I recently saw a link to this New York Times article on volunteer travel. It’s not cheap to travel around the world and help people but, for people that can afford it, I can not imagine a better way to plan for your family’s future! Here’s the article for your reading pleasure. LINK
I know you don’t believe the headline but it’s TRUE. 100% true! One of newest and nicest cemeteries in the greater Sacramento valley area does not accept money. Free burial, headstone and even a 15 minute service. What’s the catch? You or your spouse have to have served in the military and been honorably discharged. That’s it. Here is a link to the cemetery.
The cemetery is an official VA (Veterans Administration) cemetery and is free to all qualifying veterans. I have not been there yet but I understand it’s beautiful. Here is the info:
Sacramento Valley National Cemetery
5810 Midway Road
Dixon, CA 95620
Phone: (707) 693-2460
Fax: (707) 693-2479
The end of the year is often a time when I remind people to work on their estate planning now. Why now? Well, first and foremost your estate plan is for your loved ones; family, friends, charities. What better time to think about your loved ones than Thanksgiving and the end of year holiday season!? Also, why not get it done now so you don’t start the year with another item on your to-do list. Get it done NOW and you can start the new year with one less thing to do.
However, this year is special. The incredible tax saving opportunities put in place in December of 2010 are set to expire December 31, 2012. That is, you can currently give away $5.12 million, TAX FREE, and that option goes away in a little over a month. If you have assets take advantage NOW!
We are doing a lot of qualified personal residence trusts, family limited partnerships and LLCs (“FLPs” or “FLiPs”), life insurance trusts, children’s trusts and other vehicles. Take advantage now!
Contact me to discuss. -John
As an estate planning attorney I often have the pleasure of meeting with retired veteran’s. On this day we are reminded to say THANK YOU! I forget the other days but am occasionally reminded when a retired vet comes in, often very elderly, with their WWII hats and the like. What an honor it is to serve these clients and help protect their family’s future!
I do standard estate planning and sometimes more advanced estate planning. I do wills and I do trusts. However, no matter what it is I do for these retired vet clients I am truly thankful that I can help them.
I hope I remember to say thank you to the next retired vet client I see… and I hope all of my readers remember this too.
I remember back in late 2001 when they came up with the major tax changes of 2002. I suppose those can be categorically called the “Bush Tax Cuts.” It seemed like the ultimate politician’s agreement… a temporary fix to the estate and gift tax laws.
How can an estate planning attorney plan with a temporary fix? It made no sense. Of course that temporary fix was set to be about 8 years through the end of 2010. You may recall the government set in place a gradual increase of the estate tax exemption each year or two from $1,000,000 to $1,500,000… and up to 2010 when there would be no estate tax. Interesting side note is that throughout that time the gift tax exemption stayed at $1,000,000.
Throughout those years most experts confidently said that the government would never let the estate tax go away in 2010. Oh ya, and then 2010 got here and billionaires died and paid ZERO estate tax.
So at the end of 2010 the government came up with a two year temporary fix. This one good until December 31, 2012. The current estate tax exemption is $5.12m but that’s set to go to $1,000,000 on January 1, 2013. Will it? This is of course part of the fiscal cliff.
We are now less than 2 months away from the fiscal cliff and the experts are now suggesting maybe Congress will come up with a 6 month extension of the estate tax exemption. Then what?
The key is none of us know what the estate or gift tax exemption will be. However, we can tell you what it is TODAY. As of today, November 8, 2012, you can give away $5,120,000 tax free during life or at death (but not both).
If your estate is anywhere close to this you probably should meet with an estate planning attorney quickly.
This blog is about taxes and specifically transfer taxes. That is, gift, estate, capital gains, and general income taxes. This is not a political commentary or a commentary about other aspects of who you vote for. I am only talking about the tax angle.
With that caveat said the question is does it matter who you vote for?
Again, just in terms of taxes. I am not talking about national security, abortion, gay marriage or any other issue. Just TAXES.
So, I again ask does it matter who you vote for?
That is, if Obama wins will your transfer taxes be off the chart high?
Likewise if Romney wins will your transfer taxes go away?
I have received many invitations for legal and tax seminars aimed at discussing what will happen depending on which candidate wins today. In my opinion those “experts” don’t know and, I am not sure it really makes that huge of a difference. I guess we shall see on that, eh!?
My opinion, based on everything I hear, is that taxes will likely be a little higher if Obama wins than if Romney wins. However, all the people that act like it’s either going to be extremely high tax or extremely low tax are off the mark.
Estate and gift taxes are not going away. It’s that simple. There will be an estate tax when you die. The question is what will the exemption be? If Romney wins I could see a $3.5 to $4m estate tax exemption or unified credit that equals that amount of tax free transfer. If Obama wins maybe it’s $2.5 or $3m. Yes, I am GUESSING.
Taking that a step further does this directly effect most of us? No, of course not. Yes, there are arguments to be made about the trickle down affect and all that but in reality a lot of us talk about estate taxes but few of us have $2.5 or $3.5 million.
Similar analysis could be done on the other transfer taxes. That is, will there likely be a slightly higher capital gains tax if Obama wins than if Romney wins? Sure, logic and history would tell you that’s the case. However, if Romney going to abolish the cap gains tax? Or is Obama going to triple the cap gains tax? I would guess no on both accounts.
Good luck to both candidates and best of luck to all of us whoever wins!
I saw this article on Forbes.com and thought it must be about student loans. The article is entitled There’s No Escape: Death, Taxes and Student Loans. My thought was the article was about how student loan payback can’t be avoided. I know, for example, generally speaking student loan debts are not discharged in bankruptcy. However, I know Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney, Christine Wilton, was able to discharge student loan debt in a bankruptcy… but I digress.
However, this article runs deeper than just student loans. It mentions a case where a student died, actually committed suicide and so his loans were wiped away at death. However, loans that are forgiven are treated as INCOME. You say that’s not fair! I know, right!?
As this Forbes article explains the IRS isn’t warm and cuddly and they don’t care that it is not fair!
Anyway I encourage you to read this article as it deals with these issues which are very relevant for YOU when you are doing your estate planning. Read about death, taxes and student loans here!
I am an attorney and I get paid for my work. Yes, I admit it. You are a client and you know that you will have to pay to hire a lawyer. We both know that. However, what you might not know is that there are options for payment.
Yes there are some cases where my firm requires me to get a retainer up front before work is done. This is not the majority of cases though. In most cases there are options that are more flexible and that do not require you coming out of pocket with cash.
PAYMENT IN FULL PROBATE: In full California probate cases typically we get paid at the end of the case after the Judge orders it so. In some cases we get a retainer up front to cover out of pockets expenses, like the Court filing fee, but in some cases we can even front those. Thus, in most full probate cases you are paying little, or nothing, to get the case started. We don’t get paid until you get your inheritance and only when the Judge orders it!
FLAT FEE OPTIONS: In many cases, especially small estates, we offer flat fee payment options. As we do so much of this type of work we know exactly how much time it will take and exactly what costs we will incur. Thus we can usually offer a flat fee option that includes both fees and out of pocket costs and thus you just pay one amount.
DELAYED PAYMENT: Like most of us a lot of my clients have found the last few years to be challenging to their pocketbook. Their bank balances aren’t what they once were. I understand this. We actually can create creative fee options, in some cases, where you don’t have to pay until the case is DONE and you have received payment. Each case is unique though so you will need to talk to John Palley, our lead probate attorney, to know what options are available to you.
PAYMENT OPTIONS: Like most companies we prefer cash or checks. We do not give cash discounts but we certainly do prefer cash and checks. In some cases we can also accept credit card. Again, talk to us to discuss.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Yes, this is a business and we are here to make a profit. However, we will do everything we can to work with you on payment. We want to be your attorney and we will get creative so we can do it!
Contact us so we can talk about some payment options that will work for you and your case.
I often clean up other attorneys work after death. I have one right now that is very typical of what I see. Couple in their early 40′s find out the husband has terminal cancer so they immediately seek out an estate planning attorney to protect the wife and young child. The husband’s employer has some list of attorneys available for a discounted fee. Well, you can already see where this is going but read on please.
The attorney does a capable job of putting the documents together. There are certainly things in the trust I would do different but the trust is fine. However, the attorney didn’t even attempt to get any assets into the trust except for the house. Again, let me remind you the husband has TERMINAL CANCER.
The husband has now died and this young widow has hired me to get the assets into the trust as she knows I am an expert at Heggstad petitions. We look for two things before filing a Heggstad: 1) were assets listed on a schedule of assets and 2) was there a general transfer document. In this case the answer is NO to both questions. The attorney didn’t contact the financial institutions and didn’t even list the assets on the schedule of assets.
My client and I agree a written declaration by this attorney acknolweding the deceased’s intent would be valuable in supporting a Heggstad petition. I prepared the document and we emailed the document to the drafting attorney to sign.
This is not a joke what I type next. He set up a trust for a man with terminal cancer and didn’t even try to find the trust. He then has the gall to suggest to the young widow that he will charge her for signing the declaration. Sadly this is why lawyers have a bad name.
Don’t let your family fall victim to this kind of work. Hire an experienced estate planning attorney!