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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…

Zeros and ones: Estate planning for your digital assets and accounts

Nearly everyone owns at least some digital assets, such as online bank and brokerage accounts, bill-paying services, cloud-based document storage, digital music collections, social media accounts, and domain names. But what happens to these assets when you die or if you become incapacitated? The answer depends on several factors, including…

Don’t overlook securities laws when planning your estate

For a variety of estate planning and asset management purposes, many affluent families hold their assets in trusts, family investment vehicles or charitable foundations. If assets held in this manner include interests in hedge funds, private equity funds or other “unregistered” securities, it’s important to ensure that the entity is…

One Trust, Two Trusts, Three Trusts, More?

Is it better to have one trust for all of a couple’s assets (community, husband’s separate and wife’s separate) versus three separate trusts? This is a major structural issue that must be decided before drafting a couple’s estate planning documents can begin. It depends. The answer may depend on the…