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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.

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…

Have you considered making direct payments of tuition and medical expenses?

With the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption at $11.58 million for 2020, you may think you don’t have to worry about gift and estate taxes. However, there are no guarantees that estate tax law won’t be revised in the future or that your accumulated assets won’t eventually exceed the…

Parental priorities: How to choose a guardian for your child

If you have minor children, arguably the most important estate planning decision you need to make is choosing a guardian for them should the unthinkable occur. If you haven’t yet made this decision, formalize your choice as soon as possible. When it comes to choosing the best candidate, you probably…

3 negative outcomes of jointly owning property with a family member

A common estate planning mistake that people make is to own property jointly with an adult child or other family member. True, adding a loved one to the title of your home, bank account or other property can be a simple technique for leaving property to that person without the…