Articles Posted in Estate Planning

Many conversations mention estate and inheritance taxes together, but there are some substantial differences between these two things. Both these taxes, however, have one thing in common: not everybody pays them. 

As a result, it is a wise idea to begin by deciding whether you will be required to pay either of the taxes.

Is Inheritance Taxable?

The Supreme Court of Montana recently affirmed a judgment by the district court distributing assets from a trust established by a husband and wife to the couple’s three children. 

The district court had interpreted the trust creator’s handwritten codicil as a wish and not a specific bequest of the woman’s stock in a company that the couple had created and grown. Before the husband’s death in 1993, the couple executed identical wills under which the assets of the first spouse to die  passed into a trust with the assets in the trust intended to be distributed equally between the three children of the surviving spouse. 

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision that the codicil was lacking in testamentary intent to specifically devise shares, this specific bequest was not passed on. 

The Mississippi Court of Appeals recently decided that a man convicted of DUI manslaughter that led to the death of his wife can collect survivor benefits from the state. The late woman had designated her husband as a 40% beneficiary while the deceased woman’s sister was a 60% beneficiary. While Mississippi law permits spouses in the husband’s situation to still receive benefits, some states have prevented this type of result by altering statutory language. The husband previously pleaded and was sentenced to 25 years in prison with 10 years suspended and 15 to serve. The man later received a separate two-year sentence for possession of contraband. 

While the Mississippi Court’s decision might seem strange, it emphasizes the importance of understanding the basics about the New York Survivor’s Benefit Program, which will be briefly reviewed in this article.

The Role of the New York Survivor’s Benefits Program

Losing a parent is not easy. While being prepared for the event might not make the emotional aspect any easier, it can help to eliminate the potential for additional problems. As a result, this article reviews some of the important financial steps that you can take after a parent passes away.

# 1 – Determine if Your Parents Had an Estate Plan

The position of managing a parent’s estate after their death can be made much easier if a parent had an estate plan. Ideally, a parent will organize all of their estate documents in an easy to find but secured location. The best estate plans include wills that address how assets should be handled, dispositions of last remains regarding how a parent’s remains should be disposed of, and several other documents. 

Wills play an important part in the estate planning process. The best estate plans, however, include more than wills. Instead, the best estate plans anticipate the numerous complications that can arise at the end of a person’s life.

Advance Healthcare Directives

Medical powers of attorney and living wills serve an important role that wills simply do not touch. A medical power of attorney can be used to appoint someone to make healthcare decisions in case you become incapacitated. A living will can be used to determine what type of life-prolonging measures you would like if you end up on life support. 

Not everyone can have children, and not everyone wants them. Supporting this trend are statistics that reveal America’s fertility rate is on the decline. In 2018, the number of children born in the United States even dropped to its lowest rate in 32 years. 

There are numerous reasons why couples are deciding to not have children including concerns about money and uncertainties about the prospect of raising a child in today’s world. Some couples who have decided to not have children make the mistake of thinking that they do not need a detailed estate plan, but in actuality they do. 

It is still important to make sure that any assets owned by the couple pass according to their wishes. It is also often critical that burial and funeral requests of the couple are properly carried out. As a result, this article reviews some important details that couples without children should remember while estate planning. 

Estate planning changes between groups of people. The necessary estate planning strategies also change between people. Like it or not, it is time for many members of the millennial generation to begin the estate planning process. 

As a result, this article examines some of the unique challenges faced by this age group as well as takes a review of some estate planning strategies that Millenials should follow.

Powers of Attorney and Living Wills Are Helpful

It is difficult to perform estate planning without taking finances and taxes into consideration. Instead, many people who perform successful planning discover that these three topics are interchangeably related. In the last year, several new topics have been introduced that redefine how each of these three areas. 

This article takes a brief look at some new and exciting estate planning strategies.

# 1 – Upstream Gifting

The California Court of Appeals recently decided the case of Winston v. Winston-Levin, which reviews some important estate planning considerations. In 1986, Robert Levin created a revocable trust, which he later revised several times. Sadly Robert passed away in 2015, and litigation occurred concerning subsequent revisions to the trust when Robert’s daughter from a previous marriage initiated legal action against Robert’s widow. 

The California court subsequently voided a revision to Levin’s trust and ordered the widow to return property she had received according to these changes. The daughter subsequently appealed arguing that the court had mistakenly voided the entire revision rather than just the portions that benefitted the widow. 

The California Court of Appeals ultimately found that the trial court had made the correct decision and that only voiding provisions related to the widow would not carry out the deceased man’s wishes. 

The usage of 529 plans is growing substantially. While for years, many families relied on these plans to fund college, these plans are also capable of being utilized to manage wealth, minimize taxes, and make multi-generational gifts. 

This article takes a brief examination of the advantages as well as limitations that 529 plans can provide. 

Avoid Gift and Estate Tax Rules

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