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Financial/Estate Planning in the “New America” – An America of higher taxes

– An America of burdensome nontax expenses, like Obamacare

-An America where, while success is still possible, you have to put as much effort into keeping what you earn as you put into earning

So many bad things that happen to people and their families don’t have to happen. But the leaders in the family need to engage good professionals, and be willing to pay for their expert advice.

The “New America”, and its quickly-changing rules, requires a collaborative effort between the professional financial advisor, the estate planning attorney, and the tax professional.

From the financial advisor’s view, the collaboration is required to ensure that the financial plan and its many benefits to the family is not ruined by a life event like incapacity or even death.

From the estate planning attorney’s view, the collaboration is required to ensure that the efficiency created by the documents forming the estate plan is not ruined when clients neglect to coordinate their assets with estate plan.

What this means is the financial advisor needs to help their client engage the correct attorney to avoid probate and court involvement if the client becomes incapacitated or disabled, and so that the expensive and time consuming probate process is avoided when a client dies. The attorney needs to work directly with the financial advisor to make certain all of a client’s assets are properly coordinated with their estate plan; for example, placing the title ownership of assets into a revocable living trust.

Once the financial plan and the estate plan are in place and operating, both major and minor changes in the tax laws and the efficient operation of the courts have less chance of harming the client or their family or derailing the financial plan.

Why not simply give your assets away to your loved ones while you are living? For most Americans, gift taxes will not be an issue . . . but for the people receiving the gifts, capital gains taxes, which could be avoided through inheritance, will be an issue. Also, when you give something away, you lose control of it, even to careless behavior by the people who you give it to. An example: a widow puts her son on title to her house; then he is sued, and his interest in the house is seized. Or, perhaps he puts his wife’s name on title as well, and she leaves him, getting some of the widow’s house in the divorce.

Financial/Estate Planning in the “New America”, Page 1 of 2

What blind spots are people not seeing in their retirement? First, they don’t realize how long they will live, and are facing outliving their resources. Second, many married couples are not ‘on the same page’ about their retirement plans and expectations; in fact, they’ve never even discussed their post-retirement plans with each other beyond the mere numbers. Estate planning attorneys also see a dangerous ‘set it and forget it’ attitude about estate plans, where clients neglect keeping their new and changing assets coordinated with the estate plan. Further, many people neglect updating their documents as their lives change.

Finally, when evaluating risks, skilled planners are suggesting three things. First, obtain a good estate plan from a qualified attorney! Second, the investment risk should pass the ‘sleep test’ – which is simply asking a client, “Can you sleep at night with the level of risk taken by your financial plan?” Finally, people need to be educated by their advisors about what they actually own, and those people need to be open to spending the time it takes to receive that knowledge.

In spite of the challenges faced by people in the “New America”, they can work with skilled and trusted professionals to minimize the effect of those challenges on your life, and avoid many of the bad things that could happen to their families.


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Leading the industry through his innovative approach, Dino Katsiametis has over 17 years of extensive experience within mortgage, banking and real estate industries. His passion for the collective financial and investment services sector combined with his distinct insight, has catapulted Money Matters with Dino onto the forefront of financial news.

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