When the calendar turns to January, the clock is reset for many estate planning opportunities.
McManus & Associates Founding Principal and AV-rated Attorney John O. McManus recently shared his recommended estate planning checklist for January to maximize the value of your assets, cover your financial bases, take advantage of current exemption levels, and get a head start on deadlines.
Listen to the discussion and see an outline below:
1. Fund your children’s trusts so that the trusts can benefit from a full year of appreciation.
2. Make charitable gifts to your foundation so that it will also benefit from appreciation during the year.
3. Review the grants made by your foundation to confirm that they are qualified 501(c)(3) organizations; start researching new charities to expand your class of grantees (while still maintaining your donative intent).
4. Consider making gifts to 529 plans for your children and or between your grandchildren to take advantage of a full year of appreciation.
5. Meet with McManus & Associates or your accountant as soon as possible to provide critical financial information to begin your tax returns.
6. Make substantial gifts a part of your estate plan, thereby empowering your spouse before Congress reduces the gift tax exemption from $11 million.
7. Consider hiring your children and spouse or other family members for the family business and pay an amount that will fund a Roth IRA.
8. Perform an audit of your life insurance policies, including their cash values and performance, as well as their suitability and sufficiency of coverage.
9. Review your beneficiary designations (which will override any testamentary direction under your will) to make sure they coincide with your intentions (as provided in your will).
10. Review your medical coverage and plan choices; also, review your tax withholdings if you expect your income to change significantly.
11. Schedule a meeting with McManus & Associates to review your fiduciaries and agents named in your estate plan to determine their suitability and continued qualifications.
In February, Andrea Coombes wrote an article, titled “The Tax-Smart Way to Draw ‘529’ Funds”, about education tax benefits for the Wall Street Journal’s Investing in Funds report. The piece generated a number of follow-up questions from readers. Here’s one that came across Coombes’ desk:
“Before he died, my father contributed to a 529 on behalf of my daughter [his granddaughter]. Need anything be done now to ensure that my daughter is able to use these funds for tuition?”
To help answer this question, Coombes turned to John O. McManus, top-rated tax and estate planning lawyer who founded McManus & Associates. The firm offers income tax planning among its services.