BlogRead the Latest News


$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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Tips for Same Sex Couples

A quick overview of estate planning issues faced by same sex couples.

Estate Planning Basics

Money magazine provided a nice overview of estate planning last year.

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.

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 ishere.

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.

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.

Should You Buy Long Term Care Insurance?

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

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

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

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.

End of Life Planning

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

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.

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.

Contact Me

All Posts By Jay Brinker

I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.