Name the right person as executor to help ensure your planning objectives are carried through

The executor’s role is critical to the administration of your estate and the achievement of your estate planning objectives. So your first instinct may be to name a trusted family member as executor. But that might not be the best choice.

Duties of an executor

Your executor will have a variety of important duties, including:

Arranging for probate of your will (if necessary) and obtaining court approval to administer your estate,
Taking inventory of — and collecting, recovering or maintaining — your assets, including life insurance proceeds and retirement plan benefits,
Obtaining valuations of your assets if necessary,
Preparing a schedule of assets and liabilities,
Arranging for the safekeeping of personal property,
Contacting your beneficiaries to advise them of their entitlements under your will,
Paying any debts incurred by you or your estate and handling creditors’ claims,
Defending your will in the event of litigation,
Filing tax returns on behalf of your estate, and
Distributing your assets among your beneficiaries according to the terms of your will.

Divorcing couples should understand these 4 tax issues

When a couple is going through a divorce, taxes are probably not foremost in their minds. But without proper planning and advice, some people find divorce to be an even more taxing experience. Several tax concerns need to be addressed to ensure that taxes are kept to a minimum and that important tax-related decisions are properly made.

Don’t forget about making a portability election

Portability allows a surviving spouse to apply a deceased spouse’s unused federal gift and estate tax exemption amount toward his or her own transfers during life or at death. For 2020, the exemption amount is $11.58 million, and the IRS just announced that that amount will increase to $11.7 million for 2021.

To secure these benefits, however, the deceased spouse’s executor must have made a portability election on a timely filed estate tax return.

New business? It’s a good time to start a retirement plan

If you recently launched a business, you may want to set up a tax-favored retirement plan for yourself and your employees. There are several types of qualified plans that are eligible for these tax advantages:

A current deduction from income to the employer for contributions to the plan,
Tax-free buildup of the value of plan investments, and
The deferral of income (augmented by investment earnings) to employees until funds are distributed.

What tax records can you throw away?

October 15 is the deadline for individual taxpayers who extended their 2019 tax returns. (The original April 15 filing deadline was extended this year to July 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) If you’re finally done filing last year’s return, you might wonder: Which tax records can you toss once you’re done? Now is a good time to go through old tax records and see what you can discard.

Business website costs: How to handle them for tax purposes

The business use of websites is widespread. But surprisingly, the IRS hasn’t yet issued formal guidance on when Internet website costs can be deducted.

Fortunately, established rules that generally apply to the deductibility of business costs, and IRS guidance that applies to software costs, provide business taxpayers launching a website with some guidance as to the proper treatment of the costs.