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Estate Planning and What to Do
With Trump As President?

Do you remember the short story of Rip Van Winkle as told by George Washington Irving? Van Winkle goes to sleep after a game of bowling and much drinking in the mountains with a band of dwarves.

He awakens twenty years later, an old man. Back home, Rip finds that all has changed: his wife is dead, his daughter is married, and the American Revolutionary War has taken place.

Since the passage Trump’s Tax Cut & Jobs Act of 2018, the majority of wealthy Americans are using Rip Van Winkle as their role model.

It seems that because estate taxation rules have been and will continue to be in flux, they have been content to sleep it off and wait until they wake up to do any estate planning. BIG MISTAKE!

First and foremost, estate planning is the premeditated decision to determine who gets what, when they get it, and how they get it. It is a true act of love and respect for those we leave behind. But if it is so important, why do 72% of today’s affluent avoid estate planning altogether?

There is a litany of reasons, but top on the list is procrastination. Estate planning isn’t an exciting task – that’s true – but it’s vital to the sanctity of the family. Archeologists have proven the ancient Egyptians wrong – YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU! We all need an estate plan.

Second, estate planning appears confusing. Considering that the estate and pension tax laws have changed three times in the last five years, and are set to change again in 2018, it’s no wonder we are dumbfounded and frozen. But putting off the inevitable is dangerous.

Third, on the surface, with all the political rhetoric we heard during the election, it would appear that estate planning is all about taxes.

That is a huge lie. The truth is, under the current federal tax laws, with the tax exemption now at $11,400,000 for individuals and $22,800,000 for married couples, and not moving below $12 million in the future, only a tiny fraction (1,800 in 2019) of Americans have the blessed problem of paying any estate taxes. We all should be so fortunate.

Even if Congress and President Trump were to leave things alone, which they won’t, we all need an estate plan. A directive for your family to follow that is coherently created with love and concern for their future is critical.

It shouldn’t be drafted on a napkin on your last day upon the earth. Upon death, legal fees, income taxes, federal estate taxes, state inheritance taxes and other estate settlement costs can strip more than 70% of the assets intended for your family.

Proper planning is a requirement to create a meaningful, effective plan, and that takes time and action.

During my 46 years of planning estates of all sizes I have encountered mistakes that are repeated time and time again, and have written a best-selling book titled: The 10 Most Common Estate Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them to exposes them. Over the next few months, in a series of articles, I will share what those mistakes are and solutions with the readers of The Bull & Bear Financial Report. If you would like to read ahead and receive a copy of the book, we have made it exclusively available to Bull & Bear subscribers for a 50% discounted price of $7.50. To order call our toll free number, 1-888-892-1102.

Among the topics I will discuss:

• How to avoid exorbitant costs of probate

• How to properly use your estate and gift tax exclusions

• How to maximize your IRA Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)

• How to financially prepare for a potential long term medical event

• How to establish a Tax-Free Family Bank

My overall goal in providing this education is to make the complex easy to understand and motivate you into action.

Rip Van Winkle is a tale about an old man ill prepared for his departure, but a man who gets a second chance to make things right even after a long sleep. Wake up! Switch off the “snooze button” and take affirmative action. With the current favorable tax laws, a new president that wants to personally keep his wealth in his family, and a surging economy, it is time to get educated and make your move.

Your legacy depends on it. Procrastination is dangerous to your wealth!

Editor’s Note: David T. Phillips is CEO of Estate Planning Specialists. Mr. Phillips is a nationally recognized consumer advocate for insurance, annuities and estate planning with over 46 years of experience. He is the author of bestselling books Estate Planning Made Easy, The Family Bank Strategy, The Leveraged Care Solutions – Answers to Today’s Long-Term Care Crisis, and has been a featured on national television including: CNN, Fox News, CNBC, Money Talks, and Bloomberg. He can be reached by calling 1-888-892-1102 or email at

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