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5 Things to Understand About Wealth Transfer

From gifting money to children to transferring ownership of a home, it’s important to understand some parameters for the best way to pass on inheritance.

One reason some people focus on building wealth over a lifetime is to be able to pass along resources and provide opportunities to their children and grandchildren. But it takes time and planning — as well as conversations about expectations and shared values — to have this transfer work well for everyone.

The concerns about wealth transfer vary, from worrying about estate taxes to keeping a home in the family. So what is the best way to pass on an inheritance and set up an estate transfer the way you want? Consider these steps.

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Writing a Will, Estate Planning and Financial Documents: DIY or Pro

The internet offers lots of DIY estate planning and financial tools, such as an online will maker and guides for advanced directives. Should you learn how to make a will for free and create your own package of estate documents or should you hire professional help? These considerations can help.

A husband and wife came to Zach Morris, co-founder of the Atlanta-based Paces Ferry Wealth Advisors, after completing an online will maker. Upon reviewing the documents, Morris, whose firm is a registered investment advisor with the SEC, realized that they had each decided to leave $10,000 and their dog to their best friend. But the will didn’t state what to do with the animal (or the money) if the friend died before them — meaning the couple could have accidentally left their pet and $20,000 to their best friend’s next-of-kin.

It was a small error, but one that illustrates the risks of taking a DIY route for financial and estate planning. “When you’re talking about legal terms, it’s really something that you want to get right,” Morris says.

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The CARES Act Has Changed 2020 RMD Rules

Required Minimum Distributions are Temporarily Suspended

When President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, he enacted the largest aid package in American history. One important impact is that Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for 2020 are, in essence, suspended. In this way, the federal government chose to sacrifice short-term tax revenue in order to provide immediate financial relief to retirees.

This change bears discussion, however, as there are many questions about what the CARES Act means for those who have already taken their 2020 RMDs, as well as any impact on taxes and inherited accounts.

Let’s begin with a review of the basic tenets of the RMD portion of this new law.

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Financial Literacy Month, Coronavirus and Financial Resilience

How to Focus on Your Finances in the Month of April

Beginning 16 years ago, April was declared Financial Literacy Month as part of a strategy to enhance and increase nationwide financial literacy. It was implemented with the hope that it would lead to increased government advocacy of financial literacy programs, as well as spark more interest in programming already offered through schools, non-profit organizations, and businesses.

The creation of a month-long focus on financial literacy was a pointed acknowledgment of its importance in helping Americans gain necessary financial knowledge – knowledge that proves integral during a time of crisis like we are facing now with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Though prevention is always preferable over a cure, it’s never too late to learn more and change your financial behaviors. Doing so can help you become more resilient in the face of financial adversity during times of personal or worldwide crisis. So, here are three ways you can personally celebrate Financial Literacy Month this year:

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CARES Act Signed into Law –Brings Relief to Millions of Americans

This $2 trillion bill is meant to impact both individuals and businesses and contains significant tax-savings measures. It could affect prior tax years while also creating immediate cash-flow.

Impact on Individuals

Stimulus Checks

Perhaps the most impactful provision for American citizens is the CARES Act’s promise of cash payments of up to $1,200 per single individual and $2,400 for a married couple. Parents will also receive an additional $500 per qualifying child. Payments are phased-out for individuals with incomes greater than $75,000 and for married couples filing jointly with income greater than $150,000.

Provisions are such that payments will be based on 2018 tax returns, though, like the Affordable Care Act’s tax premium credit, there is a true-up related to the amount for which you are eligible on the 2020 tax return. Nonresident aliens, dependents and estates and trusts are not eligible for a stimulus check.

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Take a Pandemic Mental Health Break

Social Media and Viral Laughs are Important for Self-Care, Doctors Say

As we continue to live in uncertain times, self-care is more important than ever. With 24-hour news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and growing concerns about how far-reaching novel coronavirus will be in the United States, there are more than a few of us with heightened anxiety. Unfortunately, gone are the days when we could give ourselves a mental break from all the doom and gloom by grabbing a drink with a friend after work or hitting the gym for an intense workout session. Guidelines recommending social distancing and state-mandated lockdowns have made it difficult for many of us to manage our stress in typical ways, and this is concerning for our individual and collective mental health.

Enter social media.

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Tax News: IRS Announces Extended Deadline for 2019 Tax Returns

As we continue to face uncertain times, the IRS has made a welcome announcement.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has announced that the IRS has decided to extend the filing and payment deadline for 2019 tax returns, allowing taxpayers to defer until July 15. Mnuchin indicated this move will put $300 billion into the economy during a time of great economic concern over the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The payment deferment is subject to certain caps, however. Individuals may defer tax payments of up to $1 million, while corporations may defer up to $10 million. The limits were purposefully selected to benefit small businesses that report income through S corporations, partnerships or other pass-through entities.

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How to Remain Hopeful and Keep Perspective During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The Coronavirus Pandemic is real and it is scary on many different levels.  With news of the pandemic spreading and the recommendations on social distancing getting broader, it can be hard to feel certain or safe about anything.

As troubling as it is to watch the unprecedented market decline, we need to maintain our health and the health and safety of our family, friends, and neighbors as the number one priority. COVID-19 which emerged late in 2019 in China has spread rapidly worldwide since then and is a global pandemic. The measures taken by leaders around the globe have been strong leaving most children without a classroom to go to, many parents working from home or some without a job altogether and investors panicking about what is to come.

This disruption to daily life and to our psyches is substantial. The coming weeks could be difficult, but these measures are practical and prudent.

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Coronavirus: What the Viral Epidemic Means for Investors

Last week saw the worst week on Wall Street since 2008, as the Dow fell into correction likely due to the outbreak and spread of COVID-19, commonly called novel coronavirus. A market correction is a nerve-wracking event for investors, but the current uneasiness in the markets is no cause for panic.

Market Impact

While the spread of COVID-19 is atypical, market correction is not. In fact, it’s an entirely normal process, and not altogether unexpected after experiencing the longest-running bull market on record. There have been 22 market corrections since 1974, and they are aptly named because the market usually “corrects” itself and returns prices to their longer-term trends. While the coronavirus is likely to cause economic impact into at least the second quarter of 2020, historically, Wall Street’s reaction to these types of epidemics has been short-lived, including in the recent past.

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The Cash Balance Plan: A Pension Plan for High Earners

If you’re a business owner, physician or self-employed individual, you likely face higher taxes than the majority of Americans. However, there are strategies you can use to keep more of your hard-earned money by reducing your tax liability and increasing your asset protection. One of these strategies is through a particular type of Defined Benefit Plan called the Cash Balance Plan.

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