estate planning


A Halloween Story about Gift Tax

Gifts are not taxable income. However, they can come back to haunt you! There are three ways gifts can cause issues. The first is if you are applying for a mortgage and the bank is trying to determine where you’re getting the money for your down-payment. They want to make sure you’re not taking out a side loan (and are hence a worse risk to them because of your greater debt burden.) If you are […]


How long should you keep paperwork around?

“How long should I keep paperwork before shredding?” I get this question a lot, but it’s not a quick answer. Here’s an article I wrote to help clarify it. Regarding income tax returns: The IRS has 3 years from the time you file to audit a return or the due date, whichever is later, so absolutely keep all the backup materials to your tax return for at least three years. They get 7 years to […]


My thoughts on 529 College Savings Plans

I’m not in love with 529 plans. I think they are really fabulous in a few settings, but most of the time they’d be my third or fourth choice for ways to save for college. (Update on 12-22-2017: they can also be used for private school now. It doesn’t change any of this advice.) First: when SHOULD you use a 529 plan? When you’re trying to create a trust fund on the cheap. If a […]


In case of death…

Ever wonder what happens to you, as a client, when your financial advisor dies? Even though I am barely 50 as I write this, I actually have given this a lot of thought. Here are the things I’ve done to make sure my clients are taken care of in case I am suddenly unable to. (I used to say “hit by a bus”, but a bus driver once vented to me about how much he […]


Book Review: “Parlay Your IRA into a Family Fortune” by Ed Slott

I’ve been having a mid-life crisis of sorts regarding the value of tax-deferred savings. I decided to go back and reread the “conventional” wisdom before I disrespect it in front of my clients. Ed Slott is one of the foremost experts on IRAs in the country. He knows every single nuance of how to milk an IRA to the absolute tip top tax advantage possible. He speaks from the same perspective as I do as […]