Be Your Child’s Wealth Management Coach

Be-your-child’s-wealth-management-coach

If you’ve worked a lifetime to build a large estate, you undoubtedly would like to leave a lasting legacy to your children and future generations. Educate your children about saving, investing, and other money management skills. Be your child’s wealth management coach and help keep your legacy alive.

Tailor your techniques

There’s no one right way to teach your children about money. The best way depends on your circumstances, their personalities, and your comfort level.

If your kids are old enough, consider sending them to a money management class. For younger children, you might start by simply giving them an allowance in exchange for doing household chores. This helps teach them the value of work. And, after they spend the money all in one place a few times and don’t have anything left for something they really want, they (hopefully) will learn the value of saving. Opening a savings account or a Certificate of Deposit (CD), or buying bonds, can help teach kids about investing and the power of compounding.

For families that are charitably inclined, a private foundation can be a vehicle for teaching children about the joys of giving and the impact wealth can make beyond one’s family. For this strategy to be effective, children should have some input into the foundation’s activities.

Timing and amounts of distributions

Many parents take an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to the timing and amounts of distributions to their children — either transferring substantial amounts of wealth all at once or making gifts that are too small to provide meaningful lessons.

Consider making distributions large enough so that your kids have something significant to lose, but not so large that their entire inheritance is at risk. For example, if your child’s trust is worth $2 million, consider having the trust distribute $200,000 when your son or daughter reaches age 21. This amount is large enough to provide a meaningful test run of your child’s financial responsibility while safeguarding the bulk of the nest egg.

Introduce incentives, but remain flexible

An incentive trust is one that rewards children for doing things that they might not otherwise do. Such a trust can be an effective estate planning tool, but there’s a fine line between encouraging positive behavior and controlling your children’s life choices. A trust that’s too restrictive may incite rebellion or invite lawsuits.

Incentives can be valuable, however, if the trust is flexible enough to allow a child to chart his or her own course. A so-called “principle trust,” for example, gives the trustee discretion to make distributions based on certain guiding principles or values without limiting beneficiaries to narrowly defined goals. But no matter how carefully designed, an incentive trust won’t teach your children critical money skills.

Communication is key

Be your child’s wealth management coach as an effective way to educate him or her about money early on. And to maintain family harmony when leaving a large portion of your estate to your children, clearly communicate the reasons for your decisions. Contact your estate planning advisor for more information.

About the author

Brady is the owner of Ramsay & Associates. He specializes in financial statement preparation and personal, fiduciary and corporate tax and accounting.

His professional experience includes seven years' experience for local and national CPA firms before joining Ramsay & Associates in 2006.

He has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Minnesota Society of CPA's, an Eagle Scout, as well as an active volunteer in the community.

Is Your Estate Plan Up to Date Following a Divorce?

Is your estate plan up to date following a divorce?

If you’ve recently divorced, your time likely has been consumed with attorney meetings and negotiations, even if everything was amicable. Probably the last thing you want to do is review your estate plan. But you owe it to yourself and your children to make the necessary updates to reflect your current situation.

Keep assets in your control

The good news is that a divorce generally extinguishes your spouse’s rights under your will or any trusts. So, there’s little danger that your ex-spouse will inherit your property outright, even if those documents haven’t been revised yet. If you have minor children, however, your ex-spouse might have more control over your wealth than you’d like.

Generally, property inherited by minors is held by a custodian until they reach the age of majority in the state where they reside (usually age 18, but in some states it’s age 21). In some cases, a surviving parent — perhaps your ex-spouse — may act as custodian. In such a case, your ex-spouse will have considerable discretion in determining how your assets are invested and spent while the children are minors.

One way to avoid this result is to create one or more trusts for the benefit of your children. With a trust, you can appoint the person who’ll be responsible for managing assets and making distributions to your children. It’s the trustee of your choosing — not your ex-spouse’s.

Consider a variety of trusts

As part of the post-divorce estate planning process, you might include a variety of trusts, including, but not limited to a:

Living trust.

With a revocable living trust, you can arrange for the transfer of selected assets to designated beneficiaries. This trust type typically is exempt from the probate process and is often used to complement a will.

Credit shelter trust.

This trust type typically is used to maximize estate tax benefits when you have children from a prior marriage, and you also want to provide financial security for a new spouse. Essentially, the trust maximizes the benefits of the estate tax exemption.
Irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT). If you transfer ownership of life insurance policies to an ILIT, the proceeds generally are removed from your taxable estate. Furthermore, your family may use part of the proceeds to pay estate costs.

Qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust.

A QTIP trust is often used after divorces and remarriages. The surviving spouse receives income from the trust while the beneficiaries — typically, children from a first marriage — are entitled to the remainder when the surviving spouse dies.

Make the necessary revisions

If you’re currently in the middle of a divorce, contact us to help you make the necessary revisions to your estate plan, as well as to discuss changing the titling or the beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies and joint tenancy accounts.

About the author

Brady is the owner of Ramsay & Associates. He specializes in financial statement preparation and personal, fiduciary and corporate tax and accounting.

His professional experience includes seven years' experience for local and national CPA firms before joining Ramsay & Associates in 2006.

He has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Minnesota Society of CPA's, an Eagle Scout, as well as an active volunteer in the community.

Opportunities and Challenges: Valuation in the Age of COVID-19

Valuation and estate planning go hand in hand. After all, the tax implications of various estate planning strategies depend on the value of your assets at the time they’re transferred.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the value of many business interests and other assets, which may create some attractive estate planning opportunities. It also presents unique challenges for valuation professionals. As a result, it’s more important than ever to involve experienced valuation experts in the estate planning process.

What are the opportunities?

With the value of many assets depressed (in many or most cases temporarily), now may be an ideal time to gift them, either directly to family members or to irrevocable trusts and other estate planning vehicles. Transferring assets while values are low also allows you to use as little of your gift and estate tax exemption as possible, maximizing the amount available for future gifts or bequests. As the economy fully recovers and assuming your asset values rebound, your beneficiaries should enjoy substantial growth outside your taxable estate.

What are the challenges?

The pandemic has created a situation that’s truly uncharted territory for the valuation profession. Unlike other economic crises in recent years, most of the damage to the economy resulted from business closures and restrictions and other measures designed to help contain the virus.

For business valuations, the current environment presents several challenges, including:

Known or knowable. A fair market valuation generally doesn’t consider “subsequent events” — that is, events that occur after, and weren’t “known or knowable” on the valuation date. Experts generally agree that the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t known or knowable as of December 31, 2019. Yet for valuation dates after that, determining whether the pandemic was known or knowable and should be considered in valuing a business or other asset can be a formidable task.

Valuation approaches. Generally, valuators consider all three of the major valuation approaches: the income, market and asset approaches. The pandemic may affect the relative appropriateness of each approach and the amount of weight they should be assigned.

For example, market-based methods, which rely on data about actual transactions involving comparable businesses, may be less relevant today if the underlying transactions predate COVID-19 (although it may be possible to adjust to reflect the pandemic’s impact).

Many valuators are emphasizing income-based methods, such as the discounted cash flow (DCF) method, which involves projecting a business’s future cash flows over a defined period (such as five years) and discounting them to present value. The advantage of DCF is that it provides a great deal of flexibility to model a business’s expected financial performance based on current conditions as well as assumptions about its eventual return to “normal” over the next several years.

Regardless of the method or methods used, it’s important for valuators to consider a business’s available cash and expected cash needs to assess its viability as a going concern. These considerations will be critical in evaluating a business’s risk and the impact of that risk on value.

What’s it worth?

Depressed asset values can create attractive estate planning opportunities. While the pandemic has dropped the value of some assets, others haven’t been affected or have even increased in value. Contact us with questions regarding the valuation of your assets.

About the author

Brady is the owner of Ramsay & Associates. He specializes in financial statement preparation and personal, fiduciary and corporate tax and accounting.

His professional experience includes seven years' experience for local and national CPA firms before joining Ramsay & Associates in 2006.

He has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Minnesota Society of CPA's, an Eagle Scout, as well as an active volunteer in the community.

Don’t Choose Your Executor Too Hastily

choosing-an-executor

Haste makes waste. Or, in the case of estate planning, it can lead to other problems and, possibly, financial loss. Notably, if you don’t take enough time to choose the best executor for your estate, this “wrong call” can cost your family.

Many responsibilities

You may think that there’s not much to the job, but an executor’s responsibilities are extensive. As your personal representative, he or she will be entrusted with several significant duties, including collecting, protecting and taking inventory of your estate’s assets; filing the estate’s tax return and paying its taxes; handling creditors’ claims and the estate’s claims against others; making investment decisions; distributing property to beneficiaries; and liquidating assets, if necessary.

Whom should you choose as executor? Usually, it comes down to a decision between a family member or close friend and a professional.

Your first thought might be to choose a family member or a trusted friend. But this may be a mistake for one of these reasons:

  • The person may be too grief-stricken to function effectively,
  • If the executor stands to gain from the will, there may be a conflict of interest — real or perceived — which can lead to will contests or other disputes by disgruntled family members,
  • The executor may lack the financial acumen needed for the position,
  • The executor may hire any necessary professionals, but they might not be the professionals you’d hire.

To avoid these risks, you might instead consider choosing an independent professional as executor, particularly if the professional is familiar with your financial affairs.

Form a team of executors

Finally, it’s common to appoint co-executors — one person who knows the family and understands its dynamics and an independent executor with the requisite expertise. Whether you decide to use co-executors or only one, be sure to designate at least one backup to serve in the event that your first choice is unable to do so. Contact us with questions about choosing an executor.

About the author

Brady is the owner of Ramsay & Associates. He specializes in financial statement preparation and personal, fiduciary and corporate tax and accounting.

His professional experience includes seven years' experience for local and national CPA firms before joining Ramsay & Associates in 2006.

He has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Minnesota Society of CPA's, an Eagle Scout, as well as an active volunteer in the community.

The Tax Score of Winning

tax score of winning

Studies have found that more people are engaging in online gambling and sports betting since the pandemic began. And there are still more traditional ways to gamble and play the lottery. If you’re lucky enough to win, be aware that tax consequences go along with your good fortune.

Review the tax rules

Whether you win online or at a casino, a bingo hall, a fantasy sports event, or elsewhere, you must report 100% of your winnings as taxable income. They’re reported on the “Other income” line of your 1040 tax return. To measure your winnings on a particular wager, use the net gain. For example, if a $30 bet at the racetrack turns into a $110 win, you’ve won $80, not $110.

You must separately keep track of losses. They’re deductible, but only as itemized deductions. Therefore, if you don’t itemize and take the standard deduction, you can’t deduct gambling losses. In addition, gambling losses are only deductible up to the amount of gambling winnings. Therefore, you can use losses to “wipe out” gambling income but you can’t show a gambling tax loss.

Maintain good records of your losses during the year. Keep a diary in which you indicate the date, place, amount, and type of loss, as well as the names of anyone who was with you. Save all documentation, such as checks or credit slips.

Hitting a lottery jackpot

The odds of winning the lottery are slim. But if you don’t follow the tax rules after winning, the chances of hearing from the IRS are much higher.

Lottery winnings are taxable. This is the case for cash prizes and for the fair market value of any noncash prizes, such as a car or vacation. Depending on your other income and the amount of your winnings, your federal tax rate may be as high as 37%. You may also be subject to state income tax.

You report lottery winnings as income in the year, or years, you actually receive them. In the case of noncash prizes, this would be the year the prize is received. With cash, if you take the winnings in annual installments, you only report each year’s installment as income for that year.

If you win more than $5,000 in the lottery or certain types of gambling, 24 % must be withheld for federal tax purposes. You’ll receive a Form W-2G from the payer showing the amount paid to you and the federal tax withheld. (The payer also sends this information to the IRS.) If state tax withholding is withheld, that amount may also be shown on Form W-2G.

Since the federal tax rate can currently be up to 37%, which is well above the 24% withheld, the withholding may not be enough to cover your federal tax bill. Therefore, you may have to make estimated tax payments — and you may be assessed a penalty if you fail to do so. In addition, you may be required to make state and local estimated tax payments.

Talk with us

If you’re fortunate enough to win a sizable amount of money, there are other issues to consider, including estate planning. This article only covers the basic tax rules. Different rules apply to people who qualify as professional gamblers. Contact us with questions. We can help you minimize taxes and stay in compliance with all requirements.

About the author

Brady is the owner of Ramsay & Associates. He specializes in financial statement preparation and personal, fiduciary and corporate tax and accounting.

His professional experience includes seven years' experience for local and national CPA firms before joining Ramsay & Associates in 2006.

He has a Bachelor of Accounting degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Minnesota Society of CPA's, an Eagle Scout, as well as an active volunteer in the community.