Estate Planning Reduces Federal Estate Tax Burden


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Estate Planning

The former vice president of Hibernia Bank, Sue Ann Ma now serves as the president of Seminal Financial Group, Inc. A certified public accountant, Sue Ann Ma offers her clients various financial services including estate planning.

Estate taxes can be costly. There are essentially two types: federal estate taxes and state estate taxes.

If you live in Texas, you need not worry about state estate taxes because the state does not levy the tax on inheritances. However, you may have to pay the tax if you inherit property from a relative who lived in a state that levies estate tax.

Texas residents are eligible to pay federal estate taxes if they leave behind property worth more than the federal estate tax threshold, which currently stands at $5.4 million. The threshold adjusts with inflation, so it may change from time to time. A person who passes away and leaves behind an estate worth more than the threshold will pay federal estate taxes from the estate. Levied at 35% of everything above the threshold and payable in cash, the tax is very costly. Thankfully, estate planning helps people reduce their estate tax burden, ensuring their spouses, children, and other relatives inherit as much as they deserve.

Requirements of the Master Certified Estate Planner Credential


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Master Certified Estate Planner

Sue Ann Ma is an experienced finance and accounting professional who serves as president of Seminal Financial Group in Texas. A graduate of Lamar University, Sue Ann Ma holds several certifications including Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Master Certified Estate Planner (MCEP) credentials.

A professional membership organization that represents the estate planning profession, the National Institute of Certified Estate Planners (NICEP) administers the MCEP and CEP certifications. To earn the credential, candidates must qualify by first holding a professional license in a financial, legal, or tax field prior to enrolling in the course. The educational component of the certification consists of a series of eight online self-study modules. In addition, candidates must participate in 16 hours of interactive discussion that covers the educational material.

The NICEP recommends candidates spend five to six months of preparation time prior to taking the final certification exam. Following the exam, which is a proctored test, candidates must complete eight hours of continuing education requirements every two years to maintain the MCEP certification. For additional information on the certification, visit

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Basic Steps in Preparing a Will

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Preparing a Will

Accomplished financial professional Sue Ann Ma, MBA, CPA, CEP, is the sole owner of a CPA firm in ShiMao Plaza China Town in Houston. Possessing more than two decades of experience in banking, accounting, and financial services, Sue Ann Ma helps her clients with everything from tax preparation to estate planning.

Preparing a will is one of the primary elements of planning your estate. Wills can be created either through a lawyer, online software, or independently. Regardless of the method you choose, you should start by drafting a list of your assets, including everything from bank accounts and real estate you own to sentimental heirlooms and furniture. Once you know what you have, you can start deciding on your beneficiaries. These are the individuals who will receive your assets. For many people this process is fairly quick, but complicated family structures can make it more confusing.

You must also decide who will be the executor of your will. The executor ensures your wishes are properly carried out. They handle such tasks as settling your debts, dealing with mortgages and paying taxes. Ideally, our executor should be someone who is responsible and trustworthy. You can name a child as the executor, but if they do not get along with their siblings there may be problems. Further, lawyers and banks can be executors; however they often include a fee. If your children are still under the age of 18, you can include information about who their guardian will be.