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What a GRAT trust to fund before 2010 ends!

Who knows where the estate tax limits will fall in 2011.  It might be 1 million or 3.5 million or higher depending on how the legislators settle on this issue. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Congress is trying to put limits on a popular trust families have used for years to avoid the estate tax. Since this type of trust works best at times when interest rates are low and asset values are depressed, we are urging high net worth clients to look at setting one of these up before Congress decides to make these trusts look like a rainy day in the tax world. This type of trust is known as a GRAT or grantor-retained annuity trust, which allows people to give a portion of an asset’s future profits to heirs tax-free. The trusts we have found can be very popular for clients who have a family business that is expected to increase in value or may have stock ...

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Do You Spend Too Much?

One of the trends I have noticed among family households is the notion of unconscious spending.  This can happen for both what we would consider fixed expenses (gas, electric, phone, cable), and also for discretionary expenses (dining out, vacation, household purchases). You are often very conscious about what you spend when you don’t have any money or at the stage when you have a low income. Your thought process often revolves around what your net pay is from your weekly or bi-weekly check, and wondering whether you are going to have enough money to cover the basics monthly bills.  You dream for the day when you make enough money so you can splurge to buy a few of the items you have always dreamed of having, or thinking about that vacation spot you have always wanted to visit. There becomes a point for many people that you begin to make enough money to cover your bills, and you have more ...

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Should You Use A Debt Relief Program

Over the past several months, we have received request from many of our subscribers to get some information about the various debt relief programs that advertise on television and the internet. Since some of these programs can be scams and some are legitimate, it is important you take the appropriate steps to find the right program just for you. Here are some thoughts on choosing a program that may be right for you. 1) What solutions does the company provide? Different companies or non-profits are skilled a various debt relief/settlement programs. You need to consider the size of debt you are trying to negotiate down and what type of debt you are looking to reduce overall.  Recognize that many of the credit card companies won’t even talk with you while you are still on the preverbal stationary bicycle still making minimum monthly payments.  Some companies do debt consolidation, some debt negotiation/settlement, and some will deal with IRS debt as well. ...

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Capital Gains On Your Primary Residence?

If you sell your main home or primary residence, up to $250,000 may be excluded from your income.  The amount jumps up to$500,000 for married couples that sell their primary residence. In order to meet the primary residence exclusion requirement you must meet the following requirements: You owned the residence for any two of the last five years. You occupied your residence for any two of the last five years. You haven’t used the capital gains exclusion within the last two years. If you are married you need to meet the following requirements: You are married and file a joint return for the year. Either you or your spouse has owned the residence for at least two out of the last five years. Both you and your spouse have used the home as your principal residence for two out of the last five years. Neither you nor your spouse has used the tax exclusion within the last two years. The required 2 years ...

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Rental Income: Here Is The Bad News

Attention owners of rental homes and properties . . . You aren’t going to like one of the tax changes that appears to be on the horizon for 2011 as part of the revenue offset of the recent Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010. The legislation would require an IRS Form 1099 for rental property expense payments.  The provision would subject all recipients of rental income from real estate to the 1099 reporting requirement, with the exception for taxpayers that rent their principal residence on a temporary basis, receive minimal amount of rental income, or would experience a hardship under this provision.  This provision would give the Department of Treasury the authority to determine what constitutes a “minimal amount” of rental income and what constitutes a “hardship.”  According to JCT, this provision would increase revenue by $2.546 billion over 10 years.  (source:  www.gop.gov/bill/111/2/hr5297senateamendment) In simple terms, the bill makes recipients of rental income fall underneath the same information ...

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Why Refinance Back into a 30-Year Loan?

Refinance Your Mortgage for Rate and Payment Reductions Atlanta, GA – One of the biggest reasons homeowners refinance their mortgage is to obtain a lower interest rate and lower monthly payments. By refinancing, the borrower pays off their existing mortgage and replaces it with a new one. This can often be accomplished with a no-points no-fees loan program, which essentially means at “no cost” to the borrower. In the no-points no-fees scenario, the mortgage consultant uses rebate monies paid by the lender to pay off non-recurring closing costs for the borrower. These are “one time” fees such as escrow or attorney fees, title insurance, document preparation, tax service, flood certification, processing and underwriting fees, etc. The borrower is still responsible for recurring fees such as interim insurance, property taxes or insurance policy payments. Refinancing typically occurs when mortgage interest rates drop significantly, but borrowers with recently improved credit scores (from paying off credit card debt, making mortgage payments on time, ...

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