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Not only can gifting assets to your grandchildren help them get a better start in life financially, but it can also help you by reducing the size of your estate and the tax due after you pass away.

An outright gift to each grandchild may be the simplest way to do this, and you can give them up to $16,000 a year (in 2022) before having to report your gifts. Also, if you are married, you and your spouse can both give gifts of up to this amount (bringing it up to $32,000 that could be given to each grandchild) without gift tax implications. These gifts also do not count as taxable income, although earnings will be taxed if these gifts are invested. However, keep in mind that gifts can have an effect on Medicaid eligibility.

You may be hesitant to give outright gifts to your grandchildren, especially if you wish for this money to be used in certain ways. If that’s the case, here are some options to consider:

If you are one of an increasing number of people with cryptocurrencies or noncurrency blockchain tokens, you’ll want to make sure to include these assets in your estate plan so that your heirs know about them and are able to access them. Crypto assets have unique qualities that need to be taken into consideration for estate planning.

First, you’ll need to make sure your heirs know that these assets exist and where they are kept, whether in a cold storage device (such as a USB drive) or in hot storage (such as in an online digital wallet). They typically have no account statements, and your heirs may not be aware that you have crypto assets unless you include them in your estate planning documents.

Next is the challenge of how these assets are transferred. Crypto assets are accessed using a private key which may be 64 digits long and is used to sign transactions by one’s digital wallet. This private key is all your heirs need to access your crypto assets, and these heirs may not need to be appointed executor of your estate to take control of these accounts. If your heirs or fiduciary aren’t left with the private key, though, it’s likely those funds would be forever lost.

Although people typically want the inheritance a loved one leaves behind for them, there are some situations where an inheritance may be unwanted. In these cases, you need to disclaim the inheritance.

Instead of feeling honored by an inheritance, some people may feel burdened by it for reasons such as:

·        Taxes. If the inheritance brings your estate above the estate tax exemption amount, under current federal rules, your estate would be taxed at 40 percent after you pass away.

There may be specific items that you leave for certain family members and loved ones in your will, including some of your most prized items and collectibles. Those possessions that are left over can be covered by a standard “residuary clause” in your will.

A residuary clause is a provision in a will to pass the residue of your estate to designated beneficiaries. This covers all of your stuff that you don’t list as specific gifts. You may decide to leave the residue of your estate to your spouse, or you may divide it evenly among your children if your spouse predeceases you. Often, a residuary clause included in one’s will determines how a large part of their estate is distributed.

A residuary clause ensures that all of your possessions that aren’t specifically addressed in your estate, including both known and unknown assets, will pass according to your wishes. Without a residuary clause, you may forget a valuable asset, or the designated recipient of a gift may die before you, and these items would pass under intestacy laws of the applicable jurisdiction.

Having a pet brings many people joy and provides them with a living creature to take care of and to provide companionship. Unfortunately, pets are often overlooked in people’s plans for incapacity or death.

The types of animals that one has as well of the needs of those animals should be considered carefully when preparing a last will and testament or trust. The responsibility of caring for a small indoor pet is very different from that of a large barnyard animal.

When considering a potential caregiver for your animals, you’ll want to make sure this person has the desire, ability, and available space to take good care of your pets. Also consider the other people who live in their home, taking into account their like or dislike of animals and if anyone in the house may be allergic to the types of pets you have. Also, does this person already have other animals? Someone who already has pets may have a better idea of the time and money needed to take care of your animals, but it may be more difficult for everyone to adjust in this case.

The start of a new year is a great time to revisit your estate plan, reflecting on things that may have changed since you last looked at these documents. As we begin the second month of 2022, here are some questions to consider for your estate plan:

Do you have a will, healthcare directive, and power of attorney in place?

If not, when could you set aside time for each of these?

Have you moved from one state or another, or are you currently planning to move to a new state? People change states for a variety of reasons such as a new job, a more pleasant climate, or to live closer to other family members. There are always some hassles you’ll have to deal with when you move to a new state, including finding new medical providers and updating your driver’s license and other documents.

As part of the planning for this type of move, don’t forget to amend your will and other documents that are part of your estate plan. Although it may not be the most urgent matter to address first, be sure not to put it off as the last thing you do (and especially make sure to not delay it indefinitely).

Don’t forget that the laws governing wills and most estate planning documents vary from state to state. Your will remains generally valid, but it’s important to revisit it and see what laws are different in your new state as well as what may have changed for you personally with your new situation. In extreme cases, it is possible for some estate planning documents to be called into question.

We often think of financial planning as a set of distinct practices – including those such as estate planning, investment planning, retirement planning, etc.

But what events typically lead you to reach out to a financial advisor (or, if you are an advisor, when do your clients reach out to you)? A job or career change, marriage, the birth of a child, death, divorce, disability, or other huge life changes. Not many people seek out an advisor because they simply woke up one morning and realized that their asset allocation could be better.

It’s almost always life that leads to any interest in financial planning. Maybe a better way to think of the purpose of financial planning is this:

Although there are a number of valid form wills online or at local office supply stores, a lot of problems can come from creating a will this way without the advice and expertise of an attorney.

With a will that you download, you get a form and perhaps some instructions and choices for things you can fill in or cross out. However, this type of will doesn’t advise you on things such as how to prepare for if someone predeceases you or how best to leave property to someone who is a minor. It also cannot help you with your choice for a personal representative or a guardian for a child.

Although a will can be simple enough to create without the help of an attorney, bad or unanticipated things can come from making a will by yourself. It’s also incredibly important that the document be executed correctly or it likely won’t be considered valid.

Different people grieve in different ways, and sometimes people handle the death of someone they love in ways that are confusing or frustrating, such as fighting over small things like who gets a furniture set.

I’ll write today about no-contest clauses. A no-contest clause is a provision in your will or trust or estate plan imposing a penalty if someone were to challenge it. Common challenges to an estate plan include claims such as lack of capacity, not understanding the estate plan they signed, being influenced by another beneficiary to give them more, or not having the documents witnessed appropriately or notarized.

As an example, say I had one son and one daughter and wanted to leave one of them more of my estate. If I wanted to leave my son 60% and leave my daughter 40% of my estate, I could institute a clause stating that if my daughter challenges the fact that it’s an unequal division, she would get nothing. With this clause as part of the estate plan, she might be encouraged to simply accept her 40% instead of filing a lawsuit to say that the document wasn’t valid or that I was influenced by my son. However, if I were planning to leave nothing for my daughter at all, a no-contest clause isn’t going to help as there is no part of the estate she will potentially lose if she files a lawsuit.