What do Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Prince, and Tony Hsieh (Zappos!) all have in common? And no – this is not the start of a bad joke.
Each of these individuals caught our attention recently for the headlines they (or their estates) made. While we usually encourage you to “tune out the noise” and “ignore the talking heads,” sometimes celebrity gossip headlines contain valuable lessons…usually of what not to do.
The combined estates of Spears, Jackson, Prince, and Hsieh are worth nearly $2 billion. An amazing sum! Yet all of this money is trapped in battles (legal or otherwise) to distribute or manage assets. Our crew of celebs could have avoided this pain. Unfortunately, when a clear plan is not in place, unwinding disputed estates can involve paying lots of pernicious fees. A reliable team of fiduciary advisors and a solid, up-to-date plan can minimize disputes, ease the process, and reduce unnecessary costs to the estate.
If my goal is to preserve assets for my beneficiaries or charitable causes, instead of getting stuck in a prolonged legal battle, what should I do?
It’s dramatically easier, less expensive, and simpler to pay your advisory team in advance rather than have them clean up the mess afterward.
That’s why Hill gets involved, sooner rather than later, in estate planning with our clients. Whether you’re just starting or need a comprehensive review and update of an existing plan, set up a call or meeting with us – click here. Your future self, and your kids, will thank you.
With 2020 coming to an end, we thought it would be a good time to remind everyone of a few tax planning strategies that can be easily overlooked:
- Maximize your 401(K) or other employer plan contributions – Saving funds on a pre-tax basis in a retirement account allows them to grow tax-deferred until they are withdrawn in retirement.
- Contribute to your Health Savings Account (HSA) – An HSA is an often overlooked savings vehicle that allows individuals covered by high-deductible health insurance plans to save money on a pre-tax basis. The funds then grow tax-deferred and if used for medical expenses can be withdrawn tax-free. These are sometimes called the triple tax advantages of an HSA.
- Get going on 529 contributions – If you have children (or grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or anyone that may attend school in the future), a 529 may be the right savings vehicle for you. The tax deductibility of these contributions depends on your state of residence, and any contributions grow tax-free so long as they are used for qualified education expenses.
- Contribute to a cause you care about – If you don’t have a charitable organization that you want to support directly in 2020, you can open a Donor Advised Fund to make the charitable contribution this year, allowing you to gift to your favorite charitable organization later. You receive the tax deduction in the year of contribution to the Donor Fund, and this also allows your funds to stay invested, and potentially grow, so that you can give away greater amounts in the future.
- Think about financial gifts to individuals – While gifts to individuals are not tax deductible, they are a great way to lower your overall estate and reduce the amount that is potentially subject to estate taxes in the future. Cumulative gifts to an individual up to $15,000 [$30,000 for a married couple filing jointly in 2020] are under the annual gift exclusion and do not require a gift tax return to be filed. If you give more than $15,000 to one person, you may have to file a gift tax return and would encourage you to consult with your tax professional.
For some individuals it makes sense to accelerate their tax deductions in 2020, and for others it may make sense to delay their deductions until 2021. One of the things we do at Hill Investment Group is work with our clients’ clients’ CPAs and estate attorneys to ensure they are maximizing not only their portfolio with us, but their complete financial picture. Feel free to give us a call to discuss.
With Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden recently releasing his proposed tax plan, we thought it would be good to compare what Biden is proposing to our current tax law. Here is a simple side-by-side comparison of some of the major differences. What does this mean for clients of Hill Investment Group? At this point, not much. While Biden’s proposed plan is certainly different from current law, and in some cases significantly different, we are planning for the future, but aren’t making any changes to clients’ plans (at least not yet). As always, if you have specific questions about your specific situation, please call or email us to set up a time to talk.