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Estate Planning in Turbulent Times

Overnight, our lives have been turned upside down. We are concerned about the wellbeing of family and friends but are advised (or ordered) not to be in their physical presence. Although it may seem as though circumstances are spinning beyond our control, we are not powerless. There are steps we can take to protect ourselves and our families, both physically and financially. First, we can exercise caution in our interactions with others to ensure their health as well as our own, taking care to stay the recommended distance away from others, especially those who are more susceptible to illness, and … Continue reading Estate Planning in Turbulent Times

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SECURE Act: How It Will Affect You and the Beneficiaries of Your Retirement Accounts

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act). The SECURE Act, which is effective January 1, 2020. The Act is the most impactful legislation affecting retirement accounts in decades. The SECURE Act has several positive changes: it increases the required beginning date (RBD) for required minimum distributions (RMDs) from individual retirement accounts from 70½ to 72 years of age, and it eliminates the age restriction for contributions to qualified retirement accounts. However, perhaps the most significant change will affect the beneficiaries of retirement accounts: The SECURE Act requires most designated … Continue reading SECURE Act: How It Will Affect You and the Beneficiaries of Your Retirement Accounts

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How to Use Estate Planning to Transfer a Business Interest

If you own a business, you can transfer your business as part of your estate plan — or the value of it — to your chosen beneficiaries. Through proper estate planning, you can leave behind gifts, avoid taxes and help ensure your company’s long-lasting continuity. The strategies you implement depend mostly on whether you want to transfer control of your business interest before or after you die, and whether you are transferring a functional business or liquidating your interest. An estate planning lawyer will help you determine the best solutions for your situation and goals. The following are a few … Continue reading How to Use Estate Planning to Transfer a Business Interest

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Stand-Alone Retirement Plan Trusts

Dear Clients and Friends, IRA’s, and in particular inherited IRA’s, represent one of the greatest sources of family wealth, yet many clients and estate planners are not aware of the significant benefits of utilizing Stand-Alone Retirement Plan Trusts, sometimes referred to as Stand-Alone IRA Beneficiary Trusts. Who should read this letter? Owners of substantial IRA’s or benefits under retirement plans that permit a stretch-out of benefits. What is a Stand-Alone Retirement Plan Trust? A trust document established by an IRA owner or participant in a qualified retirement plan. It is separate from the IRA agreement and the beneficiary designation form. … Continue reading Stand-Alone Retirement Plan Trusts

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Remember to Include Your Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

As you develop your estate plan, you must consider what will happen to your digital assets, such as your online accounts, websites, blogs, social media profiles and any other digital files. In most cases, you cannot include these items in a will, as you do not actually own them in a traditional sense. The law is developing in this field and legal access to these assets may be limited. Nevertheless, working with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney, you can provide instruction and authority to the personal representative of your estate, who will do what they legally can to carry out … Continue reading Remember to Include Your Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

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The Importance of Updating Your Estate Plan

What steps should I take to update my estate plan? Creating an estate plan is only the first part of the estate planning process.  It clarifies your wishes and provides for those you love. However, because your life and the lives of those around you are constantly evolving, we recommend that you review your estate plan at least every five years. Circumstances that may require you to alter your original estate plan include: marriages, divorces, births, illnesses, deaths, and buying or selling of real estate or businesses. There may also be more subtle changes in relationship or status that influence … Continue reading The Importance of Updating Your Estate Plan

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Keeping Life Insurance Out of Your Taxable Estate

How can you use life insurance trusts to minimize estate taxes on the proceeds of life insurance policies? Life insurance can be an effective way to leave a large sum of money to a loved one free of  income tax. But mistakes may prevent beneficiaries from reaping the full advantages as well as create adverse estate tax consequences. For example, if the life insurance is payable to your estate, rather than to a specific person, it may be subject to probate which can be a lengthy process. The beneficiaries of your estate may  have to wait up to one year … Continue reading Keeping Life Insurance Out of Your Taxable Estate

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Sometimes Seemingly Simple Estate Planning Ideas Add Complexity and Confusion

Why is giving title of your assets to your children not a good idea? Contemplating one’s own death is never easy, so we often look to simplify the estate administration process. Unfortunately, unless we do this with the assistance of a competent estate planning attorney, we are likely to create additional issues. Adding your children to the title of your assets, so that they already have possession of your assets if you become incapacitated or die, may seem appealing. The idea here is that, once you put your child’s name on your home, bank accounts, vehicles or any other titled assets, … Continue reading Sometimes Seemingly Simple Estate Planning Ideas Add Complexity and Confusion

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2018 U.S. Tax Reform is Here: What You Need to Know About Estate Planning Implications

In December 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that changes significantly tax planning for corporations, small businesses and individual creating unprecedented planning opportunities for both individual and business clients. This memo focuses on some of the estate planning implications: Gift Planning The doubling of the estate, gift and generation-skipping tax (“GST”) exemptions means that, beginning in 2018, taxpayers can transfer up to $11.2 million of assets without transfer tax consequences. Between January 1, 2018 and the sunset of the increased exemptions on December 31, 2025, clients have the opportunity to remove assets from their estates and exempt … Continue reading 2018 U.S. Tax Reform is Here: What You Need to Know About Estate Planning Implications

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Uncertainties Arise in World of Estate Planning After Election

Throughout his presidential campaign, President-Elect Donald J. Trump pledged to repeal the federal estate and gift taxes or replace them with a capital gains tax at death.  After his victory, it is important that estate planning attorneys discuss with their clients the possible repeal of estate and gift taxes. Under current law, any individual whose estate exceeds the estate and gift exemption of $5.45 million ($10.9 million for couples) is subject to taxation at a rate of 40 percent. For gift tax purposes, if gifts of more than $14,000 per person are made in a single year, there is a gift tax … Continue reading Uncertainties Arise in World of Estate Planning After Election

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IRS Sets Federal Estate, Gift Tax Limits for 2017

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced its federal estate and gift tax limits for 2017. These limits will have a significant impact on many Americans’ estate planning strategies for the coming year. The federal estate and gift tax exemption will increase to $5.49 million per individual in 2017, compared to $5.45 million in 2016. A married couple will be able to protect up to $10.98 million from federal estate and gift taxes. Meanwhile, the annual gift exclusion will remain steady at $14,000 in 2017. Individuals are able to make tax-free gifts of up to $14,000 per person for a single … Continue reading IRS Sets Federal Estate, Gift Tax Limits for 2017

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3 Important Strategies to Reduce Your Estate Tax Obligation

If you are a top 1% earner in the U.S., it’s important to know that an individual’s estate is subject to estate taxes if it contains more than $5.45 million dollars in assets as of 2016. These estate taxes, at a rate of 40 percent, can be costly — and so you should meet with an experienced estate tax planning lawyer to make sure you are truly protecting the best interests of you and your loved ones. Some of the strategies that can reduce or eliminate your estate tax obligations through the estate planning process are: 1) Maximize Spousal Exemptions and Trusts … Continue reading 3 Important Strategies to Reduce Your Estate Tax Obligation

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Report: High-Net-Worth Individuals Often Suffer from ‘Estate Planning Fatigue’

A recent survey from CNBC has found that nearly 40 percent of high-net-wealth individuals with assets exceeding $1 million have not engaged in any form of estate planning. Many lawyers and financial experts believe one of the top reasons for these high numbers is what they call “estate planning fatigue.” With all of the changes to federal estate tax laws over the past decade, many wealthy people have simply grown tired of constantly updating their wills and other estate planning documents. Additionally, a higher federal estate tax exemption amount of $5.45 million — recently increased with inflation — has also left slightly … Continue reading Report: High-Net-Worth Individuals Often Suffer from ‘Estate Planning Fatigue’

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October 2016 Client Advisory: Potentially the Biggest Changes to Estate Tax Planning in 25 Years

Dear Clients and Friends: You may have heard about IRS proposed changes that would substantially alter the way in which interests in family controlled businesses, real estate and investment holdings and other transfers are valued for gift and estate tax purposes.  These changes will make it far more difficult for Clients to minimize estate taxes. Proposed IRS Regulations:  The IRS has issued proposed Regulations that would dramatically affect estate planning by eliminating or significantly curtailing valuation discounts taken on transfers of family interests.  For Clients looking to reduce their future estate tax, currently allowable discounts are extremely helpful in minimizing … Continue reading October 2016 Client Advisory: Potentially the Biggest Changes to Estate Tax Planning in 25 Years

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Recent Death of Prince Shows the Need for Thoughtful Estate Planning

The death of the renowned musician Prince at age 57 shocked the world. It also brought into focus for many of us the need for us to be mindful about our own estate planning. Not only was Prince’s death untimely and unexpected, it was the death of a celebrity with a substantial estate who died without a will. The Ubiquitous Need for Estate Planning Though most of us would assume that Prince, with all of his wealth and status, would have sought sound financial advice and proper estate planning, his situation is not as uncommon as it may seem. A recent … Continue reading Recent Death of Prince Shows the Need for Thoughtful Estate Planning

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Why is estate planning for your business so important?

If you are a business owner, you are probably overwhelmed as it is. You might feel you are too busy to think about what will happen to your business when you die. So, you push these thoughts out of your mind and resolve to consider it when you have more time. However, putting off estate planning for your business can seriously reduce your business’ worth, prevent your wishes from being carried out and even cause the business you worked so hard to develop to close it’s doors. There are a lot of ways proper estate planning can help your business.  Here are … Continue reading Why is estate planning for your business so important?

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What is Medicaid and am I eligible?

Many clients come to us with questions concerning Medicaid. So what is Medicaid? Medicaid, or MassHealth in Massachusetts, is a state and federally funded program that provides health coverage for individuals with low income and assets. MassHealth also assists with the cost of long-term care in a nursing facility and will provide the following services at home:  personal care attendant, adult day care, home health services, etc. MassHealth Eligibility Requirements (for applicants over age 65) MassHealth has different qualifications for eligibility depending on whether the applicant is seeking benefits at home or in a long-term care facility. To qualify for … Continue reading What is Medicaid and am I eligible?

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CLIENT ADVISORY October, 2015 – Trust for Child included in Child’s Marital Estate in a Divorce

Dear Clients and Friends: On August 27, 2015, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that a husband’s interest in a lifetime trust can be included in the marital estate and be subject to division in a divorce proceeding.  The case, Pfannenstiehl v. Pfannenstiehl, has significant ramifications for those clients seeking to protect their children’s inheritances from divorces. In the case, the husband was the beneficiary of a lifetime trust established by his father that gave the trustees the discretion to make distributions to the husband based on an ascertainable standard of comfortable support, health, maintenance, welfare and education.  For four years the … Continue reading CLIENT ADVISORY October, 2015 – Trust for Child included in Child’s Marital Estate in a Divorce

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