Many of us labor a lifetime to build up our assets and fight for causes that matter to us. Few things are more fulfilling than the thought of sharing wealth and legacy with our family.
Of course, it’s impossible to plan for every eventuality, but careful planning can mitigate against the two primary risks.
As you’ve probably already noticed, estate planning can be challenging - not only for the “traditional” nuclear family but, also for the millions of “non-traditional” families. The blended family scenarios are virtually endless - a spouse with independent wealth that marries a younger new spouse, children from a previous marriage but no children from this marriage, children from a previous marriage plus children from this new marriage, and more. Sometimes, an estate “plan” of a blended family seems less like a plan and more of a grab bag of joint and solely owned assets with no clear plan about who gets what and why.
Although the increased complexity and variety of family structures makes effective planning more challenging, the need is greater now than ever before. Of course, no single newsletter could ever cover all the potential issues, so always feel free to contact us whenever we can offer assistance to you or your clients.
Advisers should push young clients, or clients with young-adult children, to get powers of attorney governing health care and financial assets
Young clients, even the millennial children of older clients, probably don't spring to mind as necessary recipients of estate-planning advice.
After all, young adults are likely enrolled in college or are early on in their working careers, and haven't amassed much in financial assets.
However, there are some universal estate-planning strategies advisers should apply to young people, no matter their financial situation. The most important, advisers say, is establishing a medical power of attorney.
Every adult at least 18 years old should create one, Richard Behrendt, the director of estate planning at Annex Wealth Management, said.
Practitioners warn the new regulations are a court case waiting to happen
The Internal Revenue Service may face an uphill battle as it works to finalize recent proposed regulations meant to curb certain estate and gift tax planning tactics, according to practitioners.
The proposed regulations (REG-163113-02), issued Aug. 2, 2016, place limitations on the use of valuation discounts that reduce the overall value of assets in family-owned businesses, thus lowering a decedent's estate and gift tax liability at death. The IRS achieves that end in the rules by disregarding restrictions that enabled taxpayers to use such discounts in the past (149 DTR G-4 (Aug. 3, 2016)).
Practitioners said taxpayers and their advisors are sure to bring up several arguments against the IRS rules in comments and at a scheduled Dec. 1, 2016 hearing. A significant part of the discussion will revolve around whether the IRS has overstepped its authority by issuing these regulations—something that could be addressed in U.S. Tax Court if the rules are finalized as is, practitioners said.
Under tax code section 2704(b), the Secretary of the Treasury may provide regulations to disregard other restrictions besides what’s already mentioned in the statute to determine the value of an interest in a corporation or a partnership, “if such restriction has the effect of reducing the value of the transferred interest for purposes of this subtitle but does not ultimately reduce the value of such interest to the transferee.”
During his first big economic address, in Detroit Monday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump again made the push for the end of the federal estate tax.
“American workers have paid taxes their whole life, they shouldn’t be taxed again when they die,” Trump declared.
The estate tax—aka the “death tax” to its detractors—is a perennial political football, but exactly how many American workers would benefit if it were to be repealed?
The tax applies to estates of individuals with combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts exceeding $5.45 million (double that for estates of married couples) in 2016, as stipulated by the IRS. That includes things like stocks, bonds, real estate holdings, small businesses, and retirement assets, among others.
How to Protect Your Heirs and Your Legacy
from Bad Decisions and Outside Influences
Estate planning is an important and everlasting gift you can give your family. And setting up a smooth inheritance isn't as hard as you might think. - Suze Orman
After working diligently for decades to achieve your financial goals, you understandably want to preserve your gains and leave an enduring legacy to the next generation. For better or for worse, though, your heirs have free will. Even while you’re alive and very much capable of directly communicating with your children, favored charities and others, you might already be uncomfortably familiar with the limits of your influence.
As you contemplate the future, it’s easy to ponder disagreeable scenarios. What if your adult child squanders the business you leave her by getting involved with a dubious partner or burning through cash reserves and taking speculative risks? What if the non-profit that you co-founded mismanages the property that you leave it or runs afoul of legal issues?
When it comes to estate planning, you probably think of wills and trusts. But there are three other estate planning documents you should think about to make your plan complete:
A Living Will
A Healthcare Directive, also called an Advance Directive, Medical or Healthcare Power of Attorney, or Designation of Healthcare Surrogate
A Financial Power of Attorney
“Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”
Murphy’s Law applies itself with surprising vigor in the estate planning field. If your clients are leaving outright, no-strings-attached inheritances or gifts to their beneficiaries, they are practically inviting disaster. But, there’s hope. A properly designed estate plan protects a client’s beneficiary and can help grow your business.
How Proper Planning Benefits Your Practice
An inheritance that goes outright and into the pocket of a spouse, child, or grandchild will very likely leave your office. On the other hand, an inheritance left inside a trust (such as lifetime discretionary trust, more on that below) has a better chance of staying because:
• If assets managed by you are left outright, they can easily be transferred away after the client dies.
• You have time to build relationships with the beneficiaries while your client is still alive and well.
• Your client may be inclined to recommend that the trust be managed by you when you are proactive in the planning process and demonstrate that you have expertise in overseeing the investments for lifetime trusts.
Understanding the benefits of a lifetime discretionary trust helps build your client’s confidence and trust in your relationship. Ultimately, this positions you as the trusted advisor for the client’s heirs.
Everyone has heard of wills and trusts. Most articles written on these topics, however, often presume that everyone knows the basics of these important documents. But, in reality, many of us don’t – and with good reason – as they’re rooted in complicated, centuries-old law.Let’s face it, if you’re not an estate planning attorney, these concepts tend to remain merely that – concepts. So, if you’re “fuzzy” about wills and trusts, know that you are not alone. After we show you the difference between these two documents, we’ll tell you why a trust is the better choice.
It’s counterintuitive, we know: irrevocable trusts are revocable (and amendable). Unfortunately, irrevocability is a malicious myth. The uninformed could spend years relying on an old, out-of-date trust that could be updated and improved without too much effort. Yes, the so-called “irrevocable trusts” absolutely can be, and, often, should be, modified. In this issue, we’ll identify:
● 10 reasons you may want to modify your irrevocable trust
● 5 ways to modify your irrevocable trust
● 3 circumstances when trust modification should be considered
● When to contact our office to have your trust reviewed for potential modification