IRS Announcement:  Estate Tax Closing Letters Will Now Only Be Issued Upon Request

Due to the increased volume of federal estate tax return filings in order to make the “portability election,” the IRS has announced that estate tax closing letters will only be issued upon request by the taxpayer. This change in IRS policy started on June 1, 2015. What is the “Portability Election” and How is the Election Made? The “portability election” refers to the right of a surviving spouse to claim the unused portion of the federal estate tax exemption of their deceased spouse and add it to the balance of their own exemption. The portability election went into effect for [...]

By |2021-02-05T12:32:47+00:00October 12th, 2019|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments

Who Should be Your Successor Trustee?

If you have a revocable living trust, you probably named yourself as trustee so you can continue to manage your own financial affairs, but eventually, someone will need to step in for you when you are no longer able to act due to incapacity or after your death.  Your successor trustee plays an important role in the effective execution of your estate plan. The Key Takeaways: Because successor trustees have a lot of responsibility, they should be chosen carefully. Successor trustees can be your adult children, other relatives, a trusted friend, or a corporate or professional trustee. Responsibilities of A [...]

By |2021-09-21T17:51:52+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: Design, Estate Planning, Trusts|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Why a Spendthrift Trust Can Be a Great Solution for Your Heirs

There are many tools that can be used when putting together your estate plan.  One such tool is a trust. A trust is a fiduciary arrangement, established by a grantor or trustmaker, which gives a third party (known as a trustee) the authority to manage assets on behalf of one or more persons (known as a beneficiaries).  Since every situation is different, there are different types of trusts to ensure the best outcome for each beneficiary.  One type of trust, known as a spendthrift trust, is commonly used to protect a beneficiary’s interest from creditors, a soon-to-be ex-spouse, or his [...]

What to Expect from Estate Planning in 2018

2017 is now fading into the rearview mirror.  As we all look ahead to 2018, let’s consider a few things to watch regarding estate planning, so you and your family can be completely protected. The death tax.  The death tax has been in a state of flux ever since the early 2000s when the Bush administration’s first tax cuts changed the exemption and tax rates.  The recently-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the latest significant change.  Starting January 1, 2018, the estate tax exemption amount will double to $11.2 million per person (married couples have $22.4 million of combined [...]

By |2021-09-21T21:47:51+00:00July 16th, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

How to Minimize Legal Fees After Death

Death is a costly business.  Aside from funeral expenses, legal fees can take a big chunk out of how much is left for your loved ones after you’re gone. But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Careful planning can minimize the legal fees your loved ones will pay after you die.  Here’s how: Make an estate plan – The cost of creating an estate plan will be far less than the legal fees your loved ones will have to pay if you don’t have one. But be careful – don’t try to write your own will or revocable living trust.  [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:20:04+00:00June 1st, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments

The Sun Has Risen Again. How You and Your Family Can Benefit from a (Legal) Late Portability Election.

The concept of “portability” is still relatively new in the law of estate planning, having become available only after 2011. Since then, it’s been both a blessing (for its tax saving benefit) and a curse (because of rules that seemed to be constantly shifting). Fortunately, the IRS has recently clarified some important deadlines about portability. How can a portability election benefit you and your family? It could help save hundreds of thousands of dollars of estate and gift taxes for your family if you lost your husband or wife in the last few years. Although the exact mechanics of the [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:24:25+00:00June 27th, 2017|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments

How a Community Property Trust Could Save You from Heavy Taxation Down the Road

When it comes to your family’s legacy, every dollar you can save from tax collection counts. One way to keep your assets out of the hands of the IRS is the formation of community property trusts. How does a community property trust (CPT) work? CPTs save you money on taxes by adjusting or “stepping up” the basis of the entire property after the death of one member of the couple. When you and your spouse invest in property jointly — be it real estate, stocks, or other assets — it becomes what’s called community property if you live within nine [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:28:24+00:00April 28th, 2017|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments

The Pros and Cons of Probate

In estate planning circles, the word “probate” often comes with a starkly negative connotation. Indeed, for many people — especially those with larger estates — financial planners recommend trying to keep property out of probate whenever possible. That being said, the probate system was ultimately established to protect the property of the deceased and his/her heirs, and in a few cases it may even work to an advantage. Let’s look briefly at the pros and cons of going through probate. The Pros For some estates, especially those in which no will was left, the system works to make sure all [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:28:54+00:00December 1st, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Act Now! There’s Still Time to Avoid the New IRS Regulations That Might Raise Taxes on Your Family’s Inheritance

The IRS recently released proposed regulations which effectively end valuation discounts that have been relied upon for over 20 years. If the IRS’s current timetable holds, these regulations may become final as early as January 1, 2017. Although that date isn’t set in stone, I expect that the regulations will be final around that time or shortly thereafter. With New Regulations Looming, What Should You Do Now? As I mentioned before, the timetable isn’t set in stone. Luckily, there’s still a narrow window of time to implement “freezing” techniques under current, more favorable law, to save taxes and protect your [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:45:27+00:00October 3rd, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments

Over 70% of Elvis Presley’s Estate Paid in Taxes & Fees: How Can You Avoid the Same Trap?

Did you know that the legendary singer and actor, Elvis Presley, earned over a billion dollars throughout his somewhat short career? That’s billion – with a B. However, when the “King of Rock & Roll” died in 1977, his estate’s net worth was only $10 million.  Of that, over 70% went to pay taxes and fees. That left someone who had earned over a billion dollars with only about $3 million (this time with an M) in the end. So, where did the money go and, more importantly, how can you avoid the same trap? Where Did The Money Go? It seems [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:41:23+00:00August 8th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , |0 Comments

The IRS Took Half of Tony Soprano’s Estate: Don’t Fall Into the Same Trap!

Actor and producer, James Gandolfini was famously known as the likeable mafia man Tony Soprano on the long running cable television series, The Sopranos. On the show, family meant everything. Well, sort of, anyway. In real life, Gandolfini’s family really did mean everything and he had the best intentions when it came to providing for them.  However, he made a classic mistake by failing to take advantage of tax incentives, legal protections and opportunities. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ended up taking half of his estate. Don’t fall into the same trap. An Estate Planning Attorney Could Have Saved Gandolfini Millions [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:31:47+00:00July 14th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , |0 Comments

5 Easy Tips to Simplify Your Year End Charitable Giving

Are you planning on making charitable donations before the end of the year?  The IRS reminds us that you must itemize deductions on your tax return to claim a deduction for these gifts.  In addition, the following five tips can help make those year-end charitable gifts count. Tip #1 – Give to a Qualified Charity.  Only gifts to a “qualified charity” are deductible on your income tax return.   The IRS offers a handy website, the Select Check tool, to determine whether your favorite organizations are qualified.  You can also deduct donations made to churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and government agencies even if [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:32:16+00:00December 7th, 2015|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Is There an Income Tax Time Bomb Lurking in Your Estate Plan?

As the federal estate tax exemption has ballooned from $1.5 million ten years ago to $5.43 million today, the need for estate tax planning has drastically decreased.  Instead, higher income tax rates that were ushered in under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) have shifted the focus of estate planning to a new frontier:  income tax basis planning. The Basics of Income Tax Basis In its simplest form, income tax basis is the cost to buy an asset.  Basis must be tracked because when an asset is sold, income tax liability in the form of capital gains is [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:41:12+00:00November 2nd, 2015|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments

Don’t Miss Out on These Year-End Tax Planning Strategies

Now is the ideal time to start year-end tax planning.  Below you will find a variety of tax-saving strategies you should consider using immediately so that you can get your 2015 tax house in order well in advance of the fast-approaching holiday season. Plan Now for a Bountiful Fall Harvest The last thing you want to worry about during the holiday season is tax planning.  Now is the perfect time to discuss the following tax-saving opportunities with your financial team so that you can implement them in the next few weeks: Check your portfolio to determine which dud stocks can [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:45:40+00:00October 5th, 2015|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

What You Need to Know About the Final Estate Tax Portability Rules

Recently the IRS issued the final rules governing the “portability election” as it relates to the federal estate tax exemption.  Married couples need to understand how these final rules may affect their existing estate plans, while recent widows and widowers need to understand how these finals rules may affect their deceased spouse’s estate. What is the “Portability Election” and How is the Election Made? The “portability election” refers to the right of a surviving spouse to claim the unused portion of the federal estate tax exemption of their deceased spouse and add it to the balance of their own exemption.  [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:39:59+00:00August 31st, 2015|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments

What’s Hot in Estate Planning Right Now May Surprise You

Estate planning has truly evolved over the past 20 years.  Gone is the uncertainty about federal estate taxes and the absolute requirement for married couples to use complex trusts to minimize these taxes.  But also gone is planning for the “traditional” family.  In fact, today estate planning is more complicated than ever before. Estate Planning in 1995 Versus 2015 In 1995 the federal estate tax exemption was only $600,000 and the estate tax rate was 55%.  Back then it was easy to accumulate a taxable estate by simply owning a home, a few investments and some life insurance.  And while [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:40:49+00:00August 17th, 2015|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments

How Will the 2015 Supreme Court Decisions Affect You and Your Family?

While approximately 10,000 cases are appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court each year, only 75 to 80 make it to oral argument.  Of those cases, only a handful grab the media’s attention.  Below is a summary of three landmark decisions handed down in 2015 that could affect how you are taxed, pay for healthcare, and plan your estate. Comptroller v. Wynne – A State Can’t Double Tax Income Earned Outside of the State Legal Issue:  Does Maryland’s state income tax scheme violate the U.S. Constitution by “double taxing” a resident’s income earned from economic activity in another state that also taxes [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:43:44+00:00July 2nd, 2015|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Federal and State Death Tax Updates

Death taxes are back in the news at the federal level as well as in Delaware and Minnesota. What Happened to the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015? Back in February and March of 2015, identical bills calling for repeal of the federal estate tax and generation-skipping transfer tax were introduced in the U.S. House and Senate.  In April 2015 the U.S. House passed the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015” by a margin of 240 to 179.  While the votes were largely along party lines (233 Republicans voted for the bill, while 176 Democrats voted against it), seven Democrats [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:43:50+00:00June 1st, 2015|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments

Year End Estate Planning Tip #5 – Make Gifts That Your Family Will Love but the IRS Won’t Tax

Don’t let the chaos of the holiday season prevent you from avoiding federal gift tax by making “annual exclusion” gifts, medical payments gifts, and educational gifts. Make Annual Exclusion Gifts “Annual exclusion” gifts are transfers of money or property in an amount that does not exceed the annual gift tax exclusion. In 2014, the annual gift tax exclusion is $14,000 per recipient, and it will remain at $14,000 per person in 2015.  Therefore, you can give up to $14,000 to as many individuals you choose on or before December 31, 2014, and then give another $14,000 to the same people [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:46:56+00:00November 3rd, 2014|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , |0 Comments

Year End Estate Planning Tip #1 – Check Your Estate Tax Planning

With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season.  One area that married couples should revisit is their estate tax planning. Do You Still Have “AB Trust” Planning in Your Estate Plan? If you’re married and you haven’t had your estate plan reviewed since before January 2, 2013, by an experienced estate planning lawyer, then pull your documents out of the drawer, dust them off, and take a closer look at their trust provisions.  Do they contain terms such [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:47:30+00:00October 2nd, 2014|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments
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