Basics of Gifting

Gifting is a way to reduce your estate by passing on property to others while you are still alive. Individuals are allowed to gift up to $13,000 in property to an individual per year. You may make as many $13,000 annual gifts as you wish to any number of individuals, without being required to file a gift tax return. For more information on the basics of gifting, read this Financial Strategy.

Don’t Make Uncle Sam Your Beneficiary

A successful estate plan takes more than good intentions. If you do not have a Will in place, a nameless, faceless court will decide how your assets will be distributed. This is one of many pitfalls you could face if you do not revisit your estate plan, as your family situation or federal and state laws change. For more information on areas you should consult your estate planning attorney or tax adviser on, read this Financial Strategy.

Don’t Make Uncle Sam Your Beneficiary

A successful estate plan takes more than good intentions. If you do not have a Will in place, a nameless, faceless court will decide how your assets will be distributed. This is one of many pitfalls you could face if you do not revisit your estate plan, as your family situation or federal and state laws change. For more information on areas you should consult your estate planning attorney or tax adviser on, read this Financial Strategy.

Uncertainties Are Part of Estate Planning

Uncertainty overshadows the entire estate planning process including the changing tax laws and the value of your estate when you die. To combat uncertainties when developing an estate plan, you should realize that an estate plan is not a one-time endeavor. Rather, it is a plan that should be flexible to accommodate both lifestyle and law changes. For more on building flexibility into an estate plan, read this Financial Strategy.

Consumer Protection Laws—Fair Credit Reporting Act

In order to protect the confidentiality, accuracy and relevance of credit information, Credit Reporting Agencies, or CRAs, are required to follow reasonable procedures as mandated by Congress and the courts. Although there are limits on the use of credit reports, there are certain purposes in which it can be used. For more on consumer protection laws and to learn about some permissible uses of your credit report, read this Financial Strategy.

Custodial Account—Uniform Gift/Transfer to Minors Act

For a minor to own investments in his or her own name, a custodial account must be used. A custodial account is established through the Uniform Gift/Transfer to Minors Act and allows a custodian to control a savings account until the child reaches the age of majority, when the account becomes the sole possession of the child. For more information about custodial accounts and to learn about some the advantages and disadvantages, read this Financial Strategy.