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have found themselves in unfortunate situations and needed legal advice and counsel to deal with the consequences of an outdated will.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


Nov 23, 2015

2016 Estate Planning Update

As soon as the last of the turkey is made into turkey soup, ‘tis the season to focus on year-end tax planning, particularly taking advantage of the gift tax annual exclusion. An individual can make gifts free of gift tax and without using any of his or her lifetime gift tax exemption of up to $14,000 per person per year.  A married couple can make gifts of up to $28,000 per person per year regardless of which spouse actually makes the gift.  (The annual exclusion amount is adjusted annually for inflation but will remain at $14,000 for 2016.)  However, if… Read more


Sep 14, 2015

Lost and Found: Musings on the Tax Consequences of a Found Violin

Recently it was reported that Roman Totenberg’s Stradivarius was found 35 years after its suspected theft.  The Stradivarius disappeared in 1980, believed by most to have been stolen.  The violin surfaced this past June when an appraiser identified the Stradivarius as the missing violin. Eventually, Roman Totenberg’s daughters recovered the violin as his heirs.  Mr. Totenberg died in 2012. Generally, it is not a taxable event when a property owner recovers stolen property. However, taxable income will be realized if the taxpayer took an income tax deduction for the theft loss.  In such case, the value of the recovered property… Read more


May 13, 2013

“There is nothing permanent except change.” -Heraclitus

Authored by: Paul J. Sowell Just when those impacted by the moving target that was the gift and estate tax exemption collectively sighed in relief at the passage of the fiscal cliff deal, it appears the celebration may have been premature.  President Obama recently released his proposed budget for 2014 where he seeks to revisit the exemption amounts. Under the President’s proposed budget, the gift and estate exemption would be reduced to the 2009 level of $3.5 million and the estate tax rate would be set at 45% starting in 2018.  In addition to fiddling with the gift and estate… Read more


Jan 4, 2012

From Super Committee to Sensible Estate Tax and Beyond…

Authored by: Neeli Shah, Esq. In light of Congress’s recent quest to find new sources of revenue and the looming changes to the estate and gift tax regimes, the time to focus on estate planning to make optimum use of current planning opportunities is now.  Super-Committee On August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011 created the Super Committee, whose sole mission was to find new sources of revenue in their quest to reduce the U.S. deficit.  The estate and gift tax regimes were expected to be its prime target.  In early November, there was significant speculation (in the… Read more


Jun 18, 2010

Senator Chuck Grassley’s Speech on the Impact on Family Businesses of the Estate Tax Quandary

Posted by: Paul J. Sowell, Esq. Below is the full text of a speech delivered by Senator Chuck Grassley on the Senate Floor on June 16, 2010 which outlines the effect the estate tax limbo is having on family businesses: Today, I want to discuss the lack of action on estate tax reform. Most of you know this about me – for as many years as I have been a representative of the people of Iowa, I have never believed that death should be a taxable event. Taxing people’s assets upon their death is just plain wrong, and their heirs… Read more


May 7, 2010

Will Congress Make a Retroactive “Run For The Border” to Tax the Bell Estate?

Authored by: Michael C. Levy, Esq. As 2010 approaches its halfway point, the currently repealed Federal Estate Tax seems to have fallen down the priority list in Congress.  With healthcare, financial regulation, jobs and immigration reform all taking precedence, the debate regarding resurrecting the estate tax has fallen silent.  Earlier this week, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus indicated that an estate tax fix may be in the offing, potentially tied to a bill related to taxes on small businesses.  But, with a third of the year over, what this “fix” will look like remains unclear. One possibility is making the… Read more