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Corporate Fiduciaries: Going Beyond the Financials

The cornerstone of the fiduciary-client relationship is trust -- the special confidence in, or reliance on, the ability to act in the client’s best interest. While often associated with the duties of managing finances, fiduciary care extends beyond the financial elements to also include an unbiased approach to managing personal concerns, such as health care, family values and philanthropy.

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Clearing Financial Hurdles on the Road to Retirement

When friends and loved ones finally raise their glasses to bid you a long and healthy retirement, you do not want to be worrying about how your bills will get paid. That is why it is so important to participate in your company's retirement plan now.

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Build a Plan for Life!

The former Beatle, John Lennon, may have put it best when he said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." While much of what happens in life is unpredictable, some major financial goals -- such as owning a home, educating children, and retiring in comfort -- can be anticipated and planned for.

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Different Accounts, Different Rules for Passing Wealth

If you're like most people, you hold financial assets in a variety of different accounts and that could have a big effect on the wealth-transfer implications of your overall estate plan. Here's a quick overview on how assets in various types of accounts generally pass on to your heirs.

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Bring Charitable Giving Into Your Estate Plan

In addition to the goodwill benefits a charitable contribution brings, it can also have significant tax advantages.* There are different options for setting up a charitable contribution through your estate plan. The easiest is a simple bequest through your will. Remember that charitable contributions are deductible from estate taxes.

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Why You Need a Financial Plan

Studies have shown that financial planning plays a key role in achieving major life goals. Why wait any longer? Start assessing your current situation, setting goals, and planning for your own financial future today.

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Economic Review and Outlook - Q2 2015

First quarter U.S. economic growth is likely to be somewhat slower than anticipated and is currently tracking just under 2%. It is difficult to know, however, how much of the shortfall is due to another unusually severe winter or if the sluggishness will persist as a result of global economic weakness, dislocation in the energy sector, and a surging dollar. Economic activity plummeted during the deep freeze of 2014 only to rocket back later that year.

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Vacation Homes May Play an Integral Role in Your Retirement and Estate Plans

While a vacation property can be a treasured retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life, viewed from an investment perspective, it could also make a relatively safe, long-term addition to a family's net worth. For retirees or those approaching retirement, vacation property may offer special options for managing their finances and estate plans.

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Four Tips for Tax-Savvy Investors

A century ago, author Mark Twain wrote that the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector is that the taxidermist takes only your skin. Today, the IRS isn't any more popular. Why not see if any of the following strategies could allow you to keep more of what your investments earn?

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How Rising Interest Rates May Affect Your Estate Planning Strategy

Interest rates are a key driver in today's economy and financial markets. They also can have a direct impact on certain estate planning strategies. Wealth holders who plan to transfer assets to heirs or charities via trusts may need to consider how the current upward trend in interest rates could help or hinder their plans.

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Rules of Engagement — What It Takes to Manage Your Estate

One of the most important decisions you will make with regard to your estate is selecting the right fiduciaries to manage it. You will need an executor to oversee the disposition of your will and a trustee to manage and maintain any trusts that exist. While the responsibilities of each of these administrators may differ slightly, the overall goal is to ensure that your assets are managed according to your wishes after you are gone.

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When to Choose a Corporate Fiduciary

A corporate fiduciary is often more effective than a family member serving as fiduciary, especially for trusts and estates with complex family and asset issues. Many assume that a family member is the best choice to serve as trustee and executor of their estate. In addition to perceiving this option as less costly, they believe that a family member is in the best position to understand the family's unique needs. This article explores five of the most important elements in deciding between a family member and corporate fiduciary.

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Setting Up a Custodial Account

Setting up a custodial account can be a smart move for adults who want to gift their assets and help their children become financially independent. But there are many considerations -- and consequences -- to weigh before opening an account.

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Maintaining Separate Asset Ownership Can Benefit Estate Planning

Many couples pool their money and hold checking, savings, and investment accounts jointly. The sense of "share and share alike" can be comforting, but when it comes to estate planning, jointly held funds can limit your options.

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Estate Planning: A Lifetime of Strategies

Many people don’t start thinking about estate planning until they reach retirement. In reality, effective estate planning is an iterative process -- start early and build up the plan layer by layer as your life circumstances evolve. In this article, we discuss estate plan considerations when moving through different life stages, how you might prioritize your goals, and the importance of periodic reviews.

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Economic Review and Outlook - Q1 2015

The U.S. economy enters 2015 with the prospect of better growth despite headwinds from overseas and a rising dollar. U.S. GDP should advance at a 3% pace this year, a marked improvement over the tepid growth that has characterized the recovery. Our 2015 forecast is predicated upon a stronger consumer as rising incomes and, to a lesser extent, household net worth boost spending. Solid data and, more importantly, the precipitous decline in the price of energy in the past quarter suggest our 3% estimate could be exceeded.

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Take a Bite Out of Taxes: Five Tax-Savvy Strategies

While it's likely you've experienced the effect taxes can have on your income, are you aware of the impact they can have on your investments? If not, you may want to speak with your tax advisor and qualified financial professional, and then consider the following strategies.

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Asset Protection in Litigious Times

Millions of lawsuits are filed in United States courts each year, costing billions of dollars in legal expenses to individuals and businesses. Wealthy individuals in certain professions -- such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants -- as well as company executives and board members at public companies are increasingly the targets of such litigation.

As a result, more and more categories of individuals and families are seeking ways to protect their assets from potential creditors as part of their overall estate planning efforts.

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Considerations for Inherited Retirement Assets

Your options in managing assets that you inherit from a loved one's qualified retirement plan may depend on the type of retirement plan in question -- for example, 401(k)/403(b) plan or IRA -- and your relationship to the deceased.

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Short-Term Rolling GRATs: Wealth Transfer Vehicles That Cover More Ground

Short-term rolling GRATs (grantor retained annuity trusts) have the potential to exploit fluctuations in market conditions while delivering on their key objective of transferring wealth in a tax-advantaged manner. Following is a discussion of the possible benefits of using a rolling GRAT strategy to fulfill your wealth transfer goals.

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Year-End Tax Planning Strategies for 2014

With December 31st approaching quickly, there is a short window of opportunity to implement tax strategies for calendar year 2014. You may be wondering how to get started. Are there any deductions or provisions in the tax law that may help you save? And, if so, how would you put these in motion?

To help put you on the path to year-end tax planning, we’ve compiled a list of ideas and strategies for you to discuss with your advisor, who is familiar with your circumstances and can help you make informed decisions.

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Investing Through Life Events

Many people have experienced life changes -- marriage, the birth of a child, retirement -- and when they happen, financial planning may need to change accordingly. So to help you prepare for possible adjustments to your plans, the following checklist identifies several potential life-changing events and offers brief tips for addressing each. Keep in mind that your financial advisor may help you with these and other personal transitions.

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Economic Review and Outlook - Q4 2014

It seems likely that 2014 will be the third consecutive year in which U.S. GDP will have expanded by just over 2%. While this modest result appears disappointing relative to our initial forecast of 2.5% to 3.0% growth, it masks very solid economic performance after the miserable winter quarter. GDP rebounded sharply to above 4% in the spring quarter, and annualized growth in the vicinity of 3% is likely to be realized in the second half of the year. This achievement is all the more impressive given the sluggish state of so many of the world?s major economies and an increasingly dangerous geopolitical situation.

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It's Never Too Early -- Or Too Late -- To Start Investing for Retirement

"Time is money." -- Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamin Franklin may not have been referring to the effect of time on money accumulating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, but his words certainly ring true to today's investor. That's because time is one of the best allies an investor has. But even if you didn't start investing in your plan until later in life, there's another old saying that you may want to heed -- "Better late than never."

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Fulfilling Your Philanthropic Vision With the Appropriate Giving Vehicle

Andrew Carnegie, perhaps the most celebrated American philanthropist, was credited with having said, "The man who dies rich, dies disgraced." Indeed, Carnegie lived by these words, amassing an enormous fortune and then giving away more than $350 million. Through his supreme acts of charity, Carnegie set the standard for generations of philanthropists.

Today's philanthropists are as diverse and unique as the causes they support. Family groups may work together to channel their charitable goals and build a philanthropic legacy that can be passed down through the years. Entrepreneurs may approach philanthropy with the same drive and commitment they apply to building their businesses. Other generous souls may simply adhere to "checkbook philanthropy," informally supporting various causes with direct cash donations.

Whatever their charitable aspirations, when selecting giving vehicles, donors of significant wealth must evaluate a number of factors, such as their need for current income, the desired level of involvement for the donor and other family members currently and in future generations, as well as important tax considerations.

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Avoid These Five Common Investment Mistakes When Planning for Retirement

Only about 14% of American workers say they are "very confident" they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout retirement. To help reduce such uncertainty from your life, consider these five common investment pitfalls -- and how to avoid them.

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Retirement Savings Tips for Those 50+

If you find yourself with an empty nest and a well-paying job, it may be tempting to indulge in a few splurges that were not possible when college tuition or mortgage payments were due. But before throwing caution to the wind financially, remember that you could be passing up your last opportunity to make significant headway in investing for retirement. Here are three steps to prepare financially.

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What To Know When A Loved One Passes

Dealing with the death of a loved one can be difficult enough without the additional responsibilities of settling the deceased's estate, particularly when it comes to bills, taxes, and other outstanding debt.

Legal requirements regarding a decedent's expenses can vary widely state by state, so if you are handling a loved one's estate, be sure to consult with an attorney. Here are some important factors to keep in mind.

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Strategies for Smart Retirement Planning

A study conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute estimated that Americans born between 1948 and 1954 will face a retirement savings shortfall of more than $70,000.1 How can you avoid a similar fate?

Some factors that influence your retirement savings results, such as the types of investments available to you through your plan and the performance of the financial markets, can't always be controlled. But there are some factors you can influence that can help keep your portfolio on track.

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Don't Let Inflation Erode Your Investments

What does inflation have to do with investing? Plenty. You may know that if the rate of return on your investments is less than the inflation rate, the value of your money -- in other words, its purchasing power -- will decline over time. Of course, the challenge is that no one knows what the inflation rate will be a year from now, much less 30 years down the road. However, you can develop investment strategies to help hedge against inflation.

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Economic Review and Outlook – Q3 2014

After winter’s deep freeze and 2.9% contraction in the first quarter, U.S. GDP has snapped back, possibly reaching a growth rate of 3.5% in Q2. This is obviously good news, but the arithmetic is simple. First half GDP taken as a whole was very sluggish. For the full year, GDP growth may lag the low end of our forecast range of 2.5% to 3.0%. Given that growth in China has also slowed and recovery in Europe is barely perceptible, it is little wonder that the World Bank recently downgraded its full year 2014 global GDP forecast to 3.4% from 3.7%.

We expect that the U.S. can maintain a growth rate of about 3% for the balance of the year. The U.S. economy reached a major milestone in May when nonfarm payrolls exceeded the prior peak of January 2008 as the economy at long last recovered the job losses of the Great Recession. After four consecutive months of employment gains in excess of 200,000, it appears that job creation has moved up a notch.

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RI State Tax Exemption

The latest budget that just passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly (2014 H-7133) contains several tax provisions, including one which raises the RI estate tax exemption. Specifically, the exemption increases to $1,500,000 for decedent’s dying on or after January 1, 2015; a fairly significant increase over the current 2014 exemption of $921,655.

However, the law backs into the $1,500,000 exemption amount. Section 44-22-1.1(a)(4) states, in part, “the tax is a sum equal to the maximum credit for state death taxes allowed by 26 U.S.C. section 2011, as it was in effect as of January 1, 2001; provided however, that a Rhode Island credit shall be allowed against any tax so determined in the amount of $64,400.” This $64,400 credit is the maximum credit for state death taxes, pursuant to Section 2011, allowed against a $1,500,000 taxable estate.

Additionally, another major benefit of this new law is that it eliminates the “tax cliff” that in most situations, taxed the entire estate once the exemption amount was exceeded.

Lastly the $64,400 credit amount will be indexed for inflation beginning January 1, 2016.

The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and may not reflect those of The Washington Trust Company. The information in this report has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed. Any opinions expressed herein are subject to change at any time without notice. Any person relying upon this information shall be solely responsible for the consequences of such reliance. Performance is historical and does not guarantee future results.

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