Nov 14, 2019

2019-2020 Estate Planning; It’s not too Late!

Estate Planning Blocks

Thanksgiving is just weeks away and 2020 is not far behind – weren’t we just thinking about Y2K –  so as 2019 winds down consider taking steps to help reduce your estate tax exposure (and might also entice the children to show up for the holidays). Think about more than just holiday gifts – The 2019 exemption from the federal gift, estate, and generation-skipping transfer tax is $11,400,000 ($22.8 million for a married couple) and will increase in 2020 to $11,580,000. The annual gift tax exclusion is $15,000 so that an individual can gift $15,000 without using her exemption.  A… Read more


Mar 11, 2019

The Care and Feeding of Your Charity

According to Giving USA, in 2017 Americans contributed $410.02 billion to charity, crossing the $400 billion mark for the first time. Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $286.65 billion and $45.89 billion was gifted to foundations. There are over 1.5 million charitable organizations in the U.S., predominantly public charities and private foundations. A public charity receives most of its support from the general public. A private foundation, on the other hand, usually receives its support from one source – an individual, family, or corporation. Private Foundations The primary activity of a private foundation (as opposed to a private operating foundation)… Read more


Sep 7, 2018

Why Worry About Community Property?

Community Property

In the United States, there are nine community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Additionally, Alaska, Tennessee and Puerto Rico are elective community property jurisdictions. If you are reading this and you do not reside in one of these states, you might have thought to yourself, “I am so glad I can skip this and get back to today’s crossword.”  But whether it’s for a career change, retirement or other reason, community property laws will affect your estate planning if you have lived in or relocate to a community property state at some… Read more


May 30, 2018

What’s in a Name? (Part 1)

Estate Planning

Titling assets correctly is an essential part of a successful estate plan. Title controls how assets pass at the owner’s death. Depending on the title, some assets pass under terms of the Will, by operation of law, or pursuant to a beneficiary designation. While it is an integral aspect of planning, properly titling assets is often overlooked. Assets titled in the sole name of an individual become part of the owner’s probate estate when the owner dies.  Probate property will pass under the provisions of the owner’s Will, or if there is no Will, to the person’s heirs under the… Read more


Apr 13, 2018

Repairing a Broken Trust

Irrevocable Trust

A trust usually forms a critical part of one’s estate plan. For example, it is often used to transfer: Family wealth to the younger generation in a tax efficient manner; Interests in family businesses; Property in a way that protects a beneficiary from his or her otherwise unfettered spending; Property so that it is protected from a beneficiary’s creditors; and Property so that it is protected in the event of divorce. Broadly speaking, there are two types of trusts, i.e., revocable and irrevocable. A revocable trust can be amended or revoked by the grantor – the person who set up… Read more


Aug 22, 2017

Georgia’s New Uniform Power of Attorney Act in Review (Part One)

Power of Attorney

Effective July 1st of this year, Georgia’s new Uniform Power of Attorney Act (“UPOAA”) applies to most written, general, financial powers of attorney.  A power of attorney (“POA”) allows for one party (the “principal”) to grant authority to another party (the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent”) to act in the principal’s stead with regard to the principal’s financial matters.  If an individual is no longer capable of handling his or her own financial affairs, and does not have a valid durable POA in place, it may be burdensome or impossible for another person to ensure that individual’s bills are paid and his… Read more


Jun 29, 2017

The Prospect of Estate Tax Repeal: What to Do Now

Estate Tax Repeal

With the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, the prospect of tax reform, and specifically repeal of the Federal estate tax has become more plausible. Repeal of the Federal estate and generation-skipping transfer tax was part of the “Blueprint” for tax reform announced by Republicans in June 2016. Predicting what will happen, when it will happen, and what form it will take are difficult.  If repeal occurs: Will repeal happen all at once, or be phased in? Will the gift tax also be repealed? Will repeal be “permanent?” Or will it “sunset,” much like… Read more


May 24, 2017

The Importance of Reviewing Your Will

Last Will and Testament

Many people neglect to review their Wills, which often can have devastating results. We have advised clients that have found themselves in unfortunate situations and needed legal advice and counsel to deal with the consequences of an outdated will. Recounting a recent experience – When did I last review my Will? 1997. Yes, I remember it was when we sold the house and moved into Manhattan. The house sold for what then seemed like a huge sum so my husband and I decided that if anything happened to either of us there was enough money for the survivor of us… Read more


Apr 25, 2017

National Health Care Decisions Day: Do You Know Where Your Advance Directive Is?

Estate Planning

National Health Care Decisions Day was recognized this year the week of April 16-22. The purpose of the week was to focus on weaving Advance Directives and end-of-life care planning “into the fabric of life1.” Although the week has passed, it is critical to understand the importance of Advance Directives. What is an Advance Directive?  Often called a living will, it details a patient’s wishes for treatment when the patient is seriously ill and unable to make or communicate his or her own medical decisions.  Often, in the same or a separate document, it will name a health care agent or… Read more


Sep 7, 2016

Call to Action: Proposed Regulations May Limit Valuation Discounts

The Internal Revenue Service published proposed regulations on August 4, 2016, that will severely limit valuation discounts on the transfer of ownership interests to family members in family-controlled entities, such as corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies. The proposed regulations will apply to all family-controlled entities, even those that own operating businesses. Generally, when a minority interest in a family-controlled entity is being transferred the value of the interest is reduced for transfer tax purposes since the interest being transferred lacks control over the entity, as well as because the interest is not freely marketable outside of the family. These… Read more