How to Plan Your Estate When Married to a Noncitizen Spouse

If your spouse does not possess U.S. citizenship, estate planning becomes somewhat complicated. A unique set of rules applies for noncitizens to inherit property so you should really take the time to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss your options. But take comfort in knowing that noncitizen spouses and loved one can inherit your property. So when you draft your will or name beneficiaries for your retirement accounts, you are free to name your noncitizen spouse as a beneficiary. Here’s the rub - for tax purposes, non-citizens who are permanent U.S. residents are categorized as “resident...

Continue reading

Big Changes Coming to D.C. Estate Tax Laws

Starting in 2016, D.C. residents will be exempt from having to pay estate taxes if their estate is $2 million or less. This is a big change from the current exemption cap of $1 million. However, keep in mind that the language of the new law is somewhat vague. For example, one section of the new law appears to condition the higher estate tax exemption on “available revenue” which means the higher estate tax exemption may not take effect immediately in 2016, but another section implies that the exemption will automatically go into effect in 2016. Check out the actual language...

Continue reading

Alert: New Estate Tax Laws and How Portability May Impact Your Beneficiaries

If you have estate planning documents that are more than a year old, you probably need to have them reviewed by an estate planning attorney. Why? Because 2 big changes (among others) were made to the estate tax laws. Here’s the scoop… Congress set the estate tax exemption amount “permanently” at 5 million indexed for inflation. The 2014 exemption amount is $5,340,000. This means with good foundational estate planning a married couple can shelter $10,680,000 from federal estate taxes. Most people are well below this 10 million dollar figure but that doesn’t mean there is no...

Continue reading

The Government Grim Reaper Wants Your Money – States With Terrifying Death Tax Laws

Some people think the estate tax is simply a creature of the federal government. Wrong. There are numerous states – 16, along with Maryland and D.C., to be exact – that impose an estate tax. Even more surprising is that some states actually impose an estate tax on estates that are valued at less than one million dollars. At less than one million dollars, these state-enforced estate taxes will be a problem for many middle class families. If you’re frugal and have good savings practices, a middle class family has the ability to save and wind up with an estate...

Continue reading

Creative Estate Planning for Clients No Longer Subject to the Federal Estate Tax

When Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA), roughly 99.8 percent of U.S. taxpayers became shielded from the federal estate tax (aka the "death tax"). So what does this mean for estate planning? Post-ATRA estate planning appears dramatically different than in years past. For the first time in U.S. history there is a “permanent”, inflation-adjusted and portable exemption amount that essentially excludes the extremely wealthy, from gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax. This is extremely important since, for the past decade, there was a great deal of uncertainty in estate planning. Prior to ATRA, there had been a phased-in...

Continue reading