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Legacy Planning

10 Types of Trusts: A Quick Look

Considering the myriad of trusts available, creating an estate plan that works can seem daunting.  However, that’s what we, as estate planning attorneys, do every day. We know the laws and will design a plan which addresses your specific situation. Here’s a look at the basics of ten common trusts to provide a general understanding. There will not be a quiz at the end. All you need to do when we meet is to share your goals and insights into your family and financial situation, and we will design a plan that best supports your situation. Bypass Trusts. Commonly referred to as Credit Shelter...

4 Tips for Avoiding a Will or Trust Contest

A will or trust contest can derail your final wishes, rapidly deplete your estate, and tear your loved ones apart. But with proper planning, you can help your family avoid a potentially disastrous will or trust contest. If you are concerned about challenges to your estate plan, consider the following: 1. Do not attempt “do-it-yourself” solutions. If you are concerned about an heir contesting your estate plan, the last thing you want to do is attempt to write or update your will or trust on your own. An estate planning attorney can help you put together and maintain an estate plan that will...

Heads Up: These States Will Usher in Changes to Their Death Taxes in 2016

In 2016, there are still 19 U.S. jurisdictions that collect a death tax at the state level:  Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee (repealed this year), Vermont, and Washington. Even if you don’t live in one of these states, the state estate tax may affect you in the future since many people move from time to time. It may affect your beneficiaries, because they may live or move to one of these states. The following states will see...

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 married...

2016 Estate and Gift Tax Predictions

Under current law the federal estate tax, gift tax, and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions have become unified and are indexed for inflation on an annual basis.  Since 2011, the exemption and tax rate have changed as follows: Year    Exemption       Tax Rate 2011    $5,000,000      35% 2012    $5,120,000      35% 2013    $5,250,000      40% 2014    $5,340,000      40% 2015    $5,430,000      40% The annual exclusion from gift taxes is also indexed for inflation on an annual basis but only in $1,000 increments.  Since 2011, the annual gift tax exclusion has changed as follows:...

National Estate Planning Awareness Week

Did You Know We Just Ended the 2015 National Estate Planning Awareness Week? In 2008 the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC), in conjunction with Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and 49 of his colleagues, helped pass a law which declared the third week in October “National Estate Planning Awareness Week.”  This year, National Estate Planning Awareness Week was from October 19 through 25. What is the Purpose of National Estate Planning Awareness Week? Americans face many challenges with regard to saving, investing, and planning for their financial futures.  For example:...