Thomas H. Sullivan

Attorney at Law

Gifting

Fears When Talking about Money

Posted on: July 22nd, 2021
Studies[ have shown that the largest contributing factors to generational loss of wealth are a lack of communication and trust among family members and the failure to prepare heirs. Often, fear is what underlies the lack of communication and trust that inevitably leads to unprepared heirs. Following are some of the fears that prevent people from communicating with their loved ones about their wealth....

Multigenerational Wealth Transfer Checklist

Posted on: July 15th, 2021
Studies estimate that 70 percent of family wealth is lost by the end of the second generation and 90 percent by the end of the third generation. To help your loved ones avoid becoming part of this statistic, you need to educate and update your extended family about your wealth transfer goals and the plan you have put in place to achieve these goals....

Can a Beneficiary Also Be a Trustee of a Trust?

Posted on: July 10th, 2021
Clients often naturally choose their children to be beneficiaries of their revocable living trusts. Many clients also wish to name one or more of their children as the trustee of that trust, but are not sure if that is allowed by the law. The short answer is yes, a beneficiary can also be a trustee of the same trust—but it may not always be wise, and certain guidelines must be followed....

Ways to Leave Your Real Estate to Your Loved Ones

Posted on: February 16th, 2021
Owning real estate continues to be a very popular investment vehicle for individuals and couples alike. One attractive feature of investing in real estate is that investment property can also double as a personal residence. In other cases, real estate investments may be rental, recreational, commercial, or farm properties. Whatever the case, it is important to understand that real estate can be owned in several ways, each of which has important legal consequences when it comes to leaving that real estate to your loved ones upon your death. Failing to understand how you legally own your real estate and how it will be passed on to your loved ones can lead to unintended, and often negative, consequences....

Special Estate Planning Considerations for Art and Other Collections

Posted on: May 15th, 2020
Many people have collections about which they are quite passionate: The collections may be very valuable, for example, art collections, coins, stamps, or designer handbags, or they may have more sentimental than monetary value, such as political bumper stickers, postcards, or rocks. Regardless of its dollar value, if you have a collection, it should be included in your estate plan. You should make arrangements in advance to ensure that the collection is handled in the way you want, and if it is worth a lot of money, that its value is maximized. The following are a few steps you should take to ensure your wishes for your collection are followed:...

Caught in the Undertow

Posted on: May 12th, 2020
​Many people love to spend part of their summer vacation at the beach, enjoying the ocean and sunshine. But there may be unseen dangers that are crucial for beachgoers to keep in mind: For example, the undertow is a current of water, often quite powerful, below the surface, that is moving away from shore when waves are approaching it. It can easily knock a smaller person off balance and could be dangerous for those who are not strong swimmers. As a result, it is very important to take steps to protect family members from this danger. Likewise, there are a number of dangers associated with failing to put a well-thought-out estate plan in place that could make your family members feel as though they are drowning if you were to pass away....

Strategies for Your Charitable Planning

Posted on: April 20th, 2020
There are many reasons why you may want to give to a charity: You may give because you believe strongly in a cause or organization, but it can also reduce your yearly income tax bill and remove value from your overall estate. If you are considering making a donation, but are unsure of how to proceed, we are here to help. Working closely with other members of your financial team, we can craft a plan utilizing the charitable planning strategies that will best help you achieve your goals....

Choosing a Gift to Give to a Charity

Posted on: April 15th, 2020
If you are considering making a donation to a public charity, you are not limited to donating cash. Depending upon your financial situation, giving objectives, and the needs of the charitable organization, certain accounts or pieces of property may be better suited for donation to the charity....

Can a Non-U.S. Citizen Create an Estate Plan in the U.S.?

Posted on: April 10th, 2020
The United States has experienced a surge in immigration since 1970, and there are now approximately 45 million foreign-born people living in the United States. Some of them have become U.S. citizens, but many non-citizens live in the United States as well. In 2019 alone, approximately 1,031,000 foreign nationals obtained lawful permanent resident status. It is not only permissible, but essential for those individuals, like U.S. citizens, to have estate plans in place. There are a number of special issues non-citizens may need to consider....

Investigate the Past and Impact the Future

Posted on: March 7th, 2020
Genealogy has long fascinated many people, and it continues to be studied by those who are interested in discovering who they descended from and what those family members were like. Many of us have gazed at black and white or sepia-tone photos of ancestors whose names we don’t know and wondered about their lives, joys, trials, and accomplishments. Fortunately, today, there are many resources making it much easier to discover information about prior generations of our families....

Distribution Methods for Your Children

Posted on: February 5th, 2020
If you are a parent, you probably love to do good things for your children—and leaving them an inheritance is one of the most tangible ways you can show your love once you are gone. What you may not know is that there are a variety of ways that you can leave money and property to your children, and you can choose the method you think best takes your goals, including their well-being, into account....

What Impact Does the Citizenship of My Spouse Have On My Estate?

Posted on: December 3rd, 2019
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2017, there were 44.4 million foreign-born people living in the United States, 55% of whom were non-citizens. As a result, there are many occasions when a non-citizen may be the beneficiary of the estate of a U.S. citizen, for example, if the non-citizen immigrant married a U.S. citizen. There are no laws prohibiting this, though non-citizen spouses—regardless of whether they are in the U.S. legally or illegally—may be treated differently for estate and gift tax purposes....

Passing on Your Wisdom and Experience to the Next Generation

Posted on: November 7th, 2019
Each person accumulates a wealth of knowledge, experiences, and values throughout the course of their life. Regardless of whether you are financially wealthy, you have a great deal to share with your loved ones. An ethical will, sometimes also called a legacy letter, is a great way to pass on the wisdom that you have acquired and can be one of the most meaningful parts of your estate plan....

Loan, Gift, or Advancement: Why the Classification Matters

Posted on: May 18th, 2019
While we all want to provide financial help to our loved ones—whether they are family or close friends—it is important to understand that how the money is classified will directly affect your estate planning. Accordingly, the intent behind the transfer of the money is key when determining if it will be considered a loan, gift, or advancement....

Estate Planning Is More Than Just Death Planning

Posted on: May 13th, 2019
Many believe that estate planning is simply instructions on how to distribute your assets when you pass away, but the reality is that proper estate planning can do much more. While one major benefit of estate planning is to provide for your family and friends when you are gone, there are many benefits for you as well....

What does a discretionary trust mean?

Posted on: April 22nd, 2019
Sometimes giving assets outright to a beneficiary – such a child, a grandchild or a special needs loved one – is not the ideal method of distributing assets in an estate plan. In such a scenario, a discretionary trust can be a good estate planning tool. Below is some basic information on discretionary trusts and how they may be beneficial to your particular family’s needs....

What to do with the family heirlooms and keepsakes

Posted on: April 17th, 2019
When most people think of estate planning, they think of assets that include money, real estate, and personal property. But, included in someone’s estate could be invaluable personal property, such as family heirlooms or keepsakes. This type of property should not be overlooked in your estate plan just because it may not have a high dollar value because it still has sentimental value that cannot be quantified. Part of a thorough estate plan is determining how you want these priceless family heirlooms and keepsakes distributed once you are gone. ...

Is a delayed inheritance really an enhanced inheritance?

Posted on: March 17th, 2019
Whether you have accumulated a little or a lot of wealth over your lifetime, it is likely that you have some particular thoughts on how you would like those assets to be used by loved ones after your death. Maybe you would like the assets to be used as a down payment on a home, be applied toward college tuition, or fund a dream vacation. Unfortunately, without specific guidance from you, money that is left outright to your loved ones probably won’t be used the way you would like....

Do I Need a Will or Trust?

Posted on: February 7th, 2019
Yes! Everyone needs a will, trust, or both to ensure your legacy is passed on in the way you intend, to provide for children, spouse, and family members, and in the case of trusts, to avoid probate. Wills and trusts are not just for the wealthy: A well-drafted plan ensures that what you do have is not wasted in probate court, establishes your intentions for sentimental items and family heirlooms, and can even state your wishes for the care of pets....

5 Steps for Coordinating Plans Across Generations

Posted on: December 4th, 2018
Intergenerational estate planning is important. This type of planning is about more than just helping one generation build as much wealth as possible. These plans help prepare heirs to both manage and preserve those assets into the future for long-lasting enjoyment. Below are five steps that can facilitate successful intergenerational estate planning....

Planning on Giving Money this Holiday Season? 5 Things to Consider

Posted on: November 25th, 2018
The holiday season is a time to enjoy friends, family, and loved ones. Often we consider our life circumstances and may get in the spirit of giving. This is particularly true if you are at a point in your life were you have enough from a financial standpoint. If you are planning on giving money as a gift this holiday season, below are five things to consider....

Giving Thanks With Your Estate Plan

Posted on: November 11th, 2018
Estate planning covers more than just financial matters. Indeed, many use their estate plan to pass along their values as well as their wealth. One way to do this is to give thanks with your estate plan, by designating charitable giving or specific gifts that will help ensure your legacy...

5 Reasons to Protect Your Retirement Accounts Now

Posted on: November 6th, 2018
During your lifetime, your retirement account has good asset protection, but as soon as you pass that account to a loved one, that protection evaporates. This means one lawsuit and POOF! Your life long, hard earned savings could be gone. Your heirs could be left penniless....

Do your parents have an estate plan?

Posted on: September 19th, 2018
If you find yourself in the “sandwich generation” (someone who is caring for both your children as well as your parents simultaneously), you need to know whether or not your parents have put together an estate plan. While it is still your parent’s choice to make estate planning decisions, having a plan -- no matter how late in life it is created -- is an absolute must....

How to Successfully Make a Large Gift to Your Children or Grandchildren

Posted on: August 22nd, 2018
What constitutes a “large” gift can be relative. That being said, if you are considering giving cash or property to someone, a little bit of planning can really help avoid negative consequences. This is particularly true if the gifted amounts are over $15,000.00, will be gifted in property, will be gifted on a regular basis, or if the gift givers -- whether parents or grandparents -- hold assets that are over $11 million....

How an Estate Planning Letter of Intent Can Help Your Family

Posted on: July 13th, 2018
Estate planning is an important task that everyone should undertake as it helps to protect your family and loved one’s financial future. But estate planning can do much more than focus on finances, it can also provide for care of those you leave behind. One aspect of estate planning that is often overlooked but can be quite useful is the letter of intent. This document is typically contained within an estate plan and includes instructions on how the estate and decedent’s executors should manage the estate’s assets and care for family and loved ones....

The Biggest Threats to Successful Estate Planning

Posted on: June 11th, 2018
Poor estate planning is a recipe for disaster. Look no further than Dickens’ Bleak House—or a telenovela—to witness the tragedy and melodrama inadequate estate planning can cause. While having your estate planning documents prepared is the first hurdle to overcoming these types of disasters, there are several threats that lurk around the corner that might derail your wishes....

How many plans do I need?

Posted on: May 1st, 2018
Most folks have at least heard of an estate plan. But fewer realize that a simple will is not enough to prepare for your future. In fact, a combination of plans - financial, tax, legacy, and estate - are vital to your financial well-being and protection of your assets and family. All of these plans are closely linked, affecting one another but also serving different purposes....

Basics of Beneficiary Forms and Estate Planning

Posted on: April 3rd, 2018
In the event of your untimely death, the manner in which your beneficiaries -- or those people who receive your assets from your estate -- are determined is highly dependent on how your property is titled....

How to Leave Assets to Adult Children

Posted on: March 16th, 2018
When considering how to leave assets to adult children, the first step is to decide how much each one should receive. Most parents want to treat their children fairly, but this doesn't necessarily mean they should receive equal shares of your estate. For example, it may be desirable to give more to a child who is a teacher than to one who has a successful business, or to “compensate” a child who has been a primary caregiver....

4 Things to Consider Regarding Early Inheritance

Posted on: February 23rd, 2018
Nearly two-thirds of people over the age of 50 would rather pass their assets to the children early than make them wait until the will is read. It can be especially satisfying to fund our children’s dreams while we’re alive to enjoy them, and there’s no real financial penalty for doing so, provided that you structure the arrangement correctly. Here are four important factors to take into account when planning to give an early inheritance....

Why Your Estate Planner Needs to Know If You’ve Lent Money to Family

Posted on: January 25th, 2018
Many children and grandchildren are skipping the traditional bank and obtaining loans from parents or grandparents. Unfortunately, we have all heard stories of families torn apart because of disagreements over money. So, what can you do to make sure your intra-family loans help — rather than hurt — your family?...

Gift Giving the Tax-Free Way

Posted on: December 6th, 2017
Although it’s the season of giving, no one wants to share with the IRS. Luckily, the law provides you many opportunities to give gifts to family, friends, and charities tax-free. Some are straightforward, while others may require the help of a professional....

How to Share Family History and Heirlooms with Your Estate Plan

Posted on: November 25th, 2017
The best time to share your family history with loved ones is right now, before the memories are forgotten. The coming holiday season is a great opportunity to reminisce because you’ll probably have your loved ones nearby....

Can You Bequeath Your Frequent Flyer Miles?

Posted on: November 7th, 2017
If you’re a frequent airline traveler, one of your estate planning concerns may be what will happen to your accumulated miles once you’re gone. They could be worth thousands of dollars, so you probably don’t want them to just disappear, but some airline policies say that’s exactly what will happen....

Providing for Your Minor Children after You Die

Posted on: October 18th, 2017
Deciding on a guardian for your minor children may very well be the most vexing decision you’ll make regarding your estate planning. Not only must you trust the appointed guardian to raise your children as you’d want them raised, but you also need that person to be financially responsible with your children’s inheritance. For example, if you have an IRA or an annuity that you wish to pass to your minor children, how can you ensure those funds will be used properly—especially if the person you trust most to raise your kids isn’t necessarily the best with finances?...

New Baby? Time to Create Your Estate Plan

Posted on: September 20th, 2017
Estate planning is often one item that gets pushed back on nearly everyone’s to-do list. The reasons you might be delaying vary: lack of time, not thinking you have enough assets, not knowing how to start, or fear of contemplating death. Whatever the reason for not putting an estate plan together, it is important to understand that if you just had a baby - now is the time to meet with an estate planning attorney to implement a plan....

3 Decidedly Dumb Ways to Leave an Inheritance for Your Children

Posted on: April 18th, 2017
Estate planning offers many ways to leave your wealth to your children, but it’s just as important to know what not to do. Here are some things that are all-too-common, but textbook examples of what not to do or try.......

A Powerful Exercise to Surface the Values You Want to Pass on to the Next Generation

Posted on: January 24th, 2017
Successful estate planning is about far more than simply passing your wealth to the next generation— it’s also about passing on your values. No matter which financial or legal structures you choose to contain and manage your assets, these instruments only preserve your wealth until it reaches the hands of your beneficiaries. What happens then? Your values enabled you to accumulate wealth and persevere in spite of obstacles and long odds. If your children and grandchildren don’t share and cherish those values, they could lose their inheritance as quickly as they received it....