Why You Still Need an Estate Plan

Many people believe that estate planning is only for the ultra-wealthy, a belief that has been exacerbated over the past several years with a markedly increased unified estate and gift tax credit ($5.45 million per individual in 2016). While it’s true that estate and gift tax planning was a common reason for estate planning within recent years, the belief that it is the only or most important reason is a common misconception. Read More

Protecting Trust Assets For and From Beneficiaries

Asset protection is an important consideration in estate planning. Often, we don’t realize that asset protection is needed until it is too late and assets are already at risk. Fortunately, by planning in advance, you can protect your assets from the creditors of your beneficiaries. Creditors can include those to whom loan obligations are owed, such as credit cards, or those less often thought of as creditors, such as lawsuit plaintiffs and ex-spouses. Read More

Incentivizing Beneficiaries

There is an age-old debate about whether a trust encourages a beneficiary to be a responsible and contributing member of society, or whether that same beneficiary has no incentive to work hard when he or she could just as easily live a care-free life paid for by the generosity of an ancestor. The logical follow-up to that debate would be to ask whether leaving such a sum to a beneficiary is really doing them a favor. Depending upon your view of the first question, your answer to the second question will likely differ – but it doesn’t have to. Read More

Disclaiming Retirement Benefits

In a previous article, we discussed what to consider when naming your retirement plan beneficiary. This article addresses an additional point to take into account if you’ve decided to list your adult children as outright beneficiaries “per stirpes” – meaning that if the adult child predeceases you, his or her children will equally share the predeceased beneficiary’s share. Read More

Naming Your Retirement Plan Beneficiary

You’ve taken the time to list your spouse and children as beneficiaries on your work sponsored retirement plan or IRA (“retirement plan”), but are they listed individually, or as beneficiaries to a trust? The answer is important, because each achieves a very different outcome. Read More

Transferring Airline Miles to a Beneficiary

Where have you traveled with reward miles? Did you know that you may be able to share your love of travel by passing on any miles that remain in your account when you pass away? Today’s frequent flier programs allow one to amass points that are, most liberally, a form of currency, and most conservatively, something of value. Read More

Retirement Beneficiary Designations – Common Mistakes

When is the last time you checked your beneficiary designation forms for your IRA or employer sponsored retirement plan? Even if you think your forms are all set, who you have listed – or not – may surprise you. Some of the most common estate planning pitfalls lay in beneficiary designation forms, which trump the terms of a will. Read More