Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Death of Tax Deductions? Actions to Consider Before Year End

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-12-13/f5b22cf6-8a3c-44ef-8dd9-b178fbacea83.pngThe narrowly-approved tax bill that just passed through the Senate offers a number of potential benefits in addition to possible drawbacks. Many taxpayers may face lower overall tax rates, but those who rely heavily on exemptions and itemized deductions may not be quite as fortunate. These individuals may be subject to higher tax rates in 2018 and beyond. To prepare for these possible changes, it might be a good time to consolidate a few years of charitable gifts, pay property taxes early, and pre-pay state income taxes. With significant implications for some taxpayers, it is important to devise a strategy to accommodate the looming tax reform.  

See Craig Richards, The Death of Tax Deductions? Actions to Consider Before Year End, Fiduciary Trust International, December 7, 2017.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

December 13, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Estate Planning Inflation Adjustments for Tax Year 2018 & 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan

Irs-cartoon-2The internal revenue code contains a number of estate planning provisions modified by exclusions, deductions, brackets, and exemptions that are updated annually to accommodate inflation. Around this time every year, the IRS releases these updated figures. This year, the release of the figures comes via Revenue Procedure 2017-58. There are a number of notable changes occurring in 2018. Among them are an increase in the lifetime estate tax exemption limits, an increase in the gift tax annual exclusion and the annual exclusion for a spouse who is not a U.S. citizen. Also for 2018, a taxpayer’s failure to file a tax return within 60 days from the due date will result in an increased penalty of $215 or 100% of the actual taxes due on the tax return, whichever amount is lower.

See Mary Rennie Rowe “M.R.” Litman, Estate Planning Inflation Adjustments for Tax Year 2018 & 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan, Williams Mullen, November 2, 2017.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.) for bringing this article to my attention.

November 8, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Book on Cunningham and Cunningham's The Logic of The Transfer Taxes: A Guide to the Federal Taxation of Wealth Transfers

2289754Laura E. Cunningham & Noel B. Cunningham recently published a book entitled, Cunningham and Cunningham's The Logic of The Transfer Taxes: A Guide to the Federal Taxation of Wealth Transfers (2017). Provided below is a summary of the book:

The Logic of the Transfer Taxes: A Guide to the Federal Taxation of Wealth Transfers, offers a broad survey of the federal transfer tax system. It thoroughly covers all of the fundamental rules of the gift, estate and generation skipping transfer taxes and provides numerous illustrative examples. It also offers a glimpse of some popular tax planning techniques, including FLPs, GRATS and IDGT’S, and the Special Valuation Rules of Chapter 14. It is appropriate for use as a coursebook for a two or three credit JD or LLM course, or as a reference for newcomers to the area. Teachers using the book as a principal text will have access to a related Problem Set and Teacher’s Manual.

November 3, 2017 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Books - For the Classroom, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

CLE on Estate Administration Boot Camp

0000000 CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Administration Boot Camp, which will take place on Tuesday, October 10, 2017, at the Courtyard by Marriott San Luis Obispo in San Luis Obispo, CA. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Everything You Need to Know About Effectively Administering an Estate

Are you fully confident in your knowledge of the latest court and tax rules and the most effective transfer tools to ensure each client's estate is laid to rest according to the decedent's wishes, with minimal tax burden? This comprehensive 2-day instruction will give you all the skills you need to administer estates that include trusts and/or business interests without a hitch. Register today!

  • Don't miss any crucial notice and filing requirements when opening the estate - learn what must be done right away.
  • Get helpful forms and checklists that will help you in administration.
  • Understand how income and estate tax deductions interact and find the most advantageous way to structure the tax returns
  • Learn how to use disclaimers more effectively.
  • Clarify what must be done when the trust becomes irrevocable.
  • Protect your professional reputation with a practical legal ethics guide focused on trusts and estates practice.
  • Prevent mistakes in final petition and ensure each estate is closed quickly and without disputes.

Who Should Attend

This two-day, basic level seminar is designed for:

  • Attorneys
  • Accountants/CPAs
  • Certified Financial Planners
  • Trust Officers/Administrators/Managers
  • Paralegals

Course Content

DAY 1

  • Forms of Administration and When They are Used
  • First Steps and Notices, Executor Duties, Opening the Estate
  • Marshalling the Assets
  • Handling Debts and Claims Against the Estate
  • Spouse Elective Share and Disclaimers
  • Key Intestacy Laws You Must Know
  • Trusts That Affect Estate Administration

DAY 2

  • Income Tax Returns
  • Handling Distributions
  • Legal Ethics in Estate Administration
  • Estate and Trust Contests, Disputes, Challenges
  • Business Interests in Estate Administration
  • Portability and Estate, Gift, GST Taxes
  • Closing the Estate and Final Accounting

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 12.00 *

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 1.20

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 14.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

October 7, 2017 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Intestate Succession, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Trump GOP Tax Reform Framework Calls for Estate Tax Repeal

Estate-tax-cartoonIn its current form, the federal estate tax applies to estates valued at over $5.49 million. The tax is considered draconian by many, as assets in excess of the $5.49 million threshold are subject to a 40% tax. Couples may combine their exemptions and are able to shield up to $11 million from the tax. The generation-skipping tax (GST) applies to transfers of wealth that pass over a generation during life or upon death. A grandmother giving a gift to a grandchild would be an example where the tax applies.

The Trump Administration’s most recent framework for tax reform includes proposals for repeal of the GST and the estate tax. The plan also calls for the repeal of the alternative minimum tax, the elimination of itemized deductions and personal exemptions, and reductions to the top individual and corporate tax rates. Though repeal and tax reform is far from a certainty, those opposed to the death tax are optimistic. The Family Business Coalition is “all in” for the repeal of the estate and GST taxes believing that their elimination would boost the economy and spur job creation.

See Ashlea Ebeling, Trump GOP Tax Reform Framework Calls for Estate Tax Repeal, Forbes, September 27, 2017.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 29, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Bell Tolls for Thee, Estate Tax Repeal

SighThe notion of repealing the estate tax has been floating around in the proverbial ether since President Trump took office. Considered by many as a tax on only the wealthiest Americans, strong advocacy for repeal has been lacking. The most potent opposition to the tax comes mainly from lobbyists for farmers, who are more prone to facing significant turmoil from a 40% tax, assuming they exceed the federal exclusion threshold, when their assets are tied up primarily in land. The possibility for repeal grows noticeably dimmer however, especially in light of Kevin Brady’s, Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, speech that entirely avoided discussing the estate tax. So, estate planners can take a tentative sigh of relief as it looks as though any new tax reforms will likely not affect the current status quo.

 See Dominick Schirripa, The Bell Tolls for Thee, Estate Tax Repeal, Bloomberg, August 17, 2017.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

September 18, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel: Letter to Senators Hatch and Wyden and Congressmen Brady and Neal

Generation-Skipping-Transfer-TaxThe American College of Trust and Estate Counsel recently wrote a letter to Senators Hatch and Wyden and Congressmen Brady and Neal. Below is a short excerpt detailing their recommendations: 

The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (“ACTEC”) is a professional organization of approximately 2,600 lawyers from throughout the United States. Fellows of ACTEC are elected to membership by their peers on the basis of professional reputation and ability in the field of trusts and estates and on the basis of having made substantial contributions to those fields through lecturing, writing, teaching, and bar activities. Fellows of ACTEC have extensive experience in providing advice to taxpayers on matters of federal taxes, with a focus on estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax planning, fiduciary income tax planning, and compliance. ACTEC offers technical comments about the law and its effective administration, but does not take positions on matters of policy or political objectives. We offer recommendations to improve existing tax laws to more clearly, simply, and fairly implement the policies those laws are intended to serve. This report recommends revisions to Internal Revenue Code (IRC) §§2205, 2206, 2207, 2207A and 2207B in order to eliminate inconsistencies and to expand the right of tax recovery to all estate tax inclusionary code sections.

September 6, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hated Estate Tax Valuation Rules On Trump's Hit List

6bd08f12115b5a9d70be6ce51169107bFamily business owners and their allies are trying to block rules proposed during the Obama-era that would curb valuation discounts and lead to increased estate taxes. Proponents for the rules claim it would end a loophole for the wealthy. With the discounts, family businesses are able to value their assets at reduced levels. This allows them to pass on their hard-earned wealth to beneficiaries free from some estate and gift taxes. Much of the conversation would be moot if President Trump is able to get rid of the estate tax. With this, the safest course of action is to undertake valuations based on current law. Even if repeal were to occur, it is not guaranteed to be permanent.

See Ashlea Ebeling, Hated Estate Tax Valuation Rules On Trump's Hit List, Forbes, August 1, 2017.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 7, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Short Story of Jack, The Beanstalk and Survivor IRAs

JackBeanstalkIt is possible to leave IRAs, 401ks, and other qualified plans to beneficiaries upon death. If done correctly, it is possible to avoid substantial portions of income and other various taxes. When placed in a trust, an initial $500,000 distribution from a qualified plan can pay out $1.5 million over a beneficiary’s lifetime. The assets from the qualified plan are not taxed when rolled over to the trust, but only when distributed to the beneficiary of the trust. This type of planning can be complex and it is best to seek professional advice for help.

See George, A Short Story of Jack, The Beanstalk and Survivor IRAs, Fox+Mattson, June 19, 2017.

August 2, 2017 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Article on Diagnosing the GST Tax Status of a Trust

Crazy_person_by_nothingstockAdvisors commonly overlook the generation-skipping tax (GST) when creating an estate plan.. This leaves many existing estate plans less tax-efficient than they could be. Dealing specifically with trusts, for GST tax purposes, any trust will be either GST exempt, GST non-exempt, or a mix of these two options. A trust can be totally exempt from GST tax in one of the following five ways: 1) it was grandfathered in, 2) it is a Gallo trust, 3) by transfers, 4)  through affirmative allocation, or 5) a GST exemption was allocated to the trust. If a trust is not exempt from GST, the advisor must then determine the trust's inclusion ratio. This ratio essentially dictates what percentage of a trust will be subject to GST. Wading through these steps is technically onerous and can be difficult. Breaking down the process in this simplified manner may alleviate some of the complexities of the overall analysis.

See Nathan R. Brown & Brandon A. S. Ross, Diagnosing the GST Tax Status of a Trust, Probate & Property Magazine, July 2017.

July 15, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)