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Reflections on our New Name from our Chairman and CEO

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Howard Sontag, Chairman As the founder of a firm with my own name on the door, why would we choose a new name? As we officially begin doing business as Wealthspire Advisors, our rebranding makes it clear that our firms are now a single organization with common purpose and consistent values. When I founded Sontag Advisory in 1995, the independent advisor universe was just beginning to grow. The idea of representing the client as their fiduciary, with independence from any product or investment firm, was the crucial ingredient in longstanding growth and client retention. Putting Sontag and Bronfman Rothschild together…
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Understanding New York’s Estate Tax “Cliff” – Updated October 2019

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It has been more than five years since some dramatic changes were made to New York’s gift and estate tax law. For many clients, the subject of the New York estate tax “cliff” continues to remain a source of confusion. This is for good reason. The New York cliff is not easy to understand, nor is it easy to know how it may impact your particular situation. The answers below are intended to guide those who remain baffled by the New York estate tax cliff. For a quick snapshot of the 2019 estate and gift tax rates for New York,…
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education planning

FAFSA: Act Quickly and Strategically to Maximize Benefits

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Starting October 1, this year’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available for current and prospective college students. The FAFSA determines a student’s eligibility for Federal grants and loans and is used by schools to craft a student’s financial aid package. Everyone, regardless of income levels, should fill out the FAFSA because it is necessary even for merit-based scholarships. Maximizing Your Potential Financial Aid File the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1, as some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until the money runs out. In fact, based upon the most recent…
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401(k) contributions

Pre-tax or Roth 401(k) Contributions—That is the Question

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The decision of whether to make pre-tax or Roth (after-tax) 401(k) contributions frequently pops up, especially when investors start new jobs. Both pre-tax and Roth 401(k)s offer tax-advantaged investment growth, the same annual employee contribution limits, and both allow the plan participant to receive any available employer match. However, there are key differences between these options, so it is important to understand the pros & cons before electing whether pre-tax, Roth, or a combination of the two is appropriate for you. What is the difference between pre-tax and Roth? There are two primary differences – both of them are tax…
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financial planning for incapacitation

Financial Planning for the Possibility of Incapacitation

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Planning for the possibility of becoming incapacitated can be daunting. While many may have their estate planning documents squared away and have end-of-life plans carefully laid out, they may not have planned adequately for the possibility of incapacitation. Incapacitation, or the physical or mental inability to make or communicate your decisions, often caused by illnesses like stroke or cognitive disease, is a real threat for retirees. Incapacitation presents a unique challenge, in that your family members, designated POAs (Powers of Attorney), doctors or lawyers will need to make decisions for you – and will need access to your documents and…
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prenup

Why Should I Sign a Prenup?

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It’s not because either of you thinks the marriage won’t last To many, “prenup” (short for a prenuptial agreement) is a bad word. Why would any loving couple want to start off their marriage with a financial contractual agreement? As a wealth manager, I counsel clients who have a large disparity in wealth to execute a prenup. Some are getting married later in life and have built up considerable assets, some started a company, some are getting married for the second time. Some have former children to worry about. Some clients have children with considerable trusts getting married. We have…
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reading list

Wealthspire Advisors Back-to-School Reading List 2019

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With the start of a new school year just around the corner, we thought some readers out there may be looking to replace their light summer beach reads with a reading list of a little more substance. This edition of our reading recommendations covers books our advisors have found not only enjoyable, but also enriching. Enjoy! “Wealth of Wisdom” by Tom McCullough & Keith Whitaker Recommended by Lauren Martin, CFP®, Senior Vice President Wealth of Wisdom is one of the most relevant books I’ve read pertaining to educating the next generation. It covers everything from values to philanthropy to investing…
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life insurance

The Life Insurance Tax Trap – And How to Avoid It

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A major advantage of life insurance is a (typically) tax-free death benefit. In structuring life insurance, the owner of the policy generally assumes that the beneficiary will receive the death benefit without any tax being due. However, this assumption can prove incorrect in special cases. The 1946 court case, Goodman vs. Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, examined whether the death of an insured party created a taxable gift from the owner of the policy to the beneficiary. Commonly called the Goodman Triangle, the case can inform solutions to assure benefits remain tax free. As an example, assume the following:…
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back to school iep tips

Special Needs and Special Education Planning: Part 2

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Back-to-school IEP Tips It’s only the middle of August, but your mind is firmly on September. If your child receives special education services, you don’t have the luxury of worrying about ordinary back-to-school stuff like school supplies and new backpacks. Instead, you’re wondering if the services your child is entitled to will be enough this year and, if so, if they will be offered appropriately. Your child will likely need to contend with a new team of teachers, a new mix of classmates, and a possible turnover of crucial special ed staff members. Will these changes be an opportunity for…
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