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Which Assets Belong in Your Living Trust – and Which Don’t?

Guidance on How to Fund Your Trust

If you’re considering setting up a living trust, know that there is more to it than simply meeting with a lawyer and signing the appropriate paperwork. Your trust won’t have any power until you fund it. To do so, you’ll need to strategize about which assets you’ll put in the trust, and then complete the necessary transfers.

For most people, there are assets that make sense to transfer to your trust, but others that you’re likely better off leaving outside the trust. Below we’ll dig into the details of both. First, though, let’s discuss the basics of a living trust.

Why Choose a Living Trust?

If you’re looking to manage your assets during your lifetime and find a way to easily pass them to your beneficiaries when you die without going through the hassles of the court system, a living trust is for you. This legal structure allows your estate to bypass probate, which is advantageous for several reasons.

Not only is probate complex, time-consuming and expensive, it also means your estate information will become public record. A trust, on the other hand, allows you to keep your finances private. Furthermore, this legal instrument gives you more control over which of your heirs get certain assets, and even when they are able to access them. For example, you could choose to pass some of your assets to your children when they turn 18, with a percentage held back until they reach age 40.

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Small Business Checklist: How to Assess Your Financial Wellness

A Five-Step Plan for Busy Business Owners

Running your business day to day takes all of your energy and focus. Your waking hours are consumed with managing and sustaining it, and you likely spend many a sleepless night on the details no one else thinks about. This is the life of a committed small business owner.

When you’re grinding day after day to keep your business well-positioned, however, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Specifically, it becomes difficult for many small business owners to find the time to monitor the overall health of their business in a meaningful way. The five-step guide below is designed to help you focus on five key elements of your business’ financial health.

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Estate Planning: Keeping Your Legacy in the Family

Ways to Ensure the Wealth You Pass on Stays with Your Children

It’s a blessing to be able to pass on significant assets to your children – and it’s likely one of the reasons you worked so diligently and saved so strategically throughout your lifetime. It’s natural to want to keep your wealth in the family, especially as we find ourselves living through an economically uncertain time. Even though you might love your daughter-in-law or son-in-law very much, recent world events have reminded us that you can’t predict what the future may hold. This leads many people to wonder whether there’s a way to leave money to their children without passing any rights on to their children’s spouses.

Typically, once you pass assets to your children outright, their spouses will have equal rights to those assets. When you have positive relationships with the spouses, it’s natural to feel a bit guilty about trying to avoid passing on any rights to your wealth. However, if you feel strongly about preserving your financial legacy for your children, there are ways to do so.

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Tax Changes Prohibit Many from Claiming Home Office Costs

Working from Home During the Pandemic? You Probably Can’t Deduct Your Expenses

If you’ve been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. One of the side effects of this global health crisis has been an unprecedented experiment in forced remote work for the masses. While most states are beginning to open back up, social distancing policies are still encouraged, meaning many taxpayers are still working from home in this “new normal” we’re becoming accustomed to. In fact, a recent survey shows that 43 percent of Americans hope to continue working from home at least part-time when the pandemic subsides.

If you’re one of the millions clocking in from the comfort of your own home each day, you may be wondering whether you can take advantage of the home office tax deduction. In the past, employees who worked from home could deduct home office expenses like computer equipment and office furniture as a miscellaneous itemized deduction on line 21 of Schedule A. However, that rule has changed.

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Retirement Planning Considerations for Spouses with a Significant Age Gap

In some things in life – love, in particular – age is a fairly meaningless number. When it comes to financial planning, however, age can begin to matter quite a lot. This is why it is exceedingly important for spouses with a wide age gap to have a long-term financial plan in place. As we collectively face a time of economic uncertainty, smart long-term planning can also offer you peace of mind.

Long-term financial plans include retirement planning, of course, and this is an area in which traditional advice often won’t work well for couples separated by a decade or more. If you and your spouse are in this scenario, you’ll need a retirement plan that can accommodate the needs of two different stages of life.

Let’s explore a few of the considerations that mixed-age couples need to be aware of for proper retirement planning.

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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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