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4 negative outcomes of jointly owning property with a family member
A common estate planning mistake that people make is to own property jointly with an adult child or other family member. True, adding a loved one to the title of your home, bank account or other property can be a simple technique for leaving property to that person without the need for probate. But any ...

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A divorce necessitates an estate plan review
If you’re divorcing, it’s important to review your estate plan as early as possible, for two reasons: First, you may wish to revise your plan immediately to prevent your spouse from inheriting or gaining control over your assets if you die or become incapacitated before the divorce is final. Second, although a divorce judgment or ...

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Ease itemized deduction limitations using a nongrantor trust
The record-high exemption amount currently in effect means that fewer families are affected by gift and estate taxes. As a result, the estate planning focus for many people has shifted from transfer taxes to income taxes. A nongrantor trust can be an effective option to reduce income taxes, and it offers a way around the ...

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You have options when addressing life insurance in your estate plan
Life insurance has long provided a source of liquidity to pay estate taxes and other expenses. But, with the estate tax exemption currently set at an inflation-adjusted $10 million ($11.40 million for 2019), estate taxes are no longer a concern for many families. Nonetheless, life insurance offers many benefits for nontaxable estates. If you own life insurance ...

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Charitable lead trusts offer philanthropic and family benefits
Affluent families who wish to give to charity while minimizing gift and estate taxes should consider a charitable lead trust (CLT). These trusts are most effective in a low-interest-rate environment, so conditions for taking advantage of a CLT currently are favorable. Although interest rates have crept up a bit in recent years, they remain quite ...

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Leave your mark with a dynasty trust
If a prime objective of your estate plan is to leave a lasting legacy, a dynasty trust may be the right estate planning vehicle for you. And, thanks to the substantially increased generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption amount established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a dynasty trust is more appealing than ever. GST ...

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Beware if your estate plan leaves specific assets to specific heirs
Planning your estate around specific assets is risky and, in most cases, should be avoided. If you leave specific assets — such as homes, cars or stock — to specific people, you may inadvertently disinherit them.Illustrating the problem Illustrating the problem Let’s say Debbie has three children — Abbie, Mary Kate and Lizzie — and ...

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Make health care decisions while you’re healthy
Estate planning isn’t just about what happens to your assets after you die. It’s also about protecting yourself and your loved ones. This includes having a plan for making critical medical decisions in the event you’re unable to make them yourself. And, as with other aspects of your estate plan, the time to act is ...

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Does your estate plan include a formula funding clause?
The gift and estate tax exemption is higher than it’s ever been, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which temporarily doubled the exemption to an inflation-adjusted $10 million ($20 million for married couples who design their estate plans properly). This year, the exemption amount is $11.4 million ($22.8 million for married couples). If you’re married and ...

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For spouses of U.S. citizens who have been granted conditional permanent residence status for a period of two years, you will need to file form I-751 to remove the conditional status during the 90 days before your second anniversary as a conditional resident. Unfortunately, like most other USCIS applications, there is a considerable backlog and ...

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If You’re Driven to Transfer a Vehicle’s Ownership to a Trust, Know the Risks
A revocable trust — often referred to as a “living trust” — can help ensure smooth management of your assets during life and avoid probate at death. And you may know that the trust isn’t effective unless you “fund” it — that is, transfer ownership of your assets to the trust. But what about assets ...

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Estate Planning Lite: College-Aged Children Need a Basic Estate Plan
If your son or daughter currently is home from college on winter break, now is a good time to sit down and discuss a few estate planning documents he or she should have at this stage of life. Let’s take a closer look at four such documents: Health care power of attorney. With a health ...

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