Estate Planning

Happy Birthday, Dr. King!

A few years ago, our family traveled up the spine of the US to go to a family wedding in Wisconsin. On our way home, we decided to travel another route, which lead us through Memphis. Before our trip, we decided to make it a history lesson for our children (and for us). While in Memphis, we decided to visit the Lorraine Hotel, which sadly became well known as the place where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. If you have never been there, it has become a museum, and the immediate area surrounding his death has been left almost untouched. It’s like going back in time.

I was thinking about that visit over the weekend and wondered when we started honoring Dr. King’s birthday as a nation. I should have known that, but I didn’t. With a quick Google search, I was reminded that President Reagan signed legislation into law in 1983 to make the third Monday of January a federal holiday starting in 1986. It would take some time for each State to also observe this holiday.

What are we celebrating? A great example of how to face wrongs. Dr. King showed us that we do not need violence, but instead we can stand up for what is right with courage and acts of charity. I think that we can apply his example to a lot of wrongs in our society beyond civil rights.

Check out this great article on Dr. King and reflect on what you can do today to make the world better for all of us.

Happy birthday, Dr. King, and may your dream continue to live on!

Should you make gifts now?

The estate tax exemption doubled this year and will be $11.4 million next year. This means that you give away that amount (not excluding annual exclusion gifts of $15,000) without paying gift tax. The exemption, though, is scheduled to revert back down to $5 million, adjusted for inflation, in 2026. This back-and-forth thing with the tax exemption has happened a few times in the past.

One of the interesting things about a reduction in the exemption is whether you could use the current exemption by making big gifts and not be harmed or taxed when the exemption goes down. It would seem logical that if you followed the rules, you should not have any problems. Unfortunately, we are talking about the tax code – where logic does not apply!

Thankfully, the US Treasury and IRS have issued proposed regulations that confirm that large gifts today won’t be somehow attacked in the future, assuming the exemption does indeed go back down.  Interesting in reading the proposed regulations? You can do so here.

IRS issues updated limits for retirement plan savings

Check out the release here.

The skinny:

  1.   401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,500 to $19,000
  2.   IRA contributions increased from $5,500 to $6,000, plus $1,000 catch-up contributions for individuals over age 50.