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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…

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…

Tax Relief provided by the CARES Act

We hope that you are keeping yourself, your loved ones, and your community safe from COVID-19. Along with those paramount health concerns, you may be wondering about some of the recent tax changes meant to help everyone coping with the Coronavirus fallout. This is an update on the tax-related provisions…

Have you coordinated your payable-on-death accounts with your estate plan?

Payable-on-death (POD) accounts provide a quick, simple and inexpensive way to transfer assets outside of probate. They can be used for bank accounts, certificates of deposit or even brokerage accounts. Setting one up is as easy as providing the bank with a signed POD beneficiary designation form. When you die,…

Time passages: Estate planning through the years

Virtually everyone needs an estate plan, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Even though each person’s situation is unique, general guidelines can be drawn depending on your current stage of life. The early years If you’ve recently embarked on a career, gotten married or both, now is the time to…