Year End Life Planning Considerations

December 2, 2015 - Posted by: admin - In category:

taxes - No Responses

As we near the end of another calendar year, it is worth reviewing the state of your personal, family and business arrangements.

Some people will do “year-end” tax planning and tax considerations are often important reasons to take or avoid taking certain actions.  However, above and beyond tax stuff, a year-end inventory is a prudent practice which could significant benefits to you and those you care about.  Many of the items in the sample inventory below were borrowed from Brenda Geiger, an estate planning attorney in California (http://geigerlawoffice.net/).

  • Have you opened or closed bank or brokerage accounts?
  • Have you rolled over a retirement account or otherwise established a new retirement account?
  • Have you purchased or sold a home in the last 1-5 years?
  • Have you sold or purchased any rental property?
  • Have you paid off or re-financed the mortgage on your home?
  • Have there been any recent changes in your family? (Births, deaths, divorce, marriage, reconciliations, or estrangements)
  • Has there been a significant change in your health status recently?
  • Do you have any unmarried children that have left for college in the last year or two?
  • Have you inherited any assets since your last review?
  • Have you had any significant changes in your financial status since your last review?
  • Are there any changes to the list of people who we are authorized to talk to about your estate plan?
  •  Have you had any threats of lawsuits or legal judgments against you that have arisen since your last review?
  • Are all relevant assets properly funded into your revocable trust? (i.e. is there an actual “legal connection” between such assets and the trust, rather than just an inventory paper in a binder)
  • If you have a joint trust, do you have the right marital estate plan in place? A Clayton election plan may be more advantageous for you instead of an A/B trust due to more recent estate tax law changes.
  • Has it been more than 2 years since you last executed your Power of Attorney and/or Advance Health Care Directive?
  • Do you have any children that have been born since your last estate plan update that needs to be added to your trust, will and guardianship nomination?
  • Have you started a business since your last estate plan review?
  • Did you update the beneficiary designation form on all of your life insurance policies to list your trust as either the primary or contingent beneficiary?
  • Do you have an aging parent or loved one that you fear may lose their home and/or run out of money paying for a long-term care nursing home stay now or in the future?
  • Have you completed your personal property memorandum to leave certain important personal items to certain people?
  • Does your current estate plan protect your children or other beneficiaries from a divorcing spouse, a lawsuit, bankruptcy, or other predatory creditors?
  • Do you want to update who your successor Trustees are at incapacity or death? Or who your health care power of attorney agents are or who your financial power of attorney agents are?
  • Have you exercised any stock options recently? Or have your stock options now vested?
  • Have you made substantial gifts of money or other assets in the past year or do you want to make such gifts before the end of the year?

These and many like considerations should be discussed with your trusted attorney and accountant.  Some of these are strictly legal considerations and some are more relevant from a tax perspective, but all of these have both legal and tax issues associated with the same.

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