Sep 132012
 
Florida Law Removes Divorced Spouse As A Beneficiary From Non-Probate Assets

A recently enacted Florida law would nullify the designation of a spouse as the beneficiary of non-probate assets such as life insurance policies, qualified annuities, individual retirement accounts (IRA), employee benefit plans, and payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) accounts, upon the dissolution or annulment of a marriage. Florida Statute 732.703, effective July 1, 2012, states that “a designation made by or on behalf of the decedent providing for the payment or transfer at death of an interest in an asset to or for the benefit of the decedent’s former spouse is void as of the time More…

Aug 242012
 
Avoiding Built-In Conflicts Is An Essential Element Of Any Estate Plan

One of the primary purposes of engaging in estate planning is that of avoiding conflicts.  The death of a loved one can easily bring out the worst in people, especially if there is incomplete, or nonexistent, guidance regarding how the decedent’s assets are to be divided.  Thus we engage in estate planning to provide some certainty as to our wishes, with the hope that this will make things easier on our family and friends after we are gone. One of the important goals of the experienced estate planning attorney is that of avoiding “built-in” conflicts.  For example, if the children More…

Jul 242012
 
Senate Democrats Drop Estate Tax Provision From Proposal, Future Of Estate Tax Uncertain

In what has been speculated as an attempt to garner party unity on a vote for a tax plan supported by U.S. President Barack Obama, Democrats in the U.S. Senate have abandoned proposed provisions for the estate tax which originally called for a partially extended estate tax cut of 45 percent on inheritances of more than $3.5 million (the same parameters as those in effect in 2009).  By axing the proposed estate tax cut, the Democratic plan would ultimately restore the estate tax to the pre-Bush-tax-cuts-era of a 55 percent tax on inheritances of more than $1,000,000.  The tax bill More…

Jan 272012
 
2012: The Year Estate Tax Planning Reemerges

It is no secret that the tax deal that President Obama and Congress reached in the final days of 2010 discouraged many from seeking estate planning advice in 2011.  The legislation that set a $5 million estate and gift tax exemption for 2011 and 2012 has all but eliminated estate tax avoidance as a motivating factor for clients.  This is true even though estate planners have been stressing the fact that these changes present generous planning opportunities. Currently, the estate tax rate is 35% and applies only to estates worth more than $5 million, or $10 million for couples.  Since More…