Protecting accumulated wealth should be a cornerstone of your financial plan. A solid financial plan will address who or what poses the threat of taking away what you have earned and puts measures in place to limit the severity of those threats. These threats are often unseen and not easily predictable and therefore may cause a derailment from the path to your goals if your plan is not properly structured. Do you understand what your plan has put in place for asset protection?
It is not easy to think about, but just imagine that today was your last day alive. Who will be there tomorrow to protect your family and the assets you leave behind? Who will replace the high amount of income that you provide? Will your current savings be enough to provide for the day-to-day basics, let alone the big expenses of the future such as college tuition? Proper planning aims to assess the capital needs of an individual and his or her family to ensure that given any unfortunate event, the family will be taken care of first. A less often considered, but nonetheless important, scenario is disability due to injury or sickness. Will you still be able to pay your mortgage, car loan or other payments? What if this disability is for an extended period of time? You must, again, ask what your financial plan has in place for the future of your family and goals.
Personal and Business Liabilities
For physicians and other highly visible professionals, the possibility of becoming the defendant in a lawsuit based on work performed or expertise given is not out of the question. How is your medical practice structured? Which of your personal assets will be exposed to liabilities? There are particular are strategies to help protect and separate your business assets from your personal assets (Domestic Asset Protection Trusts).
Estate Planning & Titling
Do your estate planning documents match your intentions? Your estate plan may be designed to leave assets to your children; however, if your accounts and assets are not titled properly, your children may not receive those assets as intended. For example, accounts titled as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship, all assets will remain in the account under control of the surviving owner, regardless of the estate plan documents. It is critical that your account titling matches your estate plan documents to avoid unintended consequences.
Mistakes and Unforeseen Problems
Without proper planning, your accumulated wealth could be exposed to numerous risks. With proper planning, those risks can be mitigated. CIG Capital Advisors Wealth Management team can make sure your wealth plan accounts for unforeseen personal events (death, disability or lawsuit) as well as financial hazards that could jeopardize the assets you’ve built over a lifetime. It can take many years, often decades, of hard work to accumulate significant assets. Unfortunately, it can only take one event to erase your progress. Contact a CIG Capital Advisors professional to prepare for the unexpected.
As we approach the new year, it is a good idea to examine and review a financial health checklist and make changes as necessary. Here is a list of some of the items the CIG Capital Advisors Wealth Management team recommends you review as part of your resolution for better financial health in the new year and to help establish good personal finance habits in the years to come:
- Review and update beneficiaries. Confirm who is designated as your beneficiaries on your retirement accounts. For many people, naming beneficiaries happens one time, when they set up the account or policy. However, life changes (birth, marriage, divorce, death) are inevitable, and when these changes occur, you, or your family, may find that the designated beneficiary on your retirement account is not who you think it should be now.When it comes to planning for wealth transfers, it’s extremely important to review your beneficiaries periodically, especially if you have had children, divorced, or remarried since you first established your retirement account. This also applies if you had previously named a charity or trust as your beneficiary upon account setup and that organization no longer exists.
- Review and/or prepare for Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) If you’re 70½ or older, you’re required by the IRS to take RMDs from certain retirement accounts by December 31—or face a penalty equal to 50% of the sum you failed to withdraw. If you turned 70½ this year, you have until April 1, 2020, to take your first RMD, albeit with potential consequences. Additionally, if you will be turning 70½ soon, now is the time to review your distribution strategy.
- Retirement Plan Contribution Increase. The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, is increased from $19,000 to $19,500 for tax year 2020. Consider reviewing and changing your contribution limits if appropriate.
- Review Living Wills and Trusts. Most often people wait to do their estate planning and draft a Will until they absolutely have to, which is often after they have children, get married, buy a house, start a significant business or have a spouse or family member convince them of its importance. If nothing sudden or significant has happened such as the birth of a child, divorce, marriage, death of a family member, change in jobs, or change in your balance sheet or assets, then a good benchmark for reviewing your estate plan is once every five years. Otherwise, it’s a healthy habit to do a general review once a year.
- Revisit Tax Withholding. Changes in dependents, income and marital status can all affect your tax bill. Use the IRS’s withholding calculator to ensure you’re withholding enough—but not too much.
- Check your credit reports. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, each of the national credit-reporting agencies is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, upon request, once every 12 months. Get yours at annualcreditreport.com.
- Review your insurance needs. Make sure your loved ones and the things you’ve worked so hard for are protected. Ensure that there are no gaps in your home, auto, business insurance coverage.
Resolve to get take care of your financial health in the new year. To get assistance with a complete, holistic review of your financial plan, contact a CIG Capital Advisor to schedule a brief introductory call today.
Charitable trusts and the difference between a charitable lead trust and a charitable remainder trust
For many of us, philanthropy can provide great personal satisfaction. However, when properly planned for, charitable giving can provide financial benefits both today (as an income tax deduction and/or capital gains tax shelter) and in the future (when the amount of taxes your estate may owe when you die can be reduced).
There are many ways to give to charity. A common vehicle for many families is a charitable trust, where a charity is named as the sole beneficiary. You may name a non-charitable beneficiary as well, splitting the beneficial interest (this is referred to as making a partial charitable gift). The most common types of trusts used to make partial gifts to charity are the charitable lead trust and the charitable remainder trust.
What is a charitable lead trust?
A charitable lead trust pays income to a charity for a certain period of years, and then the trust principal passes back to you, your family members, or other heirs. The trust is known as a charitable lead trust because the charity gets the first, or lead, interest. A charitable lead trust can be an excellent estate planning vehicle if you own assets that you expect will substantially appreciate in value. If created properly, a charitable lead trust allows you to keep an asset in the family and still enjoy some tax benefits.
SOURCE: Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017
What is a charitable remainder trust?
A charitable remainder trust is the mirror image of the charitable lead trust. Trust income is payable to you, your family members, or other heirs for a period of years, then the principal goes to your favorite charity. A charitable remainder trust can be beneficial because it provides you with a stream of current income — a desirable feature if there won’t be enough income from other sources.
SOURCE: Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017
Note: There are expenses and fees associated with the creation of a trust. Please speak to your financial and/or tax professional to understand the cost and tax implications of your particular giving situation.