A family with a disabled child faces difficult planning challenges. For many years, the most effective estate and financial planning tool for parents of a disabled child was a special needs trust (SNT). This trust type provides resources for the care of disabled children while preserving their eligibility for means-tested government benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Another option available to families is the ABLE account. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was signed into law in 2014. It created Internal Revenue Code Section 529A, authorizing states to offer tax-advantaged savings accounts for the blind and severely disabled. (more…)
Life insurance is often an integral part of an estate plan. By acquiring life insurance coverage, you can provide liquidity when your family might need it the most, particularly if you’re relatively young. The policy’s proceeds can be used to help pay your mortgage, college tuition for your children, or various other expenses.
Of course, you also must account for taxes. Generally, you can avoid dire federal estate tax consequences, based in part by using your gift and estate tax exemption. However, the exemption is scheduled to decrease after 2025, creating more complications. For many families, creating an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) to hold your life insurance policy is a common solution. (more…)
Are you inclined to help a charity for a period of time without ultimately giving up the property? Consider the benefits of a charitable lead trust (CLT). This type of trust is essentially the opposite of the charitable remainder trust (CRT), a better-known alternative (see Is a CRT A Better Option? below). With a CLT, the property reverts to family members — not the charity.
At the same time, the CLT provides a stream of annual income to the charity for a term of years. So everyone wins. (more…)
An art collection is a special asset to account for in an estate plan.
It goes without saying that your art collection, including paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of art, can represent a significant portion of your estate. Thus, it’s critical to account for these assets in your estate plan.
While you can apply many traditional estate planning strategies to an art collection, this asset type can present unique challenges. Of course, you’ll want to preserve the value of your collection and avoid unnecessary taxes but knowing how your collection will be managed and displayed after your death may also be of importance. (more…)
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably encouraged your elderly relatives to list of all their assets and contact information, including passwords to online accounts. This will enable you or other family members to access vital information at times when you must act on their behalf. (more…)
While, ultimately, you create an estate plan to meet technical objectives, such as minimizing gift and estate taxes and protecting your assets from creditors’ claims, you should also consider “softer,” yet equally critical, goals. Because you’ve spent a lifetime building your wealth, it’s important to educate your children or other loved ones on how to manage wealth responsibly. In addition, you may want to promote shared family values and encourage charitable giving. Using a “family advancement sustainability trust” (FAST) is one option to achieve these goals. (more…)
Estate tax planning can become complicated when multiple parties are involved. For example, you may be concerned about providing assets to a surviving spouse of a second marriage, while also providing for your children from your first marriage. Of course, you also want to take advantage of favorable estate tax provisions in the law.
Fortunately, there’s a relatively simple way to meet your objectives with few dire tax consequences. It’s commonly called a spousal lifetime access trust (SLAT). (more…)
Suppose you’re contemplating a bold move — literally: pulling up stakes and moving to a foreign country. There are many possible reasons for this drastic change of scenery. For example, you may be enticed by a new career opportunity, looking to retire to a warmer climate, or wanting to live closer to loved ones.
Regardless of whether you’re targeting a move “across the pond” or to a tropical paradise or elsewhere, be aware of the estate tax planning implications. (more…)
By Christine Collins Madrid, CPA, Tax Director
The past few years have been a roller coaster between the pandemic, the California wildfires, and the political climate. We have seen massive tax acts enacted, including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that doubled the estate and gift tax exemption to $11.7 million for single filers and $23.4 million for joint filers (indexed for inflation). (more…)