Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Where Not to Die in 2019

TaxlawThough the estate tax exemption now only applies to the wealthiest of individuals, there are still 17 states and D.C. that impose state either an state tax or an inheritance on their citizens. Some states apply the tax for all estates, some are only for larger estates. Maryland is the only state that applies both taxes. Several states rebelled when the exemption increased drastically, and have their own amounts far below the federal level. If you are in a state that has a minimum and you are nearing the cliff of having to pay out, proper estate planning is vital.

In New York state, individuals can make deathbed gifts starting in 2019 without the assets being applied toward the decedent's estate. The exclusion amount in New York is $5.47 million, approximately half of what the increased federal estate tax exemption is under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. So to stay under the exemption amount, a New Yorker no longer has to gift items three years out - in can be at the time of their demise.

Connecticut is the one state that could potentially have an exemption amount that’s higher than the federal exclusion amount—in 2026. For 2019, it’s set at $3.6 million, then scheduled to increase to $5.1 million in 2020, $7.1 million in 2021, $9.1 million in 2022, and to match the federal exemption amount in 2023.

See Ashlea Ebeling, Where Not to Die in 2019, Forbes, December 12, 2018.

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

January 8, 2019 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Gift Tax, New Legislation, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Big Changes in Tax Law: New Rates Likely to Affect Everyone

TaxesThough having to pay taxes is a constant of life, the particulars of the tax law changes with every year. 

“The biggest tax law change in 30 years is in effect for 2018. Everyone, whether their tax situation is simple or complex will be impacted,” says ENJ Financial Tax Manager Whitney Gum, CPA. The major changes are larger brackets and a drop in rates, meaning the same taxable income last year will be at a lower rate.

Some itemized deductions may be limited, but could include medical expenses, state and local taxes, mortgage interest and donations to charities. The local and state tax deductions have a cap at $10,000, and corporate tax rate has decreased to a flat 21%.

“Another huge change, is the implementation of the Qualified Business Income Deduction (QBID),” Gum said. “This is a 20% deduction equal to the amount of qualified business income of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations. This is an area where planning is very important to make sure the taxpayer is receiving the maximum benefit of this deduction.”

See Dawnita Fogleman, Big Changes in Tax Law: New Rates Likely to Affect Everyone, Woodward News, January 1, 2019.

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

January 6, 2019 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 27, 2018

CLE on Planning Techniques for Larges Estates

CLEThe American Law Institute is holding a conference entitled, Planning Techniques for Larges Estates, on Wednesday - ‎Friday, ‎April ‎3 - ‎5, 2019 at the Hilton Resort & Villas in Scottsdale, Arizona. Provided below is a description of the event.

Why You Should Attend
A successful planning strategy for high-net-worth clients involves advanced estate planning techniques that minimizes taxes, protects assets and preserves wealth. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to keep up to date on the most innovative wealth transfer strategies from a faculty of leading large estate planners and tax experts!

Here’s what past course attendees have said:

"Very good speakers and content. The lunches provided easy networking opportunities."

"Excellent and substantive as usual, thank you for a great program!"

"Very well presented and the written materials will be useful."

"Wonderful program. Learned a lot. Will take it again in the future."

What You Will Learn
Attend this highly-rated course and get the latest sophisticated planning strategies specifically for large estates. Learn, network, and strategize with your peers and a highly experienced faculty of trust and estate practitioners from across the country. Each panel provides real examples and practical applications that will help you develop a plan for your clients to efficiently transfer wealth to their heirs and favorite charities, protect their family and businesses, grow assets, and minimize taxes.

This year’s estate planning and strategic wealth transfer topics include:

Sales to IDITs, GRATs, etc.
Life Insurance as a integral part of a well thought-out estate plan
Best way to pass assets using GST
Incorporating trusts into retirement plans
Advantages of charitable giving
Using entitites in estate planning

December 27, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 24, 2018

CLE on Estate Planning and Administration: The Complete Guide

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Planning and Administration: The Complete Guide, on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - Thursday, January 24, 2019, at the Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Mission Valley/Stadium in San Diego, California. Provided below is a description of the event.

Program Description
Find Out How Key Estate Planning Tools are Drafted and Implemented


Every client's estate is unique in its assets composition, family dynamics and future needs, but all are ruled by the same principles and are subject to the same tax and legal limitations. In this comprehensive legal guide, experienced attorney faculty will guide you through the process of estate planning and administration and show you how to select the best trust instruments and wield them skillfully to avoid mistakes at probate. They will also teach you how to properly administer the estate and tackle potential mistakes of improperly drafted documents, changed circumstances and newly arising conflicts. Become fully prepared to protect your client's legacies - register today!


Get an update on the current tax regime and other key regulations.
Get the case off on the right foot with a thorough and thoughtful client intake.
Compare key trust structures and their effect on the grantor and beneficiary tax future burdens.
Help clients plan for and fund long-term care.
Ensure confidentiality before and after the client's death.
Get useful checklists for key dates and tasks in estate administration.
Clarify what can be distributed through non-probate transfers and how to do it correctly.
Explore creditor issues in estate administration and get trouble-shooting tips from the pros.
Find out how much planning can still be done after the client's passing.
Discuss the duties and powers of fiduciaries, their limits and real-life application.
Get tips for closing the estate to prevent future disputes.

Who Should Attend
This basic-to-intermediate level seminar on estate planning and administration is designed for:
Attorneys
Accountants and CPAs
Paralegals
Tax Managers
Trust Officers
Certified Financial Planners
Investment Advisers

Course Content
DAY 1: ESTATE PLANNING AND TRUST BASICS
Key Laws and Client Intake/Goal Setting
Planning for Long-Term Care and End-of-Life Decisions
Testamentary Documents - Drafting Do's and Don'ts
Common Trust Structures and When They're Used
Transfers During Life and Inter-Vivos Trusts
Tax Consequences of Trusts


DAY 2: PROBATE AND ESTATE ADMINISTRATION
Probate Process Overview
Marshalling Assets and Dealing with Creditors
Post-Mortem Tax Planning Options
Legal Ethics in Estate Practice
Trust Administration and Termination Basics
Closing the Estate

December 24, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Current Events, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 22, 2018

CLE on Advanced Estate Planning Practice Update: Winter 2019

CLEThe American Law Institute is holding a webcast entitled, Advanced Estate Planning Practice Update: Winter 2019, on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Provided below is a description of the event.

Why You Should Attend
Join us in February to see why attorneys across the country tune in for this must-attend program three times a year!

This popular, advanced program covers significant recent developments and how they affect estate planning practice. Featuring a nationally renowned faculty of estate planning lawyers, as well as Professor Jeffrey N. Pennell, this webcast is designed for sophisticated practitioners who need to stay up-to-date on changes in the field!

What You Will Learn
This unique program captures late-breaking important opinions and legislative and regulatory developments, as determined by the faculty at the time of the presentation. Check back here in January for a list of the topics we anticipate addressing.

In addition to superb teaching, a favorite feature of past registrants is the comprehensive outline that all registrants get ahead of the program. It provides summaries written by the faculty on every topic discussed during the program, in the order in which it is addressed!

Who Should Attend
Experienced estate planning attorneys, trust administrators, and financial and tax professionals who provide guidance and strategies for transferring wealth and reducing estate taxes should attend this accredited CLE on advanced estate planning developments.

December 22, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

CLE on Capital Gains and Income Tax Planning for Trusts, Estates, and Grantors

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a webcast entitled, Capital Gains and Income Tax Planning for Trusts, Estates, and Grantors, on Tuesday, January 12, 2019, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Program Description
Minimize Key Tax Burdens for Your Clients
Since the virtual elimination of estate tax considerations from estate planning, the main focus has shifted to income and capital gains tax planning. This practical legal course offers you essential strategies to advise clients on NIIT, trust income taxation and capital gains tax saving. Register today!
Explore effective approaches to making the best use of the basis step-up.
Tackle NIIT planning head on.
Adopt practical strategies for minimizing the capital gains tax burden.

Who Should Attend
This legal guide is designed for attorneys. It will also benefit accountants, trust officers, estate planners, wealth managers, investment advisers, tax professionals, and paralegals.

Course Content
Capital Gains Tactics
Basis Step-Up Strategies
Income Tax Planning Techniques for Individuals and Estates
Planning to Mitigate Tax on Net Investment Income/Passive Activities
Trust Income Taxation Tactics
Planning with and for Closely Held Businesses

December 18, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

CLE on Taxes in Estate Administration

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a teleconference entitled, Taxes in Estate Administration, on Thursday, December 27, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Program Description
Discover how to reduce tax burdens in estate administration
Gain practical tools for managing the tax liability of the decedent and the estate and learn how to accurately complete and properly file all the necessary returns to make certain the estate closing is on time. Clarify all deadlines and request extensions. Enhance your estate administration practices - register today!
Get an update on the current tax rates, exemptions and deductions.
Understand when and how to report the tax basis of assets in estate administration.
Learn when asset valuation is needed and how to conduct it properly.
Get practical tips for completing the decedent's and estate's income tax returns.
Find out how to claim portability for clients and tackle other estate, gift and GST tax issues.

Who Should Attend
This tax course is designed for attorneys. It will also benefit accountants, tax professionals, trust officers, estate planners, and paralegals.

Course Content

  • Current Tax Rates and Exemptions
  • Understanding Tax Basis and Step-Up at Administration
  • Tax Issues in Distribution to Minors and Trusts
  • Accurate and Inclusive Valuation of Assets
  • Decedent's Final Income Tax Returns: Forms, Deadlines, Filing, Supporting Docs
  • Estate's Income Tax Returns: Forms, Deadlines, Filing, Supporting Docs
  • Tax on Income Earned by Estate After Decedent's Death
  • Estate Tax: Portability, Elective Share, Disclaimers and More
  • How the Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Affects the Estate and the Heirs
  • Sales of Real Property

December 11, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Year-End Estate and Financial Planning Checklist: Make Your List and Check it Twice

NyeWith so much going on during the holiday season, it may seem more stressful to think about review your estate plan. Here is a simplified list to assist, and not interfere with presents and champagne.

  1. Review required minimum distributions (RMDs).
    1. Those 70½ or older must take RMDs from certain retirement accounts by December 31 or face a penalty equal to 50%.
  2. Reduce taxable income and rebalance investments.
    1. Review your asset allocation and, if necessary, rebalance your investment portfolio.
  3. Max out company retirement plan contributions.
    1. If you are not able to contribute the maximum amount, try to contribute enough to qualify for any matching contributions by your employer.
  4. Review insurance coverage.
    1. Make sure you have adequate policies in place insuring everything you need, from your life to assets, to help plan against the unexpected.
  5. Review estate plans and beneficiary designations.
    1. These should be reviewed  periodically to be sure that the plan you have in place accomplishes your goals
  6. Make gifts.
    1. The annual exclusion is $15,000 per person before it counts against your lifetime exclusion.
  7. Fund your Health Savings Account (HSA).
    1. Those in high-deductible health-insurance plans can save as much as $3,450 in pre-tax dollars in these types of accounts. Those aged 65 and older cannot contribute to one, but can still use the money for eligible out-of-pocket medical expenses.
  8. Use your flexible spending dollars.
    1. Unused funds in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) are typically forfeited at year’s end, so  spend them for eligible health and medical expenses by December 31
  9. Check your credit and identity.
    1. With technology, checking your credit has become easier.
  10. Organize your records for 2019.
    1. Gather and organize the documents and 2018 records that will be needed to prepare your tax returns in 2019, and shred what you do not need.

See A Year-End Estate and Financial Planning Checklist: Make Your List and Check it Twice, The National Law Review, December 6, 2018.

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

December 10, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 7, 2018

CLE on Estate Planning 101: What You Need to Know About the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

CLEThe American Bar Association is holding a webcast entitled, Estate Planning 101: What You Need to Know About the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, on Wednesday, December 12, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Provided below is a description of the event.

This new legislation changes the landscape for trust and estate planning opportunities for many individuals. These major changes will greatly reduce or eliminate the tax liability for those transferring wealth.

Our panel will:

  • Planning for increased exemptions
  • Drafting new and reviewing old trusts
  • Income tax changes
  • Impact on IRA planning
  • Impact on planning for charitable gifts

December 7, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 3, 2018

Alaska Estate Tax

AlaskaAlaska is one of 38 states that does not levy an estate tax on its citizens, but those with substantially large estates may be subject to the federal estate tax. The estate tax is a tax applied to a recently deceased person’s estate and is applied before the money or assets pass on to the heirs and other beneficiaries.

The estate tax is different than an inheritance tax, which is what the heirs are required to pay after inherited assets or money from a person's estates. Alaska has no inheritance tax, but a person may be subject to another state's inheritance tax if someone who lived in that state leaves that person something in their will. If you should receive property from someone who lives in a different state, make sure to check the laws of that state.

Alaska also has no gift tax, but Alaskans are subject to the federal gift tax exemption of $15,000 per recipient per year. If a person should go over, it goes towards their lifetime estate tax exemption. A person's estate tax exemption is also portable to their spouse, meaning if you die first, you can pass the remaining amount of your exemption to your spouse.

The Great Frontier is also tax friendly in a number of other aspects: there is no state income tax, no taxing of Social Security, pensions and withdrawals from retirement accounts. There is no state sales tax, though local municipalities have a choice to charge, with a state average of 1.76%. Property taxes are higher than the national average but many areas exempt seniors. Cost of living in Alaska is high, with utilities being consumed at a higher rate because the winters are cold, dark, and long. But because of the Permanent Fund Dividend, all resident actually get paid to live in the state, often more than a $1,000.

See Ben Geier, Alaska Estate Tax, Smart Asset, November 28, 2018.

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

December 3, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)