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Comprehensive Estate Planning | TPW White paper 03.08.2021

Navigating the Tax Laws to Maximize | Your Beneficiary’s Inheritance | Comprehensive Estate Planning

When most individuals are establishing an estate plan, they generally only think about the tax consequences to themselves. But a truly comprehensive estate plan is one that takes planning a step further and considers the tax consequences the beneficiaries of the estate may face. When creating an estate plan, having a clear understanding of, and properly planning for these taxes will help ensure your beneficiaries get the largest inheritance possible.

When one inherits money as a beneficiary of an estate, there are three different taxes that oftentimes need to be understood and accounted for:

Let’s take a look at these individually:

Estate and Gift Tax

• The 2021 federal estate tax exemption (commonly known as the unified tax credit) amount is $11,700,000 per individual.
• Only the deceased taxpayer is subject to the estate tax when the estate value is greater than the unused exemption.
• Even if the decedent did not have a taxable estate, the estate of the decedent survived by a spouse should file Form 706, Estate Tax Return, to pass any remaining/unused unified tax credit exemption to the surviving spouse.
• When someone dies, their assets become property of their estate. Any income those assets generate is also part of the estate, and may trigger a requirement to file Form 1041, Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts.
• An inheritance is not considered taxable income to the beneficiary.
• Currently, in addition to estate taxes assessed at the Federal level, 12 states and the District of Columbia also collect an estate tax. California does not currently have an estate tax.

Inheritance Tax

• Only six states currently collect this tax (Iowa, Kentucky,Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania).
• Property passing to a surviving spouse is exempt from inheritance taxes in all six of these states.

Income Tax

• Inherited retirement account distributions are subject to ordinary income taxes.
• If you sell or dispose of inherited property that is a capital asset, you will be subject to either a long-term capital gain or loss, regardless of how long you, as the beneficiary, have held the asset.

Additional considerations

Inherited Pre-Tax Retirement Accounts

• Eligible Designated Beneficiaries and Non-Eligible Designated Beneficiaries are subject to different required distribution rules.
• Consider Roth conversions to allow the beneficiaries to take tax-free distributions.

Lowering the Value of Your Estate – Gifting

• Make annual cash gifts to your children, grandchildren, other family members, and even friends. You can also contribute cash to a 529 plan to help pay for future school to any individual you would like. The receipt of cash is non-taxable to the recipient, and, if the gift is below the $15,000 annual exclusion amount, you will not eat into your above-mentioned $11,700,000 lifetime estate and gift tax exemption amount.

Lowering the Value of Your Estate – Philanthropy

• If you are charitably inclined, you can make gifts of any size at any time while alive directly to charities or to a Donor Advised Fund. The donation of appreciated securities provides not only an immediate deduction of the fair market value of the stock at the time of contribution, but also avoids capital gains tax upon sale.
• Charitable contributions due to the death of the taxpayer result in a dollar for dollar reduction of the taxable estate.
• Additional vehicles available include Charitable Remainder Trusts or Charitable Lead Trusts.

Life Insurance

• If you are considering buying life insurance to either pay for the estate tax liability or provide more for your beneficiaries, set up a life insurance trust and have it purchase the policy so the death benefit isn’t included in your taxable estate.

Step-Up in Cost Basis – Take Advantage!

If you have appreciated stock or property and gift it to someone, the recipient gets the carried over basis and will have to pay capital gains when he or she sells the asset. Instead of gifting before your death, have them inherit it after your passing so they get a “step up” in basis and recognize a smaller gain on future disposition.

The Future of Estate Taxes Under the Biden Administration

• During his campaign, President Biden discussed the possibility of decreasing an individual’s federal estate tax exemption amount either to $5 million per individual (and $10 million for a married couple) or to the pre-Tax Cuts and Jobs Act amount of$3.5 million per individual (and $7 million for a married couple). This decrease in lifetime exemption could be paired with an increased top tax rate of 45 percent.
• President Biden also proposed eliminating stepped-up basis on death and possibly taxing unrealized capital gains at death at the proposed increased capital gains tax rates.

How Can We Help?

At Towerpoint Wealth, we are a legal fiduciary to you, and embrace the professional obligation we have to work 100% in your best interests. If you would like to learn more about Towerpoint Wealth and how we can help you achieve your financial goals, we encourage you to call (916-405-9164) or email (mregan@towerpointwealth.com) to open an objective dialogue.

Towerpoint Wealth No Comments

Should We Fret Over the Threat of $27 trillion of U.S. Debt?

$27 trillion. That is where the United States’ current debt load currently stands as of 10:40 a.m. today:

The budget deficit is expected to be $3.3 trillion just for 2020, as the Federal government seeks to provide stimulus to our economy in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. This has added $2 trillion to our national debt, on which in most months we are spending more than $1 billion a day just in interest. 

For perspective, here is a sobering infographic (yes, that is a football field in front of the Statue of Liberty) depicting what $20 trillion looks like. Each pallet, or “brick,” represents $100 million:

Infographic courtesy of www.demoncracy.info

Unless there is some new economic or societal model that none of us are aware of, our country’s debt will almost assuredly never be paid back. Politicians love promising us the world, and when the cash is not there to keep their promises, our government borrows money. Paying back this debt would require making extremely difficult decisions, and concurrently, losing votes. It is much easier to avoid this problem, kick the can down the road, and borrow from our children’s future than responsibly address it.

The politicians’ solution? Inflate our way out of the problem. The path of least resistance is to manufacture (read: print more) money to pay the debt back. By doing so, we are able to meet and satisfy our debt obligations (at least on paper). However, what this means is the holders of U.S. debt will receive back less than they loan in real dollars, as the purchasing power of a dollar declines as inflation occurs.

Most economists agree with and are untroubled by such massive amounts of borrowing, understanding our economy is currently in peril. The national debt was barely a concern when we passed the CARES Act, a cornerstone $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus bill, almost unanimously in March.

The two major concerns about carrying such a major debt load (higher interest rates and higher inflation) have not yet come to pass, as interest rates are extremely low and inflation remains quite muted. And because of that, our government is able to focus on providing the above-mentioned stimulus to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and not have our national debt constrain our response. Seeing that we have been “forced” to borrow aggressively, at least we have been able to do so quite cheaply!


Make no mistake about it, questions remain about what the actual impact of this aggressive borrowing and economic stimulus will be. At Towerpoint Wealth, we believe the politics will eventually have to switch towards reining in the deficit. As this occurs, expect potentially massive implications for government spending, focused in areas like pension and medical spending, especially as our economy and our citizens age.


However, while we do feel there may be a transition to and an increased focus on debt reduction here in the United States at some point, the way we see it for the foreseeable future:

  1. The U.S. economic engine will remain a powerful one
  2. The urgency of the COVID-19 crisis will continue to underscore the demand for “safe haven” assets like U.S. Treasurys 
  3. The U.S. dollar will remain the world’s reserve currency
  4. The U.S. Federal Reserve will continue to print vast amounts of money to buy our debt
  5. Once business start to reopen and growth returns to more “normal” levels, tax revenues will increase substantially.

What’s Happening at TPW?

It was great to have a Towerpoint Wealth quorum downtown yesterday, with everyone looking good and dressed nicely to boot!

She said yes!

Our Partner, Wealth Manager, Jonathan LaTurner, *finally* popped the question to his long-time partner, Katie McDonald, while at Carmel by the Sea this past weekend.


A huge congratulations to both Jon and Katie, we can’t wait for your wedding!

TPW Service Highlight – Concentrated Stock Management

Have you amassed personal wealth through equity-based compensation, the inheritance of a large single-stock position, or from receiving stock as part of the sale of a closely-held business? Does this stock represent more than 10 or 15% of your overall portfolio? Do you recognize and are you concerned about the risk that this position may represent to your overall net worth? If the stock has appreciated, are you worried about the potential income and capital gains tax consequences of selling it?

We are experts in helping our clients manage and mitigate the risk and tax consequences of owning a concentrated stock position – click HERE or scroll to the bottom of this newsletter to download the white paper we recently published on this very important issue.

Graph of the Week

Researchers around the world are working around the clock to find a vaccine against COVID-19. In addition to a number of individual companies, the pandemic has created a number of unprecedented public/private partnerships in search of promising vaccine candidates:

  • BioNTech / Pfizer
  • Oxford / AstraZeneca
  • GSK / Sanofi
  • Novavax
  • Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology
  • Moderna
  • Sinovac
  • Janssen
  • Valneva
  • CureVac

Below you will find a chart that outlines these current major partnerships and companies, as well as geographic distribution of the anticipated vaccine.

As always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place, and we are here to help you properly plan for and make sense of it.

– Nathan, Raquel, Steve, Joseph, Lori, Jonathan, and Matt

Towerpoint Wealth Team : Sacramento Financial Advisor