Planned Giving News and Information
 
Februrary, 2017
The following is intended as general information and does not represent legal or tax advice. The information presented is the view of the author. Individual circumstances vary - please consult your legal and tax advisors about your specific situation. To return to the general planned giving pages, please close this browser window. This News and Information section has been compiled by Future Focus.

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Where Not To Die In 2017
Altogether nine states are ushering in death tax changes for 2017, and they’re all changes that lessen the tax bite. That’s nine out of the 18 states plus the District of Columbia that impose either estate or inheritance taxes or both. What you need to know is this: How much money you can leave to your heirs free of state death tax levies depends on where you live and own property, whom you’re leaving your money to, and whether your estate planning is up to date. If you’re in a state that’s making changes or has made changes recently—even if the change is tax repeal—you need to revisit your plan. Read more.

Tax Tips for the Self-Employed
Being self-employed has many advantages — the opportunity to be your own boss and come and go as you please, for example. However, it also comes with unique challenges, especially when it comes to how to handle taxes. Whether you're running your own business or thinking about starting one, you'll want to be aware of the specific tax rules and opportunities that apply to you. Read more.

Eight Little-Known Advantages of Roth IRAs
Roth IRAs have been around for almost 20 years, so some advisors and clients may take them for granted and perhaps even overlook them during the hectic tax season. But you may not know (or may have forgotten) several little-known advantages to contributing to Roth IRAs. Here’s why (and how) you should fund these accounts early and often. Read more.

Phishing Schemes Lead the IRS “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for 2017; Remain Tax-Time Threat
The Internal Revenue Service warned taxpayers to watch out for fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. These “phishing” schemes continue to be on the annual IRS list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for the 2017 filing season.
The IRS saw a big spike in phishing and malware incidents during the 2016 tax season. New and evolving phishing schemes have already been seen this month as scam artists work to confuse taxpayers during filing season. The IRS has already seen email schemes in recent weeks targeting tax professionals, payroll professionals, human resources personnel, schools as well as average taxpayers. Read more.

Playing Catch-Up with Your 401(k) or IRA
A recent survey of baby boomers (ages 53 to 69) found that just 24% were confident they would have enough money to last throughout retirement. Forty-five percent had no retirement savings at all, and of those who did have savings, 42% had saved less than $100,000.
Your own savings may be on more solid ground, but regardless of your current balance, it's smart to keep it growing. If you're 50 or older, you could benefit by making catch-up contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts. You might be surprised by how much your nest egg could grow late in your working career. Read more.

Avoid Identity Theft; Learn How to Recognize Phishing Scams
Opening a phishing email and clicking on the link or attachment is one of the most common ways thieves are able not just steal your identity or personal information but also to enter into computer networks and create other mischief.
Learning to recognize and avoid phishing emails – and sharing that knowledge with your family members – is critical to combating identity theft and data loss. Here are a few basic tips to recognize and avoid a phishing email: Read more.

Will vs. Trust: Is One Better Than the Other?
When it comes to planning your estate, you might be wondering whether you should use a will or a trust (or both). Understanding the similarities and the differences between these two important documents may help you decide which strategy is better for you.
While both a will and a revocable living trust enable you to direct the distribution of your assets and property to your beneficiaries at your death, there are several differences between these documents. Here are a few important ones. Read more.

Is Everybody Stressed About Retirement?
Are you stressed out about saving enough money for a comfortable retirement? Join the crowd. It’s the most common significant financial stressor, according to a new survey from Schwab Retirement Plan Services, checking in on the pulse of workplace 401(k) participants nationwide. There are probably multiple things that play into retirement savings stress—market volatility, uncertainty, fear. Compared to looking at a definitive amount of credit card or student debt where you know how much you owe, people are looking at retirement as more of an unknown. Read more.

Even Without Estate Tax The Right Answer Is Still the Same: Put It All In Trust
One unfortunately common and major mistake made in estate planning is the failure to use trusts to the maximum extent the law permits. Trusts may be the most important development under English common law, which pervades the United States, with the exception of Louisiana. That state and many countries through the world that do not use English common law as its fundamental legal system have adopted trusts by a variety of means including legislation. That is because trusts are, in many ways, the most powerful and important tool in estate and financial planning. Unfortunately, trusts are not used with the frequency or duration they should be. Read more.

IRS Announces 2017 Retirement Plans Contributions Limits For 401(k)s And More
The Treasury Department has announced inflation-adjusted figures for retirement account savings for 2017, and there are tweaks that help savers. Much stays the same, but there are increases in income phase-outs for IRA contributors, to the adjusted gross income limits for snagging the saver’s credit, and to the overall defined contribution plan limit—up to $54,000–a boost for self-employed and small business owners and workers who have the option of stuffing their retirement nest egg with after-tax dollars. Read more.

Who Gets The Family Bible And Coca-Cola Stock?
When a widow with incapacity issues and squabbling adult children died, the executor she named in her will rushed to her home and changed the locks just as one son showed up to take things left in her will to his siblings.
“Over and over, tangible personal property is the thing that pushes people over the edge; the beneficiaries are at odds, and the executor is trying to keep the peace,” says Carly Howard, a senior wealth strategist with Altantic Trust in Atlanta, Ga.
Howard got her start in probate litigation—representing beneficiaries suing each other after their parents died. Now she’s doing proactive planning with families who don’t want their heirs to fight or end up in court. “There are so many things you can do to avoid this,” she says. Read more.

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Please note, individual financial circumstances will vary. The information on this site is meant as general information and does not represent legal or tax advice. The information presented is the view of the author. As with all tax and estate planning, please consult your attorney or estate specialist. All material is copyrighted and is for viewing purposes only. This News and Information section has been compiled by Future Focus. Please report any problems to webmaster.