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Tax Planning Ideas: Sound Strategies Protect Wealth, Advises Whitnell & Co.

CHICAGO and OAK BROOK, Ill., April 4, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- Guarding wealth from unnecessary taxes is an imperative. But individuals with high net worth may not always have the time and resources to manage their wealth optimally, or they may have an inexperienced financial advisor who is not proactive.

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"Saving on current income taxes and minimizing estate taxes when transferring wealth to heirs are two key areas high net worth people should focus on," said Bill Thonn, president and CEO of Whitnell & Co., a wealth management firm based in Oak Brook, Illinois. "In addition, it's possible that the new administration may change the tax laws, so that's something people should start planning for today with their financial advisor. For instance, it may benefit them to take more income now, rather than waiting for potential tax rate increases."

With the right strategies, people can avoid paying unnecessary taxes. For example, high net worth people often end up paying the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) on their income, or they might owe an IRS penalty for not paying sufficient estimated taxes, scenarios that can be easily avoided with a seasoned financial advisor.

High net worth people can leverage their assets in many ways, including making endowments to favorite charities and helping children or grandchildren finance college educations. They can also put strategic plans in place to limit estate taxes, which can be up to 50% of their estate.

Today's complicated tax laws offer many avenues for protecting wealth. High net worth people can avoid the AMT by forecasting predicted income -- including their salary, stock options, and sales of assets -- and balancing those items with strategic charitable giving (property instead of cash), losses on stocks, and tax-exempt investing. Other strategies include setting up tax-exempt educational funds and restructuring high-dollar debts, including mortgages and home equity loans, so they can deduct all interest, not a limited amount.

"The possibilities for protecting wealth from taxes are limited only by personal goals. But to take advantage of tax planning opportunities, people need to sit down with a seasoned financial advisor, not their tax preparer, to map out the road ahead," said Wayne Janus, President of Financial Planning at Whitnell & Co. "Together, they should thoughtfully consider some important questions before taking the next steps. How much risk can they tolerate? When will their children enter college? When do they want to retire? What would they like to do later in life? The right advisor will ask all of these questions and more."

Once an advisor gets to know an individual, they can map out viable options that will ensure their client pays less income tax in the future, has a more diversified portfolio, a solid retirement plan, and more. A comprehensive plan might encompass an ocean-side vacation home, annual tax-exempt gifts to relatives, or low-interest loans to children. An experienced advisor will also take time to ensure that once an individual is gone, their money continues working for their family. From endowments and trust funds to paying down high medical expenses, the right advisor can ensure the vast majority of an individual's wealth stays just where they wanted it -- with their loved ones and personal interests.

For more information about tax planning and wealth preservation, visit or call Bill Thonn at 630-575-2302.

SOURCE Whitnell & Co.
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