Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas

I am done posting for the year and will resume posting in the new year.  Until then, enjoy the best Christmas song ever by Darlene Love.  

Gift Tax Non-Compliance?

The IRS is requesting information from various states, including Ohio about real estate transfers between parents and children from 2005-10 for purposes of determining gift tax compliance. If you made or received such a gift, you should file a Form 709 immediately.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Treating Children Differently

If someone wants to leave differing inheritance amounts to her children, she should explain the reasons for doing so. Also, she should make sure that her estate planning documents reflect her current wishes, not her wishes from several years ago when relationships and asset values might have been different.

Designating A Guardian

Some people refrain from implementing an estate plan because they can not agree on a guardian. However, an imperfect choice is better than no choice which will put the guardian decision before a probate judge.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Survivors Not Responsible for Debts of Decedent

In Ohio, creditors have six months after death to file a claim against the estate to secure payment for the debt of a decedent. After that time, the claim is forever barred. However, some creditors/collection agencies still attempt to collect from surviving spouses and family members by appealing to their guilt.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ohio - Next of Kin Notification

Recent legislation allows Ohio residents to submit 2 names to the Ohio BMV to be used by law enforcement in the event of a serious automobile accident.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Proposed Estate Tax Legislation

A Democratic Congressman introduced legislation to return the estate tax exemption and credit to 2001 levels - $1 million exemption (indexed for inflation) and a top rate of 55% - effective 1/1/2012. The chances of it passing the Republican controlled House are zero.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Heiress Leaves Fortune to Non-Relatives

Interesting story about an extremely wealthy, reclusive, childless woman who left her fortune to her nurse and others. Her relatives, who she had not presumably seen in 20 years because she lived in an NY hospital under a fake name, are now suing the estate.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Are Domestic Asset Protection Trusts Effective?

I have long doubted their effectiveness in shielding the assets of non-residents of the states purporting to protect them. In light of a recent court decision, there is a chart which summarizes their effectiveness. In short, a trust created by a resident of the protecting state prior to any potential claim and not used for bankruptcy purposes, is effective.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mistakes Made By Surviving Spouses

Common mistakes made by a widow or widower include:

1. Improperly executing the IRA roll over,
2. Retaining investments for sentimental reasons,
3. Collecting social security benefits too soon, and
4. Not filing a federal estate tax return to preserve the deceased spouse's unified credit (for deaths in 2011 and 2012).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

$5 million gift exemption to end November 23?

Rumors are circulating that the $5 million lifetime gift exemption will end on November 23 when the Congressional Super Committee makes it recommendations. If you are contemplating making a large gift, I advise doing it now rather than taking a chance by waiting later.

Friday, November 4, 2011

2 Estate Planning Points

In an interview with an estate planning author, the key points are to have flexible documents and that attorneys add value over the low cost of do it yourself will packages.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Return of Large Inherited Fortunes

Half of the top 10 richest individuals in the US inherited their wealth. The US could be returning to a period where large fortunes were the result of trust funds or energy production.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Perils of Estate Plan Not Staying Current

Five years after his death, the estate of James Brown remains embroiled in litigation. One of the lessons to be learned is to update estate planning documents after a re-marriage or birth of a child. His failure to do so has led to some of the litigation.

Side note: Is it really 5 years since he died? Seems like 2 or 3 years ago.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Trusts Are Good for Maintaining Privacy

Steve Jobs apparently used trusts to shield his post-mortem financial affairs from the public. I have always viewed privacy as an ancillary benefit of trust planning (behind estate tax reduction, delaying distributions to children, and avoiding the probate process), but in the case of Steve Jobs, who reveled in secrecy, the privacy provided by trusts is paramount.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Estate Planning for Women

A simple slideshow that addresses estate planning issues faced by women.

Personal Property Disputes

Another article that reflects that estate disputes are most often about personal property, not money. I recommend that clients prepare a memorandum to distribute specific items that are of sentimental value. Also, giving an item away during life is a good strategy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

National Estate Planning Awareness Week?

Yes, there really is such a week. Anyone who is over 18 - whether single, married, young, old, wealthy, healthy, sick or poor - should implement estate planning documents that meet their needs and goals. This is also a good time to review current plans to make sure that it meets your current goals.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011)

Steve Jobs' 2005 commencement address at Stanford has some great ruminations on life and death.

Unrelated to anything else on this blog, but worth sharing because they are from the most innovative man of our lifetimes, a list of the best Steve Jobs quotes is here.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Overview of Charitable Gifts

With changing estate tax laws and proposed caps on charitable deductions, charitable gift planning has become complicated. A brief review of the issues is here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Rules on Portability of Unused Exemption of Deceased Spouse

In addition to increasing the federal estate tax exemption to $5 million, the 2010 estate tax law changes also permit the surviving spouse to utilize the unused portion of the deceased spouse's federal exemption. To enable this process, the estate of the deceased spouse must file a federal estate tax return even if the return would normally be unnecessary due to the estate being less than $5 million.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are Irrevocable Insurance Insurance Trusts Still Necessary?

With a $5.0 million estate tax exemption, a trust to shelter insurance proceeds from estate taxes might not seem necessary. However, given the uncertainty about future estate taxes starting in 2013, owning insurance in an irrevocable Crummey trust makes sense for some people.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Should You Buy Long Term Care Insurance?

This writer argues yes, unless you are very wealthy, and gives some tips on navigating the process.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How Difficult Is It To Serve as Executor of an Estate?

A very negative portrayal of an executor's duties which make the task seem much more difficult than it usually is.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Families Handle Inherited Wealth

Fascinating article about how families deal with the benefits and pitfalls of large sums of inherited wealth. The story about the Norton family in Minnesota is a blueprint on how to handle it successfully and prepare children for their futures. The article also had the following tips which apply to all families:

The Stages of Wealth

Start educating your child early, and keep at it well into adulthood.

AGE 8: Each week put a small allowance -- $1 to $5 in dollar bills -- into an envelope and hand it to your child. Explain that it's up to him to decide whether to buy candy or save up for, say, a skateboard. (Don't undercut the lesson by buying the skateboard yourself.)

AGE 10-12: Invite your child to start attending regular family meetings. Discussion items: How lucky we are to be financially comfortable and what we as a family think is the purpose of our money. Should we take fancy vacations or give to charities? Make it clear your kid's opinion matters.

AGE 12-14: Make sure your kid knows how to manage a checkbook. And at the family meetings, start making it clear where the family money came from–somebody's hard work! Start setting future expectations: Tell your child, "You're going to have to make your own fortune," or "Someday this will all be yours to preserve."

AGE 14-16: Don't be afraid to invite your banker or financial advisor to attend family meetings. It can be easier to have a neutral third party broach delicate topics such as a prenup and how much money you plan to leave your kids.

AGE 15-20: If the message isn't getting through, initiate steps for a "beneficiary rescue." Shift assets from normal investment accounts and minors' trusts into entities that you firmly control, such as family limited partnerships.

AGE 20-25: Make it clear you'd welcome your kid into the family business -- as soon as he's ready. College is a first step, and training at someone else's company can offer perspective. Remind your child that you love him and have total confidence in his ability to make his own way into the world. He'll thank you for it when he's 40.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

End of Life Planning

Article from Sunday's Cincinnati Enquirer about end of life decisions.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wills That Favor One Child Over Another

Strategies for drafting a will that favors one child over another child(ren). I advise my clients to leave all children at least some amount (not the nominal $1), but provide that the bequest is conditioned on the child not contesting the will. If the child contests the will, he will lose his bequest.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rules for Retirement Account Beneficiary Designations

An overview of rules which apply to clients who re-marry but have children from a prior marriage. There is a distinction between 401(k) plans and IRAs because ERISA rules do not apply to IRAs which make them more flexible.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tips for 2nd Marriages

Some quick advice for those getting re-married or whose parent is getting re-married.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to Leave Frequent Flyer Miles to Heirs

Among the suggestions: mention them in your will, give them away during life, or add a secondary user to a mileage generating credit card. I think that the risk of the third idea outweighs the benefits.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Complete Your Beneficiary Designation Form!

Article about the importance of completing your beneficiary designation forms when doing estate planning.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Eat Your Broccoli and Take Your Required IRA Distributions

If you turn 70 1/2 this year, be sure to take your required minimum distribution from your IRA. The failure to do so will result in a 50% penalty.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

100% Estate Tax Rate?

Megan McArdle makes an argument for a 100% estate tax rate. The first time I heard this argument was from my estate planning professor in 1986. I thought it was ludicrous then and I find it even more troublesome now.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Women Suffer Most When Couples Fail to Plan

If couples do not have proper financial planning, the woman is most often hurt the most and her lifestyle will be reduced permanently.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ohio Estate Tax Repeal?

The Cincinnati Enquirer has a nice article about the Ohio Estate Tax. The tax applies only to taxpayers with assets valued at more than $338K. Proponents of the tax claim repeal would only benefit the "wealthy." How they consider a $338K net worth as wealthy is laughable. A house and a retirement plan should put most taxpayers over the threshold.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hesistation to Use New Gift Tax Exemption?

Some wealthy individuals are hesitant to use the new $5 million gift tax exemption because they fear damaging the initiative and ambition of their children.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Will Your Roth IRA Always Be Tax Free?

Megan McCardle thinks not. Money quote: "So I think that ultimately retirees are going to end up consuming less than they currently expect to. And given the political economy of it all, I expect the burden to fall more heavily on those who have saved than on those who haven't."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Your Digital Life Post Death part 2

Popular Mechanics discusses problems with passwords and other digital data post-death. Site and companies providing solutions are here and here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Think Before You Buy?

Boomers have acquired too many possessions they no longer want and are selling them for pennies on the dollar.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Digital Data - Post Death

Nice article about the need for heirs to access passwords and digital data after death.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Problems With the US Tax Code

Business Week had a recent article about how wealthy people can legally avoid/minimize taxes.

Welcome to the blog.

Greetings. This is my blog dedicated to interesting articles about tax and estate planning articles that I encounter, or news related to my practice areas. Hope you find it worth your time.