Conference Call: 10 “Must Do” Estate Planning Strategies While We Wait for Congress to Act

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency and Republican control of both houses of Congress make estate tax reform extremely likely in the next two years.  However, given the incoming administration’s other proclaimed priorities, including the repeal of Obamacare, minimization of illegal immigration, increases in defense spending and infrastructure improvements, there are already questions about the feasibility of adopting all of the proposed tax initiatives. Furthermore, there is much uncertainty about particular aspects of the Republican tax proposal (including a replacement tax on the wealthy), and there is already concern about the likely impermanence of any new legislation. These factors highlight the importance of flexibility in preparing an estate plan and proceeding with wealth transfers suited to the current political and economic circumstances.

In a recent conference call with clients, McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus highlighted the current appealing strategies and opportunities available as part of an estate plan. Click below to hear him discuss the following list:

LISTEN HERE for details: “10 ‘Must Do’ Estate Planning Strategies While We Wait for Congress to Act”

  1. Annual exclusion gifts
  2. Lifetime exemption gifts
  3. Short-term and mid-term Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs)
  4. Estate Freeze Installment Sales
  5. Family Limited Partnerships
  6. Upstream Gifting
  7. Community Property Trusts
  8. Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRT)
  9. Drafting Flexibility in Core Planning Documents
  10. Philanthropic Planning
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McManus Quoted by MarketWatch on Digital Estate Planning

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McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus was recently tapped for insight on digital estate planning by MarketWatch (WSJ), which has over 16 million unique visitors per month. Andrea Coombes’ column, “How to include your digital assets in your estate plan,” explores the importance of accounting for one’s online presence – from email and “bank accounts to Facebook, PayPal and more” – when planning for the transfer and administration of assets.

From the article:

If you fail to account for those digital assets in your estate plan, you risk burying your family or friends in red tape as they try to get access to and deal with your online accounts that may have sentimental, practical or monetary value.

John’s comments make up #5 and #6 on the article’s list of tips:

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MarketWatch Draws on Advice from McManus for “5 Estate-Plan Strategies for Boomers”

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Andrea Coombes, Ways and Means columnist for Dow Jones, last week published an interesting piece for MarketWatch sharing estate planning strategies for baby boomers. To bring readers closer to achieving their goal of putting together an estate plan, Coombes boils down advice, with the help of McManus & Associates Founding Principal John O. McManus, to offer “5 estate-plan strategies for boomers.”

Here are Coombes’ must-do estate-plan tasks:

1. Create a will or trust

2. Create a power of attorney

3. Create a health-care power of attorney and living will

4. Check the titling of your assets

5. Start with your family

In tackling the first tip “Create a will or trust”, a testamentary trust that goes into action when someone dies is given as an example to prevent unexpected consequences with regard to where your money ends up. Coombes draws from McManus’ comments to illustrate:

“The trust is actually built into the will,” said John McManus, founder of law firm McManus & Associates in New Providence, N.J.

He offered an example of what can happen without such a trust: “Say I die and leave my wife a couple of million bucks. Now it’s her in name. She then remarries, and then she dies two weeks later. Her new spouse will get one-third of those assets — even if we intended that money to go to our kids.”

The precise fraction promised to the surviving spouse will vary by state, but McManus said one-third is common.

Some boomers also may want to create a revocable living trust. There are a variety of reasons for considering such a trust.

Here’s one: If you have property or assets in more than one state — say, you live in New Jersey and own a condo in Florida — this document allows your estate to avoid the costly and time-consuming probate process in each state — with one document. A revocable living trust is portable. It will follow you across state lines, McManus said.

For the fifth tip “Start with your family”, Coombes turns again to McManus, who points out that estate planning isn’t only about you. From the piece:

McManus said boomers’ first estate-planning task is to ensure their elderly parents’ estate-plan documents are in order, and their second task is to focus on the estate-plan documents of their adult and minor children.

Coombes goes on to shed light on a potential pitfall:

Here’s one example of what can go wrong: Often people intend to divide their estate equally among all of their children. Their will may state as much, but if one child is named on a joint account, say, to help with bill-paying, that account will pass to that one child “by operation of law,” McManus said.

“Even though the parents intended that it be divided equally, the assets in joint names with their one child will result in that child being disproportionately favored,” he said. In his experience, he said, adult children in that situation “almost never” square up with the other family members.

To avoid the problem, your parents could adjust the will such that larger portions of other assets are given to the siblings or, rather than making that child a joint account-holder, give him or her power of attorney over the account, McManus said.

To get the full story with more expert advice from McManus, click here. And to discuss what your must-do estate plan items are based on your unique circumstances, give us a call at 908-898-0100. We can help.

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