Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Downsizing to a less expensive home or taking out a reverse mortgage can supplement your nest egg. Why focus on housing? First, home equity is a significant source of wealth for retirees. Second, housing is often the largest expense in retirees’ budgets.
Consider downsizing first. “You want to be in the ‘right’ home for retirement as soon as you can. And it’s costly to downsize after a reverse mortgage, as the fees and interest will reduce the equity you have in your current home.”
A new e-book from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College is a useful resource on how to tap into this valuable resource.
See How to Get Retirement Income From Your Home, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 30, 2014.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Keith Schiller's new book, Art of the Estate Tax Return, Second Edition-Estate Planning at the Movies, uses films to illustrate estate planning and tax concepts. Provided below is the description of the book from Bloomberg BNA:
Art of the Estate Tax Return, Second Edition – Estate Planning at the Movies® provides in-depth tax analysis and strategic counsel, while offering the ultimate in readability, by connecting well-known motion pictures to practical estate planning and compliance. These connections create great reminders of significant strategies or law, lending humanity to technical issues, and making the tax law fun.
Art of the Estate Tax Return will enhance your practice and enable you to potentially save your clients millions of dollars in estate taxes by presenting strategic analysis for preparation, presentation, and post-filing defense and advocacy with tax-saving results.
Underlying the cinematic connections, the author shares his best practice tips from a career of preparing, reviewing, and defending estate tax returns, and his greater than 25 years of teaching experience for tax professionals.
With a Foreword by former IRS Appeals Team Manager John Schooler, and an Afterword by Charles W. Morris, the former IRS Territory Manager, Estate and Gift Tax for the Western United States, Art of the Estate Tax Return unsnares the traps and explores the nuances of law and procedure that enter into the preparation and defense of Form 706, including:
- Expanded coverage of portability elections
- Illustrated estate tax returns for 2013
- Maximizing valuation discounts and deductions
- Protecting FLPs and FLLCs
- Securing best appraisal results
- Tips to avoid audits
- Pointers on GST reporting
- Cautions and help for fiduciaries
- Warnings and opportunities from inconsistencies in the law
- Strategies for audits and appeals
- Comprehensive analysis
- And much more!
Saturday, November 1, 2014
CPAs are often asked to act as trustees or are retained to prepare fiduciary income tax returns for trusts. A CPA who is involved in trust issues must become aware of the fiduciary trust accounting rules that apply to a trust.
In the book entitled, Trust Your Trust, Seymour Goldberg discusses the CPA’s need to know the specific state trust accounting rules if he or she is involved in trust issues. Provided below is an excerpt from the book concerning the trustee and state trust laws:
Over the last decade or more, most states plus the District of Columbia have adopted versions of the 1997 Uniform Principal and Income Act. The UPAIA covers a number of subject areas including definitions and fiduciary duties, the decedent’s estate or terminating income interest, the apportionment of the beginning and end of income interest, the allocation of receipts during the administration of a trust, and the allocation of disbursements during the administration of a trust.
These revised laws triggered in part the need for the American Institute of CPAs to issue a comprehensive Practice Guide for Fiduciary (Trust) Accounting in December 2007 for accountants who perform fiduciary accounting services.
This practice guide (including the appendix) is over 250 pages long. The purpose is to provide information on what issues the CPA should know about when preparing fiduciary accountings and fiduciary income tax returns.
A dedicated number of members of the AICPA spent several years developing the trust accounting practice guide. These AICPA members were members of the AICPA Trust Accounting Income (TAI) Task Force.
In 2008 amendments were adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws to the 1997 version of the UPAIA. Each jurisdiction then decides whether or not to adopt the recommended changes in whole or in part. Most states have adopted the recommended changes, but a number of states did not. This makes life difficult since the professional advisor must constantly monitor the state trust accounting law in his or her jurisdiction to determine if any changes were made as well as the effective date of any changes.
See Seymour Goldberg, What Accountants Need To Know About Trust Compliance Issues, Accounting Today, Oct. 29, 2014.
Special thanks to Seymour Goldberg (Goldberg & Goldberg, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Lawrence Brody & Mary Ann Mancini published the third edition of their book entitled, Federal Gift, Estate, and Generation-Skipping Transfer Taxation of Life Insurance. Provided below is a description of the book from ABA:
This concise primer will guide you in minimizing the transfer tax of an estate plan and avoiding the pitfalls that can occur. The authors discuss gift tax issues, estate taxation of life insurance, generation-skipping transfer tax and its application to life insurance and irrevocable life insurance trusts, community property considerations, and more.
Now updated and completely revised, this volume in the popular Insurance Counselor series will help you take full advantage of minimizing the transfer taxation of the estate plan as well as avoid the many pitfalls that can arise. The first chapter deals with life insurance as a gift, informing you about the valuation of policies and their qualification for the gift tax annual exclusion. Among the areas discussed are:
- Outright transfers, transfers in trust, indirect gifts
- The uses and issues relating to Crummey powers
- The gift tax marital deduction
Further issues discussed in the second chapter are the gift tax, including consideration of cases when a gift occurs with respect to a life insurance policy, the valuation of the gift, and the availability of the gift tax annual exclusion and the gift tax charitable or marital deduction. The third chapter deals with the estate taxation of life insurance, with emphasis on the two IRC sections that have particular application to life insurance: sections 2035 and 2042. The fourth chapter discusses the generation-skipping transfer tax and its application to life insurance and irrevocable life insurance trusts, while the final chapter specifically addresses important community property considerations.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Stan Rule has written a review on John E. S. Poyser's book entitled, Capacity and Undue Influence. Provided below is an excerpt from the review:
John E. S. Poyser has written a remarkable textbook, Capacity and Undue Influence, published this year by Thomas Reuters Canada Limited. The book is about gratuitous wealth transfers including by will, beneficiary designations, through jointures, inter vivos trusts and gifts directly to beneficiaries. Mr. Poyser does not deal with (or purport to deal with) capacity for other legal transactions, such as contracts, except peripherally to assist in explaining capacity to make testamentary and inter vivos gifts.
If, by focusing on gratuitous wealth transfers, the topic is narrower than the book’s title might imply, it is also much richer. In addition to discussing the criteria for capacity to make a will, Mr. Poyser also discusses the requirements of knowledge of approval of the contents of a will, including the doctrine of righteousness, in considerable depth. Estate litigators will be familiar with challenges to inter vivos gifts on the basis of undue influence, including claims founded on relationships of dependence or potential dominance, but how about challenges based on unconscionable bargains and unconscionable procurement? Although unconscionable bargains may be more closely associated with contracts, Mr. Poyser explains the principles and their applicability to gratuitous gifts. Unconscionable procurement? I had never heard of it before. Although perhaps the doctrine is a bit dusty, Mr. Poyser makes a good case that unconscionable procurement is applicable in modern times.
For the rest of the favorable review, see Stan Rule, John Poyser's Capacity and Undue Influence, Rule of Law, Oct. 13, 2014.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.
Friday, October 17, 2014
A new casebook by Raymond C. O'Brien (Catholic-D.C.) & Michael T. Flannery (Arkansas-Little Rock) entitled The Fundamentals of Elder Law, Cases and Materials will be available October 25, 2014 and may be pre-ordered now. Provided below is a description of this new book:
This casebook contains the fundamentals for a lively, contemporary course in elder law. It emphasizes illustrative factual cases and statutes, and is supported by materials from elder law practitioners and statistical data. It is distinctive in its emphasis upon state and federal court decisions, not simply recitation of statutory provisions. Elder law is of burgeoning historical and social importance. Statistics indicate that by 2030 almost one-fifth of all Americans will be 65 or older. Among the legal issues pertinent to an aging population are estate planning objectives in the context of possible incapacity, integrating nonprobate and probate transfers, asset protection planning, philanthropy and dynasty options, and beneficial tax planning. Recently enacted statutes provide guidance in personal health care decision-making and designating guardians and surrogates to exercise authority when needed. And clients and institutions require legal assistance to navigate federal benefits such as Medicare, Social Security, Veterans Benefits, and the interaction of state-federal Medicaid opportunities. Statistics also indicate that almost two-thirds of all individuals over age 65 will need some form of long-term care. For many, the choices will involve home care or some form of institutional care, with payment derived from private funds, insurance, or government assistance. All of these options will involve legal parameters.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Mary Christina Wood has published a book entitled, Nature's Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age, which explores concepts surrounding the public trust doctrine. Provided below is a description of the book from Cambridge University Press:
Environmental law has failed us all. As ecosystems collapse across the globe and the climate crisis intensifies, environmental agencies worldwide use their authority to permit the very harm that they are supposed to prevent. Growing numbers of citizens now realize they must act before it is too late. This book exposes what is wrong with environmental law and offers transformational change based on the public trust doctrine. An ancient and enduring principle, the trust doctrine asserts public property rights to crucial resources. Its core logic compels government, as trustee, to protect natural inheritance such as air and water for all humanity. Propelled by populist impulses and democratic imperatives, the public trust surfaces at epic times in history as a manifest human right. But until now it has lacked the precision necessary for citizens, government employees, legislators, and judges to fully safeguard the natural resources we rely on for survival and prosperity. The Nature's Trust approach empowers citizens worldwide to protect their inalienable ecological rights for generations to come.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) forbringing this book to my attention.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
End of life decisions are difficult conversations to have with family and friends, and thus, avoided by many people for fear of placing an undue burden on their loved ones. While children, attorneys, and financial advisors often ask, people still find it difficult to discuss medical and financial directives. They simultaneously overlook significant issues frequently arising after death.
Barbara Sedoric has crafted a innovative solution to help families decipher the important details when the unthinkable does occur. The LastingMatters Organizer enables individuals to document and leave all-inclusive and easy-to-use instructions (in print or online) that can inform and guide their loved ones after death. Topics covered range from funeral plans and obituaries, to online passwords and details concerning family traditions and genealogy.
The Organizer is a tool that can help anyone, at any age, by diminishing the costs, time, and the stress of family pressures surrounding the grieving process. Conversely, the graphics, the pointed questions, and the Organizer’s thoroughness make it easy and intuitive for someone to complete.
Special thanks to Barbara Sedoric (LastingMatters President and Founder) for bringing this to my attention.
Monday, September 1, 2014
A Road Map to Guardianship Alternatives, by Sarah Patel Pacheco provides forms and guidance for utilizing available alternatives to court-supervised guardianship in Texas. Provided below is a description of the book from Texas Bar Books.
Texas guardianship proceedings can be intrusive, burdensome and costly. Practitioners should be aware of the many alternatives to guardianship that are available to Texas residents. This guide provides an overview of those alternatives, including specific forms that can be used to avoid a court-supervised administration of affairs.
A Road Map to Guardianship Alternatives, previously published as Contingency Planning, is intended to support practitioners in every area by providing knowledgeable and cost-effective legal support to families making plans for financial and medical care. This useful handbook has been expanded and updated to reflect legislative changes that have occurred since the previous publication.
The book is organized to easily direct both general practitioners and seasoned estate planning attorneys through situations in which the time and expense of creating a guardianship is not in the best interest of the client. It alerts practitioners to events that may be anticipated, such as travel, planned surgery, and administering the assets of minors or the infirm.
A Road Map to Guardianship Alternatives Digital Product, containing the entire book as an internally hyperlinked, word-searchable PDF file and all forms in Wordformat, is included at no additional charge.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has published the latest version of their Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services. Provided below is a description of this guide from AICPA.
The AICPA’s Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services (SSPFPS No. 1), was issued to provide authoritative guidance and establish enforceable standards for members practicing in PFP. SSPFPS No. 1 was issued in January 2014 and is effective beginning July 1, 2014.
CPAs are licensed and regulated by their state boards of accountancy. Additionally, all AICPA members are required to follow a rigorous Code of Professional Conduct which requires that they act with integrity, objectivity, due care, competence, fully disclose any conflicts of interest (and obtain client consent if a conflict exists), maintain client confidentiality, disclose to the client any commission or referral fees, and serve the public interest when providing financial services. The vast majority of state boards of accountancy have adopted the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct within their state accountancy laws or have created their own.
Over the past three decades, a growing number of CPAs have expanded into providing personal financial planning services to individuals and families. The Compliance Toolkit was designed to provide non-authoritative guidance via checklists, engagement letters, and more to aid in compliance with SSPFPS No.1. For an overview of the challenges facing practitioners and the tools available to provide CPAs with guidance in determining whether SSPFPS No. 1 compliance is required, listen to this podcast on Understanding and Applying the Statement on Standards in PFP Services.