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Estate Planning Law Articles

Articles written by lawyers and expert witnesses worldwide
explaining the different aspects of Estate Planning.

2012 Social Security COLA Announced

When you're making plans for your retirement it is important to have a cogent and realistic understanding of the limitations of Social Security. You can't get into the head of every person who is unprepared for retirement, but it would be logical to assume that a high percentage of individuals have unreasonable expectations regarding how far Social Security will get them.

Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts

It could seem as though there should be no problem transferring assets to others without incurring any undue expenses. Unfortunately, the IRS code does in fact stand in the way of cost-free asset transfers in many cases and this is largely due to the existence of the gift tax.

Incapacity Planning Documents

Atlanta elder law attorneys can help you get prepared for all the eventualities of aging, and it is truly best to have a comprehensive plan in place. When people get interested in estate planning they invariably recognize that they may well experience a period of incapacity before passing away, and this is something to recognize and address through the execution of the proper documents.

Repeal of Estate Tax is a Possibility

When the tax relief measure was signed into law in December that extended the Bush era tax cuts the estate tax parameters were affected. If the Bush cuts would have been allowed to sunset with no new legislation having been passed the estate tax would have returned to the 2001 level of 55%, and the estate tax exclusion would have been just $1 million. Instead we now have a $5 million exclusion and a 35% maximum rate of taxation.

What Will Your Social Security Benefit Be?

If you are like most people when you're planning for your retirement, Social Security is going to be a factor. The majority of Americans polled say that their Social Security benefit is going to be their primary source of income when their working years are behind them.

An Intelligent Response to Estate Tax

On the surface it would seem as though you no longer have to worry about the estate tax if your estate is worth $5 million or less. Unfortunately, this is not completely true because the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 is going to expire at the end of 2012.

Budget Woes

It is important to recognize the fact that Atlanta estate planning is an ongoing process because if there's one inevitability in life it is that of change. If you get started planning your estate early enough it is very likely that you will be revisiting it consistently throughout your life. Sometimes the changes that take place are personal and specific to you, such as changes in marital status, a windfall of money, or the selling of a business.

When Planning Your Estate Remember Your Pets

It is easy to neglect some of the smaller details when you are planning your estate. Legacy planning is a truly profound endeavor as your final act of giving, and when you combine the logistics with the emotional aspects the sum total of all that you have to take into account is considerable.

Don't Underestimate Long-Term Care Expenses

Atlanta elder law attorneys must keep their fingers on the pulse of all of the trends that are relevant to planning for aging. One of the matters that has gotten the attention of the elder law community is that of the high and rising costs associated with long-term care.

MetLife Study Indicates Elder Financial Abuse is on the Rise

Elder financial abuse is one of the major issues that is a hot topic in elder law circles at the present time. Though it is hard for reasonable people to understand how anyone could target vulnerable senior citizens, it is something that happens with alarming frequency. The MetLife Mature Market Institute does a lot of very valuable work that shines a spotlight on matters of interest to seniors.

Atlanta Estate Planning

There is a lot more to estate planning than simply writing out a last will. As a matter fact, a lot of people find that using a last will as their primary vehicle of asset transfer is not in their best interests. There are other ways to transfer assets to your family members after you pass away, and the best combination is going to vary depending on the specific nature of your situation.

Have You Considered Your Final Arrangements?

Focusing on the well being of your family is key when you are engaged in Atlanta estate planning. As we all know, making sure that your assets are transferred to your heirs in an efficient manner is at the core of the exercise. But there are other details that go along with the territory, and if you don't identify and address them you can be leaving your family members in a challenging situation.

Estate Tax

There are a lot of things about the estate tax that many people simply can't digest, and this is why there is always pressure being applied from some quarters to repeal the tax permanently. At the top of the list is the fact that the estate tax is imposed on assets that you have been able to accumulate after paying taxes throughout your life.

Planning for Retirement

Everyone who has a pulse is well aware of the fact that the federal debt is a matter of great concern. Back at the beginning of August a deal was struck to raise the debt ceiling, but it came with an agreement to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. A bipartisan congressional group that is being called the "super committee" is charged with the responsibility of coming up with a plan to achieve this goal.

Estate Plan Alterations Are Usually Necessary

If you are like many people, you may have been first exposed to estate planning as a young adult without necessarily even realizing it. Life insurance is one of the foundational building blocks of many estate plans, and when you start your career you are usually going to be offered life insurance as one of your benefits.

Why Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?

Whether you are newly married and thinking about having children, well into middle age and thinking of future grandchildren or entering your golden years and worried about your own well-being, making plans for your estate in the event of your death or incapacity is a wise decision.

Raiders Will Be Guided by Mark and Carol Davis

Al Davis, the longtime owner of the Oakland Raiders, passed away on October 8 at his Oakland residence at the age of 82. The Raiders have fallen on hard times of late, but Al Davis crafted a legacy of winning over his 40 years as Raiders owner. The Raiders won an American Football League championship back before the merger, and after the NFL and AFL merged they captured three Super Bowl titles.

Estate Planning: Americans Surprisingly Unprepared

If you are one who is prone to procrastination, you are not alone. A lot of people in Fayette County place things on the back burner intending to get to them another day. We live busy lives and you have to prioritize things and this is quite understandable. But it is important to have your priorities in order.

German Inheritance Tax - Tax Liability in Germany

The article outlines the rules of tax Liability in Germany. According to § 2 Erbschafts- und Schenkungsteuergestz (ErbStG) unlimited inheritance tax liability results from the fact that either the deceased or the heir is a resident taxpayer upon his death.

German Law on Inheritance and Gift Tax: New Regulations for Situs Taxation in Force

The article outlines the new regulations for situs taxation in Germany. Pursuant to Section 16(1) of the German Law on inheritance and gift tax (Erbschaftsteuer- und Schenkungssteuergesetz) a taxpayer is entitled to acquire up to €500 000 tax-free depending on the degree of kinship. A taxpayer is entitled to acquire up to €500 000 tax-free over a ten year period.

What to Do if You Suspect Elder Abuse

As some point in your life, you are likely to have an elderly loved one who is unable to fully care for himself or herself. As people in the United States live longer, the population of people over the age of 65 continues to increase. Many people now live into their 80s and 90s with a great deal of independence. Even those who are relatively independent, however, eventually need some type of assistance in most cases.

Texas Advance Directives: 4 Types

Making decisions about the kind of medical care you want to receive when you get older or become too ill to communicate is important. In Texas, you have a wide range of methods available to ensure your medical wishes are followed.

Estate Tax Exposure

A lot of people call the federal estate tax the "death tax, “and many consider it a sarcastic term. Some probably do use it in this spirit, but the reality is that there is literal truth in this description.The assets that you accumulated throughout your life after paying taxes are sitting safely in the bank or otherwise invested.

Many Benefit From Charitable Remainder Unitrusts

When you are exposed to the estate tax you have to make a serious commitment to gain estate tax efficiency. There are a number of ways you may achieve this, and the best strategy will vary depending on the nature of your assets and what exactly you are trying to achieve. This is one of the reasons why it is a good idea to retain the services of a savvy estate planning attorney.

I Have an Addicted Son; Should I Disinherit Him?

Sadly, many Americans have trouble with drug, alcohol, and gambling addictions However, if you have an addicted child, you don’t have to disinherit him. In most cases, disinheritance causes great emotional trauma as inheritances represent the love of a parent for a child (whether we want to admit it or not.)

Can I Change My Trust?

One of the common goals of estate planning is staying in control; often, clients want to know if they can change their trust. The main rule is: If the trust is revocable, the trust can be changed; if the trust is irrevocable, the trust can’t be changed. There are exceptions.

When You Should Start Estate Planning

Though many people don't start thinking about estate planning until later in life, there is no single best time when you should begin to plan on structuring your estate. The truth is that everyone can begin at least some part of estate planning immediately. Whether you're single, recently married, a parent or anyone else, you can get a leg up on your future by tackling estate planning issues now.

Family Farm Estate Planning in Ohio: 10 Reasons Why You Need to Do It

Family farms and estate planning in Ohio was a pretty hot topic at a event that I spoke at. About 125 farmers from across the state showed up to hear me and the other speakers. One thing that struck me was that most of the farmers I spoke to said they’d never met an attorney who could explain why they should do estate planning and elder law planning. In this post I want to solve that issue and explain plainly why estate planning is necessary for farmers.

Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples in Ohio

I recently had the opportunity to develop an estate plan for a same-sex couple and found several effective strategies for making sure each partner could receive inheritance and make healthcare decisions for the other just as if they were a married heterosexual couple. Actually, now they are probably better protected than most married heterosexual couples, because most couples don’t have an estate plan or living trust in place.

Gay Partners must Plan Ahead

The subject of same-sex marriage is a controversial one and the legalities surrounding these unions are always being questioned. At the present time, at the federal level marriages between people of the same sex are not recognized. Most states don't recognize marriages between gay couples either, and this would include the state of Nevada.

A Look at the Gift Tax

We have all experienced the indescribably pleasant feeling that goes along with an act of giving. Making someone else happy is a great experience because, as they say, it is better to give than to receive. However, the powers that be seem to take a dim view of giving for some reason.

Tax Discounts with Family Limited Partnerships

Significant gifts come with a cost in the United States via the imposition of the federal gift tax. This tax is carrying a 35% rate at the present time, and any tax that consumes over a third of the amount in question is attention-getting. However, 35% looks almost good when you consider the fact that the gift tax is scheduled to rise to 55% once 2013 rolls around.

Gift Tax Raises Questions

We have a federal gift tax in place, and at the present time it is carrying a 35% rate. When you think about any tax that will consume over a third of the resources in question such a high rate may get your attention. And when you are talking about a levy that is imposed when you are attempting to engage in an act of generosity this rate and the tax itself may cause you to scratch your head a bit.

Estate Planning Tools

Planning your estate is likely one of the most important projects you will embark upon within your lifetime. Although no two estates are the same, there are common tools that can be used during the estate planning process. Understanding these tools is an essential starting point for your estate planning project.

Small Business Succession Planning

As the owner of a small business, you likely have enough on your plate trying to keep the business running smoothly and profitably. Without taking the time, however, to create a small business succession plan, all the time, effort and hard work you have put into growing your business could be in vain in the event of your death or disability.

Irrevocable Trusts and Probate

Trusts are often used as part of an estate plan. Trusts offer numerous benefits to the beneficiaries of a decedent upon death such as avoidance of probate as well as potentially avoiding payment of estate taxes. Benefits to the decedent include the ability to control how the trust assets are used even after death.

Limited vs. General Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney are legal documents you can use for any number of purposes. Powers of attorney transfer to someone else, called an attorney-in-fact or an agent, your ability to make decisions or enter into agreements. When you appoint a power of attorney, you give your agent the right to act on your behalf as a stand-in, and the decisions your agent makes are just as legally binding and enforceable as if you had made them yourself.

In Blended Families

When you design your estate plan, don’t make your children wait for an inheritance, especially if you’re in a blended family and want to keep the peace. Having your children wait until your spouse, who is not their parent, dies, pits your loved ones against each other.

How Do I Get Assets Out of My Living Trust?

You maintain full control of all of your living trust assets, so you’ll be happy to know that you have the power to take your assets out of your living trust, so long as you are alive and well. You transfer assets out of your trust the same way you got them into your trust. You change the title (or the beneficiary designation.)

What are Revocable Living Trusts?

Revocable living trusts allow you to distribute your assets through written documents, similar to wills. Also similar to a will, if you create a revocable living trust, you can revoke or amend your trust to change the distribution of your trust assets.

Divorce and Separation - Why You Should Have a Will

An explanation of the legal ramifications of divorce or separation on inheritance should you or your spouse die. What happens to your Will on separation or divorce? Until your divorce is finalized the existing Will is still valid. Your spouse is probably still named as an executor and main beneficiary. You are unlikely to want this now.

North Dakota Law on Nuncupative Wills

A nuncupative will is an oral will. Several states allow their residents to create oral or nuncupative wills under limited circumstances. Commonly called “deathbed wills,” testators make nuncupative wills during their final hours before at least one impartial witness.

Irrevocable and Revocable Trusts

A trust is a legal type of property ownership which allows a grantor to transfer legal title to trust property to a third-party trustee. The grantor gives another person the right to manage and temporarily retain ownership of his property for his benefit. To create a valid trust, a grantor must create the trust through a written instrument.

North Dakota Augmented Estates and the Uniform Probate Code

North Dakota is only one of 10 states to adopt the Uniform Probate Code’s augmented estate concept. Augmented estates allow disinherited spouses to claim a share of their spouse’s property if they were disinherited.

Avoiding Will Challenges

One of the things you should take into consideration when planning your estate is how your family members, or former family members, may feel about your wishes. Of course you have every right to leave your assets in any manner you see fit. But to make sure that the rightful heirs to your estate don't run into problems after your death you need to do what is necessary to avoid challenges.

Estate Planning: Don't Be Among the Unprepared Masses

Your would probably be surprised if you heard that someone died without leaving behind a last will or some other type of estate planning document directing distribution of his or her assets. Many people view estate planning as a simple, basic responsibility that everyone has to engage in for the well-being of their family members. So for many it comes as a surprise to learn that not everyone understands how important it is to have an estate plan in place.

Creating a Self-Proving Will in Florida

To get around the judicial process of authenticating a will, the Florida legislature enacted Section 732.503 of the Florida Statutes within the Florida Probate Code. To create a self-proving will, a testator must comply with the legal requirements to create a valid will. In addition to signing a will in front of two impartial witnesses who also provide their signatures, a testator will self-prove his will in front of a notary using a statutory acknowledgement form.

Florida’s Elective Share Statute

In Florida, Chapter 732 of Part II of the Florida Statutes is the Florida Probate Code. Pursuant to Section 732.201, Florida law allows married spouses to receive elective shares of probate property. As such, spouses cannot disinherit one another from receiving at least some of their estate assets. The Florida Statutes allows a spouse to receive one-third of a spouse’s elective estate.

Does Gift Tax Make Sense?

We are all taught from an early age that generosity is a positive quality. There are few more satisfying feelings than seeing a smile cross the face of someone you care about when they open up a Christmas or birthday gift. Giving is said to be its own reward, and the ineffable feeling that goes along with it is indeed quite palpable.

COLA on Way for People on Social Security

Retirement planning attorneys stress the importance of making preparations for the future because they are aware of all the details surrounding entitlement programs for senior citizens.

Veterans Aid

Serving your country in the military is a supreme sacrifice, but there are some rewards that go along with it. Most people are aware of the fact that veterans who have served at least 20 years are eligible to receive a retirement pension.

Why Having a Small Business

Most people realize the importance of estate planning and keeping up to date with their plan; however, if you are a small business owner, creating a succession plan is equally as important. A succession plan is basically the same as an estate plan, except it focuses on what will happen to your business, or your interest in a business, upon your death.

What is an Insolvent Estate?

When you start considering estate planning issues, you do so with the intent to pass on as much of your wealth and property as possible.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Funeral Rule

Unfortunately, many complaints filed by consumers alleging deceptive trade practices or illegal contracts involve senior citizens.

Advanced Estate Planning Suggestions for Alzheimer’s Patients

There are a number of considerations to make during your estate planning process, of which includes getting your affairs in order prior to creating a will.

New Baby

If you have a new baby, adopted a child, or have a step-child or other special child you want to provide for, you need a new estate plan.

Veterans Benefit Can Defray Long-Term Care Costs

There are some statistics that you run across that are kind of hard to believe if you have not already done some research into the subject in question.

Should Dying Be a Taxable Event?

There are those who refer to the federal estate tax as the "death tax, «and though this can sound like a flippancy there is actually reasonable logic to support this name. To explain, let's take a look at the anatomy of this levy.

Your Business Needs a Succession Plan

Most people think to create a plan for their personal assets in the event of their death; however, if you are an owner, or part owner, in a business, you need to include your business assets in your estate planning.

Lessons Learned from a Famous Supreme Court Justice’s Will

Even U.S. Supreme Court Justices are required to leave legally valid written wills to save their executors from unnecessary probate fees.

How to Use an AB Trust

One of the biggest concerns for individuals and couples with a sizable estate is how to accomplish the transfer of assets upon death without incurring estate taxes.

Without a Will

Some people never get around to planning their estate or creating a will. In this situation, there is no will to determine how affairs are to be handled and how assets are to be distributed.

Baby Boomers Becoming Caretakers

A recent survey reported by the newspaper USA Today had some surprising findings for the growing group of Baby Boomers that are anticipating caring for their aging parents - only half could name any medications their parents take.

The Most Important Key to an Estate Plan That Works

Most people sign their estate planning documents, breathe a sigh of relief, pat themselves on the back for completing the task, and don’t think about their estate plan again.

Giving Gifts Can Provide Tax Savings

The federal estate tax looms as a significant source of asset erosion and taking steps to mitigate your estate tax exposure is a big part of what estate planning is all about.

The Pitfalls of Probate

A lot of people equate the process of estate planning to the execution of a last will. While it is true that you can choose to use a last will as your primary vehicle of asset transfer and a lot of people do, it is not always the best choice.

Direct Asset Transfers Free of the Gift Tax

Taxation is an interesting thing, and a lot of people would question why you should have to pay a tax when you give someone a gift.

When Will You Be Retiring?

If you want to be prepared for the future you need to engage in careful and intelligent advance planning.

Reducing the Taxable Value of Your Home

When you are inventorying your assets in anticipation of distributing them to your loved ones after your death you may find that your home is your single most valuable asset.

Estate Tax Relief to Expire in 2013

If we said 2010 was an interesting year in the field of estate planning it would be a gross understatement.

Massive Numbers of Baby Boomers Retiring Unprepared

There are those who hear retirement planning attorneys say that it is important to make preparations for retirement but let this advice go in one ear and out the other.

What’s the Most Important Part of Disability Planning?

The absolute most important part of disability is naming successor trustees and power of attorney agents.

The Hand of Taxation

Much of estate planning focuses on the reduction or elimination of taxes, with good reason. Consider the “hand of taxation «which represents all the taxes during your lifetime and at your death.

Why You Must Fund Your Trust

TThere are not too many people who like paperwork; and, funding a revocable living trust is a lot of paperwork. Yuck

What is a Codicil?

A “codicil” is an amendment to a will; it’s an addition or change. Codicils were commonly used before the computer age when wills were written by hand or typed on a type-writer.

How to Avoid Probate

When an individual dies, the assets owned by the decedent are often required to pass through a legal process known as probate.

What Is a Joint Tenancy?

Joint tenancy is a form of property ownership that comes to us from the common law of feudal England.

North Dakota Adopts the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act

On April 27 of 2011, North Dakota became the first official state to adopt the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act.

Estate Planning Keeping Raiders in Davis Family

If you were to make a short list of the most influential owners in the history of professional football Al Davis would certainly be at or near the top of the list.

A Look at Qualified Personal Residence Trusts

Estate planning obviously involves deciding how you would like to provide for each of the ones that you love after you pass away.

Recognition of a German Will in New York / USA (Formal Validity)

This article provides an introduction to the recognition of German wills in New York / USA.

Estate, Gift, and Generation-Skipping U.S. Tax Treaties

The U.S. is a signatory to several important estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax treaties. The article gives a short introduction to the requirements and the benefits of the existing treaties.

Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA)

Read this guide concerning independent mental capacity advocacy to enable you to help someone who does not have mental capacity and where there are no appropriate friends or family members.

Late Singer Winehouse had Solid Estate Plan

The entertainment industry was dealt a blow last month when the British singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her posh North London home.

Difficult Issues Elders Face

As you reach the latter stages of your working years it is likely that you are simultaneously tying up any loose ends that remain as you prepare to ease into retirement.

Tax Measure Details Relevant to Estate Planning

As we allow the impact of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 to set in some of the finer details are starting to come into focus.

Mitigate the Damage with Generation Skipping Trusts

Due to the new tax relief measure that was passed in mid-December we are working with an estate tax rate of 35% in 2011 and 2012.

Estate Tax Changes Loom Over Horizon

One of the things that you have to keep in mind when you are serious about crafting your legacy is the fact that updates to your estate plan are probably going to be necessary.

QPRT For Tax Savings

If you are like a lot of people when you inventory your assets you may find that your home is the most valuable thing that you own.

Payroll Taxes and Trust Fund Recovery

The IRS has made some changes, taking advantage of new payment technologies that remove any wiggle-room for employers to make the payroll tax payments. As of January 1, 2011 Employers are required to make their federal tax payments through the electronic federal tax payments system. This system is free but employers must register to get started. To make things more complex the employer must make separate payments for each different tax return type including tax forms 940, 941 and 945.

2013 to Bring Changes to Estate Tax

They say that the only constant is change, and some of these changes are for the better while some of them are for the worse.

IRS Wage Levy Can be Stopped by Legal Action

Of all of the methods the IRS can employ to collect on back tax debt none are worse than the Wage Levy. Also called wage garnishment, an IRS wage levy is when the Internal Revenue Service forcibly takes or “levies” up to 85% of your wages prior to writing your paycheck. Many people have a hard enough time making ends meet with their full check and will find it impossible to get by with most of the check gone.

Reasons to Hire a Tax Attorney and Not a CPA for IRS Problems

While there are many reasons to hire a local tax attorney for tax problem resolution there are two major reasons above all others.

How Do Powers of Attorney End?

You have the right to give other people the authority to make decisions on your behalf by creating a power of attorney.

Asset Protection Planning Tips

Asset protection is often coupled with thoughts of high-powered attorneys and other executives poring over your financial documents in order to reach one common goal – protecting your estate to include your assets and properties. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated or that expensive.

Care Planning and Advance Decisions

People often plan the care they want in the future when they are diagnosed with a serious illness, or go into a care home; read this briefing note about what it involves and the types of decisions and guidance to you may consider giving to your caregivers.

The Division of Marriage and Property in Florida

It is important to know and understand how the division of property works in your marriage. There are properties that will be considered marital property and properties that will be considered non-marital property.

Uncovering Hidden Assets in a Divorce

Divorcing can be exceptionally tricky. Not only are you taking a life that was formally combined with someone else and separating it to a single’s life, but more often than not asset division is not agreed upon by both parties involved. Your Florida divorce attorney will be able to advise you and all matters regarding the division of assets.

Life Insurance in Estate Planning

Life insurance is a key component to the estate planning process. Gone are the days when life insurance was primarily thought of as a means to pay for funeral expenses and burials.

Davis Family Will Retain Ownership of Raiders

There are few if any National Football League franchise owners who had the type of long-term success that Al Davis was able to achieve.

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