Practice with Genene Dunn: Trust Basics

Hunsberger Dunn LLP

 

 

Warren Street Sits Down with Partner Genene Dunn 

At Warren Street, we want to ensure we are continuing our education to give our clients a financial edge. This applies to all aspects of their overall financial picture.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of the partners of the law firm Hunsberger Dunn, LLP, Genene Dunn. During our conversation, we had the chance to talk with her about estate planning, and specifically, building a trust.

Here are some of the issues we discussed, our key takeaways, and some of the nuances we learned regarding trusts and avoiding the probate process.

Who needs a trust and what does it do?

A trust’s primary objective is to avoid probate for the client. Period.

The threshold for probate is $150,000 of real assets, which are defined as physical assets that have value due to their substance. Real assets can be things such as: precious metals, commodities, real estate, land, machinery, or oil, so estate with $150,000 in real assets or more without a trust is subject to probate.

Genene gave the example of $500,000 in real assets with no trust. In this instance, you can expect to pay approximately $26,000 in fees.

Going through probate, both the lawyer and the personal representative (administrator), the person named by the court to handle the estate, are paid according to the fee schedule below. This is why probate can be so expensive.

Chart

Not only is probate an expensive process, but it is lengthy as well. The probate system in Orange County is significantly backed up, it could take up to a year to complete the process.

If you have real assets in excess of $150,000, it might be time to start thinking about building your own trust and avoiding the probate process all together.

How do I handle creditors when the trustee has passed?

If the deceased person had debt in their names, then these become debts of the trust.  They do not become debts of the beneficiaries.

When handling credit card collections, the collectors have 4 months after the announcement of the death of the trustee to file for a claim for their debt. An announcement of death can be placed in the local newspaper of the trustee. If the credit card companies do not file their claims through the appropriate process within this 4-month window, their claim becomes void and does not need to be paid by the trust.

If there is real property inside the trust, such as real estate, Genene suggested to continue paying the bills that “keep the lights on”, such as utilities and house maintenance services (pool cleaning, gardening, etc.). The reason for this is that the property may eventually be sold and you want it to remain presentable to a prospective buyers.

What about my 401(k) or other outside accounts?

Genene will sometimes gets asked about placing a 401(k) or retirement account inside a trust. This is something that is probably not recommended as these types of accounts have listed beneficiaries. Probate can be avoided if the beneficiaries are named and appropriate forms are completed.

On the other hand, non-retirement or brokerage accounts can be placed inside the trust to then be distributed according to the wishes of the grantor, the person who established the trust.

Another interesting topic was Transfer on Death (TOD) bank accounts. If a TOD is in place, then you can present your bank branch with a Death Certificate, which typically can take 10-12 days to process, before being allowed access to funds. However, if they accounts are held in trust, there would be no delay since a spouse is typically the co-trustee and would be able to act on the account immediately upon death. If there is not a Transfer on Death established or a trust account, then the assets would be subject to probate.

Special Needs Beneficiaries

One of the most interesting things we learned from our conversation was with regard to children or beneficiaries that have special needs. Some of these people receive assistance from the government for their condition, and they can become disqualified from that assistance if they have an interest in the assets of a trust.

It is imperative if you have someone in your life with special needs whom you want to ensure receives assets from your estate, that a special needs trust is established and that it is set up correctly to avoid disqualifying them from government assistance in the future.


 

As we had mentioned earlier, the main objective of establishing a trust is to avoid probate and the wasted time and expense associated with it. A trust usually runs between $2,000-$3,000 depending on the complexity, but the amount of time and money saved by going through the process can be 8-10x the cost of the trust itself. Not to mention not having to waste time in an Orange County probate system that is already significantly backed up.

If you are concerned about your current estate planning situation, including your current assets, trusts or other aspects of your plan, please feel free to contact us to discuss.


Joe OcchipintiJoe Occhipinti
Wealth Advisor
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

 

 

 

 

Joe Occhipinti is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. Information contained herein does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, but is limited to the dissemination of general information. A professional advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies or options presented.

Warren Street Wealth Advisors and its representatives are not attorneys and all information herein should be verified via qualified legal opinion. 

Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio.Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

 

Rate Watch 2018 – April

Welcome to another edition of Rate Watch as we track the interest rate that is vital to the grandfathered pension at Southern California Edison. If you’ve missed any of our previous articles, you can find them here:

Rate Watch 2017 – March
Rate Watch 2017 – February
Rate Watch 2018 – January

Rate Watch 2017 – August

The third rate of 2018 begins to paint a new picture of where rates have the potential to go in the fall of 2018. The latest comes after increased Fed conversations on future rate hikes and an increase in March. Let’s take a look at the most recent numbers:

*These are not current plan rates for Southern California Edison’s pension plan, they are minimum present value third segment rates from the IRS. Official plan rates are derived from the minimum present value segment rates table (https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/minimum-present-value-segment-rates) . Plan rate changes are made by Southern California Edison on an annual basis.

*These are not current plan rates for Southern California Edison’s pension plan, they are minimum present value third segment rates from the IRS. Official plan rates are derived from the minimum present value segment rates table (https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/minimum-present-value-segment-rates) . Plan rate changes are made by Southern California Edison on an annual basis.

March’s value of 4.43 gives us the first reading higher than the current official plan rate of 4.36, a 0.07% change. With the Fed announcing an increase in rates by 0.25% to a range of 1.50-1.75%, the sixth rate hike since 2015, is said to be one of many by the Fed in 2018. They continue to point to strong economic outlooks and labor conditions as reasons to pencil in future hikes, but we will have to see how the market reacts.

This also brings some new thinking for grandfathered pension holders because this could produce a situation where the following year’s interest rate will be higher than the current value, and increases in interest rates will produce a smaller lump sum payout for grandfathered pension holders. The inverse is true for rate decreases; however, it looks like that could be a less likely scenario should this trend continue.

Remember, if you are planning on retiring as a grandfathered pension holder, then you have a choice on when you want to set your commencement date and pick which rate produces a more favorable outcome.

I think we’ve become a broken record at this point by saying this, but it is still a tad early to make any huge decisions, but the fall will soon be upon us. As always, this is only one metric to look at as you think about retirement, but it is an important one.

Developing a financial plan on how to approach retirement and maximize your benefits is important, so make sure you are working with someone who is familiar with Edison’s benefits and knows how they work.

Worried about your retirement plans? Concerned with how to handle your pension or 401(k)? Maybe you’re just unsure on how the transition to retirement works. We’ve helped countless Southern California Edison employees plan for retirement. Contact us for a free retirement planning session or portfolio analysis.


Joe OcchipintiJoe Occhipinti
Wealth Advisor
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

 

 

 

 

Joe Occhipinti is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. Information contained herein does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, but is limited to the dissemination of general information. A professioanl advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies or options presented.

Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio.Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

 

Welcome: Justin Rucci

Welcome Our Newest Wealth Advisor

Welcome our newest Wealth Advisor, Justin Rucci, CFP®


 

J RucciJustin Rucci, CFP® joins Warren Street Wealth Advisors after spending 5 years at Ayco, a Goldman Sachs Company.

Rucci graduated from the University at Albany, State University of New York with a degree in Finance & Economics and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.

As an advisor with Ayco, Justin spent his time with a variety of clients focusing on matters such as: cash flow & retirement, investments, employee benefits, health care, insurance, and tax & estate planning. In joining Warren Street, Justin hopes to strengthen his relationship with the community and create an impact with his clients.

Growing up on the East Coast, he enjoys exploring new areas of the West Coast and photographing the journey along the way. Always in pursuit of new adventures, Justin considers Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park as his most exciting hike he’s completed.

Join us in welcoming Justin to the Warren Street Team! We are excited to have him as we continue to always serve our clients in their best interest and help them reach their financial goals.

Rate Watch 2018 – March

Welcome to another edition of Rate Watch as we track the interest rate that is vital to the grandfathered pension at Southern California Edison. If you’ve missed any of our previous articles, you can find them here:

Rate Watch 2017 – February
Rate Watch 2018 – January

Rate Watch 2017 – August
Rate Watch 2017 – July

The second rate of 2018 is an interesting one as it comes a couple days before the Fed’s announcement to raise interest rates 0.25% on March 21st, 2018,  but let’s take a look at the most recent numbers:

March 2018

*These are not current plan rates for Southern California Edison’s pension plan, they are minimum present value third segment rates from the IRS. Official plan rates are derived from the minimum present value segment rates table (https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/minimum-present-value-segment-rates) . Plan rate changes are made by Southern California Edison on an annual basis.

February’s reading takes us closer to the current grandfathered rate for 2018, 4.36. This would bring very little change to your lump sum grandfathered pension value as of right now, but it could be an indicator of where rates could end up in the fall. Again, we can’t emphasize enough, it is still early in the year and rates could go anywhere as the months continue.

One of the most interesting factors for following months will be if the Fed increasing interest rates will have any impact on minimum present value segment rates, which are the rates used to determine the official grandfathered rate in the fall.

Remember, your grandfathered pension is just one of many factors that you should examine when thinking about retirement. There are many moving parts that extend further than interest rates and lump sum payout values.

Unsure if you are on the right track for retirement? Concerned about your 401(k) or other retirement investments? Contact us for a free retirement goals session or portfolio analysis.


Joe OcchipintiJoe Occhipinti
Wealth Advisor
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

 

 

 

 

Joe Occhipinti is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. Information contained herein does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, but is limited to the dissemination of general information. A professioanl advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies or options presented.

Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio.Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

 

Rate Watch 2018 -February

Welcome to another edition of Rate Watch as we track the interest rate that is vital to the grandfathered pension at Southern California Edison. If you’ve missed any of our previous articles, you can find them here:

Rate Watch 2018 – January
Rate Watch 2017 – August
Rate Watch 2017 – July
Rate Watch 2017 – June

As our first rate for 2018, we feel that this could be a good indicator on the range of possibilities we might see as we approach the end of 2018. The official rate for the grandfathered pension plan in 2018 is 4.36, derived from the August 2017’s third segment minimum present value rate, but it is important to determine what you options could look like as we approach the official announcement. Let’s take a look at the most recent posted rates:

February 2018 Chart

*These are not current plan rates for Southern California Edison’s pension plan, they are minimum present value third segment rates from the IRS. Official plan rates are derived from the minimum present value segment rates table (https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/minimum-present-value-segment-rates) . Plan rate changes are made by Southern California Edison on an annual basis.

There has been a small uptick from December 2017’s 4.11, but insignificant in the short-term. However, as we say each month, when rates decrease the value of your lump sum payout goes up and vice-versa. The most recent rate is still below the official 2018 rate, but again, it is very early in the year and there is plenty of time for rates to move from now until the fall.

What is more important to note is the continued conversation of rising interest rates in the U.S., and how the Fed continues to look to raise rates in the long-term. The Fed and how the market reacts to these interest rate changes will be one of, if not the biggest, influence on rates this year.

As the fall approaches, it will be vital for SCE employees to examine the new official rate in comparison to the 2018 number of 4.36. Additionally, as employees plan for retirement, their pension should not be the only metric that they look at. Assets, debts, and income needs should all be analyzed prior to making a decision on retirement. Again, this metric is important to track for those prepared to make the plunge into retirement, but you should not base your decision off of rate changes or you pension alone.


Joe OcchipintiJoe Occhipinti
Wealth Advisor
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

 

 

 

 

Joe Occhipinti is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. Information contained herein does not involve the rendering of personalized investment advice, but is limited to the dissemination of general information. A professioanl advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies or options presented.

Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio.Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

 

Rate Watch 2018 – January

If you followed along with us last year, you may remember our Rate Watch 2017 articles where we tracked the interest rate used for the Southern California Edison grandfathered pension.

Rate Watch 2017 – August
Rate Watch 2017 – July
Rate Watch 2017 – June
Rate Watch 2017 – May

Since our last Rate Watch post in September 2017, we wanted to write a quick recap article of the last few months of interest rate changes as we look towards the official announcement in the fall.

Edison uses the minimum present value third segment rate for the grandfathered pension plan. The August rate is the one that is specifically used for the plan’s lump sum value calculation, and the official announcement is made by SCE to its employees in late September or early October.

Rate Watch January 2018 Chart

The rule of thumb with the pension is: when interest rates decrease, the value of your lump sum payout increases and vice versa.

Since August, we have seen the rate fall from 4.36 down to 4.11. While it is still very early in the year, and this number does not directly impact lump sum values for the pension, we find it important to keep track of where the number is at and where it could be heading towards the fall.

If you think that retirement is on the horizon and want to make sure you maximize your pension benefit, then schedule a free consultation to learn what we do for SCE employees and how we have helped 100’s of them retire with confidence.

*These are not current plan rates for Southern California Edison’s pension plan, they are minimum present value third segment rates from the IRS. Official plan rates are derived from the minimum present value segment rates table (https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/minimum-present-value-segment-rates) . Plan rate changes are made by Southern California Edison on an annual basis.


Joe OcchipintiJoe Occhipinti
Wealth Advisor
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

 

 

 

 

Joe Occhipinti is an Investment Advisor Representative of Warren Street Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. The information posted here represents his opinions and is not meant as personal or actionable advice to any individual, corporation, or other entity. Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals may materially alter the performance, strategy, and results of your portfolio.Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories, generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment-management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.Economic factors, market conditions, and investment strategies will affect the performance of any portfolio and there are no assurances that it will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

 

Tax Deductions Gone in 2018

Tax Deductions Gone in 2018
What standbys did tax reforms eliminate?
Provided by Aileen Danley, CFP®, MBA

Are the days of itemizing over? Not quite, but now that H.R. 1 (popularly called the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act) is the law, all kinds of itemized federal tax deductions have vanished.

Early drafts of H.R. 1 left only two itemized deductions in the Internal Revenue Code – one for home loan interest, the other for charitable donations. The final bill left many more standing, but plenty of others fell. Here is a partial list of the itemized deductions unavailable this year.(1)

Moving expenses. Last year, you could deduct such costs if you made a job-related move that had you resettling at least 50 miles away from your previous address. You could even take this deduction without itemizing. Now, only military servicemembers can take this deduction.(2,3)

Casualty, disaster, and theft losses. This deduction is not totally gone. If you incur such losses during 2018-25 due to a federally declared disaster (that is, the President declares your area a disaster area), you are still eligible to take a federal tax deduction for these personal losses.(4)

Home office use. Employee business expense deductions (such as this one) are now gone from the Internal Revenue Code, which is unfortunate for people who work remotely.(1)

Unreimbursed travel and mileage. Previously, unreimbursed travel expenses related to work started becoming deductible for a taxpayer once his or her total miscellaneous deductions surpassed 2% of adjusted gross income. No more.(1)

Miscellaneous unreimbursed job expenses. Continuing education costs, union dues, medical tests required by an employer, regulatory and license fees for which an employee was not compensated, out-of-pocket expenses paid by workers for tools, supplies, and uniforms – these were all expenses that were deductible once a taxpayer’s total miscellaneous deductions exceeded 2% of his or her AGI. That does not apply now.(2,5)

Job search expenses. Unreimbursed expenses related to a job hunt are no longer deductible. That includes payments for classes and courses taken to improve career or professional knowledge or skills as well as and job search services (such as the premium service offered by LinkedIn).(5)

Subsidized employee parking and transit passes. Last year, there was a corporate deduction for this; a worker could receive as much as $255 monthly from an employer to help pay for bus or rail passes or parking fees linked to a commute. The subsidy did not count as employee income. The absence of the employer deduction could mean such subsidies will be much harder to come by for workers this year.(2)

Home equity loan interest. While the ceiling on the home mortgage interest deduction fell to $750,000 for mortgages taken out starting December 15, 2017, the deduction for home equity loan interest disappears entirely this year with no such grandfathering.(2)

Investment fees and expenses. This deduction has been repealed, and it should also be noted that the cost of investment newsletters and safe deposit boxes fees are no longer deductible.  In some situations, investors may want to deduct these fees from their account balances (i.e., pre-tax savings) rather than pay them by check (after-tax dollars).(5)

Tax preparation fees. Individual taxpayers are now unable to deduct payments to CPAs, tax prep firms, and tax software companies.(3)

Legal fees. This is something of a gray area: while it appears hourly legal fees and contingent, attorney fees may no longer be deductible this year, other legal expenses may be deductible.(5)

Convenience fees for debit and credit card use for federal tax payments. Have you ever paid your federal taxes this way? If you do this in 2018, such fees cannot be deducted.(2)

An important note for business owners. All the vanished deductions for unreimbursed employee expenses noted above pertain to Schedule A. If you are a sole proprietor and routinely file a Schedule C with your 1040 form, your business-linked deductions are unaltered by the new tax reforms.(1)

An important note for teachers. One miscellaneous unreimbursed job expense deduction was retained amid the wave of reforms: classroom teachers who pay for school supplies out-of-pocket can still claim a deduction of up to $250 for such costs.(6)

The tax reforms aimed to simplify the federal tax code, among other objectives. In addition to eliminating many itemized deductions, the personal exemption is gone. The individual standard deduction, though, has climbed to $12,000. (It is $18,000 for heads of household and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly.) For some taxpayers used to filling out Schedule A, the larger standard deduction may make up for the absence of most itemized deductions.(1)


 

Aileen Danley

Aileen Lau Danley CFP®, MBA
Relationship Manager
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®
Warren Street Wealth Advisors

 

 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Warren Street Wealth Advisors, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor. The information posted here represents opinion and is not meant as personal or actionable advice to any individual, corporation, or other entity. Any investments discussed carry unique risks and should be carefully considered and reviewed by you and your financial professional.  Nothing in this commentary is a solicitation to buy, or sell, any securities, or an attempt to furnish personal investment advice. We may hold securities referenced in the blog and due to the static nature of content, those securities held may change over time and trades may be contrary to outdated posts.

Citations.

1 – forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2017/12/20/what-your-itemized-deductions-on-schedule-a-will-look-like-after-tax-reform/ [12/20/17]
2 – tinyurl.com/y7uqe23l [12/26/17]
3 – bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-18/six-ways-to-make-the-new-tax-bill-work-for-you [12/28/17]
4 – taxfoundation.org/retirement-savings-untouched-tax-reform/ [1/3/18]
5 – tinyurl.com/yacz559c [1/8/18]
6 – vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/12/19/16783634/gop-tax-plan-provisions [12/19/17]