Berdon Blogs

Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS

Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS
Scott T. Ditman, a tax partner and Chair, Personal Wealth Services at Berdon LLP, advises high net worth individuals and family/owner-managed business clients on building, preserving, and transferring wealth, estate and income tax issues, and succession and financial planning.
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Recent Posts

T&E TALK: Second Marriage? Time to Update your Estate Plan

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Dec 11, 2017 7:03:00 AM

If you’re in a second marriage or planning another trip down the aisle, it’s vital to review and revise (if necessary) your estate plan. You probably want to provide for your current spouse and not inadvertently benefit your former spouse. And if you have children from each marriage, juggling their interests can be a challenge. Let’s take a look at a few planning tips.

Take Inventory

Have you updated your will, trusts, and beneficiary designations to name your current spouse where desired? Bear in mind that the terms of your divorce may require you to retain your former spouse as beneficiary of certain pension plans or retirement accounts.

Next, assess your financial situation and think about how you want to provide for various family members. For example, do you want to provide for all children equally? Will you favor biological children over stepchildren?

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Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Make the Holidays Bright with Annual Exclusion Gifts

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Dec 4, 2017 7:02:00 AM

As the holiday season approaches, gift giving will be top of mind. While gifts of electronics, toys, and clothes are nice, making tax-free gifts of cash using your annual exclusion is beneficial for both you and your family. Even in this potentially changing estate tax environment, making annual exclusion gifts before year end can still benefit your estate plan.

Understanding the Annual Exclusion

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Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Tax Reform and Estate Planning - What’s on the Table?

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Nov 27, 2017 10:30:52 AM

As Congress and President Trump pursue their stated goal of passing sweeping new tax legislation before the end of the year, many taxpayers are wondering how such legislation will affect them. One area of particular interest is estate planning; specifically, the future of gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer (GST) taxes.

Potential Estate Tax Law Changes

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Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Consider a Letter of Instructions to your Heirs

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Nov 20, 2017 7:03:00 AM

When you draft your estate plan, the centerpiece is your will or living trust. Such a document determines who gets what, where, when, and how, as well as tying up the loose ends of your estate. A valid will or living trust can be supplemented by other legally binding documents, such as trusts (or additional trusts), powers of attorney and health care directives.

But there’s still a place at the table for a document that has absolutely no legal authority: a “letter of instructions” to your heirs. This informal letter can provide valuable guidance and act as a road map to the rest of your estate.

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Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Leverage the Benefits of a Charitable Remainder Trust

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Nov 13, 2017 7:00:00 AM

If you’re charitably inclined but concerned about having sufficient income to meet your needs, a charitable remainder trust (CRT) may be the answer. A CRT allows you to support a favorite charity while potentially boosting your cash flow, shrinking the size of your taxable estate, reducing or deferring income taxes, and enjoying investment planning advantages.

How a CRT Works

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Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: A Dynasty Trust keeps on Giving Long into the Future

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Nov 6, 2017 7:05:00 AM

With a properly executed estate plan, your wealth can be enjoyed by your children and even their children. But did you know that by using a dynasty trust you can extend the estate tax benefits for several generations, and perhaps indefinitely? A dynasty trust can protect your wealth from gift, estate, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) taxes and help you leave a lasting legacy.

Dynasty Trust in Action

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T&E TALK: Who Should Own Your Life Insurance Policy?

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Oct 30, 2017 7:00:00 AM

If you own life insurance policies at your death, the proceeds will be included in your taxable estate. Ownership is usually determined by several factors, including who has the right to name the beneficiaries of the proceeds. The way around this problem is to not own the policies when you die. However, don’t automatically rule out your ownership either.

It’s important to keep in mind the current uncertain future of the estate tax. If the estate tax is repealed (or if someone doesn’t have a large enough estate that estate taxes are a concern), then the inclusion of your policy in your estate is a nonissue. However, there may be nontax reasons for not owning the policy yourself.

Plus and Minuses of Different Owners

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Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: A Crummey Trust Can Preserve the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Oct 23, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Traditionally, taxpayers have looked for ways to make the most of the $14,000 annual gift tax exclusion, and using a Crummey trust is one way to do that. But with the federal gift and estate tax exemption currently at an inflation-adjusted $5.49 million and the possibility of an estate tax repeal, it may seem that the annual exclusion is less relevant than ever before. Or is it?

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Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Tax Law Uncertainty Requires Estate Plan Flexibility

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Oct 16, 2017 7:00:00 AM

Events of the last decade have taught us that taxes are anything but certain. Case in point: Congress is again mulling abolishing estate and generation skipping taxes as part of tax reform. So how can people who hope to still have long lifespans ahead of them plan their estates when the tax landscape may look dramatically different 20, 30, or 40 years from now? The answer is by taking a flexible approach that allows you to hedge your bets.

Conflicting Strategies

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Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: An HSA can Benefit Your Estate Plan

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Oct 9, 2017 7:05:00 AM

One health care arrangement that has been soaring in popularity in recent years has been the pairing of a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA). The good news is that not only does an HSA provide a tax-advantaged way to pay for health care costs, but it also can help you achieve your estate planning goals.

How does it Work?

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Topics: T&E TALK

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