Put your safe deposit box in your corporation’s name

 In most states, a safe deposit box in an individual’s name will be sealed when the individual dies so that the authorities can take an inventory of its contents.  If you are a shareholder in a closely held corporation, you can avoid this problem by renting a safe deposit box in the name of your corporation.  Safe deposit boxes in corporate names are not sealed when a shareholder dies.

By giving the right of access to the box to a fellow corporate officer whom you trust, you can assure your heirs of immediate access to the box.

Check the law in your state first, because some states will not seal a safe deposit box if it is rented jointly in the names of you and your spouse.


Big time tax loophole.  When you die you do not need any records to support any appreciation in your assets.  The assets for tax purposes are “stepped up” to market value on the date of your death or the alternate valuation date, usually six months later.


Everyone in business should be aware of how income taxes will affect them.  Although most business people try to set up a favorable income tax plan, they are often unaware of some important estate planning strategies.

Tom Crandall is a good example.  Tom is a very successful real estate developer.  Shopping centers, condominiums, industrial parks – no matter what the project, Tom tackled it with the enthusiasm and skill that were the foundation for his success.

At age 45, Tom Crandall is now firmly in control of his life.  His wife is warm and supportive, the perfect mother to their three children.  His business is growing rapidly and he can look forward to even greater financial rewards.

Tom understands the importance of tax planning and because his future is so promising, he wants to set up the best possible tax plan for his estate.  His lawyer has explained that by taking advantage of the unlimited marital deduction, Tom or his wife can transfer their entire estate to the surviving spouse tax-free.  In addition, each can use what is called the “applicable credit” to reduce federal estate taxes dollar for dollar.  The applicable credit amount is $780,800, which is the equivalent of an estate deduction of $2,000,000.

However, Tom is certain that his and his wife’s estate will be much greater than $2,000,000 – probably in the millions.  Even with the unlimited marital deduction and the unified credit, Tom realizes that his estate will eventually be subject to substantial federal taxes.  He feels there must be another answer to his problem.


Tom is right.  There is a better way.  A program that takes advantage of the maximum annual exclusion of gifts from taxes will not only help Tom protect the estate from federal estate taxes, but can save him current income tax dollars as well.

Here’s how it works.  Under the tax law, a taxpayer can exclude from tax gifts of up to $12,000 a year for each gift recipient.  If the taxpayer and spouse elect to “split” the gift, the annual limit is increased to $24,000.  Amounts over these limits are subject to gift taxes.  To qualify for the exclusion, the gift must be an outright gift.  If income producing property (including cash) is transferred as a gift, the income tax liability for that property is also transferred to the recipient of the gift.

A gift program could work wonders for Tom’s estate.  He and his wife can give $24,000 annually to each of their three children – a total of $72,000 a year.  If the couple has an additional life expectancy of thirty years, that means they’ll be able to shift $2.16 million out of their estate.  If they also had four grandchildren, the amount could total $5.04 million.

It’s true that you can’t take it with you, but your accountant can help you see to it that the IRS won’t take it either.


  1. Paying more taxes than you have to.  Keep good records so you get all the deductions you’re entitled to.  Shift income to a year when you’ll be in a lower tax bracket.  Shift deductions to a year when you’ll be in a higher tax bracket.
  2. Not preparing for the unexpected.  Set aside at least two months income to protect yourself and your family from serious cash flow problems in the event of an emergency.
  3.  Not putting your money to work.  Take all excess funds out of no-interest or low interest checking and savings accounts.  Put the money to work in liquid but higher yielding places such as mutual funds.
  4. Not setting financial goals.  If you don’t have goals, you can’t make a plan to achieve them.  Write down where you want to be and when.  Then start making a plan.
  5. Making investments based on tips.  No matter how well-intended, a tip is the worst reason to make an investment.  Investment decisions made under pressure are also unwise.
  6. Failing to have your will updated.  Your situation changes along with that of your heirs.  Your will should always reflect your present circumstances.
  7. Not establishing credit in the name of each spouse.  No one likes to think about death or divorce, but not having credit can be much more than a minor inconvenience.
  8. Borrowing money when it’s not necessary.  Not all interest is fully deductible.  Interest deductions have been sharply curtailed.  Don’t assume tax benefits when you consider borrowing.
  9. Not keeping organized financial records.  Poor recordkeeping can cost you significant tax savings, cause you to make bad financial decisions, and leave your family with unnecessary problems if you become ill or die.
  10. Failing to put a yearly tax plan to work as early as possible.  Year-end tax planning can be costly.  The sooner you put your tax plan to work the greater your savings.