As the old saying goes, “there are only two things certain in life – death and taxes.” Because everyone has to face these realities sooner or later, taking time to implement certain tax planning strategies and create or review your estate plan, can save you money and provide peace of mind, both now and in the future.

First, let’s talk taxes.

While we all have to pay our dues to Uncle Sam each year, there are several planning strategies that can help minimize your tax bill.

Tax planning opportunities to consider include:

  • Take advantage of available credits and deductions, such as education tax benefits, the child and dependent care credit, and/or the residential energy efficient tax credit for certain home improvements.
  • Sell investments that have declined in value to harvest capital losses.
  • Make charitable donations of highly appreciated securities if you qualify to itemize deductions, especially to offset high income years, such as a business sale or exercise of employer stock options.
  • Implement Roth IRA conversions in low income years, especially during the period after you retire, but before you turn 70½ (and IRA required minimum distributions start).
  • Fully fund your qualified retirement plan at work, along with an IRA (individual retirement account).

These and other tax planning strategies can help you keep more of your hard earned cash. Talk with your tax advisor to identify strategies and develop an action plan that makes sense for your individual situation.

Second, let’s consider end of life planning.

A carefully drafted estate plan can help provide for your loved ones, protect your assets, and identify your wishes upon the end of your life. Meeting with a trusted attorney to draft, review, and/or update your estate plan can help provide confidence that your wishes will be carried out at the end of your life.

End of life decisions to consider include:

  • Define how you want to provide for your loved ones.
  • Determine who will manage your estate and your assets should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions.
  • Designate an executor and/or trustee (s) to manage your estate after your death.
  • Determine how you want to transfer your wealth (outright or in trust, immediately or delayed).
  • Identify appropriate beneficiary designations.
  • Provide creditor protection.

Taking time to consider the questions above and consulting with a trusted attorney will help you navigate the important steps of the estate planning process.

At the end of the day, you will still have to contend with death and taxes, like everyone else. However, by taking the time to put a thoughtful plan in place, you will feel more secure about your future, and that of your loved ones.

This is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or tax advice. Please consult your legal, financial and tax professional regarding your specific situation.

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