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Using Swap Powers in your Trust to Reduce Income Taxes

Posted on: January 16th, 2017
Many clients have assets in irrevocable trusts to protect themselves from estate taxes. Estate tax thresholds have been raised significantly. At the same time, income tax rates have been increased. These new income tax thresholds have been labeled as the new “death tax”. With this “death tax,” an important estate plan strategy is to make sure that heirs can take advantage of the step-up in basis when grantors pass away....

The Purpose of a Gun or Firearm Trust

Posted on: January 9th, 2017
The purpose of a Gun or Firearm Trust is to keep control of, minimize taxes on, and provide for the safe and lawful use of your firearms. Whether the gun owners possess only a shotgun or rifle, or also possesses NFA firearms like and AR-15, Gun Trust can play a crucial role....

Standalone Retirement Trusts: A Crucial Component of Estate Planning

Posted on: December 14th, 2016
For most Americans, the majority of one’s wealth is held in retirement accounts. When it comes to inheritance and estate planning, special considerations are necessary to ensure that these assets are protected and distributed according to the account holder’s wishes. It’s critical for law practices to have knowledge of all the options available for retirement asset transfer, in order to best serve client needs in this area....

Top Reasons Everyone Needs a Comprehensive Power of Attorney

Posted on: October 18th, 2016
The benefits of a highly detailed, comprehensive power of attorney are numerous. Unfortunately, many powers of attorney are more general in nature and can actually cause more problems than they solve, especially for our senior population. Here we highlight the benefits of a comprehensive, detailed power of attorney, including some of the provisions that should be included. A proper starting point is to emphasize that the proper use of a power of attorney as an estate planning and elder law document depends on the reliability and honesty of the appointed agent. ...

Reconsider Outright Inheritances

Posted on: July 11th, 2016
First of all, the discretionary lifetime trust cordons off the inheritance. A vengeful ex-spouse, plotting business partner, unshakeable creditor, or plaintiff in a lawsuit against your beneficiary will have a very hard time breaking down the wall surrounding the property and assets you’ve left. Of course, no wall is impenetrable, but this one can be made quite strong....

Funding Your Trust: Is there Fuel in the Racecar?

Posted on: February 8th, 2016
Having a perfectly crafted estate plan that meets your wishes to a tee is all well and good, but will your assets go through it, or through your will instead?...

Proper LLC Formation and Governance: Sweating the Details

Posted on: September 13th, 2015
Setting up an LLC can, of course, offer many advantages. Chief among those advantages is an LLC’s flexibility. With less stringent requirements for compliance and less necessary paperwork than S-Corps and C-Corps, LLCs are easier to form and easier to keep in good legal standing. The flexibility of an LLC, however, is not permission to be informal in its creation or operation....

Valuation Discounts in Estate Planning soon to disappear.

Posted on: July 14th, 2015
IRS attorney signals looming restrictions on discount techniques. Estate Tax Planning with FLP and FLLC faces increased IRS scrutiny....

What is the ABLE Act all about?

Posted on: March 22nd, 2015
5 Questions Answered about the ABLE Act for Special Needs Beneficiaries...

At Least Have These Basics

Posted on: March 22nd, 2015
Yes, estate planning is boring to most. But if you do anything, take 5 minutes out of your busy life to be sure you have these 3 areas suggested below covered. Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is only necessary for the wealthy. In reality, a basic estate plan is essential for everyone, regardless of income or net worth, because we all want to minimize confusion, unnecessary costs, and stress for loved ones after a death....

4 Reasons Why a Living Trust is Preferred over a Will

Posted on: June 26th, 2014
Many consumers and professionals now prefer an estate plan that uses a revocable living trust over a will as the primary estate planning document. Here are four reasons why:...

Trust Based Estate Plans vs. Will Based Plans

Posted on: March 31st, 2014
Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust in comparison to a Will are far superior and many. This is a good starting point for estate planning decisions and decisions....

Should I Name My Trust beneficiary of my IRA?

Posted on: December 23rd, 2013
Conduit vs. Accumulation Stretch IRA RMD 5 year payout...

Business Owners: Have You Planned Your Exit?

Posted on: June 12th, 2013
You've worked hard building your business, but have you thought about what will happen when you are no longer there running the show?...

When Is It Time to Service Your Estate Plan

Posted on: June 12th, 2013
If you own a car, then you know it requires regular servicing in order to perform well and be reliable. More than likely, your car came with a recommended schedule for service, based on how many miles it has been driven; after a certain number of miles, you need to change the oil, replace the brake pads, rotate the tires, and so on...

Shoud You Disinherit a Child?

Posted on: May 10th, 2013
Most parents choose to leave their estates equally to their children. But sometimes, parents intentionally choose to not leave anything to one or more of their children. There may be what the parents consider to be legitimate reasons, such as if one child has been more financially successful than the others, or not wanting a special needs child to lose government benefits, or not wanting to leave an inheritance to an irresponsible or drug-dependent child. And sometimes a parent wants to disinherit a child who is estranged from the family, or to use disinheritance as a way to get even and have the last word. ...

Posted on: April 3rd, 2013
Over the course of my career, I have encountered many families who were unprepared for the inevitable aging and loss of parents. These families experienced unexpected rivalries that threatened to cripple or destroy the very family unity and wealth that the parents and their estate planning attorney hoped to protect...

Six Biggest IRA Beneficiary Form Mistakes

Posted on: March 13th, 2013
Americans hold nearly $15 Trillion in IRA’s and other qualified plans. If you have a retirement plan you have made a series of very wise deci­sions. Now you must take steps to protect and preserve what you have worked so hard for. ...

How To Leave Assets to Adult Children

Posted on: March 13th, 2013
When considering how to leave assets to your adult children, first decide how much you want each one to receive. Most parents want to treat their children fairly, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they should receive equal shares of your estate. For example, you may want to give more to a child who is a teacher than to one who has a successful business. Or you may want to compensate a child who has taken care of you during an illness or your later years. ...

An Estate Plan for Cinderella's Parents

Posted on: February 27th, 2013
I saw Cinderella for the first time with my daughter recently, and though I (and likely you) were familiar with the outline of the story, we often forget the backstory. It starts with the disaster, specifically, an estate planning disaster in a world that does not need to worry about the estate tax or probate, or even lawyers. ...

How to Leave Assets to Minor Children

Posted on: February 13th, 2013
Every parent wants to make sure their children are provided for in the event something happens to them while the children are still minors. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives often want to leave some of their assets to young children, too. But good intentions and poor planning often have unintended results....

Letter to an Ex

Posted on: January 30th, 2013
Below is a fictional letter I drafted to a former partner because I know only too well what can happen when estate planning is not done properly—after divorce. I hope you enjoy this outreach to an ex-spouse or partner and consider taking steps to do everything this letter suggests for you. You can even send the link to your ex! ...

Picking the Best Way to Hold Title to Your Home

Posted on: January 9th, 2013
One of the last things most home buyers think about is how to take title to their new house. It's best to consult an estate attorney before deciding but, unfortunately, most homeowners don't do that. To help with the decision, here are the pros and cons of the five most common ways to hold title to your home: ...

Business Owners: Have You Planned Your Exit?

Posted on: January 2nd, 2013
You've worked hard building your business, but have you thought about what will happen when you are no longer there running the show? According to one study (Small Business Review, Summer 2001), only 30% of all family-owned businesses survive to the next generation; only 12% make it to the third generation; and a meager 3% are functioning into the 4th generation and beyond. Why? Most business owners simply do not plan an exit. They do not do proper estate planning, which often results in unnecessary estate taxes that drain the life out of their businesses. And they do not plan for a successful transition to the next generation. Who could take over your business? You may have more choices than you think. ...

Asset Protection Considerations for Business Owners

Posted on: December 28th, 2012
Many business owners devote much time and energy “working in” their business to improve business operations and profitability; however, they often neglect to “work on” their business by not addressing certain asset protection issues. Business owners, particularly those owning their business in corporate form, should consider the following: 1) how to own C corporation or S corporation stock to minimize exposure to creditors, an “outside” asset protection issue; and, 2) whether to implement several basic business agreements designed to protect and even enhance business value from the “inside” of the corporation. ...

Grab The $5M Gift And Estate Tax Perk: It's Gone In 2013

Posted on: December 13th, 2012
Think infomercial. This is a special limited time offer! Procrastination is understandable, especially about taxes and mortality. Yet it’s still surprising most people haven’t taken advantage of the incredibly favorable estate and gift tax law expiring in 2012. See It Pays To Plan For Future Estate Tax Changes. Move up http://i.forbesimg.com t Move down Like A Jedi, Sell A Business, Real Estate Or Stock This Year Robert W. Wood Contributor 30 Million Taxpayers Face Alternative Minimum Tax Right Now Robert W. Wood Contributor When Estates Don't Pay Tax, IRS Chases Beneficiaries Robert W. Wood Contributor Undisclosed Foreign Bank Accounts? They're Even More Explosive Now Robert W. Wood Contributor Congress enacted a $5 million exemption for both gift and estate taxes, but only through 2012. See Making Tax Decisions In Limbo. But wait, there’s more! Indexed for inflation, the exemption is now $5,120,000. It drops to only $1 million January 1, 2013. That’s a free pass to give away up to $5,120,000 without tax. If you are married, that’s up to $10,240,000 for a married couple with no tax. ...

Estate Planning for Young Families

Posted on: November 28th, 2012
Many young families put off estate planning. If asked, theMany young families put off estate planning. If asked, they may say they are too young, healthy or can’t afford it. Some have trouble just thinking about what could happen if they should die while their minor children and spouse are depending on them. But even a healthy, young adult can be taken suddenly by an accident or illness, and those with young families need estate planning precisely because others are depending on them. y may say they are too young, healthy or can’t afford it. Some have trouble just thinking about what could happen if they should die while their minor children and spouse are depending on them. But even a healthy, young adult can be taken suddenly by an accident or illness, and those with young families need estate planning precisely because others are depending on them. ...

10 Things To Do Before the End of This Year

Posted on: November 14th, 2012
The end of the year will be here before we know it. But there is still time to get some major estate planning goals accomplished. Here are ten things to do before the end of 2012. ...

When Is It Time To Service Your Estate Plan?

Posted on: October 24th, 2012
If you own a car, then you know it requires regular servicing in order to perform well and be reliable. More than likely, your car came with a recommended schedule for service, based on how many miles it has been driven. After a certain number of miles, you need to change the oil, replace the brake pads, rotate the tires, and so on. If you have a newer car, you probably have an irritating dash light that comes on when it's time for service and stays on until the mechanic resets it. Either way, whether you pay attention to the odometer or rely on that dash light, it's pretty easy to know when it's time to service your car. And if you keep driving it without servicing it, it's a sure bet your car will let you down. ...

VA Benefits For Long-Term Care of Veterans and Their Surviving Spouses

Posted on: October 24th, 2012
Many wartime veterans and their surviving spouses are currently receiving long-term care or will need some type of long-term care in the near future. The Veterans Administration has funds that are available to help pay for this care. Unfortunately, many are not aware that these benefits even exist, and they are often overlooked by families with veterans or surviving spouses who need additional funds to help care for them. ...

National Estate Planning Awareness Week

Posted on: October 11th, 2012
Congress has designated the third week in October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week (October 15-21, 2012)....

Can You Trust Your Trust? Why an Online Will or Trust Could Be the Dumbest Mistake

Posted on: September 26th, 2012
In this article is a discussion of the hidden dangers of consumers using online legal forms, often referred to as “do it yourself (DIY) wills and trusts.” Hiersekorn notes at the end of his article that “You only get to use an estate plan once. If you screw it up, you’ll never know, but your family will.” ...

Romney Tax Returns Show Strategy for Moving Money to Kids

Posted on: August 29th, 2012
The couple created trusts as early as 1995, when Romney was building wealth as chief executive officer of Bain Capital LLC. They packed one for their children with investments that stood to appreciate and set up another for charity that provides a tax deduction and income. The candidate’s retirement account, valued at as much as $87.4 million, may benefit his heirs for decades. “It’s beneficial for your kids and grandkids to push the money downstream,” said David Scott Sloan, chairman of the national private wealth services estate-planning practice at the law firm Holland & Knight LLP in Boston. “The Romneys appear to be doing things that are similar to what other high-net-worth families do.” ...

Take Advantage of the $5.12 Million Dollar Gift Tax Exemption in 2012

Posted on: August 14th, 2012
There has been a lot of media coverage about the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire on December 31, 2012 and whether they will be extended for all taxpayers or if they will be discontinued for top earners. But not nearly as much has been said about the current estate and gift tax rates that are also due to expire on December 31. What we have for the next few months is an historic opportunity in estate planning. At the end of 2010, Congress put in place a two-year estate tax provision that included a huge gift no one had been expecting: a $5 million gift and estate tax exemption, the highest it has ever been. It was indexed for inflation for 2012, making it even higher—$5.12 million—but for this year only. ...

Blended Families Underscore the Need for Estate Planning

Posted on: June 27th, 2012
Anyone with children or modest assets should seriously consider some minimal estate planning, but the increasing number of blended families underscores the need for proper estate planning. Blended families can involve children from a prior marriage as well as joint children, sometimes joking referred to as “his, hers and theirs.” And blended families involve both younger and older couples, and nearly everyone in between. When the new spouse is significantly younger, this sometimes means that the older spouse’s children are close in age to the younger. These relationships can cause more than friction between the step-parent and step-children. ...

The Most Important Love Letters You’ll Ever Write?

Posted on: June 25th, 2012
Many Americans have the misperception that estate planning is simply preparing for one’s death and is only necessary for the affluent. To the contrary, estate planning is as much about passing values to loved ones as it is about passing material possessions. Thus it should come as no surprise that a February 16, 2012 Forbes article describes estate planning as the most important love letters you’ll ever write, encouraging readers to find inspiration in knowing that you are caring for the people and causes you love, even if you’re not here anymore. ...

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) Basics

Posted on: June 25th, 2012
Life insurance is a unique asset in that it serves numerous diverse functions in a tax-favored environment. Life insurance proceeds are received income tax free and, if properly owned by an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, life insurance proceeds can also be received free of estate tax. An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) is one of the most popular wealth planning devices. It is a trust designed to own a life insurance policy, usually on the lives of you and your spouse. You gift funds to the trust periodically and the trustee uses the funds to pay premiums on the life insurance policy. The trust is designed to produce benefits for your family. ...

10 Tips for Helping Families with Special Needs

Posted on: June 15th, 2012
This month's issue of Peltier Law Office, PLLC's news letter examines the unique planning requirements of families with children, grandchildren or other family members (such as parents) with special needs. There are many misconceptions in this area that result in costly mistakes in planning for special needs beneficiaries. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us - our clients' advisors - to ensure that clients understand all of their options....

Revocable Trusts

Posted on: May 28th, 2012
A revocable trust provides no asset protection for the trust maker during his or her life. Upon the death of the trust maker, however, or upon the death of the first spouse to die if it is a joint trust, the trust becomes irrevocable as to the deceased trust maker's property and can provide asset protection for the beneficiaries, with two important caveats. First, the assets must remain in the trust to provide ongoing asset protection. In other words, once the trustee distributes the assets to a beneficiary, those assets are no longer protected and can be attached by that beneficiary's creditors. If the beneficiary is married, the distributed assets may also be subject to the spouse's creditor(s), or they may be available to the former spouse upon divorce....

Estate Planning for Second Marriages

Posted on: May 28th, 2012
In first marriages, the couple generally has the same goals when it comes to their estate planning: take care of the surviving spouse for as long as he or she lives, then whatever is left will go to the children. They may own many of their assets jointly and, at the death of the first spouse, more than likely everything will go to the surviving spouse just as they had planned....

DIY Estate Planning

Posted on: May 28th, 2012
With the number of online and do-it-yourself (DIY) legal providers continuing to grow, some of individuals may be wondering if they could do their estate planning themselves. The advertising is seductive: attorneys use similar forms, the cost is significantly less than hiring an attorney, and many of these websites and kits are created by attorneys. In addition, most people think their estates are not complicated, and many think they are just as smart as (or smarter than) professionals. ...

Special Needs Trust Overview

Posted on: May 22nd, 2012
A Special Needs Trust is a trust that can supplement the needs of a special needs beneficiary while allowing the beneficiary to maintain his or her governmental benefits, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security and Medicaid. With medical advancements, persons with disabilities are living longer and public benefits are often necessary, yet there is no guarantee that public benefits will provide adequate resources over the disabled person's lifetime, or that existing public agencies will continue to provide acceptable services and advocacy over a disabled person's lifetime. ...