Sep 7, 2023

Family Fiduciary Feud–How to Mitigate Conflicts and Manage Litigation in Family-Owned Businesses and Trusts

Families fight. That is inevitable. Naturally, when a family-owned business or a family trust is at issue, some level of conflict is to be expected. When these conflict-prone structures combine, the conflicts have the potential to be bigger, riskier, and costlier, and can have multi-generational effects. This article will touch on why the risk of conflict is so high in the family business and family trust context, provide planning tips to reduce the risk of conflict, and outline important considerations for families and their advisors to keep in mind when family friction boils over into conflict and litigation. The F-Word:… Read more

Aug 2, 2022

Quarterbacking Your (Mental) Health Care

Have you ever had a loved one experience a mental health crisis that has left them unable to temporarily manage their affairs? You are not alone as millions of Americans suffer from mental health problems. For years, Georgia law has allowed individuals to designate an agent to handle financial or healthcare matters, should said individual become incapacitated, through the use of Financial Powers of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directives. But Georgia law did not have any mechanism to allow someone to designate an agent for mental health matters in the event of incapacity. Georgia has finally joined the ranks… Read more

Jun 2, 2021

Tax Trial of the Century…

Tax Trial of the Century…[1] Which does not belong: Bad, Thriller, Moonwalk, Tax Court.  Actually it is not a fair question because they all have one thing in common, Michael Jackson.  The last one being the Estate of Michael J. Jackson v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue[2]. Michael Jackson died in June 2009. The Executors of his Estate filed an estate tax return reporting the value of his property, which included Jackson’s image and likeness, his 50% interest in Sony/ATV, a music catalog and music publishing business,[3] and his interest in Mijac Music, which owned musical compositions from a variety of artists,… Read more

May 27, 2020

Staying Safe – Don’t Put Your Estate Planning on Hold

All Estate Planning

Take care of the basics While you should always have your estate planning documents in place, these uncertain times make it that much more important.  Review and update your health care proxy and living will to make sure you have the right person designated to make medical decisions for you.  Review your power of attorney to ensure your agent can make financial decisions should the need arise.  Review your current Will or your revocable trust to make sure that disposition of your assets still meets your wishes.  Depending how your assets are titled, not all of them might pass under… Read more

Feb 4, 2020

What’s In a Name? (Part 2): Tax and Other Consequences Caused by Joint Ownership of Real Property

Estate Tax

In an earlier article we posted entitled “What’s in a Name? (Part 1),” we set forth the various possible ways that assets can be titled. Titling controls how an asset that you own will be distributed upon your death.  If you own an asset in your individual name, this asset will most likely be distributed through the terms of your Will through the court process called probate, or if you die without a Will, through the process known as administration.  If you own an asset that permits you to designate a beneficiary, such as a retirement account, that designation controls… Read more

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