Give it NOW if you’ve got it, or pay Uncle Sam when you pass in the big way

That’s right. I am talking about estate taxes. Your heirs are in great luck if you die in 2010, with a zero estate tax rate, but if you die in 2011, and if changes in tax legislation remain unresolved, the portion of your estate which will avoids estate tax will drop back down to $1.0 million, as compared to $3.5 million in 2009. My guess is that for many of you that your net worth could exceed the $1.0 limit in 2011, especially if you own real estate. So while estate tax planning was once only for the “fat cats,” it’s not any more. READ MORE

Long term care needs – the wild card of financial planning

Nothing is going to send a financial plan into a “crash & burn” faster than a disabling sickness or accident.  Even when you have medical insurance, you still have to worry about the costs of nursing homes, assisted care facilities and home health care — none of which are covered by most medical insurance policies, including Medicare.

Disclaimer trusts – what are they? how do they work, and should you have one?

When I consider the effect of the 2011 changes in federal estate taxes I see some brand new reasons for my married clients to replace their Marital A-B trusts with Disclaimer trusts.

The reasons to choose, or to switch to, a Disclaimer trust include increased flexibility in estate tax planning and the possibility for more liberal access to joint assets for the surviving spouse.  On the negative side, this type of trust does require the surviving spouse to take action within nine months of the death of the first spouse to die.  It’s not an ideal time for many people make major decisions. READ MORE