Estates & Trusts

Tired of paying exorbitant state taxes? It may be time to think about an ING!


California has the highest state income tax rate in the nation at 13.3%. Even after diligent tax planning, many individuals pay enormous tax bills every year. If you are one of these people, you may achieve huge tax savings by setting up an Incomplete Gift Non-Grantor Trust, also known as an ING. Through careful planning and administration, an ING is an estate planning tool with the potential to save taxpayers over 50% on their California income tax bill without triggering a taxable gift.Read More

Steps to Succeed as the Successor Trustee


Being named the successor trustee of a living trust requires a great deal of responsibility. Having a basic understanding of the trust administration process is essential to fulfilling the intentions of the trust and limiting your personal liability. Familiarize yourself with the process now to eliminate stress and carry out your duties as a successful trustee. Read More

Effects of Tax Reform on Trusts and Estates


Effective in 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law on December 22, 2017 by President Trump, includes many new provisions that not only impact the taxation of trusts and estates but may also potentially affect your estate plan. Click on the link below for details.Read More

How a "Crummey" Clause Can Make Your Day


Are you thinking about setting up a trust for a child, grandchild, or other loved one? You should be aware that transfers into a trust may be subject to gift tax. With careful planning and a Crummey provision, you may be able to reduce or eliminate this tax burden.Read More

Is Your Trustee Trustworthy? Learn Why Choosing the Right Trustee Matters.


Choosing the right trustee for your situation can be tricky. The choice may have significant effects over life of a trust, including administrative decision making, achievement of financial goals and decisions relating to distributions and the reduction of tax liability. As a result, the selection should be thoughtful and well-informed, with all relevant factors taken into consideration. Read More

2018 Tax Cuts Act: Estate, Gift, and GST Tax Exclusions Increased


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubles the basic exclusion amount for federal estate and gift taxes and the exemption amount for the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax. For the estates of decedents dying and gifts made after 2017 and before 2026, the amount increases from $5 million to $10 million, as adjusted for inflation.Read More

Charitable Trusts and Their Benefits


If charitable giving is in your estate plan, setting up a charitable trust is something to consider. These trusts give you the flexibility and control over your charitable contribution, while saving you income tax (and maybe even estate tax) dollars. Read on to learn more about charitable trusts and how they can benefit you.Read More

Keeping Your Trust Accountable: Trust Accountings & How They Could Benefit You


Companies need financial statements to assist them with understanding and managing assets, income, and expenses, which can be very complex. By the same token, fiduciary or trust accounting can improve the management of a trust by providing visibility into the financial workings of the trust. This provides the trustor, trustee, and beneficiaries with the information necessary to make prudent decisions, prolong or improve the life of trust assets, and better manage tricky decisions.Read More

Generation Skipping Transfer Tax & How It Impacts Your Estate


Your estate plan includes maximum flexibility by providing the entire estate of the first decedent to the surviving spouse during their lifetime. With the availability of portability, there is no need to create and fund a family trust upon the first spouse’s death. However, you should be aware that the Generation Skipping Transfer Tax Exemption is not portable like the estate tax exclusion and could have a major impact to your estate.Read More

Trusts 101: Types of Trusts


Are you thinking about setting up a trust? People use trusts to help manage assets, ensure financial security of loved ones, avoid probate, and to make donations to charities. There are many unique types of trusts and it is important to select the right one to accomplish your goal. Let’s take a look at some of the basic characteristics of these trusts. Read More

Do You Need a Living Trust?


Revocable living trusts have become popular estate planning tools for avoiding the costs of probate, maintaining privacy, all while providing a means of controlling one's assets both during life and after death. This article will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of setting up a living trust.Read More

What is Portability and How Does it Impact Your Estate?


The IRS currently allows an individual to exclude $5.49 million from their taxable estate. Married couples are able to exclude $10.98 million from their estate using a concept called portability. The IRS issued permanent regulations regarding the allowable estate exclusion amount as well as the portability of a deceased spouse’s unused portion of this exclusion. As a surviving spouse with assets above these thresholds, this guidance is essential to your estate plan.Read More

The Importance of Updating Your Estate Plan


Estate planning can be expensive and, for many, involves difficult conversations with family members and loved ones. As a result, estate plans are often set up and then left unrevised for long periods of time. However, there is a cost to “set and forget” estate planning. Major life changes may not be appropriately captured and considered which can lead to squandered fortunes, diminished financial legacies, and bitter disputes between heirs. Read More

Inherited IRA: When Can I take Distributions?


Inheriting an IRA can provide a person with much needed additional income. However, receiving distributions from these accounts can be quite costly to the recipient if the rules are not understood. When and how you take distributions from an inherited IRA is affected by who and how old the person you inherited the account from was. The category you fall into will affect the timing of distributions and can dramatically increase taxable income. Read More

The Potential Repeal of the Estate and Gift Tax and What That Might Look Like

12/15/2016 12:31:00 PM

President-Elect Donald Trump has proposed the repeal of the federal estate and gift tax to be part of his tax reform policies upon assumption of office. The elimination of the federal estate and gift tax unlocks significant tax planning and wealth transfer opportunities for families traditionally constrained by the $5 million lifetime transfer exclusion. There are, however, potential tax consequences for the receiving beneficiaries that warrant additional consideration.Read More

Do you own an interest in a Limited Partnership? If so, proposed tax regulations could have a significant impact on your estate and gift taxes.


These family controlled partnerships are often used in order to transfer assets to future generations during life or at death. Under current regulations, individuals transferring their interests are allowed to take valuation discounts if they meet certain criteria such as lack of control or lack of marketability. Click on the link below to learn more about these new regulations and how they will affect transfers involving family businesses.Read More

Modifying or Terminating a Trust


Trusts may not live in perpetuity, but they can sure last a long time. During that time, so much can change. Laws can change, your beneficiaries' needs can change, the state of the economy can change. So many factors can affect whether or not your trust is maximizing its potential and serving its original purpose. The ability to modify or terminate a trust is dependent on the type of trust you have and the language in the trust agreement.Read More

Enhance Your Estate Plan with a Life Insurance Trust


Although not subject to federal income tax, life insurance death benefits can be subject to federal estate tax. Life insurance policies not only boost the value of your total estate, but the death benefit can also create an unexpected federal estate tax consequence. This, coupled with the uncertainty in the future of the federal estate tax, calls for careful planning. An irrevocable life insurance trust can be a very useful estate planning tool for this purpose.Read More

Gifting - An Important and Powerful Estate Planning Tool


Do you want to make gifts to your loved ones and reduce the tax you pay when you pass away? Most people do not like to think about planning their estate, but, a well-planned gift-giving program will effectively reduce your estate tax and ensure the financial security of your loved ones. Read More

Can an Alimony Trust Make Your Divorce Less Painful?


Divorce and separation can be a very stressful time on many levels, including from a taxation standpoint. One of the issues that generally arises is whether alimony will be required, meaning one spouse providing financial support for the other spouse following the divorce or separation. Trust and estate law provides an avenue to fund a specific type of trust known as an Alimony Trust with the purpose of providing such financial support. Read More

A Closer Look: ESBTs and QSSTs


Do you currently own or will potentially own stock in an S Corporation? Trust and estate law provides two different avenues to fund a trust with S Corporation Stock: An Electing Small Business Trust (ESBT) and a Qualified Subchapter S Trust (QSST). A trust can elect to be either, but not both. This article will take a closer look at each trust's requirements and tax implications. Read More

What You Need to Know: Distributions


Have an interest in a trust? Whether you are the grantor, the trustee, or a beneficiary, it is critical to know the terms of your trust agreement to determine when distributions are required, how often distributions are required, what assets need to be distributed, and how much needs to be distributed. Click below to learn more!Read More

Rental Properties: Renting to Relatives and the Potential Tax Consequences


Do you have a vacation or rental property and have or are considering renting to a relative? The tax law regarding rentals to family members at or below fair rental price can be very complex. The following article provides a quick description of factors to consider as well as gift and income tax implications relating to the issue.Read More

Form 8971: Information Regarding Beneficiaries Acquiring Property from a Decedent


Executors of estates are now required to file Form 8971, which was made final as of January 2016 and affects most estates that filed Form 706 after July 31, 2015. This form is used to report the final estate tax value of property distributed from an estate to the beneficiaries of the estate. Read More

2016 Tax Filing Update - Trusts and Estates


The 2016 updated tax exemptions for trusts and estates have been released! Read on to see what you need to know this tax season!Read More

2015 Year End Planning for Trusts & Estates


2015 is quickly coming to a close! Have you taken the steps to minimize your tax liability on trusts and estates? Click on the article link to read more about the changes in trust and estate taxation for 2015 as well as some tax planning strategies to think about taking advantage of.Read More

Estate Planning: Wills vs Trusts


When thinking about basic estate planning, it can be confusing whether to setup a will, a trust or both. Here, we explain the definition of each, as well as advantages and disadvantages of them for estate planning purposes.Read More

It's time to go back to school! Get ready to write that tuition check..


It's the last week of August! That means that within the next few weeks students go back to school (if they haven't already!) and checkbooks all over the nation groan as fall tuition checks are written. Even if you don't have a student who is currently incurring tuition costs, now is a good time to revisit your family's educational cost planning to make sure that your existing plan is still the right answer for your situation. Read More

You made it happen! Now what?


Congratulations! You've done very well for yourself. Whether you built and sold a business, built a business and continue to run it, or have just made wise investment decisions, it has paid off. There is one small caveat: the IRS and the Franchise Tax Board (or other state taxing authority if you aren't a California resident) would like to share in your success too, sometimes at a marginal tax rate that exceeds 50%. Read More

Transfer Tax Planning with a Noncitizen Spouse


Did you know that the unlimited marital deduction for gift and estate tax purposes doesn't apply if your spouse is not a citizen of the United States? Without careful planning for your spouse, he or she may be left with as little as 60% of assets you may currently anticipate being 100% available to your spouse. Read More

Distribution of Capital Gains


With trust and estate capital gains rates reaching their highest marginal rate at taxable income of just $12,150, it may be time to take a closer look at your trust agreement to see if capital gain can be distributed to the beneficiaries. Read More

Planning for Year-End Distributions to Your Trust Beneficiaries?


2015 is less than two months away! It's time to take a look at your gifting plans and trust agreements to identify any year-end opportunities to further your wealth transfer goals and identify any last-minute housekeeping items required before January 1.Read More

Trust and Estate New Items


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Better Late Than Never!


In January 2013, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The act made permanent many of the “Bush-era” tax cuts for low- and middle-income individuals, as well as making the following permanent changes regarding the estate and gift taxes:Read More

2012 Estate, Gift, and Trust Planning


While many commentators believe that the "Bush tax cuts" will not sunset completely, it is generally agreed that income tax rates are likely on their way up.Read More