28 Jan
January 28, 2020

Every January I head down to Orlando for the Heckerling Conference on Estate Planning. Imagine thousands of attorneys and CPAs all congregating to discuss the latest complicated estate and tax planning strategies the best and brightest had dreamt up… yes, it is exactly as big of a nerd fest as you are imagining. I always come back with these amazing ideas that I can’t wait to share as they relate to people’s estate plans.

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13 Mar
March 13, 2019

Crafting a great estate plan can be a fascinating exercise, yet most of us never quite get around to it. Perhaps it’s a bit like a challenging recipe: start with a natural reluctance to contemplate your own demise, sprinkle in some unique family dynamics, season liberally with ever-changing tax laws and fold in that one heir you’re not quite sure about. Is it any wonder we procrastinate?

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04 Dec
December 04, 2018

There you are, in your mid 40’s, working hard and raising your family. Have you had the conversation with your parents yet? Have you received the email from mom and dad telling you that it’s time? When is it time to discuss their finances in preparation for the day when one or both of them are no longer around or able to manage their affairs?

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19 Jul
July 19, 2018

As the old saying goes, “there are only two things certain in life – death and taxes.” Because everyone has to face these realities sooner or later, taking time to implement certain tax planning strategies and create or review your estate plan, can save you money and provide peace of mind, both now and in the future.

First, let’s talk taxes.

While we all have to pay our dues to Uncle Sam each year, there are several planning strategies that can help

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09 Jul
July 09, 2018

This blog is brought to you by Savant’s Women’s Wealth Initiative

Becoming a first-time parent is both exhilarating and exhausting. For new mothers especially, it can be frightening. Caring for a newborn adds so many new things to worry about. As a new mom myself, I’ve experienced this firsthand. From the moment we brought our son home, I worried about whether he was eating enough, sleeping enough, and, dare I say it, pooping enough.

In addition to new worries, I often

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23 Apr
April 23, 2018

You may have heard that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act raised the shared Federal Estate Tax Exemption level to over $22 million for a married couple. It is estimated that this increase will reduce the number of estates subject to Federal Estate Tax in 2018 from 5,500 to only 1,700, which represents approximately only 0.1% of the estates to be filed in 2018.

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16 Nov
November 16, 2017

Planning a wedding takes quite a bit of time and effort. It involves a good deal of coordination and communication to make sure everything goes smoothly on the big day. Don’t let the organization skills you developed while planning your wedding go to waste after tying the knot. Instead, re-direct them to an important part of your new life together: creating a financial plan for your future.

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17 May
May 17, 2017

One of the top concerns for Americans in their 60s is how to pay for retirement. Consider focusing on a plan for these five areas of financial planning to help gain confidence as you approach or enter retirement. Interestingly, many individuals’ first anxiety is loss of principal – particularly with 2008 still in our collective rearview mirrors. However, given that retirement may last 30 years or longer, workers approaching retirement need to be just as focused on loss of purchasing

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12 May
May 12, 2017

Young adulthood often marks the passage of several major life events including beginning a career, getting married, starting a family, and buying a first home. As young adults ourselves, my husband and I welcomed our first child, moved states for a new career, and bought our first home, all in the past year.

While settling into being first-time parents and exploring our new neighborhood, another important item lingered on our to-do list: ensuring our son would be taken care of, if

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27 Jul
July 27, 2016

You may be a fan of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. A visit to Home Depot or a search through Pinterest shows the popularity of a wide variety of DIY projects. Many folks are taking the DIY approach with their estate plan. Online document preparers offer a low-cost solution for simple estate planning. But beware of many pitfalls to this approach.

Complexities are often hard to detect.

You might not realize what complexities exist in your situation. Family circumstances, asset characteristics, net worth, and

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27 Apr
April 27, 2016

When I first learned to drive, my father taught me how to jump start a car. When attaching the jumper cables, he instructed, always match the positive cable to the positive side, and the negative cable to the negative side.  Failure to align the charge could result in serious damage to the car and a shower of sparks.  The same can be said when designing your estate plan.  Once your estate plan is properly drafted and signed, it is imperative

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24 Nov
November 24, 2015

Yesterday I was in the mood for some good milk on my cereal. You know the kind: the milk that costs more but has that rich flavor. I bought some with a new box of my favorite cereal and returned home to enjoy my breakfast. The second I began to pour, I knew something was wrong. The consistency was off. I looked more closely at the label:
“buttermilk.” How could I have done that? The packaging had looked right;

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11 Feb
February 11, 2015

Was your estate plan drafted five or more years ago? If so, recent changes in the Federal and Illinois estate tax laws should prompt a review and update of that plan.

Effective January 1st of this year, each U.S. citizen can transfer during life or at death up to $5.43 million of property free of Federal estate tax. Transfers in excess of this amount are subject to Federal tax at a flat rate of 40%. For Illinois

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03 Dec
December 03, 2014

The single most important estate planning document many of us have is a Power of Attorney for Health Care. This document allows us to name a person we trust referred to as an Agent to direct decisions regarding health care, medical treatment, and hospitalization when we are no longer able to make those decisions. Powers of Attorney also often provide authorization to your Agent to require, withhold, or withdraw any type of medical treatment or procedure even though

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09 Jun
June 09, 2014

When developing an estate plan it’s important to select the right person as trustee or executor (fiduciary). Unfortunately there are many stories of things going awry, and family relationships being damaged, when the person responsible for managing your estate doesn’t see eye to eye with the beneficiaries.

These unintended situations can be minimized by remembering a few important points in designating a fiduciary.

Below are four “C’s” to keep in mind:

Consider your familyA family member or child is often the first person

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15 Oct
October 15, 2013

Each year advisors recommend a list of review considerations for year end planning. The importance of reviewing your beneficiary designations cannot be minimized.

Beneficiaries are named in account types such as 401k, 403b, IRA, life insurance, annuities, payable on death accounts and certain pension accounts (i.e. 5 or 10 year certain pension options).

Generally the owner of the asset is allowed to choose who will inherit the account upon the owner’s death. There are a few exceptions regarding ERISA Accounts (401k, 403b);

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02 Oct
October 02, 2013

Jimi Hendrix. Howard Hughes. Abraham Lincoln.

Different eras, different professions, different abilities, same problem.

No, the problem was not because all three had drug issues, obsessive compulsive disorder, or other eccentricities. The problem was simply that all three failed to plan for life beyond the grave!

It probably does not surprise you that Jimi Hendrix failed to plan, given the lifestyleand times in which he lived. But how could Howard Hughes leave an estate valued at more than $2 billion without any intentions?

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01 Nov
November 01, 2012


I have never met a farmer who didn’t haggle from time to time. Whether it’s buying or selling, there is always a negotiation. It seems most farmers are unable to sleep unless they come out of a transaction with a sense that the deal was, at a minimum, fair. Can we extend this mentality beyond buying equipment and selling crops?

An Iowa study indicates that two-thirds of farmers have done no retirement planning, much less estate planning. How can we turn

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