Executive compensation packages have increasingly included stock options in the last several years. This means that from an estate planning perspective, you must think carefully about how and when these might affect you. Do you know how to maximize, for example, your stock options with a tax strategy?
Option based executive pay fell out of favor in the last 20 years but there are signs that it might have made a comeback as the stock market continued to grow. One major reason for this is that C corporations have become more attractive because of a 21% tax rate. Understanding stock options is critical for your overall financial picture and for estate planning purposes.
Stock options are a form of incentive compensation that are given to retain or reward valued employees. Typically up to 25% of that stock grant will last every year as a method for keeping employees at the company for a minimum period of time. Executives must have a comprehensive strategy that takes into account many different elements, including their personal balance sheet, their perception of risk, the company’s overall outlook and the stage that person is at in their life and career.
Speaking with experienced financial professionals and estate planning attorneys is strongly recommended if you have received stock options. The two primary types of stock options are nonqualified stock options and incentive stock options. The vesting of a compensatory stock option and a grant usually have no financial or tax implications. However, you’ll need to discuss the specifics of this strategy with your estate planning lawyer.