Spenser Liszt, CFP®, CCFC Paradigm Advisors

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About Spenser Liszt, CFP®, CCFC

I find true fulfillment in advising and educating others toward financial freedom. Before joining Paradigm Advisors in 2019, I enjoyed a successful music career. My strength is utilizing a creative approach to solving a wide range of client needs.

Born and raised in Dallas, I graduated from The University of North Texas with a Master’s in Jazz Studies. I became a Certified College Financial Consultant (CCFC) in 2020 and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional in 2021.

In my free time I enjoy woodworking and spending quality time with my wife.

 

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Recently Published

College Funding Choices

December 1, 2021

How can you help cover your child’s future college costs? Saving early (and often) may be key for most families. Here are some college savings vehicles to consider.

529 college savings plans. Offered by states and some educational institutions, these plans allow you to save up to $15,000 per year for your child’s college costs without having to file an IRS gift tax return.1 A married couple can contribute up to $30,000 per year. However, an individual or couple’s annual contribution to a 529 plan cannot exceed the yearly gift tax exclusion set by the IRS. You may be able to front-load a 529 plan with up to $75,000 in initial contributions per plan beneficiary—up to five years of gifts in one year—without triggering gift taxes.

Remember, a 529 plan is a college savings plan that allows individuals to save for college on a tax-advantaged basis. State tax treatment of 529 plans is only one factor to consider before committing to a savings plan; the fees and expenses associated with the particular plan should also be considered. Whether a state tax deduction is available will depend on your state of residence. State tax laws and treatment may vary and may be different from federal tax laws. Earnings on non-qualified distributions will be subject to income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax.

If your child doesn’t want to go to college, you can change the beneficiary to another child in your family. You can even roll over distributions from a 529 plan into another 529 plan established for the same beneficiary (or another family member) without tax consequences.2

Grandparents can also start a 529 plan or another college savings vehicle.1,2 In fact, anyone can set up a 529 plan on behalf of anyone. You can even establish one for yourself.

Coverdell ESAs. Single filers with modified adjusted gross incomes (MAGIs) of $95,000 or less and joint filers with MAGIs of $190,000 or less can pour up to $2,000 into these accounts annually.3 If your income is higher than that, phaseouts apply above those MAGI levels. Money saved and invested in a Coverdell ESA can be used for college or K-12 education expenses.

Contributions to Coverdell ESAs aren’t tax-deductible, but the accounts enjoy tax-deferred growth, and withdrawals are tax-free, as long as they are used for qualifying education expenses.3 Contributions may be made until the account beneficiary turns 18. The money must be withdrawn when the beneficiary turns 30, or taxes and penalties may occur.

UGMA & UTMA accounts. These all-purpose savings and investment accounts are often used to save for college, and take the form of a trust. When you put money in the trust, you are making an irrevocable gift to your child.4 You manage the trust assets until your child reaches adulthood and the trust terminates. At that point, your child can use the UGMA or UTMA funds to pay for college; however, it should be noted they can also use the money to pay for anything else.

Using a trust involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward with a trust, consider working with a professional who is familiar with the rules and regulations.

Imagine your child graduating from college, debt-free. With the right kind of college planning, that’s a possibility. Talk to a financial professional today about these savings methods and others.

  1. https://www.savingforcollege.com/article/dont-worry-too-much-about-the-annual-gift-tax-limit/
  2. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/1/529plan.asp
  3. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf
  4. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/u/ugma.asp

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

Paradigm Advisors is a fee-only financial planning firm based in Dallas, Texas and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Paradigm Advisors provides comprehensive financial planning and investment management services to help clients organize, grow and protect their wealth throughout life’s journey. Paradigm specializes in advising well-established career executives through financial planning and investment management. As a fee-only fiduciary and independent financial advisor, Paradigm never receives commission of any kind. Paradigm is legally bound by certification to provide unbiased and trustworthy financial advice.

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Estate Planning in 2022: Do You Have These Documents Prepared?

December 1, 2021

Estate planning is an often complex financial process that nearly all investors should consider. It includes reviewing legal and tax implications, investment strategies and personal questions to ensure your estate is set up efficiently. 

As we ring in 2022, let’s look at some of the most important estate planning documents you should have prepared. 

Wills & Trusts

When you think about considering estate planning in 2022, one of the most important documents to consider is your will or trust. A will is a document that spells out your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and care of any dependents if needed. A trust is a tax-advantaged way to arrange ownership of your assets and allows a third party to hold these assets on behalf of a beneficiary.

Both of these documents are usually part of a well-crafted estate plan because they have different focuses. By preparing these important documents, you can help protect your legacy and make the transition of assets easier when you are gone.

There are also two subsets to these documents: living trusts and living wills. 

What is a Living Trust?

A living trust is a legal document that places your assets in a trust while you are alive and also designates where these assets will go upon your death. Some investors choose to also implement a living trust into their estate planning strategy because it is revocable (meaning that it can be changed), and it may allow your estate to bypass probate, which can be a long and costly process. 

What is a Living Will?

You can also set up a living will, which is a directive to physicians that explains your end-of-life medical care preferences. If you are unable to communicate, a living will helps doctors and family members make decisions about your care based on what you would prefer (e.g., CPR, mechanical ventilation, tube feeding, organ donation).

In your living will, you may also specify a healthcare power of attorney, which is an agent who can make important healthcare decisions on your behalf.

Beneficiary Designations

A will or trust explains how you would like your assets distributed among beneficiaries, so it’s also important to update your beneficiaries as you build your estate plan. You should have a contingent beneficiary stated on all insurance and retirement accounts, as well as contingent beneficiaries stated in your will or trust. The new year is a great time to review your beneficiaries as things can change (e.g. marriage or divorce, kids and grandkids, new in-laws, etc.) and having an outdated estate plan can be a recipe for disaster. 

If no beneficiary is stated, your estate may end up in the hands of the court, which can be an impersonal way to handle your assets because a judge has no familiarity with your wishes. 

Power of Attorney

Power of attorney (POA) is given to the agent or person you designate to act on your behalf and oversee your will if you are unable to do so. It’s important to designate POA because if you don’t, the court may decide how your will and assets should be managed. 

You don’t have to give POA to a family member, either. You can choose a trusted friend or financial advisor to act as the agent of your will, especially if they have a strong financial and estate planning background.

Letter of Intent

A letter of intent might cover other details that aren’t included in a will, such as funeral arrangements or a decision for a particular asset. Unlike a will, most letters of intent aren’t legal documents, but they provide supplemental information for your estate and the more information you have for your beneficiaries, the better. A letter of intent can help supplement gaps in a will and answer questions your beneficiaries or probate court might have. 

These are just a few of the important documents you should consider adding to your estate planning strategy in 2022. Talk with your financial advisor about everything you need to know when getting your estate in order. 

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

Paradigm Advisors is a fee-only financial planning firm based in Dallas, Texas and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Paradigm Advisors provides comprehensive financial planning and investment management services to help clients organize, grow and protect their wealth throughout life’s journey. Paradigm specializes in advising well-established career executives through financial planning and investment management. As a fee-only fiduciary and independent financial advisor, Paradigm never receives commission of any kind. Paradigm is legally bound by certification to provide unbiased and trustworthy financial advice.

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What Is a Living Trust?

December 1, 2021

A living trust is a popular consideration in many estate strategy conversations, but its appropriateness will depend upon your individual needs and objectives. Learn more about what a living trust is and some of the potential benefits of a living trust to help you determine whether a living trust is right for your situation.

What Is a Living Trust?

A living trust is created while you are alive and funded with the assets you choose to transfer into it. The trustee (typically, you) has full power to manage these assets. A living trust will also designate a beneficiary, or beneficiaries, much like a will, to whom the assets may be automatically passed on upon your death.

If you create a revocable living trust, you may change the terms of the trust, the trustee, and the beneficiaries at any time. You can also terminate the trust altogether.

Using a trust involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward with a trust, consider working with an estate planning professional.

Why Create a Living Trust?

The living trust offers a number of potential benefits:

  • Avoid Probate: Assets are designed to transfer outside the probate process, providing a seamless, private transfer of assets.
  • Manage Your Affairs: A living trust can be a mechanism for caring for you and your property in the event of your physical or mental disability, provided that you have adequately funded it and named a trustworthy trustee or alternative trustee.
  • Ease and Simplicity: It is a simple matter for a qualified lawyer to create a living trust tailored to your specific objectives. Should circumstances change, it is also a straightforward task to change the trust’s provisions.
  • Avoid Will Contests: Assets passing via a living trust may be less susceptible to the sort of challenge you might see with a will transfer.

The Drawbacks of a Living Trust

Living trusts are not an estate planning catch-all. They won’t accomplish some potentially important objectives, including:

  • A living trust is not designed to protect assets from creditors. It is also considered a “countable resource” when determining your Medicaid eligibility.
  • There is a cost associated with setting up a revocable living trust.
  • Not all assets are easily transferred to a living trust. For example, if you transfer ownership of a car, you may have difficulty obtaining insurance, since you are no longer the owner.
  • A living trust is not a mechanism to save on taxes, now or at your death.

Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts

Sometimes, you might hear a living trust referred to as a revocable trust, meaning that you can make changes to it after it’s created. These changes could include changing beneficiaries or trustees, changing the assets that are included in the trust or modifying any stipulations. 

This is in comparison to an irrevocable trust, which is a trust that can’t be changed after it’s created. Generally, irrevocable trusts remove assets from your estate, which may limit estate tax upon your death. Irrevocable trusts require a qualified attorney to set them up. 

Is a Living Trust Right for Me?

Every estate planning situation is different, so consider working with a financial advisor or attorney who understands your unique situation. But these questions may offer further insight into whether a living trust is right for you:

  • Will you be leaving significant assets to your heirs? Trusts cost more to establish than wills, but they may pay for themselves if you are able to avoid the expenses associated with probate. 
  • Is privacy a concern for you? With a living trust, all assets are kept confidential and aren’t part of public record (unlike a will). 
  • Do you expect your will to be clear-cut without much dispute? If so, you may not need to incur the expense and process of creating a living trust. 
  • Is there a minimum net worth necessary for you to create a living trust in your state? An estate planner will be able to help you with this concern. 
  • Will you and your spouse have different beneficiaries, such as children or grandchildren? If so, a living trust may help determine where each spouse’s assets will go without needing the probate process. 

Living trusts are just one piece of the larger estate planning puzzle. Ensure your assets are protected and organized upon your death by working with a qualified estate planning professional. 

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

Paradigm Advisors is a fee-only financial planning firm based in Dallas, Texas and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Paradigm Advisors provides comprehensive financial planning and investment management services to help clients organize, grow and protect their wealth throughout life’s journey. Paradigm specializes in advising well-established career executives through financial planning and investment management. As a fee-only fiduciary and independent financial advisor, Paradigm never receives commission of any kind. Paradigm is legally bound by certification to provide unbiased and trustworthy financial advice.

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