Paper with Self-Directed IRA written on it

Traditional and Roth IRAs can be powerful estate planning tools. With a “self-directed” IRA, you may be able to amp up the benefits of these tools by enabling them to hold nontraditional investments that offer potentially greater returns. Self-directed IRAs offer the same estate planning benefits as traditional IRAs, but they allow you to transfer […]

Traditionally, trusts used in estate planning contain “Crummey” withdrawal powers to ensure that contributions qualify for the annual gift tax exclusion. Today, the exclusion allows you to give up to $15,000 per year ($30,000 for married couples) to any number of recipients. Now that the gift and estate tax exemption has reached an inflation-adjusted $11.4 […]

If philanthropy is an important part of your estate planning legacy, consider taking steps to ensure that your donations are used to fulfill your intended charitable purposes. One way to help preserve your charitable legacy is to place restrictions on the use of your gifts. For example, you might limit the use of your funds […]

529 plans are unique among estate planning vehicles. Ordinarily, to shield assets from estate taxes, you must permanently relinquish control over them. But contributions to a 529 plan are considered “completed gifts.” This means that the assets are removed from your taxable estate, together with all future earnings on those assets, even though you retain […]

One of the major decisions you’ll need to make when establishing a trust is who will act as your trustee. As the name implies, this individual or financial institution must be above reproach. But that’s just one quality of many that your trustee requires. Other qualities include an understanding of tax and trust law, integrity […]

When planning your estate, you’re likely to focus on major assets, such as real estate, investments and retirement plans. But it’s also important to “sweat the small stuff” (your tangible personal property). Examples include jewelry, antiques and photographs. Your heirs may squabble over these items, which can lead to emotionally charged disputes and even litigation. […]

Planning your estate around specific assets is risky and, in most cases, should be avoided. If you leave specific assets, such as homes, cars or stock, to specific people, you may inadvertently disinherit them or leave them less than you intended. This can happen because you sell the assets and neglect to revise your will […]

Estate planning isn’t just about what happens to your assets after you die. It’s also about protecting yourself and your loved ones. This includes having a plan for making critical medical decisions in the event you’re unable to make them yourself. A living will expresses your preferences for the use of life-sustaining medical procedures, such […]

words - formula funding clause

It’s not unusual for older estate plans to include a “formula funding clause,” which splits assets between a credit shelter trust and the surviving spouse (either outright or in a marital trust). A formula clause works well when an estate is substantially larger than the exemption amount. However, now that the estate tax exemption is […]

scrabble tiles spell out life insurance

Today, estate taxes are no longer a concern for the vast majority of families. But even for nontaxable estates, life insurance continues to offer estate planning benefits. For example, you can use life insurance to replace wealth that’s lost to long term care (LTC) expenses. Although LTC insurance is available, it can be expensive. For […]