Schedule an in-office, Zoom or phone consultation Here.

Planning for your children’s educational needs is a worthwhile goal. Fortunately, various options exist for satisfying this goal. A 529 plan can prove to be a powerful tool for paying tuition as well as paying for other education-related expenses while realizing tax advantages. 

Following your death, however, no certainty exists that later plan holders will continue utilizing these plans to pursue your educational goals. Instead, you might decide to create one or more 529 plans to make sure that your children, grand-children, or other loved ones can pursue educational objectives. 

How 529 Plans Function

Democrats in the House of Representatives recently released their plan on how to adjust basic income and estate taxes for both businesses and families. While it’s impossible to provide a comprehensive review of what these various pages contained. This article addresses a few of the major announcements.  

Only a few of the proposed changes would end up impacting either transactions or transfers that are made before the Act would be passed and many of these changes would not be implemented until January 1, 2022, but people who are being advised to transfer substantial values to irrevocable trusts as gifts before exemptions amount are lowered by half or people might be required to plan to gift the amounts to people or entities other than grantor trusts. 

Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions

A June article in the New York Times reports that progress is finally occurring in the resolution of the estate of the late James Brown. Despite a clear intent that his estate is used for underprivileged children in Georgia and South Carolina, however, the late James Brown’s estate is yet to be used in such a way. This article reviews some of the helpful tips that the late James Brown could have followed to avoid facing such obstacles.

# 1 – Understand the Nature of Your Assets

If your estate includes music ownership rights or any other type of intellectual property, it’s a good idea to gain a basic understanding of the nature of these rights and how they can be handled in your estate. One of the rights held by musicians is the right to perform or play a piece publicly, which is more commonly known as “performance rights”. When a person passes away, these rights can dissolve and become lost if not properly handled. 

The difference between children born during a marriage and those born outside of marriage might seem insignificant, but this issue can become a substantial one for people who are navigating estate planning issues. 

In a recent case, Hollywood producer Steve Bing passed away with two illegitimate children. Steve’s father had created various trusts for the benefit of future grandchildren in 1980. Before Steve’s death, some litigation had occurred involving trusts. The dispute arising from the trusts addressed the meaning of the word, “grandchild”, as it was used in the trust’s tools. The trustee had taken on the view that “grandchild” did not include grandchildren born out of wedlock who had not lived as regular members of their natural parent while minors. Steve Bing had not resided with his children as regular members of his household. 

This case raises issues common to many jurisdictions in respect to definitions used in trusts as well as other estate planning tools. 

Many people make the mistake of thinking that they don’t need to engage in any type of estate planning. While you might not be one of the 1% in regards to financial wealth, you should still give great thought to what you would like to have happen if you become incapacitated or pass away. Various estate planning tools exist, but this article reviews six of the most helpful estate planning documents that you should consider creating.

# 1 – Beneficiary Designations

Retirement accounts, as well as life insurance death benefits, are distributed through beneficiary designations instead of through the terms of a will. As part of your estate plan, it’s a good idea to both review and update your life insurance policy and retirement account, particularly following major events like death and divorce. Remember, if you fail to update these designations, undesirable results can occur. Beneficiary designations also have important tax repercussions under the Secure Act. Under the Secure Act, some beneficiaries are no longer able to distribute retirement account assets over their lifetime. 

Estate planning should be tailored to fit your unique situation. Each person has their own list of objectives that they must achieve. The issues that unmarried people must address are different from those that need to be tackled by married couples. This article reviews some of the common issues that arise when unmarried couples engage in estate planning. 

Taking Domestic Partners Into Consideration

Married couples are bestowed under the law with certain rights and obligations that unmarried individuals simply do not have. State laws for married individuals involving property division do not extend to people who are in relationships but not married. Laws are not the same for unmarried individuals in case of a break-up or death. With adequate estate planning, unmarried people can create estate planning documents to make sure that their wishes are carried out when it comes to things like estate planning. 

Many people fall into the trap of thinking that wills are only for the wealthiest individuals. Other people falsely believe that because they are young, there is little to no reason to write a will. In reality, life is overwhelming and unpredictable. As easy as it is to assume that estate plans are for other people, it’s also important to understand that death will occur regardless of whether or not one would like to avoid it. If you fail to create an estate plan, there will be no designated individuals to receive your assets after you pass away. In these situations, New York law will dictate how your assets are divided as well as where your assets are transferred.

To make matters even more complex, only one in every three people in the United States is reported to have a will. This equates to only half of the people over the age of 55 having an estate plan. Any person, however, can benefit from having a will even if this makes things easier for survivors who have recently lost a loved one. It’s also important to remember that wills need not be complicated and that a person can write one without having to spend a substantial amount of money. This article reviews some important details to consider if you’re considering creating a will. 

Consider Your Goals

Family wealth has led to disputes over the years. Today, Hollywood also continues to make films like Knives Out that address what happens when families cannot agree on how an estate should be divided. Given that the Covi-19 pandemic has placed an increased amount of financial pressure on families, a growing number of people are disputing the terms of wills and other estate plans. Additionally, the number of blended families has grown substantially. Data reveals that currently, 16% of children live in “blended families”.  Blended families mean that personal finances are much more nuanced than they once were. 

Selecting who will inherit your assets and how much they will receive can be difficult even among the simplest family arrangements. When step-children or other aspects of blended families are involved, the chances for disputes rise greatly. 

Writing a Will that Decreases the Risk of Estate Planning Disputes

The year 2021 began with President Biden assuming his role in office. Democrats now control the House as well as the senate. As a result, many people are anticipating what changes the left has in store. While the introduction of tax changes has been discussed, it’s still too early to anticipate what will happen. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, will likely postpone estate planning changes. Given the changes that likely lie ahead, it’s important to do what you can to stay ahead of what might be coming.

Estate Tax Exemption Level

One anticipated change is that the estate tax exemption will drop to $5 million or lower. This change would lead to people utilizing various unique estate planning strategies. Some people have voiced the concern that if they pass away up to the current estate tax exemption of $11.7 million and later pass away when the exemption has been lowered to $5 million, they will owe estate tax on the lower amount as well as whatever assets are still found in their estate. The Treasury has provided directions as well as stated that they will not claw back gifts made before 2021, which afforded taxpayers the option to decrease their federal estate by transferring assets immediately and then drawing appreciation.

For many years, life insurance played a critical role in estate planning to either pay off or avoid estate taxes. Due to the raising of exemptions to a sizable degree including both on a federal and New York state level, people now utilize life insurance to achieve various goals. This article reviews some of the ways that you can achieve estate planning goals through the use of life insurance.

Income Taxes

Following the recent passage of the Secure Act, some new techniques have been introduced involving income taxes. The Act requires beneficiaries who inherit IRAs to make withdrawals from these accounts over the following decade. The creation of this 10-year duration lowered what was once expected to be the rest of the withdrawer’s life.

Contact Information