Ellis D. Hummel, CFP
Vice President/ Portfolio Manager Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel

Q: When advisers talk about asset protection, what specific topics need to be addressed for my estate planning needs?
A solid asset protection strategy covers, at minimum, three main categories:liability risk, market risk and tax exposure. Liability risk may be addressed with a coordinated strategy of revocable and irrevocable trusts, gifting programs and comprehensive liability insurance. Market risk is mitigated through a prudent and diversified portfolio structure of actively managed investment categories. Tax strategies are implemented to manage current income and benefits from charitable techniques, and to minimize future estate taxes. The result is a coordinated generational wealth plan that protects and grows your wealth.

Ronald L. Buckley
Senior Financial Advisor Waddell & Reed
Q: How Can I leave a legacy?
You worked hard over the years to accumulate wealth, and you find it comforting to know that after death your assets will continue to support your family, friends and causes. There are four basic ways to leave a legacy: by will, by trust, by beneficiary designation, and by joint ownership arrangements. To ensure your legacy reaches your heirs, you must make the proper arrangements.

Kevin R. Ghassomian, Esq.
Member Greenebaum Doll & McDonald PLLC

Q: A friend told me not to leave money to my grandchildren because the tax would be too high. Is this true?
It depends on the size of your estate. The generation-skipping transfer tax applies, on top of the estate tax, to certain amounts left to third-generation beneficiaries, such as grandchildren. The tax, however, applies only to transfers of more than $2 million in 2008 and $3.5 million in 2009. It will be repealed in 2010, but applies again in 2011 to amounts of more than $1 million. It is the highest tax the federal government assesses, so you definitely don’t want it applied to a bequest to your grandchildren or other third-generation heirs.
Timothy R. Meyer
President & Chief Investment Officer Meyer Capital Management

Q: What is the cost basis of common stock shares I inherited?
Cost basis is a number used to determine the capital-gains tax liability of an investment. For inherited stock, cost basis is equal to the fair market value on the date of death, or six months after the date of death, depending on which number was used on the estate tax return. Fair market value is the average of the high and low stock price on whichever valuation date is chosen. A higher cost basis, also called stepped-up, benefits the recipient by lowering capital gains taxes when the shares are sold.
Kenneth J. Schoster
Principal  Rippe & Kingston Co. PSC
Q: Is an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust a good estate planning technique?
Yes, an ILIT is an excellent way to pass assets on to your heirs. Because the trust owns the life insurance benefits, the benefits aren’t included in your gross estate and are not subject to estate taxes. In addition, the ILIT can also be structured so that the trust will provide benefits to your surviving spouse without inclusion in the surviving spouse’s gross estate either. Insurance proceeds paid to the ILIT are exempt from income taxes as well.
B. Scott Boster
Partner Ulmer & Berne LLP

Q: Why should I consider contributing highly appreciated assets to a charitable remainder trust even though charitable giving is not my highest priority?
A contribution to a charitable remainder trust may allow you to receive an immediate charitable deduction, avoid capital-gains taxes, provide you, your spouse and/or your children with annual tax-favored income for a lifetime, and ultimately benefit the charitable organizations you select. When used in conjunction with a life insurance policy owned by an irrevocable life insurance trust, any assets contributed to the charitable trust can be replaced and distributed to your beneficiaries at your death.

Tom Breed
Estates & Trusts Practice Group Chairman Wood & Lamping LLP|
Q: Are trusts just for rich people?
No. A trust is merely a private agreement between its creator, or grantor, and the holder of the trust property, or trustee, for the benefit of certain persons, called beneficiaries. It is appropriate for almost any income level. Trusts are used to save estate taxes, and often to avoid probate court. Trusts can provide sources of income, creditor protection and financial management for children or grandchildren, and family members with special needs.

Barbara Culver, CFP, ChFC, CLU, AEP
President and Principal Owner Resonate, Inc.

Q: What does estate planning include?
Studies show that if your estate planning only focuses on the tax-efficient transfer of tangible assets, 70 percent of the time your wealth will disappear and your family will shatter within three generations. You need to plan for four asset classes — tangible, human, intellectual and health — for your plan to succeed and last.

William E. Hesch, Esq., CPA, PFS
Attorney/CPA/Financial Advisor William E Hesch, CPAs LLC

Effective estate planning requires effective counsel from an attorney, a certified public accountant and a personal financial specialist to assist you in identifying who gets what and when. The attorney counsels you on the best legal structure to achieve your estate goals. The CPA/PFS counsels you on which tax and financial strategies are needed in your estate plan. The CPA/PFS is certified by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and specializes in financial/ estate planning.