Category: Assets

Life Insurance is vital to Estate Planning

Life Insurance is vital to Estate Planning

Life insurance is vital to comprehensive estate planning. Integrating life insurance policies into estate planning can provide financial security for your heirs and ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes. When used effectively, life insurance can solve a range of estate planning challenges, from providing immediate cash flow to beneficiaries to helping cover estate tax liabilities.

Incorporating life insurance into your estate plan requires careful consideration of the type of policy that best suits your needs, whether term life insurance for temporary coverage or whole life insurance for permanent protection. It’s essential to understand the insurance company’s role in managing these policies and ensuring that they align with your overall estate objectives.

Life insurance can play a crucial role in estate planning. It can provide a death benefit to cover immediate expenses after your passing, such as funeral costs and debts, thereby alleviating financial burdens on your heirs. Furthermore, life insurance proceeds can be used to pay estate taxes, ensuring that your beneficiaries receive their inheritance without liquidating other estate assets.

When selecting life insurance for estate planning purposes, it’s important to consider the different types of policies available, such as term insurance for short-term needs and permanent insurance for long-term planning. An insurance agent can be a valuable resource in this process, helping to determine the right policy type for your estate planning goals.

Term life insurance offers coverage for a specified period and is often used for short-term estate planning needs, such as providing financial support to minor children. On the other hand, permanent life insurance policies, like whole life or universal life insurance, offer lifelong coverage and can build cash value over time, which can be an asset in your overall estate.

Life insurance trusts, particularly irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs), play a significant role in estate planning. By placing a life insurance policy within a trust, you can exert greater control over how the death benefit is distributed among your beneficiaries. The trust owns the policy, removing it from your taxable estate and potentially reducing estate tax liabilities.

Since the trust is irrevocable, it provides a layer of protection against creditors and legal judgments, ensuring that the life insurance payout is used solely for the benefit of your designated beneficiaries.

When considering life insurance in estate planning, it’s important to evaluate how the death benefit of a life insurance policy will impact your estate’s overall financial picture and the inheritance your heirs will receive. The proceeds from a life insurance policy are typically not subject to federal income tax. However, they can still be included in your gross estate for estate tax purposes, depending on the ownership of the policy.

One of the primary uses of life insurance in estate planning is to provide funds to pay estate taxes. This is especially relevant for larger estates that may face significant federal and state estate taxes. The death benefit from a life insurance policy can be used to cover these taxes, ensuring that your heirs do not have to liquidate other estate assets to meet tax obligations. In planning for estate taxes, working with professionals, such as estate attorneys and tax advisors, is essential to ensure that your life insurance coverage aligns with your anticipated tax liabilities.

Life insurance can offer substantial financial support to your heirs and beneficiaries upon your passing. Whether providing for a spouse, children, or other dependents, life insurance can ensure that your loved ones are cared for financially. This is particularly important in cases where other estate assets are not readily liquid or if you wish to leave a specific inheritance to certain beneficiaries.

When selecting life insurance for this purpose, consider the needs of your heirs, their ability to manage a large sum of money and how the death benefit will complement other aspects of your estate plan.

In conclusion, life insurance plays a vital role in comprehensive estate planning. By carefully selecting the right type of policy, designating appropriate beneficiaries and considering the use of trusts, you can ensure that your estate plan effectively addresses your financial goals and provides for your loved ones after your passing. If you would like to learn more about life insurance and estate planning, please visit our previous posts. 

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A Subtrust is a Multi-Tool that serves various Purposes

A Subtrust is a Multi-Tool that serves various Purposes

A subtrust is a separate entity created under the umbrella of a primary trust or a will. A subtrust becomes active based on the terms of the trust or will when certain events happen, such as the death of the primary grantor, or creator. Subtrusts are used by estate planning attorneys to help families pass on inheritances and protect their heirs from creditors or issues such as lawsuits or divorce. A Subtrust is a multi-tool that serves various purposes, depending on the beneficiaries’ specific needs and the grantor’s goals.

A subtrust is created as part of a primary trust, often a revocable trust. The primary trust acts as a container for your assets, answering critical questions about who gets them, what they receive, when and how. The subtrust, on the other hand, is like a specialized compartment within this container, designed for specific purposes or beneficiaries. Subtrusts remain dormant within the primary trust until a triggering event, typically the death of the grantor. Upon this event, the subtrust becomes active and, in most cases, irrevocable. This means that the terms of the subtrust cannot be changed.

The activation of a subtrust initiates a process known as trust administration. This process involves naming the subtrust, obtaining a tax ID and setting up a bank account. In addition, an appointed trustee will need to manage the trust assets, including making distributions to beneficiaries, filing tax returns and ensuring that the trust operates according to the trust provisions and the grantor’s intentions.

How Do Subtrusts Work If Created Under a Will?

Subtrusts can also be effectively created under a will, offering a flexible approach to estate planning. The will itself can directly establish these trusts or designate a revocable trust as the beneficiary in what is known as a “pour-over” will. This method ensures that the assets are transferred into the trust upon the grantor’s death.

How are Subtrusts Different from Revocable Trusts?

Subtrusts offer enhanced protection for your assets and beneficiaries. Unlike a revocable trust, which can be altered during the grantor’s lifetime, a subtrust becomes irrevocable upon activation, providing a firmer legal structure. This irrevocability protects the assets from the beneficiary’s creditors and in cases of legal challenges, such as divorce or lawsuits.

What are Subtrusts Commonly Used for?

Subtrusts serve various purposes, depending on the beneficiaries’ specific needs and the trustor’s goals. They can be used to protect beneficiaries who are minors, financially irresponsible, or have special needs. Subtrusts can also safeguard assets from beneficiaries’ creditors, ensuring that the inheritance is used as intended by the grantor.

Subtrusts have many different names and types, each serving a unique purpose in estate planning, as outlined in an article by the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys titled Basics of Estate Planning: Trusts and Subtrusts.

How Do Subtrusts Avoid Probate?

A Subtrust is a multi-tool that serves various purposes, but one of the primary reasons is to avoid the lengthy and often costly process of probate. Having assets in a subtrust bypasses the court-supervised distribution process, making things smooth, quick and easy for your family and heirs after your death.

Subtrusts provide a layer of protection for beneficiaries against their creditors or their own irresponsibility. This is particularly important in cases where a beneficiary may face financial difficulties, divorce, legal disputes, or even car accidents. The subtrust provides a shield for the assets to protect them from external claims. If you would like to learn more about trusts, please visit our previous posts. 

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Avoid Adding Adult Children as Joint Owners

Avoid Adding Adult Children as Joint Owners

It is generally wise to avoid adding adult children as joint owners of your accounts. The conversation may concern a checking or savings account or both. Unsolicited advice usually goes something like this: “If you want to have your children to be able to pay your bills if something happens to you, you need to add them to the account.” While the intentions are good, a recent Spokane Journal of Business article advises otherwise: “Adding adult children to accounts can be problematic.”

People are made to worry even more when they are told that if there is no second name on the account, it will be frozen upon death and no one can access it until a lengthy and costly probate process has occurred.

To do the right thing, many people respond by adding their most responsible adult child to the account. They don’t realize they are creating more problems than they are solving. A better solution exists, and it should be something taken care of when preparing or revising your estate plan.

Why wouldn’t you want to add an adult child to your accounts? Simply put, your last will and testament doesn’t apply to a bank account if it is a joint account. Most bank accounts are owned with a “joint tenancy with right of survivorship.” This means if the primary owner, the parent, should die, the adult child becomes the sole owner of assets in the account, regardless of what your will says.

Assuming that your intention is to split the assets in the account among several beneficiaries, this may or may not happen. The new account owner is under no legal obligation to share the assets, as they are solely and legally entitled to these funds.

Another problem: if the child decides to split the funds and transfer them to siblings, the IRS may see this as a gift subject to the requirement to fill out a gift tax return.

By having a joint owner, you may also expose these assets to creditor claims. What if the child named on the bank account causes a car accident and is sued? Those assets are considered owned by the child and could be attached by a creditor. If your child gets divorced, those assets may also be part of a divorce settlement.

Estate tax reporting gets more complicated. The IRS places an additional burden on accounts held as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. If the child unexpectedly dies first, the law places the burden on the estate to prove the child did not own the asset.

Is there a solution? Yes, a power of attorney.

A power of attorney is a legal document allowing an agent to act on behalf of the parent, providing authorization without ownership. The parent’s goal is almost always to provide authorization and access, but not ownership.

The POA can be made effective immediately upon signing to allow the child immediate access to the account for bill paying. It can apply not only to bank accounts but to all assets. Alternatively, it can also be limited to specific assets.

Avoid adding adult children as joint owners of your financial accounts. Your estate planning attorney can create a POA to authorize an agent to give them as much or as little control as you want. You’ll be able to determine precisely what you do and do not wish your agent to do. If you would like to learn more about managing financial and retirement accounts, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Spokane Journal of Business (Nov. 9, 2023) “Adding adult children to accounts can be problematic”

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Tax Planning may Impact your Medicare Costs

Tax planning may impact your Medicare costs. How much retirees pay for Medicare Part B premiums is based on income levels, and an income increase of even $1 can trigger higher tax rates, explains the recent article, “Year-end tax strategies may affect how much retirees pay for Medicare. Here’s what to know” from CNBC.

Social Security beneficiaries will receive a 3.2% increase in benefits in 2024 based on the annual COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). According to the Social Security Administration, this will result in an estimated increase of more than $50 per month, bringing the average monthly retirement benefit for workers from $1,848 in 2023 to $1,907 in 2024.

How much beneficiaries will actually receive won’t be known until December, when annual benefit statements are sent out. One factor possibly offsetting those benefit increases is the size of Medicare Part B premiums, which are typically deducted directly from Social Security monthly benefits.

Medicare Part B covers physician services, outpatient hospital services, some home health care services, durable medical equipment and other services not covered by Medicare Part A.

Medicare Part B premiums for 2024 have not yet been announced. However, the Medicare trustees have projected the standard monthly premium possibly being $174.80 in 2024, up from $164.90 in 2023.

Some beneficiaries may pay more, based on income, in what’s known as IRMAA or Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts. In 2023, it is the standard Part B premium for those who file individually and have $97,000 or less (or $194,000 or less for couples) in modified adjusted gross income on their federal tax return in 2021.

Monthly premiums can go up to as much as $560.50 per month for individuals with incomes of $500,000 and up, for couples with $750,000 and up.

Beneficiaries receive the same Medicare services regardless of the monthly Part B premium rate.

In 2024, the monthly Part B premiums will be based on 2022 federal tax returns. Beneficiaries need to pay attention to how their incomes may change when implementing year-end tax strategies.

For instance, if you do a Roth conversion, taking pre-tax funds from a traditional IRA or eligible qualified retirement plan like a 401(k) and moving them to a post-tax retirement account, you’ll trigger income taxes, which may trigger higher Medicare Part B premiums later.

Tax planning may impact your Medicare costs. People who do end-of-year tax loss harvesting, selling off assets at a loss to offset capital gains owed on other profitable investments, may reduce adjusted gross income and future Medicare premiums.

If you’re taking distributions from IRAs and want to make charitable donations, you might want to make those donations directly from your retirement account, known as a qualified charitable distribution. These funds don’t appear on your tax return and won’t increase income taxes or future Medicare premiums. If you would like to read more about Medicare and tax planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: CNBC (Oct. 12, 2023) “Year-end tax strategies may affect how much retirees pay for Medicare. Here’s what to know”

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The Estate of The Union Season 3|Episode 2

The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 11 is out now!

The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 11 is out now!

Sylvia Holmes makes a fabulous guest! She is a Travis County Justice of the Peace and she does much, much more than marry people. In this edition of The Estate of the Union, she describes what happens in the “Peoples Court” in an entertaining and insightful way. It’s everything from evictions to speeding tickets to truancy.

If you’ve ever wondered about where Judge Judy gets her cases for her TV show, Judge Sylvia shares that secret too!

We’ve got more than 30 other episodes posted and more to come. We hope you will enjoy them enough to share it with others. If you would like to learn more about Judge Holmes and JP Court, Precinct 3, please visit their website: www.traviscountytx.gov/justices-of-peace/jp3. The Travis County, Precinct 3 live stream can be found here: justiceofthepeacetraviscou8356

 

 

In each episode of The Estate of The Union podcast, host and lawyer Brad Wiewel will give valuable insights into the confusing world of estate planning, making an often daunting subject easier to understand. It is Estate Planning Made Simple! The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 11 is out now! The episode can be found on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or anywhere you get your podcasts. If you would prefer to watch the video version, please visit our YouTube page. Please click on the links to listen to or watch the new installment of The Estate of The Union podcast. We hope you enjoy it.

The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 4 – How To Give Yourself a Charitable Gift is out now!

 

Texas Trust Law focuses its practice exclusively in the area of wills, probate, estate planning, asset protection, and special needs planning. Brad Wiewel is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We provide estate planning services, asset protection planning, business planning, and retirement exit strategies.

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How Does an Inheritance Trust Work?

How Does an Inheritance Trust Work?

How does an inheritance trust work? Don’t let the term “inheritance trust” intimidate you. It’s basically a way to safeguard assets, while managing their distribution efficiently. Trusts are also used to provide potential tax benefits, which can add significantly to a family’s financial security, according to a recent article from yahoo! finance, “How to Keep Money in the Family With an Inheritance Trust.” An estate planning attorney can guide you in establishing an inheritance trust, securing assets and protecting your family’s financial health. An inheritance or a family or testamentary trust is a legal arrangement to manage and protect assets for the benefit of heirs or beneficiaries after the grantor’s passing. Its key function is to ensure an efficient and controlled distribution of assets. These can be financial, real estate, or personal property of value.

Many types of trusts offer different levels of control, tax benefits and asset protection. For instance, a revocable trust lets the person who set up the trust or the trustee maintain control over the assets while living and make changes as they want to the terms of the trust.

In an irrevocable trust, the terms can’t be changed easily, which offers greater protection against creditors or legal disputes.

There’s also something called a “Generation Skipping Trust,” designed to transfer wealth directly to outright beneficiaries, typically grandchildren, to avoid repeated estate taxes on a family’s assets.

The inheritance trust provides a strong shield of protection for assets. By placing assets in a trust, they are safeguarded from creditors, lawsuits and even certain tax liabilities. This layer of protection ensures that assets go directly to beneficiaries without the risk of erosion by unexpected challenges.

Another reason for a trust—control of the distribution of assets. You establish the specific conditions and timelines for when and how assets are to be passed on to heirs. You may want to wait until they have reached a certain age, protect against reckless spending, or have the trust used solely for the long-term care of a loved one.

Inheritance trusts are also used to minimize estate taxes. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can plan for assets within the trust to potentially reduce the tax burden on your estate, allowing heirs to inherit more of the family’s earned wealth.

Trusts provide privacy. Unlike wills, trusts don’t become public documents. Trusts bypass the probate process, which can become a protracted and expensive public court proceeding. By placing assets in trust, the transfer of wealth is prompt and confidential.

For blended families or those with complex dynamics, inheritance trusts can help prevent disputes and ensure that assets are distributed according to your specific directions. For instance, if you want to leave assets to your children but protect them from their spouses in case of divorce, a trust can be created to address this issue. You might also wish your wealth to be distributed directly to grandchildren, not a son or daughter-in-law.

Start by working with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a comprehensive estate plan. He or she will help you understand how a inheritance trust works. This includes drafting a will, establishing trusts and assigning beneficiaries. Communicate with heirs, so they understand your intentions and expectations. Regularly review and update your plan every three to five years to be sure that it remains current and aligned with your goals. If you would like to learn more about various types of trusts, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: yahoo! finance (Oct. 3, 2023) “How to Keep Money in the Family With an Inheritance Trust”

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Strategies to minimize Taxes on Trusts

Strategies to minimize Taxes on Trusts

Dealing with trusts and the tax implications for those who create them, and their beneficiaries can seem confusing. Nevertheless, with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, those issues can be managed, according to a recent article, “5 Taxes You Might Owe If You Have a Trust,” from Yahoo! Finance. There are strategies to minimize taxes on trusts.

Trusts are legal entities used for various estate planning and financial purposes. There are three key roles: the grantor, or the person establishing the trust; the trustee, who manages the trust assets; and the beneficiary, the person or persons who receive assets from the trust.

Trusts work by transferring ownership of assets from the grantor to the trust. By separating the legal ownership, specific instructions in the trust documents can be created regarding using and distributing the assets. The trustee’s job is to manage and administer the trust according to the grantor’s wishes, as written in the trust document.

Trusts offer control, privacy, and tax benefits, so they are widely used in estate planning.

There are two primary types of trusts: revocable and irrevocable. Revocable trusts are adjustable trusts that allow the grantor to make changes or even cancel during their lifetime. They avoid the probate process, which can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if assets are owned in different states. However, the revocable trust doesn’t offer as many tax benefits as the irrevocable trust.

Think of irrevocable trusts as a “locked box.” Once assets are placed in the trust, the trust can’t be changed or ended without the beneficiary’s consent. In some states, irrevocable trusts can be “decanted” or moved into another irrevocable trust, requiring the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. However, irrevocable trusts are not treated as part of the grantor’s taxable estate, making them an ideal strategy for reducing tax liabilities and shielding assets from creditors.

Trust distributions are the assets or income passed from the trust to beneficiaries. They can be in the form of cash, stocks, real estate, or other assets. For instance, if a trust owns a rental property, the monthly rental property generated by the property could be distributed to the trust’s beneficiaries.

Do beneficiaries pay taxes on distributions from the principal of the trust? Not generally. If you receive a distribution from the trust principal, it is not usually considered taxable. However, the trust itself may owe taxes on any income it generates, including interest, dividends, or rental income. The trust typically pays these before distributions are made to beneficiaries.

It gets a little complicated when beneficiaries receive distributions of trust income. In many cases, the income is taxable to the beneficiaries at their own individual tax rates. This can create a sizable tax wallop if you are in your peak earnings years.

There are strategies to minimize taxes on your trust. One approach is to structure trust distribution with a Charitable Remainder Trust, where income goes to a charity for a set number of years, and the remaining assets are then distributed to beneficiaries. An estate planning attorney will be a valuable resource, so grantors can achieve their goals and beneficiaries aren’t subject to overly burdensome taxes. If you would like to learn more about tax planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Yahoo! Finance (Sep. 27, 2023) “5 Taxes You Might Owe If You Have a Trust”

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Tax Strategies combined with Estate Planning can Safeguard Assets

Tax Strategies combined with Estate Planning can Safeguard Assets

Business owners who want long-term financial success must navigate an intricate web of taxes, estate planning and asset protection. Pre-and post-transactional tax strategies, combined with estate planning, can safeguard assets, optimize tax positions and help strategically pass wealth along to future generations or charitable organizations, as reported in a recent article from Forbes, “Strategic Tax and Estate Planning For Business Owners.”

Pre-transactional tax planning includes reviewing the business entity structure to align it with tax objectives. For example, converting to a Limited Liability Company (LLC) may be a better structure if it is currently a solo proprietorship.

Implementing qualified retirement plans, like 401(k)s and defined benefit plans, gives tax advantages for owners and is attractive to employees. Contributions are typically tax-deductible, offering immediate tax savings.

There are federal, state, and local tax credits and incentives to reduce tax liability, all requiring careful research to be sure they are legitimate tax planning strategies. Overly aggressive practices can lead to audits, penalties, and reputational damage.

After a transaction, shielding assets becomes even more critical. Establishing a limited liability entity, like a Family Limited Partnership (FLP), may be helpful to protect assets.

Remember to keep personal and business assets separate to avoid putting asset protection efforts at risk. Review and update asset protection strategies when there are changes in your personal or business life or new laws that may provide new opportunities.

Developing a succession plan is critical to ensure that the transition of a family business from one to the next. Be honest about family dynamics and individual capabilities. Start early and work with an experienced estate planning attorney to align the succession and tax plan with your overall estate plan.

Philanthropy positively impacts, establishes, or builds on an existing legacy and creates tax advantages. Donating appreciated assets, using charitable trusts, or creating a private foundation can all achieve personal goals while attaining tax benefits.

Estate taxes can erode the value of wealth when transferring it to the next generation. Gifting, trusts, or life insurance are all means of minimizing estate taxes and preserving wealth. Your estate planning attorney will know about estate tax exemption limits and changes coming soon. They will advise you about gifting assets during your lifetime, using annual gift exclusions, and determine if lifetime gifts should be used to generate estate tax benefits. Smart tax strategies combined with estate planning can safeguard assets for generations. If you would like to read more about tax and estate planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Forbes (Sep. 28, 2023) “Strategic Tax and Estate Planning For Business Owners”

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Life Insurance should be Major component of Estate Plan

Life Insurance should be Major component of Estate Plan

We never know what the future may bring, and waiting too long to investigate life insurance could leave loved ones in a financial bind, according to a recent article from Money, “What Is Joint Life Insurance and How Does It Work?” There are plans ranging from term and whole to individual and joint, and you’ll want to understand how each works before determining which policy best fits your needs. Life insurance should be a major component of your estate plan.

Joint life insurance is a single plan covering the lives of two people with one premium, with the policyholders becoming each other’s beneficiaries or passing benefits to their heirs. Depending on your coverage, these types of life insurance pay out death benefits when one or both of the policyholders dies.

This eliminates the need for separate policies for spouses or partners and minimizes paperwork and the underwriting and administrative costs associated with life insurance policies. This type of plan is often used for business partners, who can use the death benefit to fund the company if one of them dies unexpectedly.

Joint life insurance plans are usually permanent or whole-life policies and stay in effect as long as premiums continue to be paid or until the policy pays out. Investing in joint whole life insurance has certain advantages because it provides long-term certainty.

There are two kinds of joint life insurance-first to die and second to die.

A first-to-die life insurance policy pays a death benefit to the surviving policyholder when the other party dies. This ensures the living policyholder receives a payout, which can be used for living costs if the family’s primary income source is the first to die.

Situations where one spouse doesn’t qualify for life insurance may also make first-to-die life insurance a good idea. Insurance companies may be more willing to insure someone with pre-existing health conditions because there’s only one payout between two policyholders. However, the healthier spouse will most likely incur higher cost premiums with a joint policy than an individual plan.

The first-to-die joint policy terminates once the payout occurs, leaving the surviving spouse or partner without life insurance unless they have an additional individual plan. If the surviving party doesn’t have their own policy, they must purchase a separate policy to ensure their beneficiaries receive a death benefit.

Second-to-die life insurance, or survivorship life insurance, doesn’t pay out until both policyholders die. These plans are often used to leave money for beneficiaries or pay for funeral expenses. A second-to-die policy can be helpful with estate planning because heirs don’t pay estate tax on the death benefits unless they exceed estate tax thresholds.

Determining which policy best suits your family depends on several factors, including how you expect beneficiaries to use the proceeds. Life insurance policies should be a major component of the discussion with your estate planning attorney, and align with your overall estate plan. If you would like to read more about life insurance, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Money (Sep. 15, 2023) “What Is Joint Life Insurance and How Does It Work?”

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Estate Planning can be a Powerful Part of a Financial Strategy

Estate Planning can be a Powerful Part of a Financial Strategy

Estate planning can be a powerful part of a financial strategy to ensure the smooth transfer of assets to the next generation while yielding significant tax savings, as explained in a recent article, “Maximizing wealth: The power of strategic estate planning in tax savings” from Thomasville Times-Enterprise.

Estate planning generally involves arranging assets and personal affairs to facilitate an efficient transfer to beneficiaries. However, there’s a tax angle to consider. Estates are subject to various taxes, including estate, inheritance and capital gains taxes. Without a good estate plan, taxes can take a big bite out of any inheritance.

Using tax-free thresholds and deductions effectively is one way to save on taxes. Depending upon your jurisdiction, there may be a state estate tax exemption in addition to the federal estate tax exemption. By strategically distributing assets to beneficiaries or using trusts, individuals can keep the value of their estate below these thresholds, leading to reduced or eliminated estate taxes.

Equally important is planning to take advantage of allowable deductions, further decreasing the tax burden facing heirs.

Trusts are valuable tools for estate and tax planning. They offer a legal framework to hold and manage assets to benefit individuals or organizations and provide asset protection and tax advantages. A revocable living trust transfers assets seamlessly to beneficiaries without passing through probate. Irrevocable trusts shield assets from estate taxes while allowing the person who created the trust—the grantor—to direct their distribution when the trust is established.

Strategic gifting during one’s lifetime is another way wealth is transferred. Using the annual gift tax exclusion, you may gift a certain amount per person yearly without triggering gift taxes. This allows for the gradual transfer of assets, reducing the taxable estate while helping loved ones. Gifting appreciated assets can result in significant capital gains tax savings for both the person making the gift and the recipient.

Estate planning is necessary for business owners to protect a family business from being stripped of capital because of hefty estate taxes. Different ownership structures, including a Family Limited Partnership (FLP) or a Limited Liability Company (LLC) can facilitate the smooth transition of the business to the next generation, while using valuation discounts to reduce estate tax liabilities further.

Estate planning can be a powerful part of a financial strategy. Given the complexity of estate and tax laws, working with an experienced estate planning attorney, accountant, and financial advisor is essential to ensure that all aspects of an estate plan meet legal requirements. Every situation and every family is different, so the estate plan needs to be designed to meet the unique needs of the individual and their family. If you would like to learn more about tax planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Thomasville Times-Enterprise (Sep. 3, 2023) “Maximizing wealth: The power of strategic estate planning in tax savings”

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Information in our blogs is very general in nature and should not be acted upon without first consulting with an attorney. Please feel free to contact Texas Trust Law to schedule a complimentary consultation.
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