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

Reduce Your Taxable Estate: Fund Education

There are many options available to reduce or eliminate a taxable estate upon your death. Many involve complex planning with various types and combinations of trusts, including credit shelter trusts, grantor trusts, and charitable trusts. Often overlooked, however, is the opportunity to reduce your taxable estate by financing the education of your intended beneficiaries. Read More

Planning a Family Cottage Succession

Michigan residents are well known for their love of “the family cottage.” It’s really no surprise given that Michigan has the second highest number of lakes of any state in the country. Estimates show as many as one in three people owning lakefront property. For many, the cottage is the asset they are most proud to pass down to their children, and they hope it will remain in the family for generations. Read More

Selecting Your Fiduciary

When formulating estate plans, most people carefully consider to whom they should give their “stuff.” Who gets the piano? The book collection? The emerald ring and the antique pocket watch? But the process of choosing fiduciaries – the trustees, personal representatives, and agents – is handled as if bestowing an award upon them rather than interviewing them for a job. 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

IRA Charitable Rollover Made Permanent

Thanks to the year-end tax and budget deal which was signed into law by Congress on December 18, 2015, the Charitable IRA Rollover has been made a permanent part of the U.S. Tax Code. The change allows you to transfer up to $100,000 per year of your pre-tax IRA to a public charity without being required to include the distribution in your taxable income. In order to exclude the income, you must forego the charitable income tax deduction. Read More

Preserving Genealogy for Future Generations

Researching genealogy is a popular pastime for many. Given the subject matter, you would think that a priority for those researching the history of their families would be to preserve and pass on that information for future generations. Unfortunately, it is often not that simple. Read More

Tax Consequences of a Michigan-Florida Residence Change

If you are a Michigan resident who spends more than half of your year in Florida, you may be wondering whether it is advantageous to officially change your residence to Florida. As with all tax and estate planning matters, the answer will vary depending upon your unique situation. However, the most common considerations deal with income taxes and exemptions for homestead (Florida) and principal residence (Michigan). Read More

Gifting to Grandchildren: The GSTT

Did you know that if you leave money directly to your grandchildren, the funds may be taxed twice? The Generation Skipping Transfer Tax (GSTT) is responsible. Understanding the GSTT requires a discussion of both of life’s two certainties – death and taxes. Read More