Category: IRA Stretch Trust

Trusts from A to Z

Many folks assume that trust funds are only for the rich, however, people in all types of economic circumstances may see a benefit from them. A trust fund is a special legal arrangement that lets a benefactor arrange for certain assets to go to someone else. 11-04-16

Motley Fool’s recent article, “Navigating the World of Trust Funds: Your Quick Guide,” explains that there are various types of trust funds that can serve as useful estate-planning tools. Here’s a rundown of revocable or irrevocable trusts, credit shelter trusts, generation-skipping trusts, and qualified personal-residence trusts.

Revocable trusts. Also known as a revocable living trust, this trust lets you manage your trust during your lifetime. In creating the trust, you can name yourself as the trustee in charge of overseeing its assets. This lets you move assets in and out of the trust as you want or even terminate the trust if your circumstances change. There’s a good deal of flexibility, and a major benefit is that they have the ability to bypass probate. Depending on where you live, probate can be lengthy and expensive. A revocable trust can also reduce the estate tax burden on your beneficiaries.

Irrevocable trusts. This is the opposite of a revocable trust. It can't be altered or terminated without the consent of the trustee and the trust's beneficiaries (and perhaps a judge). When you place assets into an irrevocable trust, you may no longer have any rights to them. The big benefit is saving money on estate taxes. When you transfer assets into an irrevocable trust, they're no longer yours and are excluded from your estate's value for tax purposes. Also, trust assets may be more difficult to access by creditors or anyone who initiates a lawsuit against you. And if you hold assets that you think will really appreciate over time, you can transfer those assets into the trust to remove them from your taxable estate and ensure that any future appreciation on them isn't subject to estate taxes. It’s a serious long-term commitment and may be a good option if you have a larger estate.

Credit shelter trusts. This trust can help wealthy married couples lower their estate taxes by maximizing federal and state exemptions. If you set up a credit shelter trust, the assets in that trust will be transferred to your beneficiaries upon your death, but your spouse can keep his or her rights to the assets contained in the trust for the rest of his or her life. Ultimately, however, those assets won't be counted as part of your spouse's estate. This helps your family take advantage of available tax exemptions. With portability, this trust may not be as useful as it once was. Portability lets the first spouse who dies transfer his or her assets along with the "unused" estate tax exclusion amount to the surviving spouse, who can then apply this enhanced exclusion amount in his or her own estate.

Generation-skipping trusts. This trust is established for the benefit of your grandchildren, as opposed to your children. These trusts are used to avoid estate taxes: if your children inherit your estate directly, then the value of your estate is added to the value of their estate and this could potentially trigger estate taxes when they die. By skipping your children’s generation you may be able to transfer more assets to your family than to the IRS over the long term. The generation-skipping trust is subject to taxes, but it can be structured to reduce estate taxes, allowing affluent families to preserve their wealth for future generations. A big advantage of generation-skipping trusts is that they can help avoid generation-skipping transfer tax.

Qualified personal residence trusts. This trust lets you leave your home to your beneficiaries and decrease your estate taxes. You can transfer your property by deed into the trust while retaining the right to live there for a certain period of time. Once that’s over, your beneficiaries can inherit your home, paying taxes on the value of the home at the time of the deed transfer. A qualified personal residence trust can be useful in locking in a lower value for gift tax purposes. And you can claim a lower value of the gift for your beneficiaries based on their delay in actually receiving the property. But if you die while living in your home, it’ll count as part of your estate and be taxed according to its value at that time.

Trust funds can be a big element in your estate-planning strategy, so talk with a qualified trust attorney to see which type of trust is best for you.

Reference: Motley Fool (Sept. 18, 2016) “Navigating the World of Trust Funds: Your Quick Guide”

Bonehead Mistakes Retirees Need to Avoid

With the excitement of retirement, money can be the last thing you would have on your mind. However, if you have a careless approach to your money, you can be headed for financial pain. 10-25-16

Starts at 60 recently published an article, “Three silly money mistakes retirees can make,” that identifies three big mistakes you could be making with your money as a retiree.

  1. Spending too much, too soon. It can be difficult to fight the urge to spend money when you’ve retired, but spending too much early on in your retirement has severe consequences. Not only does it make your wallet lighter, it also means you don’t get the returns the money could have made for you in the next five, ten or twenty years.

If you’re planning on retiring, plan well in advance. Review your superannuation, pension and savings to create a budget for your retirement. If you’re already retired and spending too much in the early days, see a professional and modify your budget and investments.

  1. Heeding the investment advice of family and friends. While they may only be trying to help, these folks may not be the best people to ask for financial and investment advice. Seek advice from a financial planner or investment advisor.
  2. Failing to plan your estate. Who wants to think about and plan for their death when they are busy enjoying retired life? However, failing to plan your estate could have consequences for your loved ones after you pass away. Without an estate plan, you might not be able to transfer your wealth to your family when you die. Plus, it can create a huge tax bill, meaning less for your spouse and family. Talk with an experienced estate planning attorney and take care of this ASAP.

Reference: Starts at 60 (September 6, 2016) “Three silly money mistakes retirees can make”

Create Your IRA Exit Plan

10-06-2016

IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s and other qualified accounts are popular tools for building a retirement nest egg. But after investing and saving with one of these plans for the last 30 years, as retirement nears you may ask yourself, "What should I do with my retirement account?"

The most common advice given is to withdraw as little out of your IRA as possible while taking your Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). MarketWatch, in its recent article, “IRAs are for retirement planning, not for retirement,” suggests that we should think a bit outside the box before simply following the masses, with regards to your IRA and its RMDs.

If your money manager is advising you to let your IRA sit and only withdraw the RMDs, remember that typically, money managers are making 1-2% in fees on the total amount of money under their management. As such, the money manager has a vested interest in you keeping most of your money under his or her care.

Here are few ideas:

If tax rates increase, qualified accounts don’t give you any protection from future tax liability. If you’re like most Americans who think that taxes will increase in the next decade, do you want to wait for your retirement savings to be taxed at a higher rate? If you're between the ages of 59 and 70½, you are at the perfect spot to start an IRA Exit Plan.

Another consideration is the way in which you’ve titled your IRA and the beneficiary designations. Talk with a qualified estate planning attorney when designating your primary, contingent, and tertiary beneficiaries, as well as when titling an IRA.

Remember that when you set up a trust, your IRA cannot be retitled to your trust. This inability to change ownership of your IRA can lead to gaps in planning for Medicaid and Veteran Benefits. The quick solution is to overcome this by simply changing the IRA's beneficiary to their trust. But beware—there can be dire consequences if your beneficiaries of your IRA are not done properly.

Talk with an estate planning attorney to be certain that the IRA's beneficiary is a trust that qualifies as "See Through Trust,” or else it can cost your families thousands of dollars in taxes by making it instantly taxable upon your death.

There’s no better time to start preparing yourself, as well as your investments, for retirement. Create your IRA Exit plan so that when you enter retirement your assets will be as ready for retirement as you are.

Reference: MarketWatch (August 17, 2016) “IRAs are for retirement planning, not for retirement”

Accumulating Income in the Decumulation Phase of Life: Retirement

Retirement is often called the “decumulation” phase, when retirees are steadily spending down their assets. However, many retireesare not only leaving their nest eggs intact but are also saving a large part of their income. Recent studies say that they’re accumulating assets as they move through retirement.

Kiplinger’s new article, “Shifting Gears from Saving to Spending in Retirement,” explains that it’s not just the wealthiest retirees who fall into this category. Retired households with at least $100,000 in financial assets save 31% of their income, on average, according to a recent study. A third of Americans age 65 and older took no retirement income from their nest eggs during the past five years, according to a 2015 study. 10-04-2016

Saving money is good, but if you’re cutting out basic comforts because you think you’ll live to 108 and have huge medical expenses or because you worry that you won’t be able to leave an inheritance for your children, you might want to reconsider the severity of those risks and how you’re managing them.

On the other hand, if you’re on a cruise every other month and touring in a new Lamborghini but still spending less than your income, that’s a different issue. You should think about minimizing your tax liability as you continue to accumulate wealth throughout retirement. Also, keep reinvesting any extra income according to your goals, donate to charity or give away assets to family members.

Saving is becoming a bigger part of retirees’ financial plans, especially with defined-benefit pension plans going away. Retirees now must depend more on nonguaranteed sources of income—like 401(k)s and IRAs—to cover expenses. As a result of the greater uncertainty involved with generating income from stocks and bonds, retirees who draw their income largely from investment accounts tend to save more than those relying on guaranteed-income sources.

Many retirees say that saving is hardwired, but if you’re stuffing money under the mattress, think about how much retirement is really costing you and whether you’re saving up for future expenses that may never happen.

While many retirement-planning tools say that your spending will increase by the rate of inflation each year of retirement, recent research contends that this may overestimate retirement costs. In inflation-adjusted terms, spending actually decreases 1% annually in retirement. Major expenses, like a mortgage or the children’s college tuition, may go away in retirement. Also, you might spend less on big vacations and other active pursuits as you get older. So, the amount you must withdraw from your portfolio to cover expenses might significantly decrease during retirement.

Many retirees overestimate their spending needs. While optimistic, it might be a little unreasonable to plan on living to 110. You can look at a detailed calculator to factor in your health, family history and lifestyle to give you a better idea of your life expectancy.

A recent study found that the wealthiest 20% of retirees could safely draw down as much as 50% more than what they’re spending.

Reference: Kiplinger’s (August 2016) “Shifting Gears from Saving to Spending in Retirement”