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Estate planning and estate and inheritance taxes: What you need to know

May 23, 2016

Tags: estate tax, inheritance tax, estate planning, death tax, wealth transfer, fightss over inheritance

The Wills Party (Shmuly Yanklowitz, Modern Loss, 2-17-16) My wife and I thought finalizing our wills was a good reason to have a party. Here’s why. This excellent articles provides links to solid information about estate taxes (made more explicit here). Tell readers what you've learned that you wish you'd known earlier (in comments below)!

Americans' Ostrich Approach To Estate Planning (Richard Eisenberg, Next Avenue, 4-9-14) "...whether you’re married or single, a parent or childless, a millionaire or middle-income, you need a will. If you have assets in the six figures or higher, you probably ought to have a trust as well, to help minimize estate taxes and avoid probate. A trust also offers you greater control over when and how your assets will be distributed — such as letting your young child receive only a certain amount of money at a certain time."

How to Avoid Fights Over Inheritance(David Francis, U.S. News, 7-17-12) Experts say a will alone is insufficient to prevent family squabbles.

The Misguided Crusade to Kill the Estate Tax (Chad Stone, U.S. News, 3-27-15) Proponents of doing away with the so-called 'death tax' don't have their facts straight. To those who want to repeal it, the federal estate tax is an unfair and unnecessary “death tax” that hurts small businesses and family farms. The facts tell a different story. Estates with more than $5 million for an individual and effectively twice that for a married couple are exempt. This isn’t about struggling small businesses and family farms. It’s about another huge tax cut for those who need it the least.

Best Ways to Give Your Heirs Money While You’re Alive (Lynn Ballou, Next Avenue, 6-4-13) Instead of leaving your adult kids money when you die, create a meaningful gifting plan so you can watch them benefit from your generosity

How to Talk With Your Adult Kids About Their Inheritance (Lori R. Sackler, Next Avenue, 3-22-13) Avoid family strife down the road by holding key conversations about your estate plans — now.

8 Smart Estate Planning Steps to Die the Right Way (Jane Bennett Clark, Pat Mertz Esswein, and Lisa Gerstner, Kiplinger, January 2012)

Keep Control of Assets After Death (Federal Trade Commission, Next Avenue, 3-25-11) A how-to guide for estate planning. Know the terms, for example: Probate. Trust. Living Trust. Will.

Put Some Trust in Your Estate Planning (Federal Trade Commission, 11-2-11) You want your assets to go to the right place with the minimum effort. Here are some of the basics for estate planning.

State Inheritance Tax Chart (About Money) A State Death Tax on Who Inherits Your Property
Which States Collect a State Inheritance Tax? (About Money)
State Estate Tax and Exemption Chart (About Money)

Good News for Beneficiaries and Bad News for Fiduciaries in Regard to Transferee Liability for Estate Tax (Rubin on Tax, 6-2-12)

American Charitable Bequest Demographics: 1992-2012 (PDF, Russell James) "Only about 10 percent of Americans with a will or trust included a charity as a beneficiary in 2010."

Top 10 Ways to Transfer Wealth (Elizabeth Harris, Worth, 8-21-15) When President Obama signed the Tax Relief Act into law last December, the new legislation paved the way for individuals and families to give away an unprecedented amount of money without triggering any IRS penalty. Through 2012, the lifetime gift exclusion rises from $1 million to $5 million, with a 35 percent tax rate on anything over that amount. The change means individuals can give up to $5 million tax-free; couples, twice that. For the same period, the estate tax allows a $5 million exemption. Estate attorneys and financial planners advise their clients to act now—before the generous new limits disappear. Here are 10 strategies for doing just that.
Should You Transfer Wealth To Your Grandkids Now? (Ashlea Ebeling, Forbes, 8-2-12) January 2013 update: The fiscal cliff tax deal made permanent the $5 million per person exemption from gift, estate and generation-skipping tax, without curbing any of the wealth transfer techniques available in 2012 described in this article. The annual gift exclusion was $14,000 in 2013.
How to Avoid Gift Taxes Transferring Wealth Parent to Child (John A. Grey, Trusts and Estates blog, 11-20-15)

EXAMPLES OF FIGHTS OVER INHERITANCE
Inside the Family Battle for the Newman’s Own Brand Name (Mark Seal, Vanity Fair, August 2015) Paul Newman's will was changed a dozen times; each daughter was told they would inherit a million dollars and would have a foundation set up for them. The millions that had been discussed as going into their personal foundations—50 percent of Newman’s residual estate—went to Joanne Woodward’s marital trust, and the daughters’ foundations would not be funded until after her death, to ensure that Woodward would be adequately cared for." His own foundation was not under the control of the family.

When Heirs Collide (Liz Moyer, WSJ, 9-26-14) Fights over estates can tear families apart. Here are some guidelines for keeping the peace. "it isn't uncommon for people to spend more money on legal fees battling siblings or other family members than they stand to inherit."

The inheritance wars (Charlie Gillis, McLean's, 3-9-15) A generation living beyond its means is waiting for the biggest transfer of wealth in human history. Some are waiting more patiently than others.