Where There’s a Will, There’s a Plan
Want your estate to owe less income taxes? That’s part of your overall estate plan. Most of my clients do not have federal estate tax liability concerns, however chances are good that your estate will have to pay income taxes. Most executors/personal representatives are not expecting the news that the top rate of 39.6% begins at $12,300 of estate income. You can help your executor/personal representative and heirs avoid major surprises with good planning.
The (Beckley, WV) Register-Herald’s recent article, “Estate planning beyond your will,” says that minimizing income taxes through better control of the transfer process and its timing is worth the time and effort to meet with a qualified estate planning lawyer or attorney like myself.
Retirement fund accounts, like IRAs, life insurance, and annuities have beneficiaries listed to designate the person who will receive the funds after the owner’s death. In many instances, the beneficiary is the person’s estate (as a default), but anyone can be listed, including a charity or nonprofit organization. Designating your estate as a beneficiary of an IRA, Life Insurance, or annuities can not only have drastic income tax consequences, but can also increase legal fees and expose these assets to creditors and liabilities.
If you want to update the beneficiary on these types of accounts or policies at any time, the company’s change of beneficiary form needs to be completed AND submitted to the company or institution. Note that this doesn’t impact the current use of the account or policy. These accounts and policies are a great way to support a favorite nonprofit organization after you pass away, like the American Cancer Society, Jewish Federation, Community Foundation or any other similar charity.
When a nonprofit like the American Cancer Society is listed as the beneficiary, no income or estate taxes are owed by the estate, so more funds will be available for other uses. This makes using retirement fund accounts a wise choice for charitable gifts made through your estate. Affecting the transfer of these types of assets by use of a beneficiary form also lowers estate administration costs, and this typically means that the assets will be transferred more quickly to the recipient in a simpler process.
Another way to benefit others is through the use of US savings bonds in your estate. To make a family member or friend the surviving beneficiary of one or more bonds, just use the correct U.S. Treasury form. This works well, as the beneficiary does not own the bond or have any control over it during your lifetime Note that the Treasury Department does not allow you to name a nonprofit organization as a beneficiary on savings bonds, but an estate planning attorney can create a gift provision in your will and make a charitable gift of the bonds.
Learning more about how assets are owned and controlled will help you and your estate planning attorney to achieve your goals in an efficient manner.
Do you have an IRA, Life Insurance policy, or Annuity and live in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach counties in Florida? Laws are constantly changing-- have your beneficiary designations been reviewed in the last 2-3 years? Call me (954-888-1747) right away for peace of mind. I can help!
- My practice is exclusively estate planning and probate,
- I have prepared numerous estate plans in 16 years of practice,
- I have administered estates and trusts through Probate all over Florida,
- I am a Certified Financial Planner Professional™, and
- I am here for YOU today and there for your FAMILY tomorrow.
Reference: The (Beckley, WV) Register-Herald (November 23, 2016) “Estate planning beyond your will”