Wealth Insights is our regular financial planning update, generally refreshed on Tuesdays. Wealth Insights provides perspective on financial planning topics to help as you consider options for navigating your financial life.
A trust is a legal entity that you can set up and use to hold property for the benefit of one or more individuals (the trust beneficiaries). Every trust has one or more trustees charged with the responsibility of (1) managing the trust property and (2) distributing trust income and/or principal to the trust beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust agreement. (A trustee can be an individual or an institution, such as a bank.) Many different types of trusts can be used to achieve a variety of objectives.
Income tax basis can be an important factor in deciding whether to make gifts during your lifetime or transfer property at your death. This is because the income tax basis for the person receiving the property depends on whether the transfer is by gift or at death. This, in turn, affects the amount of taxable gain subject to income tax when the person sells the property.
Taxes can take a big bite out of your total investment returns, so it’s encouraging to know that your employer-sponsored retirement savings plan may offer a variety of tax benefits. Depending on the type of plan your employer offers, you may be able to benefit from current tax savings; tax deferral on any investment returns you earn on the road to retirement; and possibly even tax-free income in retirement.
Even if you’ve always handled your family’s finances, you may be overwhelmed by the number of financial matters you have to settle in the weeks or months following your spouse’s death. While you can put off some of these tasks, others require immediate attention. If you’re uncertain where to start, begin by organizing. You’ll have to find the records and paperwork you need to apply for benefits, set up systems to organize those records and other information you receive, and determine your short-term need for income. Afterwards, you’ll be ready to start settling your financial affairs with the help of personal and professional advisors.
A withdrawal from an IRA is generally referred to as a distribution. Ideally, you would have complete control over the timing of distributions from your traditional IRAs. Then you could leave your funds in your traditional IRAs for as long as you wished, and withdraw the funds only if you really needed them. This would enable you to maximize the funds’ tax-deferred growth in the IRA, and minimize your annual income tax liability. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way. Eventually, you must take what are known as required minimum distributions from your traditional IRAs.
If you participate in a 401(k), employee stock ownership plan, or other qualified retirement plan that lets you invest in your employer’s stock, you need to know about net unrealized appreciation — a simple tax-deferral opportunity with an unfortunately complicated name.
The $1.7 trillion appropriations bill passed by Congress at the end of last year included some notable provisions affecting workplace retirement plans and IRAs. Dubbed the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022, the new legislation builds on the sweeping Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act that was passed in 2019.