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By Elizabeth Pack on October 3, 2019 at 10:10 AM

Graduation cap sitting on a pile of moneyAs the cost of college education has skyrocketed, more and more grandparents are wondering how they can help their grandchildren pay for college. Below is an overview of five ways in which grandparents can contribute toward a grandchild’s education, as well as tips on pitfalls to avoid.

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By Elizabeth Pack on September 19, 2019 at 2:45 PM

Jar of money and a jar labeled "Taxes"With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in December 2017, the nearly doubling of the lifetime estate and gift tax exemption (currently $11.4 million in 2019) shifted the focus for many from estate tax planning to income tax planning. A wide range of income tax planning techniques can now be used under the TCJA, and it is important to explore these income tax planning techniques as a part of the estate planning process.

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By Elizabeth Pack on October 16, 2018 at 1:50 PM

Businessman showing percentage symbolsThomson Reuters recently published its estimated figures for 2019 for estate and trust income tax brackets, as well as the exemption amounts for estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) taxes. These figures are adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases.

Pursuant to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the measure of inflation has changed for these figures. Thomson Reuters warns that because of errors and ambiguities in the act, the estimates were made based upon what Thomson Reuters staff believed to be consistent with congressional intent.

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By Elizabeth Pack on June 15, 2018 at 1:35 PM

Mother and daughter holding handsA growing problem in estate planning is how to provide for special needs individuals (those who may be eligible for government benefits and programs due to a disability or otherwise) without disqualifying them from government benefits and programs they may need now or in the future. As most government benefits have a limit on the amount of assets an individual may have to qualify for such benefits, leaving assets to special needs individuals outright or in a standard trust may disqualify them from receiving those benefits.

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By Elizabeth Pack on October 20, 2017 at 9:45 AM EDT

String around finger to remind of estate planning awarenessOctober 16–22 is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. During this week, many people are reminded that estate planning involves the creation of documents such as trusts, wills, financial powers of attorney, and health care powers of attorney to allow for the handling of their financial and health care decisions during life and after death. There are other aspects of estate planning that deserve to be highlighted as well that are no less significant than the creation of these basic documents.

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By Elizabeth Pack on July 20, 2017 at 9:25 AM

$100 bills with wedding ring on topMany people may think they have the option to leave their spouse nothing when they die, but almost every state has what is commonly called an “elective share” statute. These statutes work to protect a surviving spouse from being cut out of a deceased spouse’s estate plan, permitting the disinherited spouse to elect to take a portion of the estate. This is especially helpful, for example, in a situation in which someone has decided to leave nothing to his or her spouse and instead leave everything to another romantic partner.

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By Elizabeth Pack on February 14, 2017 at 2:43 PM

Hands making the shape of a heart over the EarthAn often-overlooked estate planning trap involves including individuals who are not U.S. citizens as part of an estate plan.

If someone who is not a U.S. citizen or resident is given control over a trust, either as a trustee or a beneficiary, then the trust will be treated as a foreign trust and will be subject to additional income taxes.

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By Elizabeth Pack on December 27, 2016 at 9:15 AM

One hand giving a red heart to anotherRetirement accounts such as IRAs, 401(k) and 403(b) plans and other qualified plans or profit-sharing plan accounts may provide an opportunity for charitable giving by offering a variety of tax benefits, depending upon the structure.

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By Elizabeth Pack on October 6, 2016 at 10:54 AM

Caduceus medical symbolMO HealthNet, the Missouri Medicaid program, covers qualified medical expenses for those who meet eligibility requirements such as being blind, disabled or over age 65 and do not exceed certain income and resource limits.

Generally, for disabled and elderly claimants to be eligible for the program in 2016, monthly income may not exceed $842 for an individual or $1,135 for a couple, and resources (checking/savings accounts, CDs, mutual funds, real estate other than a primary residence, etc.) may not exceed $999.99 for an individual or $2,000 for a couple. The income limits are adjusted each year, but the resource limits have not changed since 1967.

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By Elizabeth Pack on September 7, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Dog on couchAn often overlooked part of an estate plan relates to something most people care about deeply during life: Where will my pets go when I pass away?

Although many people consider their pets to be a part of the family, legally pets are considered personal property. They should be included in a client’s estate plan if there is concern regarding where the pet will go at the client’s death. Most people assume a family member or even a friend will step up to take care of their pets. However, to ensure that a furry friend is properly taken care of and provided for at death, a pet trust can be created.

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