No Chance (yet) for Turning Back the Clock via New Estate Tax Bill

“The Sensible Estate Tax Act of 2014,” introduced by House Ways and Means Committee member Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), would reduce the estate tax exclusion amount to $1 million, raise the top estate and gift tax rate (and the sole GST tax rate) to 55% (on amounts over $10 million), and make numerous other changes in the estate, gift, and GST taxes. This has not chance of passage, but reflects the continued efforts of progressive democrats to keep the discussion alive, in view of emerging issue of financial inequality in coming elections.

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Video for new Book: Your Digital Afterlife

This is a short but very helpful piece about why this is important.  Its is worth sharing, and acting upon.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0_xV9UfCLXA We will continue to locate sites and resources that make it possible to deal with your online existence efficiently and privately, in case of your passing.  

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Estate Planning Now, for the Future You?

As you sit with your attorney and plan your estate, you are attempting to arrange a plan which will properly meet your objectives.  Helping you figure out what those objectives might be is one of the most important services the Will Doctor can provide to our clients.  New research into our identity by experimental philosophers and others points out that there really is a good reason to come back and see us regularly, because the person who comes back in a few months, or years later, is going to be very different.  It seems, more different than we suspect.   A great discussion and video fleshes this out, in the following link:  http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/02/26/josh-knobe-self/ Maria Popova ( see last Post) in the review of David DeSteno’s […]

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Trust Your Gut, in Life and Estate Planning

Within reason, anyway!  It’s complicated, and a new area which embraces experimental philosophy and psychology, but: That’s precisely what psychologist David DeSteno, director of Northeastern University’s Social Emotions Lab, explores in The Truth About Trust: How It Determines Success in Life, Love, Learning, and More, which was recently and elegantly reviewed by Maria Popova at BrainPickings.org.  From his book: “Trust begets trust more often than not. Although common sense may seem to suggest that illusions are always to be avoided in favor of hard objectivity, sometimes a softer-focus lens, one capable of smoothing the rough edges, is to be preferred. If you’ve developed a strong sense of trust in a partner, it will function in just that way. When there’s ambiguity about how trustworthy he […]

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Cuomo Proposes Drastic Reduction in the New York Estate Tax!

Last week,  Andrew Cuomo proposed bringing New York into conformity with the liberalized Federal Estate Tax Regime, by 2019.  It’s not next year, but far better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. The proposal would reduce the NY maximum marginal rate to 10% from 16%, and tie the NY Exemption to the Federal-now $5.34 million, and indexed for inflation (it went up $90k last year).  This is great news, since a person with a $5 million estate under current law owes the IRS nothing (assuming no lifetime gifts), and owes NY $391,600. Of course, New Yorkers can take advantage of the fact that we don’t have a gift tax, and NY does not tax lifetime gifts.  So you can reduce the […]

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Remember: Federal Estate Taxes are Only for the TOP .2%

Due primarily to increases in the applicable exclusion amount, the number of estate tax returns filed decreased from more than 108,000 in 2001 to just over 15,000 in 2010. After accounting for marital and charitable bequests, as well expenses and debts of the estate, less than half of the estates filing in 2010 owed estate tax.  This was before the applicable exclusion amount jumped to $5 million and became indexed for inflation. It is estimated that in 2012 perhaps fewer than 4,000 estate tax returns were filed for taxable estates. With the increased applicable exclusion amount, less than 0.2% of Americans are expected to be subject to the federal estate tax. According to a study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, only 1.6% […]

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Direct Charitable IRA Distributions No Longer Allowed

For tax years 2006 through 2010, amounts up to $100,000 per year distributed directly to charitable organizations from an individual retirement plan, other than a Simplified Employee Pension (“SEP” IRA) or a Simple Retirement Account (“SIMPLE” IRA), on or after the date the participant attains the age of 70 1/2 are excluded from income.   The exclusion does not apply to distributions made to Section 509(a)(3) supporting organizations or donor-advised funds.  A donor is not allowed to claim an income tax charitable deduction for such distribution to charity, and doesn’t report the distribution as income, either. The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the “2010 Tax Relief Act”) effectively extended this rule through 2011, and the American Taxpayer Relief Act […]

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Speaking of the Future: Dealing with our Digital Legacy

Alot of ink, real and virtual,  is being spilled about the need for managing our digital assets after our demise. Of course, there are many digital activities (social, political, and sexual) that we fully intend to take to the grave with us, and we demand complete confidentiality and proper handling by the administrators of those assets.  The Terms of Service, (“TOS”) Agreements which come with all our cyber accounts are evolving to give us more choices over the handling of these resources upon death or incapacity, but for the most part, take the cautious road and terminate all access to accounts by heirs, agents, and fiduciaries.   That was a good starting point, but as our physical and on-line lives become more enmeshed, more options […]

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The Notion of “Legacy” is Evolving. That is Really a Good Thing

In a new article in Aeon Magazine (http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/what-will-happen-to-my-online-identity-when-i-die/) Patrick Stokes shines a light on the ways technology is shaping our understanding of death, and consciousness.  He writes, in part: “………As I was writing this piece, the sad news came through that the political theorist and prominent blogger Norman Geras had died. I didn’t know Geras, but I’d been following him on Twitter for about a year, after he tweeted to take me to task (rightly) about something I’d written for The Conversation website. I’m not sure why, but when I heard he’d died, I went straight to look at his Twitter account. His last tweets? Requests for friends and family to check if his phone was working and to please message him. No grand last words. No […]

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