Enter GoToMeeting ID# Go

Insights

Levin: How to get tax benefits from giving in the post-tax reform world

In the movie “Knives Out,” an 85-year-old mystery author of enormous means has decided he no longer wants to financially support any of the adults in his family.

Needless to say, he doesn’t live much longer after he tells them (this is not a spoiler), and the question of whether it was a suicide or a whodunit colors the film.

Tags:

Levin: It’s a good time to notice those who are struggling

Soon we will gather around our Thanksgiving tables, expressing gratitude for the good things in our lives. We will probably be sitting with those who share with us more similarities than differences. For some reason, this Thanksgiving, I am thinking about “The Other.”

The Other are those who are socially, economically, politically, religiously or simply just different from us. Not only do we not connect with them, but we may make them bad in order for us to be good.

Tags:

Levin: Taxes don’t have to be as painful as we make them out to be

Taxes can’t be fair. There is a huge gap between a 0% tax rate where services that industry can’t deliver are otherwise covered and a 100% tax where there is no incentive to work for pay. Any numbers in between will seem fair to some and not to others. In Minnesota, we are acutely affected by taxes and we have three choices: eliminate them, limit them or appreciate them.

A music lover can listen to Austin’s bluegrass, Nashville’s country, Seattle’s grunge, or Miami’s bass — all in cities in states with no income tax. If you don’t need to earn your living here, you can eliminate state income tax by moving. We have had many clients who have done so. People often turn this departure into a moral issue, but set aside the judgment and view it through the cost/benefit lens and you may someday make a similar choice.

Tags:

Levin: It is time to talk about the family cabin

“Too many parents make life hard for their children by trying, too zealously, to make it easy for them.” So said the 18th-century German statesman and author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

While his thought may be true, I often find the opposite occurring when it comes to estate planning. Because parents are often not open with their adult children about their parental intentions, or worse, because they want the kids to figure it out, chaos may ensue. Let’s look at a true Minnesota example. 

The family cabin tends to be a lightning rod for inheritance issues for a host of reasons. The cabin is not just a structure; it is an archive of fond memories. Unfortunately, when the cabin is left to the children, new memories are created that are usually not so fond.

Tags:

Levin: Enhancing your life shouldn’t be a chore, so get rid of that bucket list

en someone shares with you that they have an incurable illness, is one of the first things you want to know is how they are going to change their life?

Educator Bruce Kramer, in a memoir he wrote with journalist Cathy Wurzer after receiving a diagnosis in 2010 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, observed, “I know that I am dying. But this is not new knowledge, and it is not ALS. It has always been so. Disease only changes the circumstances and the speed.”

Tags:

Levin: Long-term care, climate change and your finances

There would seem to be nothing in common between long-term care and climate change. But there is. Insurance companies cannot properly price it. This is evident to anyone who has seen their long-term care insurance or homeowner’s insurance costs continue to increase. If insurance companies are stumped, how do we plan for ourselves? Let’s take each issue separately.

Rather than go into the types of long-term care policies, let’s simply think about whether you need the insurance. I am generally ambivalent about the coverage because it is unclear whether it provides any real financial advantages. Here are some reasons it may make sense to own it.

Tags:

Levin: You can plan for tomorrow and still enjoy life today

Why do people spend money they don’t have, burst through their budgets, and end up pinky-swearing that they will never spend money like that again — until they do it again the next time?

In the book, “Atomic Habits,” James Clear wrote, “The costs of your good habits are in the present. The costs of your bad habits are in the future.”

Think about that. Buying something that you don’t really need at the expense of saving for something that you do means that you are paying a future price to satisfy today’s want.

Tags:

Levin: Why you need to ask questions of your financial adviser

A new client recently was asking many questions in a meeting, ending with one about whether there are ways to see their account directly from the brokerage firm in addition to the portal that we provide. He said, “As a lawyer, I like to double check everything.” And he ended by saying, “I trust you enough to ask this of you.” This got me thinking about gifts that occur in a reciprocal planning relationship.

Tags: