Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Don't Leave Your Legacy To Chance

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Wed, May 18, 2011

If you are a Baby Boomer who has worked hard, accumulated significant assets, support charitable causes, and plan to continue working through “retirement,” you are not alone! And you won’t be particularly surprised by the findings of a recently released survey by US Trust: Insights on Wealth and Worth. The survey was conducted earlier this year, with 457 high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals, with $3 million or more in investable assets. The survey found a distinct generational mindset among the wealthy – many of whom are Baby Boomers, self-made, first generation wealthy who achieved financial success on their own.

You are probably familiar with some of these insights found by the survey:

  • Nearly half of these wealthy individuals plan to continue working into “retirement,” many starting a second career or new business.
  • Many also want to be able to travel – possibly “going mobile” with their business, perhaps even into retirement?
  • Many wealthy Americans want to give back to their communities and support charitable causes, and they may need professional legal advice to fulfill those ideals.
  • Few have the type of comprehensive estate planning in place that matches the complexity of their estate, their finances and their estate planning goals.

That last insight, about few people having the type of comprehensive estate planning they really need, may come as a surprise. I see this in my practice every day. Just because you have a simple will in place or believe the federal estate tax will not affect you, does not mean you have adequately met your estate planning needs. Some common “gaps” that turned up in the US Trust survey include:

  • No living will or health care directive
  • No durable financial power of attorney
  • No revocable living trust
  • Inadequate planning for life insurance
  • No charitable planning, despite charitable intent
  • No written plan for the distribution of personal property
  • No business succession plan.

If you saw yourself in the first paragraphs of this post, you likely saw yourself again in the last few. If you don’t take action, then you are leaving your legacy to chance.  

To learn more about protecting your legacy, attend a free, educational Trust, Estate & Asset Protection Workshop. Register online or call 800-964-4295.

Tags: Retirement, Estate Planning, Baby Boomers, durable power of attorney, living will, trusts, power of attorney, will, legacy, Business Succession Planning, Charitable Giving

New Estate Tax Law Gives Family Businesses Great Opportunity

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Fri, Mar 04, 2011

The new estate tax law, in effect this year and next, offers a unique opportunity to family business owners who want to pass their business on to the next generation. As a recent Wall Street Journal Article points out, taking advantage of the low gift tax levels (while you still can) could save your family business a hefty amount in potential estate taxes. But transferring ownership can raise complicated succession and estate planning issues that you should consider carefully before giving away any stock.

The recent tax law changes brought the gift tax threshold up to $5 million for an individual and to $10 million for couples in 2011 and 2012. Yes, that means you can give away that much now, without incurring a penny in gift tax. But, since this law is in effect for only two years, you’ll have a narrow window of opportunity and thorny decisions to make quickly.

While you can transfer ownership without necessarily giving up control, you will have to make some difficult decisions, including: who will eventually lead the business, how to treat non-business family members fairly, and how to fund your own retirement.

The answers to those questions will help determine which estate planning techniques make the most sense for your family, and your family business. Whatever your ultimate goals, now is the time to start exploring your options. There are large sums of money at stake, and only a short time to seize this opportunity.

You can learn more about business succession issues on the Business Exit Planning on our website, as well as pages on Family Owned Businesses and Tax Planning Strategies

Tags: 2011, gift tax, estate tax, estate tax savings, Tax Savings, New estate tax law, Business Succession Planning

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