Eight Nontraditional Estate Planning Tips For Finance Pros And Their Clients


Financial advisors have been overseeing estate planning and asset management for their clients for centuries. In recent years, however, the introduction of new asset types and the implementation of new laws has made it necessary for finance pros and their clients to expand their knowledge and stay on top of trends if they want to make the best decisions.

With technology and international law changing the game faster than ever before, finance professionals and their clients may overlook certain important considerations that weren’t on the radar just a few years ago. Below, eight experts from Forbes Finance Council detail some new considerations financial pros and their clients should remember when it comes to estate planning and asset management.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Plan For Estate Tax

Many people make the mistake of thinking their heirs won’t have to pay estate tax because of the $11.4 million exclusion and therefore fail to plan for it. However, this exclusion is set to revert to $5.5 million in 2025 and may go lower depending on the political leanings of Congress. Also, retirement assets are estate-taxable and income-taxable, which can result in cents on the dollar being passed to heirs. – Joe Catanzarite, Catanzarite Financial Services

2. Fund Your Living Trust

After a living trust is prepared by an attorney, you still need to fund the living trust in order to move assets into the trust and avoid probate. A revocable living trust lets you make changes to terms and beneficiaries and move assets in and out. Funding the trust is the act of changing the title on assets to the name of the living trust, such as the beneficiary of life insurance or an individual retirement account (IRA). – David Gass, Anderson Business Advisors, LLC

3. Check Your Options Before Letting Life Insurance Lapse

With the estate tax exemption now north of $11 million for an individual and $22 million for a couple, many seniors are surrendering the life insurance they bought to pay estate taxes back to the carrier. Most seniors’ life insurance is much more valuable as a life settlement transaction, which should be considered and valued as an option before surrendering the policy for little or no return on investment. – Shane McGonnell, Abacus Life

4. Keep Track Of Important Passwords

I think it’s imperative to address digital/cyber assets. Overlooked items include knowing the passwords for online banking, including bill pay and auto withdrawals; mobile devices such as cellphones, laptops, tablets, etc.; email accounts; and social media profiles (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Creating a book to store passwords and knowing wishes in advance can help reduce frustrations. – David Frisch, Frisch Financial Group, Inc.

5. Keep Things Simple

In the past, setting up a series of trusts when a person died was the way to avoid or reduce tax.  However, the current law makes it much easier for most people to avoid the complexity of distributing assets into different legal structures when a loved one dies. – Sandi Bragar, Aspiriant

6. Donate To Favorite Causes

Consider leaving a portion of your estate to causes you believe in. Good organizations can always use your support both while you are alive and upon your death. One simple strategy is to name a charity as a beneficiary of your IRA. This can save your heirs federal and state income tax, which all noncharitable beneficiaries have to pay when taking withdrawals from IRAs they inherit. – Howard Hook, EKS Associates

7. Increase Your Beneficiaries’ Tax-Free Income Through An Inherited Roth

Your family can enjoy tax-free income from an inherited Roth. Beneficiary required minimum distributions start by December 31st of the year after the owner dies and are based on their lifetime. For younger beneficiaries, that could mean decades of tax-free income. Additionally, you/your client’s tax bracket may be lower than the beneficiaries’, so paying taxes now may leave a larger nest egg for the future. – Greg Kniss, KROST CPAs & Consultants

8. Consider a Trust Protector

Change is constant, but once you die your trust language is more than likely permanent. A trust protector can help you maintain the intent of your trust even after you pass on. Powers that can be given to a trust protector include making amendments to the trust as a result of a change in the law, resolving disputes between multiple trustees, removing and replacing a trustee, and more. – Jeffrey Burg, Dobrusin Burg

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