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A difficult decision: Choosing a guardian for your children

If you have minor children, choosing a guardian to care for them should you die unexpectedly is one of the most important estate planning decisions you must make. It’s also one of the most difficult. So difficult, in fact, that avoiding it is one of the most common reasons people…

Spendthrift Trusts Aren’t Just for Spendthrifts

Now that the federal gift and estate tax exemption has reached an inflation-adjusted $11.7 million for 2021, fewer estates are subject to the federal tax. And even though President Biden has proposed reducing the exemption to $3.5 million, it’s uncertain whether that proposal will pass Congress. If nothing happens, the…

Four Reasons to Revisit your Powers of Attorney

Although much of estate planning deals with what happens after you die, it’s equally important to have a plan for making critical financial or medical decisions if you’re unable to make them for yourself. Carefully designed financial and health care powers of attorney allow you to designate a trusted person…

Now or later: When’s the right time to transfer your wealth?

To gift or not to gift? It’s a deceptively complex question. The temporary doubling of the federal gift and estate tax exemption — to an inflation-adjusted $11.7 million in 2021 — is viewed by some people as a “use it or lose it” proposition. In other words, you should make…

What Does a Trustee Do?

Your estate plan may include several different trusts. The reason is that various types of trusts can accomplish a myriad of estate planning goals. Thus, it’s critical to understand the role of a trustee. The Trustee’s Duties  The trustee is the person who has legal responsibility for administering the trust…

With a flick of the switch: Build an on-off mechanism into your estate plan

When planning your estate, it’s critical to balance estate tax planning and income tax planning. The rub is that, currently, strategies for reducing estate taxes generally focus on removing assets from your estate, while strategies for reducing income taxes generally focus on including assets in it. Even if you have an estate plan in…

Review your estate plan in light of a new presidential administration

As President-elect Joe Biden moves forward with the transition and prepares for the inauguration next month, you may be wondering how the federal estate tax may be affected. During the campaign, Biden pledged to roll back many of President Trump’s tax policies. In response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs…

Put pen to paper: How a letter of instruction can benefit family harmony

You may view your will as the centerpiece of your estate plan. But other documents can complement it. For example, if you haven’t already done so, consider writing a letter of instruction. Elements of the letter A letter of instruction is an informal document providing your loved ones with vital…

Buy-Sell Agreements: A smart business decision also makes estate planning sense

Do you own a business with one or more individuals? Undoubtedly, your interest in the business represents a substantial part of your net worth and is likely your “pride and joy.” So it’s normal if your fondest wish is for the business to continue long after you’re gone or for…

Making lifetime gifts continues to be a smart estate planning strategy

With the federal gift and estate tax exemption now at a record high $11.58 million for 2020, most estates aren’t taxable. But that doesn’t mean making lifetime gifts isn’t without significant benefits — even if your estate isn’t taxable under the current rules. Let’s examine reasons why gifting remains an…