Month: September 2019

IRAs to Charity: A Useful Estate Planning Technique

Make your favorite charity a beneficiary of your IRAsSave taxes with this smart estate planning strategy

If you’re like many people, you have a great deal of your wealth tied up in traditional IRA accounts. Why? The tax-free benefits have motivated you. But there’s going to come a time when you—or your heirs—will have to pay taxes on this money. Instead of worrying about what you’re going to do about that, you can follow a tax-saving strategy that considers designating your favorite charity or charities as beneficiaries of all or a portion of your IRAs. Then you can leave other assets to family members and other heirs.

IRAs and estate taxes

Your IRAs are considered part of your estate when you die, which means they are subject to estate taxes. Although very few people are subject to the federal estate tax, some states have lower thresholds for estate taxes. Also, your heirs will have to eventually withdraw the funds, and typically will pay income tax. This could be substantial, if your heirs are already in a high bracket.

Fortunately, there’s a tax-smart solution: leave some or all of your IRA to charitable beneficiaries while leaving other assets to heirs of your choice. Leaving money directly to charities by designating them as account beneficiaries is very tax-efficient. First, it avoids estate tax, since the IRA is removed from your estate. Second, there’s no federal income tax due on IRA money. (You may get a state tax break too.) No income taxes are due when your favorite tax-exempt charities make withdrawals from the IRAs.

This strategy allows you to leave more to your favorite charities and more to your loved ones while keeping as much as possible from the IRS.

Leave Roth IRAs to your loved ones

One final word, however. This strategy generally applies to traditional IRAs. Naming a charity as the beneficiary of your Roth IRA is generally inadvisable. Leave Roth balances to your loved ones by designating them as account beneficiaries. Why? As long as your Roth IRA has been open for more than five years before withdrawals are taken, all withdrawals will be federal income tax-free since the money went in after taxes. But if you leave Roth IRA money to charity, this tax break is wasted. (Roth IRA inheritance rules differ from the rules for traditional IRAs in several key ways.)

Looking at the Big Picture

Of course, this is just part of your estate plan, and there are lots of complexities. A giving strategy that makes sense for one family may not be appropriate for another. Also, the new tax law has changed the scenario for many.  Finally, there are various limits and provisions you should be aware of before you proceed.

The bottom line? Talk to a qualified financial professional about your charitable goals and any traditional or Roth IRAs you have in order to take care of both your family and your designated nonprofits in as efficient a way as possible.

We’ve got your back on estate planning

It’s never too early to start thinking about estate planning. KRS CPAs offers unbiased financial and tax guidance to help you realize your specific goals and vision. Contact KRS managing partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 to discuss your situation.

What Is Tax-Efficient Investing?

Keep taxes in mind when investing

Tax Efficient InvestingAvoiding taxation should not be the only goal, or even the main goal, of your investment strategy.

Still, you always have to keep taxes in mind to make sure you’re not unnecessarily sending too much of your money to the government.

Managing Your Investments

Keep on top of your tax losses. No one likes to see their investments fail, but there are hidden tax savings there. Tax-harvesting strategies take advantage of losses for tax benefits when you rebalance your portfolio if you comply with IRS rules on the tax treatment of gains and losses.

Note that losses can offset up to $3,000 in taxable income in realized investment gains annually. If losses exceed deduction limits in the year they occur, you may be able to carry them forward to offset gains in future years.

Also watch out for capital gains. Securities held for more than 12 months and sold at a profit are taxed as long-term gains, with a top federal rate of 23.8%. For short-term gains, the tax rate can hit 40.8%. Timing can be everything.

Consider tax-exempt securities. Municipal bonds typically are exempt from federal taxes and may receive preferential state tax treatment. However, choose carefully before jumping into them. If you have a low tax rate in retirement, for example, it may not be necessary or even wise to concentrate so heavily on avoiding taxes.

Managing Your Taxes

Sometimes it’s better to pay taxes later rather than now. For example, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs, and tax-deferred annuities let you postpone your taxes until you are retired and thus likely in a lower bracket. Contributions you make may reduce your taxable income if you meet income eligibility requirements, and typically, investment growth is tax-deferred.

On the other side of the coin are Roth IRAs, which don’t give you an immediate tax break, since you use after-tax dollars. But this can help you later. For example, you may be in a low tax bracket now, so you put money into a Roth IRA. Investment gains are tax-deferred. When you withdraw the money, you don’t have to pay taxes at what could be a higher rate.

Reduce Taxes through Charity

If you itemize, you can deduct the value of your charitable gift from taxable income, but be aware that limits apply. Consider contributing appreciated stock, which may help you avoid capital gains taxes. Also try a donor-advised fund in a high-income year. These funds let you make a donation, take an immediate deduction and spread the giving over a period of time.

Of course, this is just an introduction to a complex topic — there are limits and exceptions to these strategies. Tax law is detailed, especially when it comes to investments, and a slight miscalculation on your end can lead to an unexpected tax bill down the line.

We’ve got your back on tax efficient investing

Taxes are a key part, but not the only part, of an investment strategy and you need to work with tax and financial professionals to make sure your strategies are aligned with your goals.Contact KRS managing partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 to discuss your situation.

The Final Responsibility: Being an Executor

An executor of a will carries out the last wishes of someone close who has died.

The executor ensures that the rules that govern the administration of a probate estate are followed.

Here are three things you need to know about this important job.

The Final Responsibility: Being an ExecutorExecutors can get help

A lot of responsibility is involved in being an executor. Gathering paperwork tops the list. You’ll need to find all the assets of the estate. You have to report to the probate court with jurisdiction. There will be complex technical and legal language to decipher, as well as finding ways to communicate with grief-stricken family members at a time when they’re least able to rationalize. You’ll need to spend many hours where the deceased person lived, even if that means a lot of travel.

Fortunately, you can get professionals to help you. You can hire lawyers, accountants and other professional advisors on behalf of the estate to assist with tasks like preparing the final income and estate tax returns, and ensuring that the financial assets are invested properly during the probate process. As executor, you’re not expected to know everything about the process, but you should know when you need help.

Be aware of all accounts, even those you don’t control

You never need to exercise control for accounts that have beneficiaries, like retirement accounts and insurance policies. And property held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship pass directly to the survivor. However, you still need to be aware of these assets and potentially account for them. The estate might owe taxes on these proceeds — you as executor have to collect a prorated share of any taxes due from those who inherit the policy benefit. Being aware of all this is crucial to doing a complete and thorough job.

Dealing with family battles

If the deceased person specifically wanted unequal amounts of property to go to different people, resentment bubbles up. You may find yourself in the epicenter of such a contentious debate. But the role of executor is separate — you treat family members fairly and defend the rights of heirs. It’s a hard line to walk, so professionals can help in dealing with any turmoil to keep you out of trouble.

Being the executor of a will is an important job and needs to be done well. Keeping this in mind, you’ll do your best to make sure that your loved one’s wishes are met and that the person’s heirs receive what the decedent intended.

We’ve got your back with an estate executor’s checklist

Being an executor of a will can be challenging. KRS CPAs can help. Visit our estate planning and administration page and download our helpful executor’s checklist. Then contact us for assistance.