Thursday, January 30, 2014

Grantor vs Non-Grantor Trusts

I received a call a couple of days ago from previous clients who asked whether or not they needed to get a tax number for their trust.  They did not understand that as their trust was a revocable trust (also known as a grantor trust) meaning they had full control of trust assets, their social security numbers were automatically the tax identification numbers for the trust and any trust income should be filed on the grantors' 1040. Only when a trust is or becomes irrevocable (or is known as a non-grantor trust) do the trustees acquire a separate tax identification number and file a 1041 as long as the irrevocable trust is in existence.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Cost of Death on the Rise

It can be expensive to die, and I am not talking medical bills at the end of life.  The cost to purchase burial items are expensive.  An article written by Michael De Groote in the Deseret News by Michael De Groote dated January 23, 2014 discusses two points.  One point is that cost of burial paraphernalia is increasing with the cost of living.  A second point is surviving family members often make poor funeral purchase decisions during the death crisis.  It is our opinion here at Hughes Estate Group that pre-funeral planning is more likely to keep costs down.  It also allows family members the freedom to grieve properly without dealing with unnecessary money decisions.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gifts To Grandchildren

Gifts given to grandchildren by grandparents can be a great blessing.  Kelly Greene wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal September 14, 2012, titled "Are You Coddling Your Grandkids?"  In her article, Ms. Greene indicates five ways to give to a grandchild something and at the same time not creating a sense of entitlement from a grandchild.
First, Ms. Greene says you must, "Pare your gifts to offset the pain."  In other words, don't give to the extent that you jeopardize your own financial care.
Second, Ms. Greene say you might consider making a gift a loan rather than an outright gift.  If the loan is handled properly, it might be a good way to help the grandchild and at the same time allowing them to make their own way in the world.
Third, Ms. Greene says a grandparent can create teaching moments.  Gifting stock or investments rather than cash can be a way of teaching grandchildren the value of money as an example.
Fourth, Ms. Greene says it is a good idea to delay a grandchild's gratification.  Gifting money at certain dates or events rather than on a regular basis can help grandchildren rely on their own resources first.
Fifth, Ms. Greene counsels to practice equality.  One of the most common reasons for litigation between family members if perceived favoritism. 
As you choose to gift assets, it is wise to take into account the feelings of family members and how said gifts will affect them in the long run.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A New Year's Goal: Charitable Giving

Often charitable giving is associated with the end of the year decision to give to charity in order to lower tax liabilities for income taxes and estate taxes. Charitable giving also is associated with gifting to charities upon death in order to lower an individual's estate taxes.
There are a couple of interesting articles regarding different ways of looking at charitable giving.
One article written by Claudia Buck titled, "Personal Finance: You don't have to be super-rich to give to charity," talks about anyone rich or less rich can leave money to charities upon death.
Another article written by Dan Pollotta of the Wall Street Journal titled, "Why Can't We Sell Charity Like We Sell Perfume?" talks about the idea of allowing non-profit organizations to compete with for-profit organizations to encourage more charitable services to make a profit that then can do even more good for society.
No matter what your circumstances, estate planning can include charitable inclinations and desires.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Choosing The Right Fiduciary--Trustee, Agent, Personal Representative

In an article written September 10, 2012, by Jeanne Skowronski of the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Skowronski writes about the importance of choosing the right trustee to serve as the fiduciary of your estate.  Ms. Skowronski talks about four questions which she feels should be asked in deciding who should serve as fiduciary.  She asks:

- How large and complex are the assets in the trust?
- Can anyone in your family do the job?
- How are the relationships between your beneficiaries?
- Have you explored other options?

Here at Hughes Estate Group, we emphasize the great importance of choosing the right individual or entity to serve as the fiduciary of a person's estate.  We ask a series of questions in order to help you determine the best fiduciaries for your estate plan. 

We feel there should be much more deliberation in determining who should serve than simply naming your first born child for example or even the child most able to handle finances.  The relationships between siblings and many other issues also hold great bearing on who should be named as the individual or individuals to take care of your affairs at your incapacity or death. It is important to ask the right questions in deciding who should serve as trustee of your trust, or agent of your power of attorney, or personal representative of your will or estate. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year's Resolution

At the beginning of this new year, we at Hughes Estate Group wish all a happy and successful year.  We would encourage everyone to set a goal for this year to either get an estate plan in place (if a plan is not in place) or review and update any existing estate plan (if a plan does exist).  Death is something we will all experience.  Ensuring the smooth transition of one's estate to beloved beneficiaries is one of the best gifts a person can give his or her family.