On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed a bipartisan, year-end government spending and tax package just hours before federal funding was set to expire. The spending package calls for over $1.7 trillion of government spending. In order to pay for this spending bill, the government funding measure includes substantial changes to retirement savings rules, most notably by accelerating the distribution of tax-deferred retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and IRAs. Named the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (the SECURE Act), this legislation is the most extensive retirement act since the Pension Protection Act of 2006. For those with significant savings in retirement accounts, the SECURE Act requires a re-examination of your estate planning arrangements to maximize tax benefits, preserve assets for beneficiaries, and ensure your estate planning goals continue to be realized. While not a comprehensive list of all changes imposed by this new law, the most … [Read more...] about 2020 Legislative Update: SECURE Act
We all have a tendency to elevate celebrities to a position far above the “common man” to a point where it seems they can do no wrong. But as the supermarket tabloids, late night talk shows, and other media outlets frequently tend to show, celebrities make mistakes just as we do (but on a far bigger stage). These mistakes don’t end at messy domestic disputes, late night altercations, or substance abuse issues. Celebrities have also been known to make costly errors when it comes to planning for the transfer of their massive wealth to the next generation. As the following celebrity estate planning blunders show, no one is immune from the consequences of inadequate planning. Prince: No Estate Plan Prince Rogers Nelson, the singer-songwriter who brought us “Purple Rain”, passed away in April 2016. His death was not only shocking due to his young age (57), but also due to the fact that he had failed to set up any semblance of an estate plan prior to his death (i.e. he died … [Read more...] about Celebrity Estate Planning Bloopers
The death of a spouse can be one of the most challenging events that life has to offer. In addition to the emotional toll, an avalanche of legal and financial issues will arise that try to throw your life further into disarray. The goal of this article is to make the process a bit easier by providing those who have found themselves recently widowed with a checklist of the most important matters you must deal with after a spouse passes. While not all-inclusive, what follows is critical information that can save you precious time, money, and energy during a time when such relief would undoubtedly be welcomed. Funeral Arrangements and Organ Donation Obviously one of the tasks you will need to accomplish early in the process involves funeral and burial arrangements for your loved one. Determine whether or not your spouse prepared an advance health care directive or other document which outlines exactly how they wish to be buried and whether they desire for their body or organs … [Read more...] about Five Steps to Take Following a Spouse’s Death
The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (“ABLE Act”), a part of the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, was signed into law on December 19, 2014. The law allowed for states to establish their own ABLE programs under the federal guidelines. ABLE accounts are now open for enrollment in twenty-two states, including Missouri. Missouri Senate Bill 174 created the Missouri Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) effective August 28, 2015. The Missouri Department of Social Services issued IM-96 on October 26, 2015, setting forth regulations regarding how ABLE funds would be treated and the impact of such funds on the eligibility for Mo. Healthnet, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance and Child Care Subsidy. Since that date, eligible individuals with disabilities living in Missouri now have an option to set up an investment account, known as a STABLE account, that can be used to save and invest money without losing eligibility for certain public benefit programs. One of the … [Read more...] about Continuing Evolvement of ABLE Accounts Under Missouri Law
As you likely know, Congress recently passed, and the President signed, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act at the end of last year. This Act constitutes the most extensive change to the tax code in over thirty years, and significantly alters how individuals and businesses will be taxed. Several important revisions to the tax code have been made that may affect your estate plan. A summary of these key provisions is set out below. 1. Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Amendments The Act temporarily doubles the basic exclusion amount for estate and gift taxes, as well as the exclusion amount for the generation-skipping transfer tax (imposed on amounts transferred to grandchildren and others more than 37.5 years younger than you). Under the old law, the first $5.6 million ($11.2 million for married couples electing portability) was exempt from federal estate and gift taxes. Under the new law, for gifts made and/or decedent’s dying between January 1, 2018 and December 31, … [Read more...] about Summary of Estate Planning Provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017
Following an individual's death, the will or trust of the decedent will dictate how their estate is to be distributed. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned documents, if not properly prepared, often lead to disputes and cause frustration amongst the beneficiaries, the trustees, and other people involved in the management of the estate. It may be impossible to know exactly what the grantor (the decedent) intended to happen following his or her death, and ambiguous provisions can produce major disagreements. Handling trust and estate disputes requires a thorough knowledge of relevant laws (such as the Uniform Trust Code), rules of evidence, and procedure. Thus, in order to reduce the risk of litigation and resolve heated disputes, it is important to hire an experienced attorney and to review the tips below. … [Read more...] about Trust and Estate Disputes
If you want to trust in your estate plan's functionality, you may need to learn more about a crucial component of many estate plans: revocable living trusts. What is a revocable living trust? How does it work? Should you consider building one for your property and assets? Although an attorney can quickly answer these questions for you and help you prepare your personalized estate plan, today we're exploring the basics to help you get started. … [Read more...] about What Is a Revocable Living Trust?
An estate plan is a crucial piece of every family's future, but it's especially important if you have a special needs child. Your estate plan will need to be tailored to fit the goals you have for your children, taking into account their health, their age, their abilities, governmental benefits, and more. To create the best possible solution, you will need to work with an attorney who has experience with estate planning for a special needs child. An Internet search can't compete with the expertise of a reputable lawyer, of course, but to help you get started, we've compiled a list of strategic estate planning tips for families with a special needs child. … [Read more...] about Estate Planning for a Special Needs Child
Whether you're young or old, rich or poor, married or single, you should be working to achieve your ideal estate plan. For many, this plan will include a trust. After all, trusts help people accomplish a number of goals including preserving assets, avoiding probate, and minimizing taxes, and there are a wide variety of trusts from which to choose: revocable and irrevocable, Special Needs Trusts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, and many others. Married couples might be interested in a particular type of revocable trust known as a Qualified Spousal Trust. So what is a Qualified Spousal Trust? Let's find out . . . … [Read more...] about What Is a Qualified Spousal Trust?
Someday. Someday years from now. When I have kids. When I'm rich . . . It's easy to put off the creation of a will, but the fact is, your procrastination is only hurting you, your loved ones, and your future. So let's get started! Creating a will is not as complicated as you might imagine, and it's the first step toward building a comprehensive and effective estate plan. However, before you sign on the dotted line, there are a few important things to know about writing a will . . . … [Read more...] about Things to Know About Writing a Will