Planning your estate around specific assets can be risky. If you leave specific assets (such as a home, a car or stock) to specific people but dispose of an asset without updating your will, you might inadvertently disinherit someone. Therefore, it’s generally preferable to divide your estate based on dollar values or percentages. If it’s […]

Some people make video recordings of their will signings in an effort to create evidence that they possess the requisite testamentary capacity. For some, this strategy may help stave off a will contest. However, unless the person signing the will delivers a flawless performance, a challenger will pounce on the slightest hesitation as “proof” that […]

If your estate plan calls for making non-cash gifts in trust or outright to beneficiaries, you need to know the values of those gifts and disclose them to the IRS on a gift tax return. For substantial gifts of non-cash assets other than marketable securities, it’s a good idea to have a qualified appraiser value […]

If your estate plan includes charitable donations, be sure to discuss any planned gifts with the intended recipients. Some charities have policies of rejecting gifts that come with strings attached; they accept only unrestricted gifts. Others may not accept certain types of assets, such as real estate. If a charity rejects your gift, the property […]

Grandparents often want to help finance their grandchildren’s education. A simple technique is to make tuition payments on behalf of your grandchild. So long as you make the payments directly to the educational institution, they avoid gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) taxes without using up any of your $5.49 million gift or GST tax exemption or […]

A Roth IRA can be a valuable estate planning tool, offering the opportunity for tax-free growth as long as it exists and requiring no distributions during your life, thus allowing you to pass on a greater amount of wealth to your family. While traditional IRAs are more common, there’s no time like the present to […]

Owning assets jointly with one or more children or other heirs is a common estate planning “shortcut.” But like many shortcuts, it can produce unintended — and costly — consequences. Advantages There are two potential advantages to joint ownership: convenience and probate avoidance. If you hold title to property with a child as joint tenants […]

If you’re concerned about your family’s financial well-being after you’re gone, life insurance can provide peace of mind. Going a step further and setting up an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) to hold the policy offers additional estate planning benefits. Asset protection If you’re concerned about your heirs’ money management skills, an ILIT may be […]

An IRA can be a powerful wealth-building tool, offering tax-deferred growth (tax-free in the case of a Roth IRA), asset protection and other benefits. But if you leave an IRA to your children — or to someone else other than your spouse — these benefits can be lost without careful planning. “Inherited IRA” stretches tax […]

Last year you may have made significant gifts to your children, grandchildren or other heirs as part of your estate planning strategy. Or perhaps you just wanted to provide loved ones with some helpful financial support. Regardless of the reason for making a gift, it’s important to know under what circumstances you’re required to file […]