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Estate Planning Articles

Paying taxes when you inherit a home

When you inherit a home and sell it, you pay capital gains tax based on the value of the home on the date of the owner’s death. For example, if you inherit your dad’s vacation cabin, and it was worth $300,000 when he died, and you later sell it for $325,000, you’ll pay tax on the $25,000 gain.

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Credit unfreezes now free

As of Sept. 21, a new law requires that the three major credit reporting bureaus allow you to place or lift a security freeze on your credit files without charge. When your files are frozen, lenders can’t check your credit. That means an identity thief can’t take out new credit or borrow in your name.

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Grandparents’ options for college costs

With the cost of college tuition rising, some grandparents are pitching in. Grandparents who want to help out have several options, but many come with limitations or possible pitfalls: Cash gifts: If your grandchild won’t qualify for financial aid, a cash gift may be a good option. Under federal law, couples can give up to $30,000 per year before being subject to gift taxes. However, if your grandchild might qualify for financial aid, such a cash

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Your Health Savings Account can be a stealth IRA

Generally, people don’t think about a Health Savings Account (HSA) as a savings account. The HSA was intended to be a tax-advantaged account to pay for medical expenses, but in certain ways it’s better than an IRA. An HSA is a tax-preferred investment account with triple tax advantages. Your money isn’t taxed when it’s contributed, as it grows, or when you spend it on qualified expenses. It’s the only tool that allows you to contribute tax-deductible

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Moved out of state? Check your estate plan

There’s a lot to do when you move to a new state. In midst of the hustle, certain matters can be overlooked, including important things such as estate planning documents. Property laws vary from state to state, so it’s a good idea to revisit these documents if you’ve moved. Have your will, trust, power of attorney and advance directive reviewed by an advisor familiar with the laws of your new home.

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Keep your tax credit for charitable gifts

Following the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), many taxpayers are concerned about losing tax breaks for charitable contributions. Under the law, fewer households have a tax incentive to make charitable gifts. However, with planning, individuals and businesses can still benefit from donations. The law increased the standard deduction to $12,000 for individual filers and $24,000 for married households filing jointly. This increase, plus the elimination of other deductions, means many households will no longer itemize,

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Check withholdings to avoid costly tax surprise

For most taxpayers, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the overall tax burden. However, even though taxpayers will see an overall reduction in their taxes, many of them could still end up with a nasty tax bill at year-end. Following the passage of the TCJA, the IRS released updated withholding tables to reflect the new law. As a result, many people saw their paychecks increase. But the withholding tables didn’t take into account the wide

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Survey: Family drama causes estate issues

Families face a variety of estate planning challenges, and family drama may be chief among them. In fact, 44 percent of planning professionals say family conflict is the biggest threat to estate planning this year, followed by tax reform (25 percent) and market volatility (12 percent), according to a survey by TD Wealth. Though conflict may make planning a challenge, a careful estate plan can reduce future family feuds. Take these steps to minimize tension after you’re

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Would-be divorcees face year-end tax deadline

If you are planning a divorce, talk to an adviser about how changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will affect your taxable income. Under the new law, for divorce agreements executed after Dec. 31, 2018, payers no longer receive a deduction for alimony payments and recipients no longer have to include them in taxable income. Arguably, if you will be making sizable alimony payments, you have an incentive to finalize your agreement before

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Including frequent flyer miles in estate plans

When celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain died, his will contained a directive leaving his frequent flyer miles to his estranged wife to “dispose of in accordance with what she believes to be his wishes.” Bourdain’s frequent flyer account was almost assuredly large. He built the latter half of his career as a globetrotter, traveling the world sharing meals and exotic food experiences. Though most people probably don’t have as many frequent flyer miles as Bourdain,

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