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Presented by MidAmerica Financial Resources. You can reach them at 618.548.4777 or greg.malan@lpl.com or on the web at www.mid-america.us

 

Minimizing Probate When Setting Up Your Estate

Minimizing Probate When Setting Up Your Estate

What can you do to lessen its impact for your heirs?

 

Provided by MidAmerica Financial Resources

 

Probate subtly reduces the value of many estates. It can take more than a year in some cases, and attorney’s fees, appraiser’s fees, and court costs may eat up as much as 5% of a decedent’s assets. Probating a “routine” estate valued at $400,000 could cost as much as $20,000.1

  

What do those fees pay for? In many instances, routine clerical work. Few estates require more than that. Heirs of small, five-figure estates may be allowed to claim property through affidavit, but this convenience isn’t extended for larger estates.

 

So, how can you exempt more of your assets from probate and its costs? Here are some ideas.

 

Joint accounts. Married couples may hold property as a joint tenancy. Jointly titled property includes a right of survivorship and is not subject to probate. It simply goes to the surviving spouse when one spouse passes. Some states allow a variation called tenancy by the entirety, in which married spouses each own an undivided interest in property with the right of survivorship (they need consent from the other spouse to transfer their ownership interest in the property). A few states allow community property with right of survivorship; assets titled in this way also skip the probate process.2,3

 

Joint accounts can still face legal challenges. A potential heir to assets in a jointly held bank account may claim that it is not a “true” joint account, but a “convenience account” where a second accountholder was added just for financial expediency. Also, a joint account arrangement with right of survivorship may be found inconsistent with an estate plan.4

 

POD & TOD accounts. Payable-on-death and transfer-on-death forms are used to permit easy transfer of bank accounts and securities (and even motor vehicles, in a few states). As long as the original owner lives, the named beneficiary has no rights to claim the account funds or the security. When the original owner passes away, all the named beneficiary has to do is bring his or her I.D. and valid proof of the original owner’s death to claim the assets or securities.5

 

Gifts. For 2018, the I.R.S. allows you to give up to $15,000 each to as many different people as you like, tax free. By doing so, you reduce the size of your taxable estate. Gifts over $15,000 may be subject to federal gift tax (which tops out at 40%) and count against the lifetime gift tax exclusion. The lifetime individual gift tax exemption is currently set at $11.18 million. For a married couple, the lifetime exemption is now $22.36 million.6,7

  

Revocable living trusts. In a sense, these estate planning vehicles allow people to do much of their own probate while living. The grantor – the person who establishes the trust – funds it while alive with up to 100% of his or her assets, designating the beneficiaries of those assets at his or her death. (A pour-over will can be used to add subsequently accumulated assets to the trust at your death; yet, those assets “poured into” the trust at that time will still be probated.)8

 

The trust owns assets that the grantor once did, yet the grantor can invest, spend, and manage these assets while living. When the grantor dies, the trust lives on – it becomes irrevocable, and its assets should be able to be distributed by a successor trustee without having to be probated. The distribution is private (as opposed to the completely public process of probate), and it can save heirs court costs and time.8

 

Are there assets probate doesn’t touch? Yes, there are all kinds of non-probate assets. The common denominator of a non-probate asset is a beneficiary designation, which allows these assets to pass either to a designated beneficiary or a joint tenant, regardless of what a will states. Examples: assets jointly owned with right of survivorship, trusts and assets held within trusts, TOD accounts, proceeds from life insurance policies, and IRA and 401(k) accounts.9

  

Make sure to list/update retirement account beneficiaries. When you open a retirement savings account (such as an IRA), you are asked to designate eventual beneficiaries of that account on a form. This beneficiary form stipulates where these assets will go when you die. A beneficiary form commonly takes precedence over a will.7

 

Your beneficiary designations need to be reviewed, and they may need to be updated. You don’t want your IRA assets, for example, going to someone you no longer trust or love.

 

If you are married and have a workplace retirement plan account, your spouse is the default beneficiary of the account under federal law, unless he or she declines to be in writing. Your spouse is automatically entitled to receive 50% of the account assets should you die, even if you designate another person as the account’s primary beneficiary. In contrast, a married IRA owner may name anyone as a primary or secondary beneficiary, without spousal consent.10

 

To learn more about strategies to avoid probate, consult an attorney or a financial professional with solid knowledge of estate planning.

  

MidAmerica Financial Resources may be reached at 618.548.4777 or greg.malan@lpl.com www.mid-america.us

LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Adviser, Member FINRA/SIPC.
MidAmerica Financial Resources and Malan Financial Group are separate and unrelated companies to LPL.

 Citations.

1 – nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/why-avoid-probate-29861.html [9/12/18]

2 – info.legalzoom.com/difference-between-community-property-rights-survivorship-vs-joint-tenancy-21133.html [9/12/18]

3 – law.cornell.edu/wex/tenancy_by_the_entirety [9/12/18]

4 – clarkhill.com/alerts/a-guide-for-challenging-a-joint-account-arrangement-in-michigan [3/16/17]

5 – nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/avoid-probate-transfer-on-death-accounts-29544.html [9/12/18]

6 – thebalance.com/how-is-the-gift-tax-calculated-3505674 [7/25/18]

7 – marketwatch.com/story/how-to-avoid-making-the-same-mistake-aretha-franklin-did-2018-09-04 [9/4/18]

8 – thebalance.com/how-does-a-revocable-living-trust-avoid-probate-3505224 [7/24/18]

9 – fidelity.com/life-events/inheritance/inheritance-basics/probate [9/12/18]

10 – connorsandsullivan.com/Articles/Beneficiary-Designations-Getting-the-Right-Assets-to-the-Right-People.shtml [9/12/18

Retirees, Check Your Withholding

Retirees, Check Your Withholding

It may need to be adjusted due to the 2017 federal tax reforms.

 

Provided by MidAmerica Financial Resources

 

The Internal Revenue Service has a message for you. You may need to adjust the amount withheld from your paycheck or the size of your estimated tax payments because the agency is using new withholding tables this year. Should you underpay your taxes for 2018, you could be hit with a tax penalty in 2019.1

 

If you are retired or about to retire, you should take note of this announcement. While it may seem aimed at salaried employees and small business owners, the changes to the withholding tables also impact you.

 

Many retirees work in the gig economy. They walk dogs, drive for ridesharing companies, serve as home health aides, and act as management, marketing, legal, and health care consultants. The common thread here is self-employment. Self-employment means making estimated tax payments. This is a new experience for some baby boomers.2

 

If you have started freelancing or started a part-time business, you must join their ranks. You must file like a business owner even if you have an informal business venture that has lost money; if there is a profit motive, the I.R.S. considers that self-employment.2,3

  

Double-check your withholding even if you do not work part time. Paying estimated taxes is normal after you retire, whether you work or not; an employer no longer files a Form W-4 for you. Your retirement income probably comes from multiple sources and includes Social Security benefits, mandatory annual retirement account withdrawals, and maybe pension income from a past employer or a pension-like income arranged through a private contract.4

  

Part of your Social Security income can be subject to federal income taxes if your “combined income” exceeds a certain level. “Combined income” = adjusted gross income + non-taxable interest + 50% of your Social Security benefits. If you are single and your combined income falls between $25,000-$34,000, you may see up to 50% of your benefits taxed; the limit is 85% when your combined income tops $34,000. If you and your spouse file jointly and have a combined income between $32,000-$44,000, as much as 50% of your benefits may be taxable; above $44,000, the ceiling is 85%. Some states also tax Social Security benefits.4,5

 

Given all this, Form W-4V may be handy. You can file it to withhold a flat percentage from each Social Security payment: 7%, 10%, 12%, or even 22%.4,5

 

Do you receive a pension or pension-style income? Then you may want to file Form W-4P, which withholds taxes from those payments (you can indicate the number of allowances you wish to claim; the more you claim, the less money you withhold).4

 

Regarding the Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) you must take annually from traditional IRAs and other qualified retirement accounts after age 70½, you have an interesting option if you are wealthy enough not to need 100% of the money. You can tell the custodian of your IRA (or other retirement account) that you want taxes withheld from the RMD, effectively taking care of the quarterly estimated tax payments you would otherwise make on the RMD amount.4

 

To help with all this, the I.R.S. offers an online withholding calculator. This is a feature of its Paycheck Checkup campaign. You can find it at irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator.1

    

Be sure to consult a tax professional about your withholding. Fine print may need to be studied. For example, not all income is subject to withholding; some forms of self-employment income, income derived from rental activities, and income from jobs in the sharing economy may be exempt. Have this conversation before 2019 arrives.1

 

MidAmerica Financial Resources may be reached at 618.548.4777 or greg.malan@lpl.com www.mid-america.us

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Adviser, Member FINRA/SIPC.
MidAmerica Financial Resources and Malan Financial Group are separate and unrelated companies to LPL.

Citations.

1 – irs.gov/newsroom/avoid-penalty-for-underpayment-of-taxes-irs-says-check-withholding-make-estimated-payments [9/6/18]

2 – irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/self-employed-individuals-tax-center [12/14/17]

3 – irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/business-activities [4/23/18]

4 – cnbc.com/2018/09/12/the-irs-is-warning-retirees-of-this-impending-surprise-tax.html [9/12/18]

5 – kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T051-C000-S004-retiree-tax-tip-tally-taxes-on-social-security.html [9/5/18]

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