The Final Tithe: Tax Efficiency

Estate Planning and Tax Efficiency - Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging, during a person's life, for the management and disposal of that person's estate during the person's life, in the event the person becomes incapacitated and after death.The Final Tithe: Tax Efficiency – Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging, during a person’s life, for the management and disposal of that person’s estate during the person’s life, in the event the person becomes incapacitated and after death. The planning includes the bequest of assets to heirs and may include minimizing gift, estate, generation skipping transfer, and taxes. Estate planning includes planning for incapacity as well as a process of reducing or eliminating uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximizing the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. The ultimate goal of estate planning can only be determined by the specific goals of the estate owner and may be as simple or complex as the owner’s wishes and needs directs. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity.

Below are the four main tax baskets (tax categories in which individuals can hold assets):

  1. Traditional (a/k/a Deductible) Retirement Accounts: These include workplace plans such as the 401(k), the 403(b), the 457, and the TSP, and IRAs. Under ideal conditions, the contributions, when earned, are not taxed but the contributions and earnings are taxed when later withdrawn.
  2. Roth Retirement Accounts: These include workplace plans such as the Roth 401(k), the Roth 403(b), and the Roth TSP, and Roth IRAs. Under ideal conditions, the contributions, when earned, are taxed but the contributions and earnings are tax-free when later withdrawn.
  3. Health Savings Accounts: HSAs are tax-advantaged accounts only available to you if you have a high deductible health plan (a “HDHP”) as your health insurance. Under ideal conditions, the contributions, when earned, are not taxed and the contributions and earnings are tax-free when later withdrawn.
  4. Taxable Accounts: Holding financial assets in your own name or otherwise not in a tax-advantaged account (tax baskets 1 through 3). The basic concept is taxable in, taxable on “realized” earnings (rental income, business income, dividends, interest, etc.) while in the account, and partially taxable (value less “tax basis”) on the way out.

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