MAKING CENTS OUT OF THE NEWS
(July 26th, 2018)
Review Your Estate?
By Tom McAllister, CFP®
I remind you that I no longer write a weekly blog. From now on I will be sharing one to four blogs per month with you depending on what is going on in the stock and bond markets other personal financial things. I will continue my quarterly One Man’s Opinions.
Blog #29-18 Review Your Estate?
Each year I urge my readers to at least take a look at their finances; wills, any trusts, insurance policies, and other financial documents. Mid-summer can be quiet time here in my shop, perhaps it is for you too. In any event, it is always a good idea to update ourselves annually as to where we are now and where we want to or should be.
Consider whether individuals named in your documents are still appropriate. Think about positions including power of attorney (POA), healthcare agents, guardians for minor children, trustees of your appropriate irrevocable and testamentary trusts, trust protectors, and trustee appointee appointers, if any. You might even consider your advisers too.
Read your will to determine any necessary changes and then make them. Consult your attorney if you need to, but we can often change things like addresses, births, deaths, age, new beneficiaries, your and their health status and ability to serve. Have any of the people named changed in anyway which would cause you to find someone else. Are all named people still geographically appropriate? These days families are often mobile.
You should also consider whether the beneficiaries named are still proper. Are the amounts left to each still what you prefer. Are the personal relationships and needs still appropriate. Are there any others you wish to name? Are any of your beneficiaries at risk with inheriting assets, such as a pending divorce, legal actions, or are the in financial strife or addiction. Lastly, do the trust provisions make best use of the law for asset protection?
You usually will want to hold assets with a low tax basis, such as real estate or stock positions, until death. At that point their tax basis “steps up” tr their value on the a day of death, which eliminates any capital gains tax liability. Avoid gifting these assets to your beneficiaries during your life as their basis will become the same as yours was.
However, gifting such an asset to charity , up to an annual limit of $100,000, can also avoid capital gains tax while keeping a full deduction on the value of the gift. If your estate is not large enough to justify setting up a private charitable trust you can get the same benefits from a “donor advisory trust” account with one of the major stock brokerage or custodians. Such accounts allow a tax deduction in the year you deposit funds in the account no matter when the custodian actually make the transfers to the charities of your choice.
Tom McAllister, CFP