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What happens if your spouse fails to designate you as beneficiary of his or her IRA?

One advantage of inheriting an IRA from your spouse is that you’re entitled to transfer the funds to a spousal rollover IRA. The rollover IRA is treated as your own IRA for tax purposes, which means you need not begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) until you reach age 72….

Does your estate plan address your grandchildren in a fair manner?

Many people, when planning their estates, simply divide their assets equally among their children. But “equal” may not necessarily mean “fair.” It all depends on your family’s circumstances. Specifically, providing for grandchildren is one area where equal treatment may inadvertently result in unfairness. Consider this scenario Bob has two adult…

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…