Around the holidays our clients tend to think about 4 things.

There are 4 topics that frequently come to the fore as the end-of-year comes along, and we will share some guidance on how you could address them in a series of 4 emails.

We hope today’s email is of value to you, and please stay tuned for the next 3 AND…. drumroll….the last email will come with a free gift!

Topic #1 : Estate Planning


As Thanksgiving and Christmas approaches and you are gathered with family and friends, you may be thinking about making time to focus on getting your estate in order. This is generally the time of the year when our clients re-evaluate their estate plan and make adjustments as needed.

Here are a few tips to get you moving in the right direction.

1. Do you have designated beneficiaries? This includes making sure you have established beneficiaries for your 401k and IRA.

Here is a possible “quick win”: once you log in to your retirement account and designate a beneficiary, you can also select the box next to “per stirpes” if it applies to you. “Per stirpes” means “by branch or by bloodline” and allows your 401k or IRA to follow the bloodline of your beneficiary. As an example, this is beneficial if you are married and the beneficiary is your spouse and you want your estate to be divided equally among your children if something were to happen to your spouse.

Further, Tim Goodwin (GIA’s CEO and Founder), advises not to establish your estate or trust as your beneficiary (unless done in collaboration with your estate attorney) because there can be significant tax consequences. Estates and trusts typically pay the highest income tax rate! According to the Congressional Research Service, if you don’t designate a beneficiary, then the money goes to the estate – which can be taxed at 37% if the taxable income exceeds $14,450 in the Estate. Typically, our clients designate individual beneficiaries, thus leaving the money in your IRA and having it pay out over time. *(In the absence of future legislation, for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2025, these rates will sunset, and tax rates and brackets will revert back to prior levels, with increased rates and the top bracket being taxed at 39.6%)

2. Be thinking about how your personal property is titled. This includes real estate, vehicles, and any personal property with a title. You can title it as Joint with Right of Survivorship. You may even want to title your personal property as Joint with Tenants in Common.

3. We strongly encourage everyone to have a Will, a Power of Attorney and a Health Care Directive. In certain situations, and depending on the state, you may also need a trust. If you live in Georgia you may need a trust only in certain situations – such as having a blended family, out-of-state real estate or special needs children.

Tim Goodwin shares his advice, “You can create a will inexpensively online, but if you can afford to pay an estate attorney, please do so – because you will actually get it done. If you make the time and schedule it, you will honor the time and complete the entire process. Nobody wants to sit down and schedule a time to do a will online.”

If you have a growing portfolio of $300K or more, and you want help going through the process of getting your estate in order, please reach out and schedule an intro call with Tara Bruce (link below). Our team of fiduciary advisors would love to help you with your overall estate and retirement plan! To help you with your estate documents, we can make recommendations to Estate Attorneys we use personally and recommend to our clients.

The guidance and ideas shared above are based on our current understanding, and should NOT be considered as tax or legal advice. You will need to consult with your tax advisor and attorney to get detailed information pertaining to your specific situation.

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By Published On: November 28th, 2023

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About the Author: Tara Bruce

Tara Bruce
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