The “Giving Pledge”

The “Giving Pledge”

Enhanced Charitable Lead Annuity Trust

By: Richard S. Bernstein, CEO

Over the last few years, charities have reported a drop-off in donations.   To help, several of the world’s wealthiest individuals such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have lead by example and developed a campaign called the “Giving Pledge”.   This pledge is a commitment to give most of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

While everyone might not have the gifting power of Gates, Buffett, or a Zuckerberg, there are tools that will allow you to give to your favorite charity while still providing for the people you love.

For those who are motivated to make a difference by donating wealth to a charity, one valuable giving strategy for individuals to consider is an Enhanced Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (ECLAT).

An ECLAT leverages life insurance in order to provide a legacy by passing wealth to both charitable organizations as well as the donor’s loved ones.  This irrevocable trust has flexibility in how it can be structured and provides the contributor with control by accommodating goals of charitable giving, tax planning and wealth transfer.

This trust allows one to donate assets, and depending on its design, can allow for income tax deduction.  Popular among, and suited for high net worth individuals, there are different ways this concept works.

To learn more and read the full article, click here.


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What The Affordable Care Act Means For You

What The Affordable Care Act Means For You

Prepare For Upcoming Changes

By: Richard S. Bernstein, CEO

There continue to be many questions and concerns regarding our nation’s new health care reform.  Many are unaware of laws that have been passed and have been perplexed as to what is rumor and what is fact.   If you haven’t done so already, it is vital for individuals, business owners and employees to learn how The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare”, will affect you now and in the future.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into Law in the Spring of 2010.  While the bulk of the provisions go into place in 2014, there have already been substantial changes made to our health care system that will affect both individuals and businesses.

The new law opens the doors to the healthcare system for all Americans to get basic coverage through Medicaid or subsidized health insurance via exchanges.  How Obamacare will affect you depends on who you are, your financial status and the level of your involvement in the health care industry.

What Are The Increased New Taxes?

How Will It Affect Business Owners?

What Should You Do To Better Prepare For The Changes Of Obamacare?

Learn the answers to the these questions and more by clicking Here

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Strategies of a Successful Business

Strategies of a Successful Business

“Key Person” Insurance Helps During Loss of Vital Employees

By: Richard S. Bernstein, CEO

There are numerous characteristics of a successful business.  Some measure success by tangible assets such as property, machinery, or inventory.  However, one of the most valuable assets of every prosperous business that often goes overlooked is the employee. 

In every company, there are a select number of employees who perform specialized tasks that are essential to the operations and success of the organization.  This could be anyone from the owner, top executives or job specialists.  Regardless if it’s a large corporation or a family-owned business, if one of these “key people” were to suddenly die or become disabled, it would be challenging to replace them in a timely manner and, in the process, could result in lost revenue for the company.

One of the most useful planning strategies for business owners to consider in this situation is the purchase of a “Key Person” insurance policy.  This is a vital strategy for companies that rely on a few key individuals to produce a large share of the company’s earnings.

To read the rest of this article and to learn more about “Key Person” Insurance, click here

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Key Planning Strategies for Women

Key Planning Strategies for Women

Ensure Your Financial Future

By: Richard S. Bernstein, CEO

In today’s uncertain financial times, it is typical for a married couple to have equal roles in the decision making process in regards to their family legacy.  With women having a longer life expectancy than men, there is an increased possibility that they will eventually be the exclusive decision maker for the family and be responsible for taking care of themselves as they grow older.

Keeping this in mind, regardless if you are married, single, and/or a business owner, it is crucial for all women to be involved in the planning process for their future.  At times this task can be daunting, but there are key strategies that can be beneficial for you and your family if you begin preparing now.

•    With all the ways women provide for their families, purchasing a whole life insurance policy is one of the most valuable tools to guarantee your family a quality lifestyle, now and for generations to come.  Life insurance should be part of every estate plan and is a versatile financial asset that can provide a guaranteed amount of cash for a family to help them manage a way of life.  During market declines, many individuals have accessed money out of their life insurance policies instead of liquidating stocks in a down market.

To read more key strategies that are beneficial for women, please click here

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New Year, New Taxes

New Year, New Taxes

Benefit-Focused Retirement Plans Should Be Considered

By: Richard S. Bernstein, CEO

In times of economic uncertainty, people have many questions about their financial well-being and what they should do when it comes to retirement.  With government programs not being able to assist individuals as expected and increased taxes happening over time, securing your financial future for retirement is as important as ever.

Taking this into consideration, there are certain types of qualified retirement plans that business owners may find useful.  However, choosing the right plan that offers beneficial tax incentives and that provides significant value for business owners can be difficult.

One of the most valuable tools for business owners today are defined-benefit plans.  There are several different types of qualified plans in the marketplace, but one of the most appealing and underutilized defined-benefit plans is known as a benefit-focused plan.  Similar to a defined benefit plan, a benefit-focused plan allows larger contributions as you are funding to create income for life as opposed to a lump sum.  In the benefit focused plan, the employees’ costs are potentially lower because the plan sponsor does not have to pay out plan assets when an employee quits.  Furthermore, a death benefit can be provided and continued for the lifetime of the participant.  One of the most important aspects is that it can offer a greater amount of tax deductions, as compared to any other type of traditional retirement plan.

This strategy gives owners different advantages that they wouldn’t be able to find in any other retirement system.

To learn more about the different advantages of a benefit-focused plan, please click Here

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Valuable Lessons in Estate Planning

Valuable Lessons in Estate Planning

Don’t Let History Repeat Itself

By: Richard S. Bernstein, CEO

There is a wide divergence when it comes to how individuals communicate and execute their estate and wealth transfer plans.  For many, these subjects are off limits and never discussed.  Sometimes even family members will be lucky to locate a will, insurance information, financial details or funeral arrangements.

Communication and proper planning are vital when it comes to one’s financial legacy.  When passing on your hard earned assets, there is little room for error.  There are several examples of high profile people who could have benefited from proper estate planning.

To learn more about these high profile people and the lessons that can be learned from them, please click here

For more information on various estate planning techniques, please visit


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‘Dynasty’ Trusts

‘Dynasty’ Trusts

A Core Component of a Successful Estate Plan

By: Richard S. Bernstein, CEO

As the matriarch or patriarch of a family with significant assets, you may have estate planning issues that will similarly concern your children. Some of your wealth may have already been transferred into your children’s names, and they may inherit more and be very successful in their own right. But this could eventually create unnecessary tax consequences for your grandchildren.

One of the core components of a successful estate plan is a trust that allows your family to avoid paying gift and estate taxes for generations.  A life insurance policy in a trust with these features can provide a powerful combination of tax benefits. The death benefit comes into the trust income tax free, and if properly structured, the proceeds can compound free of estate taxes for generations.

The Generation Skipping Transfer Tax, generally referred to as the GST, is designed to tax wealth transfers to grandchildren and beyond.  As a result of the December 31, 2012 bill passed by both houses and signed by the president, the GST exemption remains at $5 million. In addition, the lifetime gifting exemption remains at $5 million, which may give you the opportunity to do your GST planning while you are alive.

Rules for establishing GST trusts vary on a state by state basis. For example, in 22 states these trusts may exist in perpetuity. In Florida, they can last for 360 years.

There are ways to structure these trust instruments so that generally your children and grandchildren will have rights to the income and some access to principal. These provisions might include the standard health, welfare, maintenance and support of your heirs, but it is your document subject to your wishes and desires. Your children can be trustees and still have some access to income and principal, but there may be greater flexibility using an independent trustee.

There are other important non-tax advantages to “Dynasty” or Generation Skipping Transfer Tax trusts. For example, an irrevocable trust can usually provide valuable asset protection for your children and grandchildren from divorces and creditors.

To learn more about ‘Dynasty’ Trusts, please visit:

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