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Estate Planning Archives

IRS releases 2016 estate and gift tax figures

While taxes may famously be the most dependable thing we have to look forward to the than the eventual heat death of the universe, those who know how to use the tax system also look forward to the IRS's yeary announcement of it's adjusted estate and gift tax exemptions. And so, just as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, the IRS was released it's annual figures for what can be exempted by giving to the ones you love.

Joint tenancy and the unmarried couple's estate plan

While it is difficult to quantify exactly why, there are areas in California that have long been known to attract individuals who prefer non-traditional ways of life. Often, this includes couples who choose to remain together without ever becoming legally married. Being in a long-term unmarried couple can present some difficulties when it comes to estate planning, but nothing that can't be overcome with proper knowledge of the law.

What is portability in estate planning?

One of the primary purposes of estate planning is to take full stock of one's assets and ensure that all of a person's property has a predetermined beneficiary when that person eventually passes away. If this is not planned out ahead of time, those assets suffer a greater-than-necessary depletion at the hands of federal estate taxes and other parties who may be able to siphon off pieces here and there.

How do I value an estate?

Planning, establishing and maintaining an estate can be quite a handful of responsibilities, none of which should be taken lightly. One of the more arduous elements of maintaining one's estate can be the process of valuing an estate once the owner of the estate has passed away, which is necessary for the purposes of complying with federal estate tax laws. For those who are considering how to best go about valuing an estate, the IRS offers two viable standards it recognizes.

What are trustee responsibilities while a grantor is still alive?

Being appointed as a trustee is a great honor and great responsibility. If you have been appointed as a trustee for someone's estate, this means that you have been chosen presumably because you have been deemed both capable of the various responsibilities entailed in being a trustee and also trustworthy to carry them out. Being a trustee is not only about handling a grantor's affairs when he or she passes or become incapacitated, it is also about handling his or her assets while he or she is still living. If you are feeling unsure or overwhelmed by this new role, don't worry — you don't have to do it alone.

Estate planning strategies to protect college savings

California state laws governing debt collection may contain some harsh surprises for uninformed residents of California who expect their college savings to be safe from debt collection judgments. While federal bankruptcy law provides some protections against collections on college savings accounts, California's debt collection laws are not as protective in their scope. Many kinds of qualified higher education savings accounts are more vulnerable to collections, such as 529 College Savings Plans. California residents who wish to protect the assets they have set aside for the educations of loved ones have some options in estate planning to ensure that their wishes are fulfilled.

How should I prepare my partner to assume accounts I control?

Responsible estate planning takes into account the likelihood of outliving a partner, but often even those who intentionally plan for this eventuality forget key details that make the reality of losing a loved one an unnecessary nightmare. While your estate plan may cover the broad strokes of how the life you have built with a partner will change when one of you passes away, the safety and security of such a plan is often in the details.

New legislation help protect assets through estate planning

California estate planners just received a major win in the area of estate recovery for Medi-Cal recipients. SB-833, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown just a month ago, has removed the state's ability to recover assets from a surviving spouse's estate for those who received Medi-Cal benefits and pass away on or after Jan. 1, 2017.

Should I leave assets directly to my adult children?

Creating an effective estate plan utilizing a trust is an excellent tool for those considering how to protect and distribute wealth, but sometimes an appealing option can have undesirable consequences. Traditionally, many individuals have chosen specific assets to leave to their adult children, but developments in taxation and estate penalties have made this a less viable option for those seeking to maximize their resources through a well-crafted estate plan.

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