Posts in: May

5 Important Reasons to Avoid Probate

May 31, 2016 Estate Planning, Law Comments Off on 5 Important Reasons to Avoid Probate

Anyone with a basic understanding of estate planning knows that one of the primary benefits of having a living trust is to avoid probate. Nevertheless, unless you are an attorney or have been personally involved in a probate proceeding in the past, few people have an understanding of what probate really is and why it is not recommended for most estates.

Probate is a court supervised process for administering and (hopefully) distributing a person’s estate after their death. When a person dies leaving property (especially real estate) in their name, the only way to transfer ownership from the deceased owner’s name to the name of their heirs is for a court to order the transfer through the probate process. In other words, since a deceased owner of property is no longer around to execute deeds, only a court can effectuate the transfer of real property after the owner dies, and probate is the legal process by which this would occur.

Many people have the misconception that having a will alone avoids the probate process. A will merely informs the world where you want your property to go, but probate is still needed to carry out the wishes expressed in the will (since even with a will, property stays in the name of decedent). Only a trust can avoid probate because once you have a trust, all of your assets are then transferred to the trust during your lifetime thereby avoiding the need for a court to do so.

There are plenty of stories of heirs for high profile individuals who have had to suffer through the probate process, from Jimi Hendrix to Heath Ledger, and now most recently Prince. For some estates, probate might be a good alternative, but consider these five reasons why you would want to avoid having your estate pass through probate:

  1. Probate is a public proceeding. As with any court proceeding, the court hearings and documents in probate are completely open to the public. For example, anyone who is curious about James Gandolfini’s (aka Tony Soprano) will can easily find this online, which contains detailed information on his finances, property, and his family members. In fact, probate courts typically require filing an inventory and accounting of the entire estate with the court. Anyone can simply visit the probate court and view or copy probate records, and some courts even make this information available online. If you have any interest in keeping your finances, property or family members secret upon your death, you want to avoid the probate process.
  1. The personal representative has to formally notify all your creditors of your death. One of the primary purposes of probate is to afford creditors the opportunity to have their debts with the decedent settled through the probate process. In fact, one of the first steps in the probate process is to specifically notify all known or reasonably ascertainable creditors that decedent has died, and therefore, if they want anything, they need to act now. Once a creditor has been notified, they merely need to file a claim with the probate court within the time allowed and will be entitled to payment from the probate estate (assuming it is not contested and there are assets are available to pay).
  1. Probate is a court supervised process. In many cases in probate, court approval is required at every step in the process, from appointing the initial personal representative for the estate, proving the will (if any), confirming dispositions of property, approving the inventory and accounting of the estate, settling disputes between creditors or beneficiaries of the estate, and final distributions of the estate. The process is fraught with rules and procedures that must be followed in order to obtain court approval. For example, selling real estate through the probate process may entail securing formal appraisals, offering the property for sale through a court bidding process, and ultimately obtaining court approval for the final sale. By contrast, since a trust is usually administered without any involvement of a court, the makers of the trust can be very flexible in how their property will be distributed without the need for a lot of formalities that a court would require.
  1. Probate involves time and delay in administering and distributing the estate. Given all the court procedures and requirements of administering a probate estate, even the most simple and uncontested probate proceedings can take many months to a year. If there are claims, disputes, or other complications in the proceedings, the process can take much longer. As an example, it was reported that probate estate for country singer John Denver lasted over six (6) years, meaning that his heirs had to experience years of delay before they were able to receive what was their rightful inheritance. As courts continue to report reduced funding and large caseloads, increasing delays will likely continue to be part of the probate process.
  1. Probate usually involve significant attorney’s fees. Although parties certainly have the option to represent themselves in probate, due to all the procedural requirements in probate, which is usually quite different from the procedures in a typical lawsuit, attorneys are usually recommended in all but the most simple of probate estates. Attorney’s fees are usually paid from the estate based on a percentage of the value of the estate. For example, in California, the fees to administer an estate with a single property valued at $300,000 would be approximately $9,000. If there are complications in the estate administration that requires extraordinary services, the fees would be even more. Compare this with our typical estate planning services whereby we can usually set up the entire estate plan for around $1,500 and avoid these unnecessary attorneys’ fees for a probate.

This is not to say that probate is undesirable in every case. Indeed, since probate is a court process, it might be a good idea in some cases especially if the estate wishes to have the finality that a court order provides.   For example, if an estate wishes to reduce the timeline for which creditors can pursue the estate, a probate may be advantageous since creditors have only a limited time window to file their claims. If heirs having an interest in the estate fear the possibility of ongoing disputes over assets in the estate, a probate could be the ideal forum for having those disputes decided once and for all by a binding court decision. However, in most cases, the time, expense, complexity, delay and emotions from having to deal with attorneys and courts is not the type of legacy that we would like to impose on our family members who are still mourning the loss of a loved one, and one just needs to google all the celebrity estates that had to go through probate as testament to why probate court is not where you would want your loved ones to have to go after you die.

Comparing 2016 Presidential Candidates Tax Plans: Donald Trump v. Hillary Clinton

May 24, 2016 Tax Planning Comments Off on Comparing 2016 Presidential Candidates Tax Plans: Donald Trump v. Hillary Clinton

As the list of Democratic and Republican presidential candidates has been reduced to three, Donald, Hillary, and Bernie Sanders, many of our clients have wondered, how will a change in the Oval Office affect their tax return for 2017 and beyond?  Setting aside all of the other issues, how will a Donald Trump administration affect the bottom line of their tax return?  What about a Hillary Clinton presidency?

Bernie Sanders tax plan is not analyzed in this article because put simply, if you don’t like paying taxes, do not spend the weekend with Bernie, let alone vote for him.  Bernie’s tax plan would add four new personal income tax rates to the current regime: 37%, 43%, 48%, and 52% and households with income greater than $250,000 will pay tax on all capital gains and dividends at their ordinary tax rates.  This is not meant to be a “bern” on Bernie’s campaign or his chances of winning, but for all that his campaign has to offer the American people, a plan to pay fewer taxes is not one of them.

These figures came from either the Tax Foundation’s website and/or the candidate’s website directly.  For the sake of simplicity, these figures are for married couples filing jointly.  I apologize in advance to those with any other the tax filing status.  Without further adieu, here are those parts of Clinton and Trump’s tax plans that are probably the most relevant to our clients.

Donald Trump

Here are twelve highlights (or lowlights) from Trump’s tax plan, also known (or not known) as the “dirty dozen”:

  1. Personal Income Tax. Those with personal taxable income of less than $50,000 will pay a tax rate of zero (0%). On his site, Trump says, these folks can send a one page form to the IRS saying, “I win”.
  2. Personal Income Tax. The highest personal income tax rate under Trump’s plan is 25%, which applies to taxable income greater than $300,000. Overall, Trump’s plan is a significant decrease from the current personal income tax bracket, which has rates as high as 39.6% on taxable income greater than $466,000.
  3. Personal Income Tax. Everyone else (those whose income is less than $300,000 but greater than $50,000 will pay either 10% or 20%. For example, those with taxable income of $75,000 would pay tax 10%.  Under the current tax code, it would be 25%
  4. Personal Income Tax. Trump’s plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax completely.
  5. Personal Income Tax. Trump’s plan would phase out all deductions except the charitable deduction and the mortgage interest reduction.
  6. Capital Gains/Income Tax. Dividends and long-term capital gains would be taxed at 15% for income between approximately $100,000 and $300,000 and 20% on amounts greater than $300,000.  This is a significant decrease in taxes from the current tax code, which has a tax rate of 15% for income between approximately $75,000 and $465,000 and 20% on amounts greater than $465,000.
  7. Business/Corporate Tax. The corporate income tax would become a flat rate of 15% across the board.  This is a significant decrease in the corporate tax rates.
  8. Business/Corporate Tax. Trump’s 15% flat corporate tax would apply to all business income, even on income earned by “pass-through” entities, such as LLC’s.  Most small business owners in America operate their business as a “pass-through” entity, meaning for tax purposes, their income passes through their business without being taxed and is simply taxed as personal income of the business owner.  Trump’s website tries to spin this new tax as a good thing, but the fact is small business owners who operate their business via pass-through entities such as LLC’s will probably not appreciate this new tax.
  9. Estate Tax. Trump would eliminate the estate tax altogether. Currently, the highest estate tax rate is 40% although estates worth less than $5.25M (million) are exempt from estate taxes.
  10. Payroll Taxes. Trump’s plan does not address payroll taxes in any direct or significant way. None of the candidate’s plans do, but I wanted to mention it since many small business owners are affected by payroll taxes.
  11. Retirement Plans. Trump’s plan does not address retirement plans in any direct or significant way.  I mention this because it is in contrast to Hillary’s plan which proposes to close the “Romney Loophole”.
  12. Carried Interest. Our law firm practices in the area of raising capital, so we have clients who are fund managers/sponsors.  If you are not a fund manager/sponsor, you can skip the rest of this paragraph.  Under Trump’s plan, carried interest income would be taxed at ordinary rates.  This is quite a departure from current conditions which tax carried interest income as capital gain/dividend income.  Unfortunately for said managers/sponsors, this proposed change would be implemented by all of the remaining candidates.

Hillary Clinton

Here are twelve highlights (or lowlights) from Hillary’s tax plan, also known as the “dirty dozen” (yes, both Hillary’s and Trump’s tax plan highlights are referred to by me as the “dirty dozen”, not as a “knock” on their plans but because I couldn’t think of anything else to call them):

  1. Personal Income Tax. Personal income tax rates would remain basically the same, except her plan would add a new tax rate of 43% to married couples filing jointly with net income of $5M (million) or more.
  2. Personal Income Tax. She would also implement the “Buffett Rule”, which is a 30% minimum tax on adjusted gross income over $1M (million).
  3. Capital Gains / Dividends. Hillary’s tax plan regarding long-term capital gain and dividends would be similar to the current regime except she would impose a tax of 24% on income of $5M (million) or more.  The current the tax rate on long-term capital gain is between 15 % and 20%.
  4. Capital Gains. Hillary’s plan would raise the income tax rates on “medium” capital gains to between 20% and 39.6% depending on the holding period.  Even income from property which has a holding period that has been traditionally considered long-term, such as two years, would be taxed at 39.6%.
  5. Business/Corporate Tax. Hillary’s plan regarding business is aimed at large financial institutions and multi-national companies.
  6. Business/Corporate Tax. Her plan provides tax credits for profit-sharing with employees.
  7. Business/Corporate Tax. Even though she would not reduce the corporate rate to 15% like Trump, the fact that she did not impose a business tax on pass-through entities is, from a small business perspective, a good thing.
  8. Business/Corporate Tax. Her plan proposes a business tax credit for profit-sharing and apprenticeships.
  9. General. She would cap all itemized deductions to a tax value of 28%.  This means the actual dollar for dollar value of the tax savings cannot exceed 28% of the deduction taken. This reduces the deduction value on those in tax brackets above 28%.
  10. Estate Taxes. Under Hillary’s plan, the highest estate tax rate would increase from 40% to 45% and the exemption amount would be reduced from $5.25M (million) to $3.5M (million).
  11. Payroll Taxes. Hillary’s plan does not address payroll taxes in any material way.
  12. Retirement Plans. Under Hillary’s Plan, she would close the “Romney Loophole” by “limiting the ability of the very wealthiest to game the system” by sheltering millions of dollars in tax-preferred retirement accounts.

Conclusion

Trump’s overall reduction and simplification of the personal income tax bracket and the corporate tax bracket is attractive.  However, applying the corporate tax to pass-through entities is going to have an impact on the tax return on many small business owners, and not in a good way.  Hillary’s plan is fairly comparable to the current tax code, although her increase in capital gain tax rates could have a negative impact on everyday folks, not just the rich, which is where her plan seems to focus.

Minor Children and Guardianship Designation Decision-Making

May 24, 2016 Estate Planning Comments Off on Minor Children and Guardianship Designation Decision-Making

Is there any decision more important than, who will raise your children if you were to pass away? Every person with minor children should consider this question and should take a simple estate planning step to answer it.

MAKING THE DESIGNATION

The decision on who will raise your children upon your death is called a guardianship designation. This decision is made as part of your Will. Even if you have a Revocable Living Trust, you still must make the guardianship designation in your Will. Most people will choose their spouse (or the child’s other parent, as the case may be) to serve as the sole guardian in the event of their death while the child is still a minor. But what if you there other parent is unable or unfit and what about the situation that unfortunately happens where both parents pass aware while your children are still minors? Who should be their guardian in that situation?

Choosing a guardian is often one of the most difficult decisions made in planning an estate. However, it is critical that this decision is made as the Courts and feuding families will decide if you don’t. Consider your own family, even if they are great people, and how they would handle the situation if you were to pass away leaving minor children? Would they be motivated to care for your children? Would they do it only if no one else stepped up? Who would step forward? Would they expect to be paid or to have their expenses reimbursed by your estate? Would they provide funds for your children in a manner you would approve? Would they pay for college or church of volunteer service from your estate? Would they instill the values you want for your children (religious or otherwise)? There are so many important considerations. Here’s a quick list of tips to consider when making a guardianship designation.

GUARDIANSHIP DESIGNATION TIPS

  1. Decide Now. Don’t wait and don’t get hung up on the decision that you end up making no decision. Make a decision on who would be best and remember that this can be changed at any time by signing a simple amendment.
  2. Love. Of course, it goes without saying that whomever you choose must genuinely love your children. This is something that may seem obvious but is something you’re going to know and appreciate far better than a Court or feuding family members left to figure this out without you. Does your child love them? Think of your children and their relationship with your family or other loved ones you make choose as guardian. Do they love the family member? Could they rely on them and have a strong and meaningful relationship with them?
  3. Ability and Practical Considerations. Does the person you’re considering have the ability to raise your children? Perhaps they are your child’s grandparents, are they physically and emotionally able to raise your children until they are 18-19? Maybe it’s your brother or sister or close friend, would their home accommodate your children? Would they be able to financially make arrangements so that they’d be able to rise your children?
  4. Should You Separate the Money? What about the money? Well, it’s likely that if you and your spouse pass away (as applicable), that your minor child(ren) will be the heirs to your estate and would be entitled to your assets. Now, we’re assuming that as part of your estate plan that you included provisions so that your children don’t get an outright inheritance when they are 18. Also, a well drafted trust will have certain conditions on the funds and when they can be used by the guardian for the child(ren). These conditions would allow the trustee of the trust to distribute funds to the guardian for educational, support, and medical expenses and maybe for church service or a first-time home purchase. But, should the guardian of your children also be the trustee of your trust and thereby have control of the trust assets. While it’s entirely possible that someone can adequately serve both roles, it may be more prudent to select someone who is better financially (and more secure themselves) as the trustee of the trust and then to select someone else who would better serve in the role as guardian. I had one recent client choose their father as the trustee of their estate (we picked a back-up too), and then the client chose their sister as the guardian of their children. Their father would oversee the trust and the funds while the sister would care for the children and would request funds from the father for expenses as may be needed for the children.
  5. Choosing One Person over a Couple. Do you choose a couple (say brother and sister-in-law) or do you just choose one person to be the guardian (e.g. brother). Some people will choose their sibling and their sibling’s spouse as the guardians when they really just want their sibling to be the guardian. If that’s the case, just specify the specific person. There’s no need to list both people and it can cause issues if the couple fights over issues or if they themselves split.
  6. Do you Have any Specific Instructions? It is common to place restrictions on your assets in your Trust during times when you children are minors or are in early adult-hood. These are excellent things to consider and will be part of a well-drafted Trust. However, you can also provide some instructions to your guardian in a separate writing or in the designation itself. This doesn’t need to be lengthy and it usually isn’t legally binding but you can outline certain issues that are important on how your children are raised. For example, you can emphasize that you want the guardian to encourage certain religious, artistic, family-activity, or personal endeavors. Warning though, don’t get bogged down in this. Just make some short and definitive directions.
  7. Inform Whomever You Select? It is very helpful to inform the person you selected that you chose them to be the guardian of your child(ren). They don’t need to formally accept but it is nice that they know and it is an opportunity for them to decline if they aren’t willing. I had one client who was named as guardian for a family member’s children. The family member passed away and my client (the grandparent) learned they were to become the guardian. The client was older and didn’t feel fit or otherwise able to serve as guardian and thought other family members would better serve in this role. As a result, an aunt to the minor child was appointed by the Court and ended up serving as guardian for the child. This situation isn’t the norm but informing someone that you want to list them as guardian gives you an opportunity to address this issue and to also let the person you selected know why you chose them with the most important role you can ask someone to take.

While this list is meant to help you make an informed decision on who should be listed as guardian to your minor children, don’t get bogged down and over-analyze this decision. Consider the points, make a decision, get the estate plan done, and remember that it can always be changed and amended.

Investor versus Dealer in Real Estate, Which One Are You?

May 10, 2016 Business planning, Real Estate Comments Off on Investor versus Dealer in Real Estate, Which One Are You?

We are frequently asked by clients whether their plans to buy and sell real estate will subject them to status as a “dealer” in real estate, and therefore subject their profits to ordinary income treatment and self-employment tax.  In general, the sale of real estate held for investment or speculation will be treated as sale of a capital asset eligible for capital gains/loss treatment (i.e. “investor” status), unless the sale by the Taxpayer is deemed to be integral to a Taxpayer “in the business of real estate” (i.e. “dealer” status).   Unfortunately, there is no single factor that guarantees that the Taxpayer’s activities will be for an “investment” purpose rather than a “sale,” but instead, the IRS and courts employ multiple factors to evaluate whether the facts and circumstances of each individual case indicates Taxpayer is an investor or a dealer.  Different courts may use different factors, but in general, these factors include:

  1. The frequency and continuity of sales activity. Many courts have determined that, although no one factor is determinative, the frequency and continuity of sales is perhaps the most important factor.  Usually a single sale will not result in dealer status if the Taxpayer does not intend to continue in the endeavor.  However, in one case (Boyer), a taxpayer was deemed to be a dealer on his first transaction due to the extensive development activity which included having land rezoned, surveyed, platted, and installing sewers and streets.  The more frequent and continuing the sales, the more likely the activities will be deemed to be in the business of real estate.
  2. Duration of Ownership. Holding the property for longer periods suggests intent to hold the asset as an investment rather than for sale.  In one case, a Taxpayer sold 9 properties in the span of 3-4 years, but was not deemed to be a dealer because each of the properties that were sold were held for 4-6 years prior to the sale.  Nevertheless, other courts have warned against placing too much emphasis on duration of ownership where other factors demonstrate an intent to hold the property for sale.
  3. Extent and nature of improvements & efforts to sell the property. The more time and effort spent to develop the property, subdivide, advertise, and market the property for sale suggests a dealer motive. In one case, a taxpayer (Byram) sold 22 parcels of real estate during a three year period for a net profit of $3.4 million.  However, each of these sales were initiated by the purchaser (not Byram), Byram did not subdivide the land, advertise, nor did he spend much personal time or effort procuring these sales.  As a result, the Court determined Byram was not in the business of selling real estate.  On the other hand, if the Taxpayer has regular relationships with sales staff, brokers, or other affiliated professionals to assist in property sales, this suggests a business motive.    Taxpayers who do not want to be characterized as a “dealer” should take appropriate steps to limit arguments that their activities constitute a business, for example, by ensuring their books and records show property held for an “investment” motive as opposed to “sale” or “development.”
  4. Use of a business office in the sale. Maintaining a business office for real estate suggests a business motive.  In the above example, Byram did not maintain a separate office for the sale of real estate which contributed to the Court’s determination that he was not a dealer. However, in another case (Winthrop), the taxpayer was deemed to be a dealer even though they did not maintain a sales office or marketing plan because they sold more than 450 lots over an 18 year period.
  5. Time devoted to the sales and income derived from those sales compared to other income producing activities. This factor is important for those with day jobs or other income producing activities.  The more time spent and income generated from real estate activities, the more likely you will be considered a dealer.  For example, a physician who derived 88% of his income from a medical practice, with the remainder from real estate investments was not considered a dealer in real estate, but another doctor who sold 88 pieces of real estate over 9 years was deemed to be a dealer because his real estate income far exceeded his income as a physician.   Investors who have multiple income producing activities such as professionals should maintain a log of time spent on real estate activities compared to time spent on other income generating sources to show that time devoted to real estate is insubstantial compared to other income producing activities.
  6. Intent of the Taxpayer.  Courts generally place more emphasis on the Taxpayer’s intent at the time of sale.  However, courts have recognized that a taxpayer’s motive can change over time.  For example, if the Taxpayer originally purchase raw land as an investment, but later decides to subdivide and develop the land into tract homes, this would suggest a business motive even though the original intent may have been for investment.  Keeping written documentation of an investment motive (e.g. in minutes or other correspondence) may be helpful in the event the IRS raises a challenge.

Due to the varying factors considered by the IRS and courts, it is often difficult in many cases to make a definitive determination whether your activities will result in “dealer” status.   Nevertheless, whether your real estate income will be subject to a 15-20% capital gains tax rate as opposed to ordinary income (up to 39%) plus self-employment tax (15.3%) can be a significant difference, and therefore, planning your real estate activities in recognition of the above factors can have a significant impact on your tax liability.

Roth 401k versus Roth IRA: A Battle for the Ages (kind of)

May 3, 2016 Business planning, Retirement Planning, Small Business, Tax Planning Comments Off on Roth 401k versus Roth IRA: A Battle for the Ages (kind of)

Not that long ago, a Roth retirement account did not exist.  However, for many individuals today, a Roth account is the preferred retirement investment vehicle, particularly for self-directed retirement account owners.

The reason why a ROTH tends to gain favor is because we all anticipate a considerable return on our investments (at least we hope so) and would rather pay tax on the “seed money”, i.e., use after-tax dollars to make their investment, rather than pay tax on the “harvest”.  With a ROTH when they retire and take their money out of their retirement account, the distribution is typically tax-free.

But the question is often asked, is it better to make such an investment out of a Roth 401k or a Roth IRA?  The answer is that (a) it depends and (b) it is sort of a trick question (keep reading). Here are four ways in which the rules that govern Roth IRA’s and Roth 401k’s are different:

  1. Rollover Restriction. Under current rules, you cannot rollover a Roth IRA to a Roth 401k.  There is no good reason why that is the rule, but it is.  However, you can rollover a Roth 401k to a Roth IRA.  Therefore, if you prefer the flexibility of knowing you can rollover a Roth 401k to a Roth IRA, then the advantage goes to the Roth 401k.
  1. Contributions. With a Roth IRA, if your income is over a certain amount, you cannot make a Roth IRA contribution. For example, in 2016, if your tax status is married filing jointly and your modified adjusted gross income is equal to or greater than $194,000, you cannot make a Roth IRA contribution.   It is this rule that has created an approach known as a backdoor Roth contribution, whereby you make a traditional IRA contribution and then convert it to the Roth IRA (after paying the applicable tax).  However, with a Roth 401k, there is no such income restriction, and hence, no two-step process necessary.  Therefore, the advantage goes to the Roth 401k.
  1. Re-characterization.  With a Roth IRA, you can un-do a Roth conversion so long as you timely follow the IRS requirements.  This is known as a re-characterization.  It can be a helpful safety net if you convert traditional IRA dollars to Roth but then change your mind.  This might happen if you do not have the liquidity to pay the tax bill on the converted amount, or if the investment opportunity is not as great as you anticipated.  See Mat Sorensen’s March 8, 2016 article for a more extensive discussion about Roth IRA re-characterizations here: https://sdirahandbook.com/are-you-fully-converted-roth-ira-conversion-re-characterization/ . However, with a Roth 401k, you cannot un-do a Roth conversion, i.e., re-characterization is not allowed.  Again, there is no good reason why that is the rule, but it is.  Therefore, because the ability to re-characterize converted amounts provides flexibility that a Roth 401k cannot provide, the advantage here goes to the Roth IRA.  Here’s another take on this particular benefit and strategy in a video from our Partner in KKOS Lawyers, Mark Kohler:

  1. Required Minimum Distributions (“RMD’s”). For most retirement accounts, by age 70 ½, you must begin taking distributions from your retirement account.  This allows the IRS to recoup the tax that was previously deferred.  However, with a Roth IRA, since each RMD would be tax-free, there is no tax revenue to the IRS and unsurprisingly, there is no requirement for RMD’s to be taken out of a Roth IRA.  But with a Roth 401k, there are RMD’s.  Again, there is no good reason why that is the rule, it just is.  This does not suggest that RMD’s from a Roth 401k are taxed, it simply that you have to start taking distributions from your Roth 401k by age 70 ½, unless you are still working and not a 5% owner.  Therefore, the advantage goes to the Roth IRA.

Keep in mind that many of the rules that apply to a traditional IRA also apply to a Roth IRA.  Likewise, many of the rules that apply to a traditional 401k, also apply to a Roth 401k.  For example, two significant differences between an IRA generally and 401k, Roth or otherwise, are the larger contribution limits and a loan option which a 401k provides that an IRA does not.

So which is better?  The answer does not have to be a mutually exclusive decision; in fact, if possible, the best approach might be to have both a Roth IRA and a Roth 401k.   If you would like to discuss these matters in greater detail, please contact our office at 602-761-9798.