This is an unusual year-end tax planning season. The pace of federal tax law reform has increased in the four decades and accelerated since the pandemic.
It’s only mid-September, but please begin to think about year-end tax planning. This is an unusual year for tax planning. Not only has the stock market been volatile but new rules about distributions from IRAs and federally qualified retirement plans (QRPs) – such as 401(k), 403(b) and defined benefit plans –became effective this year, and the newly-enacted Inflation Reduction Act also adds some planning opportunities.
In case you missed it, sweeping new rules on distributions from IRA And Qualified Retirement Plans (QRPs) went into effect at the beginning of 2022.
This is a heads up for anyone deciding on how to designate beneficiaries of an IRA based on advice from an IRA custodian call-center employee.
The unusual financial economic events of the last couple of years have caused great financial disappointment for some Americans.
The extreme financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic seemed unprecedented to most investors. Over the past two years, Americans witnessed a sudden stop financial crisis in March 2020, the injection of nearly $10 trillion of monetary and fiscal stimulus within a matter of months, and an unanticipated burst of inflation that caught even the Federal Reserve off guard. The truth, however, is that these events seem anomalous only because many historical parallels have disappeared from our collective memory. In fact, there are no living Americans who recall the two most relevant events — the onset of World War I in July 1914 and the post-World War I/Great Influenza inflation of 1919-1920.
Inflation cooled in June, according to Labor Department data. Compared to the +9.1% inflation rate in the 12 months through June 30, the consumer price index (CPI) in the 12 months through July 31 increased by +8.5%. The Standard Poor's 500 rallied +2.1%.
In the three tumultuous months of the second quarter, the Federal Reserve of Atlanta’s algorithm for estimating quarterly economic growth was far more accurate than consensus forecasts by leading economists. That’s unusual.
Volatility in the stock market has increased. Recently we actually hit some down days of -3.6% and -4% in the stock market. That shakes people up. But remember why you bought stocks.
By our count, the bear market of 2022 is the latest of more than 20 market crises that came and went since 1957.
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What Happens With Your Assets When You Die?
Published Thursday, June 23, 2022 at: 10:12 AM EDT
Since a 1965 book by financial planner Norman Dacey popularized avoiding probate, the strategy has become ingrained in the American financial psyche, and the U.S. financial system has accommodated consumers by making it easy to set up IRAs and other brokerage accounts to avoid probate.
Now, with the first generation of Americans who set themselves up to avoid probate starting to die, the quiet evolution toward avoiding probate has suddenly created an urgent need for Baby Boomers to understand what will happen to their assets when they die. Once the domain of legal professionals only, consumers must be aware strategies for estate planning and avoiding probate is the domain of financial advisors, part of the financial advice process.
Probate is the term for a legal process of distributing your assets after you die. It’s historically been court-supervised, but most states now offer an independent administration option and takes months or years. Probate opens your will to objections from disgruntled family members, heirs who feel shortchanged, and makes public a record of personal information about your estate.
Since the 1980s, states changed property laws to make avoiding probate easier. Now, naming the beneficiaries of your IRA, Roth IRA, and other federally qualified retirement accounts avoids probate and that puts the financial advisor at the center of that crucially important estate planning decision.”
“Avoiding probate became standard operating procedure for the entire generation of Baby Boomers with the advent of irrevocable trusts,” said L. Paul Hood, Jr., who teaches estate tax planning to legal, accounting, and financial professionals. “And, now, as Baby Boomers are starting to die, many don’t completely understand that their financial advisor – and not their attorney – plays a pivotal in ensuring your estate passes to beneficiaries outside of probate and in conformity with your wishes.”
In addition to beneficiary-designation assets, most property that used to pass via probate can avoid it altogether now if they are properly titled. Real estate can pass by joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. Bank accounts can pass to the account beneficiary via a pay-on-death (POD) account. Marketable securities can pass to the account beneficiary via a transfer-on-death (TOD) account. In joint tenancy, POD and TOD accounts, the accountholder’s will is irrelevant, even if it conflicts.
What if the account holder wants to change the account beneficiary in a POD or TOD account? They don’t need to go to their estate planning lawyer; they need only visit (even electronically) the account sponsoring organization.
Unfortunately, with the rampant increase in elder financial abuse, it’s now incumbent on the employees and representatives at banks and brokerages to keep watch for vulnerable seniors being taken into offices to change account beneficiaries without their consent or understanding. Given that account sponsoring organizations now effectively control ultimate disposition of the accounts on death, it’s increasingly clear that organizations that don’t take adequate precautions to protect the vulnerable and elderly are going to be sued if they fail to do so.
Depending on your personal circumstances, a legal professional specializing in estate planning can be called in to assist in certain instances, including:
- family members with special needs
- transfer ownership of a business or investments
- gifting your residence to heirs
- leaving assets to charity
- estate is valued at more than $12.06 million
Estate planning is central to fulfilling our role as your trusted financial advisor. If you have questions about what happens to your assets when you die, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Nothing contained herein is to be considered a solicitation, research material, an investment recommendation, or advice of any kind, and it is subject to change without notice. Any investments or strategies referenced herein do not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person. Product suitability must be independently determined for each individual investor. Tax advice always depends on your particular personal situation and preferences. You should consult the appropriate financial professional regarding your specific circumstances. The material represents an assessment of financial, economic and tax law at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. Forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties. Actual results, performance, or achievements may differ materially from those expressed or implied. Information is based on data gathered from what we believe are reliable sources. It is not guaranteed as to accuracy, does not purport to be complete, and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions. This article was written by a professional financial journalist for Advisor Products and is not intended as legal or investment advice.
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