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Estate Taxes on Life Insurance & Life Insurance Trusts (“ILITs”)

October 17, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Estate Taxes,ILIT,ILITs,Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts,Life Insurance,Life Insurance Policies — Tags: , , — Neel Shah @ 1:18 am

Many Americans may be unaware of what an irrevocable life insurance trust (“ILIT”) is, let alone the benefits it may provide to them.

Typically, life insurance policy proceeds are not subject to income taxation. However, they are included in the calculation of a person’s gross taxable estate. This is where the ILIT comes in. If a person puts their life insurance policy into an ILIT, the proceeds of the policy are kept out of his or her taxable estate. The proceeds will therefore be available to his or her heirs free of income and estate tax.

Additionally, ILITs are a great way to provide cash to help pay for the taxes that will be levied on your estate. Beneficiaries of your ILIT can use some of the proceeds to pay the taxes owed on your estate. By doing this, your actual estate is kept in tact. This strategy is especially beneficial to those whose estate consists largely of illiquid assets such as a business or real estate. Through setting up an ILIT, you can ensure that your family will not have to sell the illiquid assets in your estate in order to satisfy the estate taxes.

Call us at 732-521-9455 or email at info@LawEsq.net to discuss the right way to own your life insurance.

Do you feel lucky? What is a Quick Draw Buy-Sell Agreement?

April 30, 2014

Filed under: Finances,Income Tax Planning,Inheritance Taxes,Insurance,Life Insurance,Small Business Owner,Taxes — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Neel Shah @ 8:52 am

Many business owners have a buy-sell arrangement set up for the future. It’s helpful to draw out these directions in advance, especially when there is the potential that future owners or part-owners might get gridlocked with one another. In these situations, buy-sell directions can help disputing parties move forward.

Do you feel lucky What is a Quick Draw Buy-Sell Agreement

It’s possible that you’ve already heard about a shotgun buy-sell arrangement, but a quick draw agreement is a bit different. Under a shotgun, the offering individual stipulates a price. The offerree then has the option to buy those shares or to sell their own shares to the offeror. The exact timing isn’t a major issue in this situation, since the offeree retains the option to either buy or sell. In some ways, this can even be seen as a disincentive to pull the trigger.

All that changes under a quick draw arrangement. Under a quick draw, either side can provide a notice to purchase the other’s shares at a price that is determined through an appraisal process. This can happen after a contractually defined “trigger event”, but the timing of the trigger pull is essential in quick draw. Simply put, timing is everything.

Under quick draw, buyer and seller designation is determined simply by who submits their notice to purchase the other’s shares first. A difference of even just minutes can determine who gets to buy and who gets to sell. This complex process was recently held up in Mintz v Pazer, in which the judge supported this out of the box buy-sell arrangement.

If you’d like to learn more about your buy-sell options and put a plan for the future in motion today, reach out to us at 732-521-9455 or email us at info@lawesq.net

Discuss Finances Before Saying ‘I Do’

April 2, 2014

Filed under: Beneficiaries,Estate Planning,Finances,Life Insurance — Neel Shah @ 10:00 am

If you or someone you know is planning a wedding anytime soon, there are many things to consider. One of the most important of which is finances. You must discuss money with your future spouse, even if doesn’t sound romantic.

English: A Catholic wedding ceremony in Milwau...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Talking about finances is at least as important as discussing the reception or honeymoon. Maybe more important.

Talking about finances — budgets, insurance, savings and so forth — could be critical to ensuring a happy marriage, says a story on cnbc.com.

Setting a specific time to sit down and talk about how you want to organize your finances after marriage is key. Will you have joint checking accounts or separate ones? Who is going to manage the money and pay the bills? These are just some of the questions that must be asked.

It is also critical to set a budget and put your expenses and financial goals down on paper. It is important that each partner be okay with the other’s spending habits.

If there are disagreements, the couple may want to obtain the advice of a marriage counselor or financial advisor.

Other areas to discuss are life insurance ( a “must” for most couples, according to the article); debt, if there is any;  disability insurance; homeowners insurance; health insurance; and an estate plan, or at least a plan to designate beneficiaries in case of one’s death.

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For the Newbies: Four Estate Planning Tips For Beginners

January 2, 2014

Filed under: Estate Planning,Guardianship,Life Insurance,Wills — Neel Shah @ 2:35 pm

Estate planning is often a difficult topic to approach. Not only is it difficult for many people to discuss the reality of their own mortality, but the process of estate planning can quickly become confusing and overwhelming. If you have not prepared your estate plan yet, a recent article offers four steps to take care of most of your planning needs:

1. Prepare a Master Information Document: A master information document should include all of the information your executor will need in order to locate and settle your accounts. This document is simple to create, and will save your executor from the nightmare of an unorganized estate. Importantly, be sure to keep this document in a safe place so that it does not fall into the wrong hands.
2. Consider Purchasing Life Insurance:  Life insurance is an important estate-planning tool for anyone who leaves behind dependents. The proceeds can keep a person who relies on your income from financial ruin.
3. Draft a Will that Considers Important Possessions:  If you have any items that carry a sentimental or financial value, chances are you will want to dictate who receives that item after your death. Additionally, if you do not account for the distribution of such items, you may trigger a feud among your family members.
4. Designate a Guardian for Any Minor Children: If you have minor children, guardian designation is the single most important part of your estate plan. Carefully select the person you would trust to care for your children should you become unable to do so and discuss your designation with that person before putting it in your will.

How to Plan for, or Avoid, Transfer Taxes

December 12, 2013

Filed under: Estate Taxes,Family Limited Partnerships,Family LLCs,Gift Taxes,Inheritance Taxes,Life Insurance,Trusts — Neel Shah @ 9:00 am

As a recent article suggests, estate planning encompasses a lot more than most people would think. Not only does estate planning allow you to structure the final distribution of your assets upon your death, but it also allows you to provide for the management of your assets during life, plan for the care of your children, and make important decisions about what kind of medical care you would like to receive at the end of your life. Although estate planning encompasses all of these things, most people come to the table with an overwhelming goal of avoiding transfer taxes, namely Estate Taxes, Inheritance Taxes and Gift Taxes.

There are plenty of ways that estate planning can be used to minimize the tax liability an estate will face after the owner’s death. In many situations, it is possible to plan for zero estate taxes. Some strategies involve giving up control of certain assets. For example, a person could zero out their tax liability by setting up a charitable trust. Others, such as Family LLCs (FLLCs) and Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs) allow owners to maintain more control..

For the ultra-wealthy, there are many sophisticated asset transfer mechanisms that can be used to avoid transfer taxes. These mechanisms include foreign grantor trusts, dynasty trusts and private placement trusts. Again, these mechanisms often mean that a person has limited or no access to the assets within the trusts.

For those who want to maintain full control of their assets, life insurance is another way to provide money for anticipated taxes. These policies are often used to provide quick cash for a person’s heirs to pay any taxes and fees on the estate.

When Considering Life Insurance

October 31, 2013

Filed under: Estate Planning,Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts,Life Insurance,Life Insurance Policies — Neel Shah @ 9:00 am

Life insurance is a simple concept. A person takes out a policy in order to provide funds to his or her loved ones upon his or her death. However, life insurance can get complicated by the various products that life insurance companies offer. A recent article attempts to assist insurance customers in understanding how to make good decisions concerning their life insurance.

The article first suggests that people consider life insurance as financial plan insurance. The term itself is rather misleading, considering that life insurance cannot bring you back once you have passed on. Rather, life insurance provides for the financial future of your loved ones.

Here is one rule of thumb: when purchasing life insurance, first calculate how much money you believe your family would need to live comfortably without you. Factor in any mortgage or car payments, college tuition for children, and supplemental income. When you have factored in all of these assets, consider how long your family will have these specific needs. Often, a level term policy that expires at the same time that your working career would be over is the best option.

Life insurance replaces your income, so consider how long of a working career you believe you will have. For example, if you plan on retiring at age 65, calculate your income until that date. After which, there is no anticipated income to protect.

Wait, I Did What?!?! Are You Second-Guessing Your ILIT?

October 1, 2013

Filed under: Estate Planning,Estate Taxes,Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts,Life Insurance,Trusts — Neel Shah @ 2:40 pm

Many Americans let out a sigh of relief when the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was finally signed into law. The signing of the act put an end to much of the uncertainty that previously surrounded estate planning where taxes are concerned. As a recent article explains, one consequence of this newfound certainty is that individuals who planned meticulously in order to avoid death taxes are now attempting to back-pedal .

One product that many individuals are now second-guessing is the Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (“ILIT”). As the term “irrevocable” implies, ILITs are relatively inflexible. However, there are certain ways through which estate-planning attorneys can soften the terms of an ILIT.

Options such as adding a spousal access clause, adding a special trustee clause, or increasing the discretionary power of the trustee allow the trust creator to exercise more control over the trust. Some state governments have also attempted to make ILITs flexible by enacting “decanting” statutes that provide for the transfer of assets from an old ILIT to a new, less restrictive one.

If you would like to modify or revoke your ILIT, it is important to examine the originating documents carefully. Be sure to consider the legal, tax, financial, and insurance components of any planned adjustment. Importantly, any changes to your trust should comply with its terms and make financial sense.

 

Advantages Of An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

May 8, 2013

Filed under: Estate Planning,Estate Taxes,Inheritance,Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts,Life Insurance,Trusts — Neel Shah @ 6:02 pm

Many Americans may be unaware of what an irrevocable life insurance trust (“ILIT”) is, let alone the benefits it may provide to them. A recent article discusses several of the benefits offered by ILITs.

Typically, life insurance policy proceeds are not subject to income taxation. However, they are included in the calculation of a person’s gross taxable estate. This is where the ILIT comes in. If a person puts their life insurance policy into an ILIT, the proceeds of the policy are kept out of his or her taxable estate. The proceeds will therefore be available to his or her heirs free of income and estate tax.

Additionally, ILITs are a great way to provide cash to help pay for the taxes that will be levied on your estate. Beneficiaries of your ILIT can use some of the proceeds to pay the taxes owed on your estate. By doing this, your actual estate is kept in tact. This strategy is especially beneficial to those whose estate consists largely of illiquid assets such as a business or real estate. Through setting up an ILIT, you can ensure that your family will not have to sell the illiquid assets in your estate in order to satisfy the estate taxes.

Equalizing Inheritance for Your Children

February 13, 2013

Filed under: Business Planning,Business Succession Planning,Estate Planning,Inheritance,Life Insurance — Neel Shah @ 2:15 pm

When one estate planner hears his business-owning clients say, “I love my kids equally, so I want to share my assets equally,” what he actually hears is, “I don’t know how to handle this, so when I’m gone, I’ll leave the business to the kids and let them sort it all out.”

The article in Forbes goes on to state that clients who truly want their business to continue to grow and thrive after their death, but also want their children to succeed in whatever career path they have chosen, should speak with an estate planning attorney about logically equalizing their children’s inheritance.

One potential method of inheritance equalization is through life insurance. Using this strategy, one can set up their estate plan so that, upon their death the children who would like to take an active role in the family business inherit your stock in the business, while those children who have chosen another career path receive monetary inheritance equivalent to the value of the stock through life insurance death benefits and other non-business assets you hold at the time of death.

Through inheritance equalization, parents can create equal and equitable transfers to the next generation.

 

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Using a Flexible Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust to Shelter Life-Insurance Proceeds

January 23, 2013

Filed under: Estate Planning,Estate Taxes,Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts,Life Insurance,Trusts — Neel Shah @ 2:01 pm

Many people do not realize that life insurance proceeds are in fact taxed. Although these proceeds escape income taxes, they ARE  counted as part of your taxable estate. An article in The Wall Street Journal discusses one way to shelter such proceeds from estate taxes, the Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust.

In order to avoid such tax consequences, you may choose to transfer ownership of your existing life insurance policy to an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (“ILIT”). By transferring such ownership, the ILIT is removed from your estate. Once established, an ILIT also allows you to split death benefits among several beneficiaries any way you wish. You also retain the power to decide how and when the benefits will be distributed to your heirs.

If you believe that an ILIT is right for you, you should act sooner, rather than later. Existing policies transferred to ILITs are subject to a three-year look-back period, meaning that if you die within three years of its creation, your life insurance proceeds will revert back to your name and be included within your taxable estate (Although this is not the case for new policies purchased directly by the life insurance trust.

An ILIT is usually used for life insurance policies that were set up for the sole benefit of the heirs. If you need to own or access your life insurance policy at anytime, an ILIT may still be a good solution for you, but it must be drafted with that goal in mind.