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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.

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.

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 achart 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.

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).

$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.

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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.