Author: wfcadmin

New End of Life Law

Medical/Physician’s Orders for Scope of Treatment

Kentucky and Indiana (Ohio Pending)

Did you know that in the last month of life over 50% of Americans go to the emergency room and that 50% to 75% of them get admitted? However, some people might not want to spend the last month of their lives in a hospital. Hospitalization is expensive and usually not considered an ideal place to die. You can avoid these unwanted end of life experiences through proper advance care planning.

The newest tool for advance care planning is medical or physician’s orders for scope of treatment. Nationally this new tool is being referred to as a POLST, which stands for Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment.  The National POLST Paradigm is an organization started in Oregon that helps push for the adoption of medical order documents across the country. Over 22 states have endorsed the POLST program, and 25 others are developing similar programs. Kentucky and Indiana are two such states. In Kentucky, these documents are known as MOST or Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment. In Indiana, they are known as POST or Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment. However, Ohio has not been successful in passing a POLST initiative. Ohio’s MOLST (Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) bill has passed the Ohio Senate and has been referred to committee in the House. These documents go by a few different names depending on the state, but generally, they do the same thing.

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ABLE Accounts

Last month we told you about Special Needs Trusts, which are an important tool in planning for the support and care of a disabled person. Today, we will continue that conversation and tell you a little about how you can use both a Special Needs Trust and an ABLE Account to plan for the support and care of a disabled person.

ABLE Accounts have been talked about on our blog in the past, but here is a little refresher. ABLE Accounts are available in both Kentucky and Ohio, through the National Achieving a Better Life Experience (“ABLE’) Act. ABLE Accounts allow for a disabled person to save and invest money without losing eligibility for certain public benefits programs, like Medicaid, SSI, or SSDI. Additionally, earnings in your ABLE Account are not subject to federal income tax, so long as you spend them on “Qualified Disability Expenses.” Some examples of “Qualified Expenses” include education, housing, transportation, employment support, health prevention and wellness, assistive technology and personal support. However, ABLE Accounts have limited deposits of $15,000 a year, lifetime funding limits, and a medicaid payback provision. Additionally, the onset of the disability must have occurred prior to age 26. These restrictions on ABLE Accounts make planning all the more important.

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Providing For and Protecting a Disabled Child

Do you have your disabled child written into your will? Or are they disinherited and you are relying on their siblings to take care of them? This is potentially problematic and you should consider a Special Needs Trust.

Both of these methods of attempting to care for a disabled child, after your death, have undesirable risk. If your child is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, or other needs-based state or federal government funds, leaving your child assets in your will can cause them to become disqualified for this type of government assistance. If you are disinheriting your disabled child in anticipation that your other children will see to it they are taken care of, you are also taking on risk. The other children do not have any obligation to provide top-notch care for their disabled sibling. One way to eliminate these risks and make sure that your disabled child is provided and protected for long after you are gone, is to set up a Special Needs Trust.

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Top 10 Year End Tax Planning Mistakes

#10 – Failure to rebalance your stock portfolio’s asset allocation and harvest capital losses to minimize 2017 recognized capital gains. Beginning in 2018, under the new tax law proposals, taxpayers will no longer be able to choose stocks with a higher tax basis to sell.

Taxpayers will be required to use the FIFO method, first-in first-out method for identifying the cost basis for stocks being sold. This method usually results in lower cost basis for stock being sold and thus higher taxes! December, 2017 is the last month in which taxpayers have a choice in determining which stocks to sell at a higher tax basis.

#9 – Failure to purchase furniture, equipment, tools, computers and other fixed assets by December 31, 2017. If business owners plan to purchase those assets during the first six months of 2018, they should consider purchasing those assets in December, 2017. In doing so, business owners may save more taxes on those purchases because tax rates for business owners are expected to be lower in 2018.

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Two Common Pitfalls for Traditional IRA Beneficiary Designations in Blended Familis

Baby Boomers Beware!

I have found over the years that many of my baby boomer estate planning clients share the same common facts: (1) their IRAs, 401(k)s, or other qualified retirement accounts are typically their largest asset; and (2) they increasingly have blended families – meaning, they are in their second or third marriage and have children from prior relationships.  Since most baby boomers’ largest assets are their IRAs, they need to be careful when designating their beneficiaries for these accounts.  This becomes especially important when the account owner has a blended family.  Failing to properly plan their IRA beneficiary designations can result in the accidental disinheritance of a child, create unnecessary legal fees, and trigger significant income tax consequences for their family. Unfortunately, most IRA account owners are unaware of the complicated rules surrounding beneficiary designations and so the estate plan they thought was in place does not become a reality.  This article will address common pitfalls for IRA beneficiary designations for blended families.

Pitfall 1: The Account Owner Names His or Her Spouse as Beneficiary

Most commonly, an IRA account owner will designate his or her spouse as beneficiary.  In some situations, this designation works just fine, but other times, and especially for those in blended families, naming the spouse as beneficiary will make their estate plan inconsistent with their overall estate planning goals.

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Inherited IRA Options for the Surviving Spouse

Did you know that when you inherit an IRA you can limit your income tax liability by deciding how distributions are made to you?  Unfortunately, many IRA beneficiaries don’t know they have distribution options and so they cash in their inherited IRA and expose themselves to significant income tax liabilities.  The options available to IRA beneficiaries vary depending on if the beneficiary is a surviving spouse or a non-spouse and if the IRA is a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. This article will focus on the typical traditional IRA distribution options for a surviving spouse to limit the surviving spouse’s tax liabilities. Click here for options for non-spouse beneficiaries. Not all distribution options work best for every beneficiary, so beneficiaries are encouraged to consult with their financial advisor, CPA, and attorney to find out which option works best for them.

Option 1: Treat IRA as Own

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Inherited IRA Options for the Non-Spouse Beneficiary

Did you know that when you inherit an IRA you can limit your income tax liability by deciding how distributions are made to you?  Unfortunately, many IRA beneficiaries don’t know they have options and so they cash in their inherited IRA and expose themselves to significant income tax liabilities.  The options available to IRA beneficiaries vary depending on if the beneficiary is a spouse or non-spouse, so this article will focus on the three distribution options non-spouse IRA beneficiaries typically have to limit their tax liabilities. Not all distribution options work best for every situation, so IRA beneficiaries are encouraged to consult with their CPA and attorney to find out which option works best for them.

Option 1: Rollover IRA with Five Year Distribution

If an IRA owner dies and designates a non-spouse beneficiary, such as a child, parent, sibling, or friend, the beneficiary can choose to rollover the IRA into their name, but the entire IRA must be distributed to the beneficiary within five years of December 31 of the year following the IRA owner’s date of death.  This option gives the non-spouse beneficiary access to money relatively soon and spreads out the tax liability over a five year period, rather than in one year if a lump sum distribution is taken.

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Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot: Protect Your Firearms in Your Estate Plan

Kentuckians love their guns. According to CBS News, Kentucky ranks number 16 in the number of registered firearms among all 50 states with almost 60,000 federally registered firearms. Ohio, although much more populated than Kentucky, ranks in at number 23. Much like items of personal property like jewelry and antiques, firearms aren’t cheap and can also hold sentimental value among family members and friends. As such, firearms need to be accounted for in an estate plan. Failure to properly account for firearms in an estate plan could result in excessive fines or even jail time for the recipient.

Laws Relating to Transfers of Firearms

Federal law addresses the issue relating to receipt of firearms, stating that “it shall be unlawful for any person to receive or possess a firearm which is not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record; or to transport, deliver, or receive any firearm in interstate commerce which has not been registered as required by this chapter.” These laws are regulated strictly and are enforced with a zero tolerance policy. Violations can create potential criminal liability of up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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Is Your Old A-B Trust a Tax Burden for your Family?


Save Taxes by Updating your Estate Plan

If you have an old A-B Trust in place, you may be unaware that recent tax law changes have transformed your A-B Trust from an estate tax shelter into an income tax burden for your loved ones.  An A-B Trust, also known as a Credit Shelter Trust or Bypass Trust, typically provides that on the death of the first spouse, a particular share of the married couple’s assets are transferred into an irrevocable sub-trust (the “B” trust), rather than to the surviving spouse directly.  Traditionally, using an A-B Trust was an estate planning strategy to preserve the deceased spouse’s estate tax exemption to be used upon the death of the surviving spouse.  Without sheltering the first spouse’s unused exemption in the “B” trust, any assets in excess of the survivor’s exemption amount would be exposed to very high federal estate taxes.

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The Top 3 New Year’s Resolutions for the Long-Term Success of your Small Business

As a small business owner, how many times have you set lofty New Year’s resolutions for your business that never amounted to anything? This year, you can set three achievable resolutions that are simple to accomplish yet stay focused on the long-term success of your business. These resolutions will finally address those lingering tax savings, succession planning, and estate planning issues that you have put off for too long.  Accomplishing these resolutions will affect your bottom line and give you peace of mind for years to come.

Resolution #1: Implement Simple Choice of Entity Strategies for Tax Savings in 2017

Do you know if your business is taxed as a sole proprietorship, partnership, C-Corp, or S-Corp?  Do you know what tax bracket you are in? Did you know that if you are single, your business is a sole proprietorship, and you make between $37,650-$91,150, or if married, and you make between $75,300-$151,900, that your taxable rate on your business profits is 46%?  A business’ choice of tax entity can have major tax implications, but many small business owners are unaware that such issues exist. As a result, many small businesses are often taxed as the wrong type of entity and they end up paying too much in taxes.  This year, meet with your attorney and CPA to review your choice of entity options and see if you can save taxes by being an S-Corp.

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