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Estate Planning Articles

Use caution when creating an IRA inheritance trust

When you hold an IRA, those funds can be distributed to the person you name as the beneficiary or to an inheritance trust. Some IRA owners choose a trust because it gives them a degree of control over how the assets are distributed after they die. Before you name a trust as the beneficiary of your IRA, however, consider the pros and cons. Designating a trust as beneficiary can be useful if the intended beneficiary has

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Estate planning critical for non-traditional couples

Generally speaking, estate planning laws were designed for the traditional nuclear family, a married couple with kids. But according to the 2010 U.S. Census, such families are less than 50 percent of the total. Non-traditional families, including single parents, blended families and unwed partners, need to pay particular attention to their estate plans to avoid unwanted consequences. If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to your state’s default laws. If you’re

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Preventing a will contest

When you write a will, you have control over how your assets will be distributed after your death. However, if someone in your family disputes your will, an anonymous probate court judge could end up with the final say over who gets your property. Emotions run high when someone dies. If family members aren’t content with what they’ve received or don’t believe your wishes are being interpreted properly, they may contest your will. Will contests can

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Protect assets, retain access with a Spousal Lifetime Access Trust

A Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT) is an estate planning tool that can be used to lock in the current estate tax exemption while still allowing a certain degree of access to trust assets. SLAT basics A SLAT is an irrevocable trust created by one spouse for the benefit of the other. The gift removes assets from your estate but allows your spouse to access the trust. It provides you with indirect access to the funds

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Opportunity Zones offer tax breaks

For a limited time, investors can help reinvigorate distressed communities while deferring capital gains on profits earned elsewhere. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created the Qualified Opportunity Zone program in order to offer tax incentives for investment in economically blighted communities. When you invest in an Opportunity Zone, you can defer and possibly reduce taxes on recognized capital gains. If you will be subject to a large tax bill as a result of capital

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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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