Some clients have the view that an inheritance should be left outright and unencumbered to children and other beneficiaries, because they don’t want to be perceived as “ruling from the grave.” Leaving an inheritance in trust for a child or other beneficiary can sometimes be viewed as ruling from the grave,,………


The estate tax law is a moving target, both at the federal and state level. This month’s Alert examines a case which illustrates how the changing laws can result in unintended results in your plan. Now, more than ever,………


Elizabeth Taylor died recently with a $1 billion estate. This month’s Alert focuses on her estate, her philanthropy, and various advanced estate planning techniques with a charitable component. Read this month’s Alert to find out how charitable giving can help you and your clients meet estate planning goals……

TRA 2010 Creates Opportunity for New Planning Strategy – The FlexTrust

The question of whether to fund a credit shelter trust has long been a central question in estate planning. With the new tax law and it’s temporarily increased exemption, the question is all the more relevant…..

Double Disclaimer Saves Millions in Estate and GST Tax

This month’s Alert examines how effective use of disclaimers can save millions in taxes. The Alert examines a ruling request presented to the IRS involving such a situation…..

Annuity Maximization

This Alert examines how a tax-deferred annuity may not be the best solution for senior clients. It demonstrates how a single premium immediate annuity, or “SPIA” may be a better alternative for clients, especially if the client is in a lower tax bracket than the children who will inherit it…….

Creditor Protection Extended to Inherited IRAs by More Courts

IRAs and Qualified Plans are an increasing portion of our clients’ wealth. The advantages of the income tax deferral are well-known. This month’s Alert looks at developments regarding the creditor protection such plans provide, not only for the contributor, but also for those who inherit them……..

Doing It Yourself Can Sometimes Lead to Disaster

Nowadays, a growing number of consumers attempt to prepare estate planning and other documents of legal significance without professional assistance. These do-it-yourselfers are penny-wise and pound-foolish……

2012 Budget Proposal Includes Permanent Estate and Gift Tax Reforms

This month’s Alert examines the Obama Administration’s 2012 budget proposal and how it might affect estate, gift, GST, and income taxes. Further, the Alert looks at how our tax system compares to other developed countries…..

A “Do-It-Yourself” Mystery: The Case of the Neighbor Girl and the Well-Meaning Widow

Clients occasionally attempt do-it-yourself estate planning. Sometimes they use software assistance, borrow from others’ documents, or amend their professionally prepared documents themselves……

IRS Issues Instructions for Estate Tax Returns for Decedents Dying in 2011 and 2012

This month’s Alert examines the IRS’ recent release of instructions regarding how to ensure portability of the applicable exclusion amount at the death of the first spouse. Many surviving spouses may see an estate tax return at the death of the first spouse to be unnecessary…..

Wisconsin Appeals Court Holds Assets of Irrevocable Trust are Available for Medicaid Eligibility Purposes

Elder law is an increasingly important area of law for clients. This month’s Alert examines a Wisconsin case concerning an Irrevocable trust which was included as an available asset for Medicaid purposes…….

Fate of Estate and Gift Taxes Remains Uncertain – But, Many Planning Options Remain Available For Now

This month’s Alert examines the continuing uncertainty with the Estate and Gift Tax and the unique, limited-time opportunities which are available now…..

Income from Trust Excluded in Determining Alimony Payments

This month’s Alert examines when the income of a trust may be considered available to creditors. The Alert examines a case involving the availability for purposes of determining alimony.The New Jersey case of Tannen v. Tannenhas drawn national attention…..

Tax Changes for 2012

This month’s Alert reviews the inflation adjustments applicable to federal taxation in 2012. It examines changes in the estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer taxes, as well as income taxes…..

Millions in Tax Savings Available to Clients Who Act Quickly

This month’s alert examines the current, perhaps short-lived, opportunity for clients to give away millions of dollars during their lifetime without a gift tax. Unless the law changes, this narrow window will close at year-end…..

His, Hers, or Ours? – Estate Planning for Blended Families

With more than half of marriages ending in divorce, an increasing number of families are “blended families.” The Alert this month examines the unique issues faced in planning for blended families…..

Planning Blunder Leads to Increased Income Taxes

This month’s Alert examines the importance of proper IRA beneficiary designations. The Alert examines a case in which the stretch of IRA distributions was not maximized because of the beneficiary designation….

IRS Issues “Portability” Guidance

he Alert this month examines “portability” and the steps necessary to take advantage of it under newly-released regulations.
For many years estate planning attorneys have had to draft complicated provisions into the estate plans of married couples in order to make maximum use of the applicable exclusion amount (the “AEA”). The AEA is the amount that can pass free from estate tax at the death of an individual….

Tax Break Extension Legislation Excludes Estate Tax; Act Now to Lock In $5.12 Million Exclusion Amount

The estate tax exclusion is scheduled to revert to $1 million at year-end from the current level of $5.12 million. This Alert examines the current political landscape concerning the estate tax and suggests taking advantage of the current, historically-high exclusion amount before it’s too late….

Use It Before You Lose It” Planning Equally Applicable to LGBT and Unmarried Partners

In this month’s alert we examine how your clients, including LGBT clients and unmarried partners, can remove over $5 million free from estate tax and how this opportunity may be vanishing soon…..

2010 Tax Law Leads to 2012 Litigation

This month’s Alert focuses on the increased trust litigation arising from the unintended consequences of the temporary repeal of the estate tax in 2010.The estate tax was repealed for much of the year in 2010. ….

Last Chance for Estate Tax Savings?

This month’s alert focuses on the narrowing window to lock-in the current $5.12 million estate and gift tax exemption by gifting prior to year-end. The alert also examines why it may not be possible to wait and do this planning at the last minute…..

Estate Planning for LGBT Couples: Possible Changes on the Horizon

Approximately forty years into their relationship, Edith Windsor and Thera Clara Spyer were married in Canada. Two years into their marriage, Thera passed away. After Thera’s death, Edith paid estate tax of approximately $363,000 to the federal government…..

New Year’s Resolution #3 – Get My Estate Plan Reviewed

On December 31st, the United States went off the “fiscal cliff.” But, less than twenty-four hours later, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (“ATRA”). ATRA makes most of the previous estate tax law permanent…..

More Reasons for Clients to Review Their Estate Plans

Last month, we let you know that Congress let the United States go off the fiscal cliff, only to come to the rescue in the early morning hours of January 2, 2013, with the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (“ATRA”). To review, ATRA makes most of the provisions of the previous estate tax law permanent…….

Guardianship Provisions Essential To a Comprehensive Estate Plan

Football fans (and others) were shocked on December 1st of last year to learn about the murder of Kasandra Perkins. Perkins had been killed by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher…..

Planning for Retirement Assets Can be Difficult

In IR-2013-35 (March 28, 2013), the IRS reminded us that in most cases seniors who turned age 70½ during 2012 need to start taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from their IRAs, 401(k)s, and other retirement plans by April 1, 2013. ….

President’s Budget Proposal for 2014: Greater Estate Taxes, Income Taxes May Be in Your Future

On January 2, 2013, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which extended a majority of the “Bush Tax Cuts” and fixed the amount that can be passed free of gift, estate, and generation-skipping tax for 2013 at $5.25 million per person. …

U. S. Supreme Court Rules DOMA Unconstitutional: Estate Planning for LGBT Couples Just Got Easier – and More Complicated

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in U. S. v. Windsor (“Windsor”) that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal protection of persons that is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution….

Estate of Hurford: a Taxpayer’s Tale of Woes

In Estate of Thelma Hurford v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, T. C. Memo 2008-278, Judge Holmes wrote:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a recently widowed woman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of an estate planner….

New Rules for Same-Sex Couples

Bruce and Bill were married under the laws of New York, where same-sex marriage is legal. Bruce was offered an executive position at Wal-Mart and the couple moved to Arkansas. Same-sex marriage is banned by a state constitutional amendment in Arkansas……

Tax Court Says Taxpayer Cannot Have it Both Ways

Joseph “Pop” Preuschoff acquired the Preuschoff Ranch, a 2,345 acre cattle ranch in Madera, California in the early 1900s. Joseph had a daughter, Mary Valen Alen. Mary had a son, Joseph. Joseph inherited a 13/16th interest in the ranch at his mother’s death…….

Planning for Children with Special Needs

Adult children with disabilities often qualify for government assistance. Some of these assistance programs are needs based. Others are not. Many adult disabled children receive Supplemental Security Income, or “SSI.” Qualification for SSI requires that the child have less than $2,000……

A New Paradigm: Planning for State Estate Taxes

Not much more than a decade ago, taxpayers would flock to estate planning seminars to learn about ways to reduce or eliminate the federal estate tax. With the rise of the federal estate tax applicable exclusion amount (the amount that can pass free of estate tax) to $5,340,000 ($10,680,000 for married couples) in 2014…….

The Case of the iPhone Will

In the case In re Estate of Karter Wu (Supreme Court of Queensland, Australia), Mr. Wu created and stored his Last Will and Testament on an iPhone, along with a series of other documents, most of them final farewells……

Fiduciary May Face Personal Liability for Improper Administration of a Trust or Estate

In Estate of Sarah O’Hare, No. 2015 IL App (2d) 2-14-0073 (June 11, 2015), Virginia O’Hare (“Virginia”), mother of Sarah O’Hare (“Sarah”), her disabled adult daughter, appealed a judgment against her in the amount of $421,621.73…….