Articles Posted in Wills

Giving to charity is an important aspect of many estates. Those wishing to give gifts in a tax efficient manner should consider the positives and negatives of certain types of gifts. Many people who are wishing to help reduce estate taxes should consider spreading gifts throughout their lifetime.

Lifetime Gifting

In most cases, it is better to give money to loved ones while you are still alive than to wait until you pass away. Currently, a person can give up to $14,000 each to any number of other persons in a single year without incurring a taxable gift. This $14,000 annual exclusion is beneficial to you and to the recipient who typically does not owe taxes on the gift and does not have to report it unless it is from a foreign source. Any gift over the $14,000 exclusion must be reported on a Gift Tax Return and spouses splitting gifts must always file this Gift Tax Return even when no taxable gift is incurred. It is also possible to make unlimited payments directly to medical providers or educational institutions on behalf of others for qualified expenses though incurring a taxable gift. This can be a bit of a loophole.

Your estate plan is a way for you to make very important decisions regarding the future of your personal property, financial holdings and legacy. A proper estate plan is truly a gift. It provides peace of mind to the owner of the estate and grants family, friends, and other heirs a little piece to remember them by.

A Personal Touch

While the bulk of estate planning is comprised of official legal documents, these formalities may not be enough to convey your thoughts and wishes. Many people wish to include a letter of instruction along with their legal documents. This letter has your wishes in your own words.

A Living Trust is an estate planning vehicle that helps you avoid probate by transferring property to the people and charities of your choice. The assets are held in the trust’s name and not in the name of the individual. For this reason, it is important to appropriately name the trust.

The Importance of a Name

Trust names are important to consider because in order for a trust to legally hold the assets or property, the trust has to be identifiable by its formal name. This name must be distinct and separate from your name.

Estate planning for families is important. It allows a person to plan for the care and wellbeing of their family members and loved ones long after they have passed. What about people who do not have families to consider? More and more people are staying unmarried; according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 45% of adults were unmarried in 2012. Many adults are also childless, either voluntarily or involuntarily. These lifestyle choices do not, however, mean that estate planning is any less necessary.

Planning for Your Self

Estate planning isn’t just about planning for the distribution of your assets after your passing. It is also the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out when it comes to medical care, end of life procedures, and funeral plans.

According to the Pew Research Center, more Americans age 18-34 are living with their parents than in any other living situation. Over 32% of people in that age group live in their parents’ house which leads to an interesting estate planning dilemma for the parents.

While some adults who live with their parents are financially independent providing for their own daily living expenses and even paying rent, many living at home are in some way, shape or form financially dependent on their parents. This dependence can make estate planning even more important.

Discuss Your Plan

The Inheritance Left To University of New Hampshire By A Long Time Library Employee Was Spent In A Way That Raised A Few Eyebrows

Longtime University of New Hampshire library cataloguer died last year at the age 77. As his final wish to the world he left the entirety of his estate to the university where he graduated from and worked for most of his life. What shocked many though is the size of the humble librarian’s estate: four million dollars accumulated over a lifetime working for the university and living frugally.

But while many at the University of New Hampshire are thankful for the gift, the way the administration has decided to spend it has many asking if the university is honoring the librarian’s memory. One million dollars is being used to install a new video scoreboard at a new University of New Hampshire football stadium. Many students, alumni and community members wonder if this is the best way to use the funds considering the librarian’s occupation and passion for literature.  

New Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service Final Regulations Now Reflect Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges and Windsor v. United States Rulings

On September 2nd, the final regulations that reflect the holdings of the Supreme Court rulings that upheld same-sex marriage laws around the country as well as Revenue Ruling 2013-173 were released to the public. The new terms in the regulations reflect the new descriptions of marital status of taxpayers for federal tax purposes.

A Brief History Lesson

It is common knowledge that in order for a New York will to be valid that there must be other people to witness you signing your will as well as putting down their own signatures on your will. Despite this knowledge though improper execution of the will is the most common reason that a will is found to be invalid.

Why Do I Need Witnesses At All?

Witnesses provide an important evidentiary function to the probate process. Witnesses to your signing can provide first-hand accounts of the execution of the will. If a will is ever contested, the witnesses can testify about the procedures that were followed when executing the will, the testamentary capacity of the testator as well as the mental capacity of the testator.

Most people plan their estate believing that everyone they have left money or bequests to will survive them, such as when a parent specifies that money or property will be left to a child. But sometimes unexpected deaths happen and when it does, many people are left wondering what will happen to the property that they specified to go to the predeceased. It is a tricky situation, but thankfully New York law and proper estate planning precautions can address the problem.

New York “Anti-Lapse” Statutes

Common law followed in the past dictated that gifts to someone who was deceased was null and void. This is due to the fact that a dead person cannot own property. Since they cannot have property, they cannot inherit it. When someone left property to a person who had predeceased them, the bequest would be said to have lapsed. This would have unintended consequences, such as cutting out people who would have inherited the property if the bequest had not failed and others receiving more than the testator intended.

2016 will not relent in claiming high profile celebrities. This week’s death was as tragic as it was needless. Anton Yelchin, aged only 28, an only child, was killed in his Hollywood home’s driveway when his Jeep rolled down a slope and pinned him between a brick wall and the car, possibly due to a known defect in the Jeep. Mr. Yelchin, most prominently known for his starring roles in Odd Thomas and Charlie Bartlett, will be deeply missed by all.

An Estate Unplanned

There is no information currently available about whether or not Mr. Yelchin had a will or an estate plan when he passed, but if he is like the majority of Americans, chances are that he did not even have a simple will. According to a survey by Rocket Lawyer, 51 percent of Americans age 55 to 64 do not have wills. Even worse, 62 percent of those ages 45 to 54 have never drafted a will. The lower the age, the higher the chance that that person does not have a will.

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