. Understanding the basics of personal finance at a young age can help set up a child for future financial success and independence.

Things to do ListKeeping your financial house in order is not that complicated, according to the national newspaper USA Today in "Drowning in bank statements, etc.? Here's what you can toss." There are three overarching tasks: pay bills on time, file taxes and save more. Getting organized is the best way to start, and what better way to start the New Year than a clean sweep of paperwork?

Most of the documents you receive from banks, credit card companies and utility companies do not need to be kept, unless you anticipate having a problem.

For instance, bank accounts and bill balances can go. There's no real reason to keep those. These update you on balances at a moment in time but don't mean much in the future. Most of these don't need to be kept for more than a year or two, and typically electronic records will work just as well. However, tax-related financial documents are a different story. In the event of an audit, you'll need all the forms from that tax year to prove your return was accurate. The IRS says you should keep all your tax documents for at least three years. This includes your W-2s with your income for the tax year and your Form 1098 mortgage interest statement. If you have a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction, the IRS recommends you keep tax documents for up to seven years. After seven years, the only reason to hang onto tax documents is if you haven't filed a return at all or if you filed a fraudulent return, according to IRS record-keeping guidelines.

Woman hands checking calendarJanuary is an excellent time to review and update your estate plan – even if all you do is make a list of the things you mean to do in 2016. A recent article in The Business Investor's Daily, "5 Changes to Make to Your Financial Plan Now," provides a framework to get things rolling.

Make gifts to family. Plan to give gifts of cash or tangible property of up to $14,000 per person because there's no limit on how many gifts you can make, and there is no gift or estate tax. Couples can combine their gift giving to $28,000 per person. This is an easy way to reduce a potentially taxable estate. Establish a long-term strategy and give annual gifts to your beneficiaries.

Give to charity. You can also make a donation to a charity, and if you tend to make significant charitable donations, consider establishing a family foundation. To avoid capital gains tax, you should consider donating appreciated assets like stocks. A donor-advised fund is another way to receive a charitable deduction today, avoid capital gains tax and retain the authority to determine its future use.

Bulldog readingTrusts offer many advantages in estate planning. Privacy, avoiding probate, more control over personal finances, the ability to more closely monitor investments and tax planning are a few of the reasons to incorporate trusts into your estate plan, according to a recent article in Wilmington Business, "Selecting the Right Trustee."

Selecting the right trustee to execute your plans is just about the most critical decisions you can make—maybe even as important as the terms of the trust itself. Think about these qualifications when selecting your trustee:

Administrative Skills and Knowledge. Your trustee must perform a lot of different tasks, like safeguarding assets, collections, reinvestment and distribution of income, document interpretation, bill paying, and many others.

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