News and Events
January 7, 2013 / By: Nickolas Pittman
In case you haven’t heard, the New Year brought a new law recently signed by the President. To avoid the country from falling off the “fiscal cliff,” the “American Taxpayer Relief Act” was approved on New Year’s Day.
December 21, 2012 / By: Nickolas Pittman
There are only a few days left before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st and the tax law changes. Or will it?
December 28, 2010 / By: Nickolas Pittman
On December 17th, Congress revised the estate tax with a new law, TRA 2010, that sets the exclusion amount at $5 million per person for 2010 – 2012. However, this temporary adjustment to the estate tax exclusion disappears in 2013, and returns with an exclusion of $1 million per person. Read more about how the estate tax revision under TRA 2010 will affect your estate plan, regardless of whether you have a taxable estate.
December 28, 2010 / By: Nickolas Pittman
In 2001, Congress passed a law that made big changes to the estate tax. It raised the amount that could pass without tax, increasing it in steps from $675,000 in 2001, to $3.5 million in 2009. Then, in 2010, the estate tax was repealed for one year only-2010. The same law also said that the estate tax would return in 2011, with estates over $1 million being taxed as high as 55%. However, on December 17, 2010, Congress revised the estate tax with yet another new law: the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (“TRA 2010”). The new law set the amount that could pass without tax at $5 million per person for 2010-2012. However, the new law is temporary and will expire after 2012. In 2013, the amount that can be passed free from tax will go back down to $1 million per person. Thus, unless the law is changed again between now and then, someone dying in 2013 would only be able to pass $1 million without an estate tax. In addition, the new law reduces the top estate and gift tax rate to 35% in 2010-2012. However, a top rate of 55% returns in 2013 and thereafter.
Congress also introduced a new “portability” provision. This is where one spouse can add their deceased spouse’s estate tax exclusion to their own exclusion, to shelter more from taxes. This portability provision, also known as the “Deceased Spousal Unused Exclusion Amount” can be used to shelter the assets of the surviving spouse. While intriguing on the surface, under current law this portability tax benefit only happens if both spouses die in 2011 or 2012. If either spouse hangs on until 2013 or beyond, there is no portability option available. Therefore, unless both spouses plan on passing away during those two years, creating an estate plan is still essential. Contact our office to learn more about how the portability provision could affect your estate plan.
So, what’s the gist of the new law? Prior to TRA 2010 we were facing a return to the $1 million estate tax exclusion on January 1, 2011. Now, we are still facing a return to the $1 million estate tax exclusion; it’s just put off for two years now–to January 1, 2013. The bottom line is that TRA 2010 is temporary. In two years, it will disappear as though it had never existed.
While planning to minimize or avoid estate taxes is certainly an important reason to meet with an estate planning attorney, creating an estate plan is about much more than protecting your beneficiaries’ inheritance from estate taxes. Planning for your estate and your legacy can protect your beneficiaries and the assets you leave them from their creditors, a future divorce, and even their own misjudgment. Estate planning is also about providing protections during lifetime, such as avoiding a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding if you’re incapacitated and protecting your nest egg from the possibility of an extended stay in a nursing home.
June 29, 2009 / By: Nickolas Pittman
The sudden death of Michael Jackson serves as a reminder to everyone that, no matter your age, you need to have your estate planning in order. The pop superstar died on Thursday, June 25th at 50 years old. The media is speculating as to how his estate will be handled and the future of his young children. No public statement has been made in regard to his personal planning and the media and the nation will wait anxiously to see how this unfolds. If Michael Jackson prepared a Trust the public will most likely never know the details as it will be held private, however, if he had a Will it becomes part of public record. In the state of California, a Will needs to be presented within 30 days. Jackson’s assets, royalties and the amount of debt he had accumulated most likely will lead to lengthy battles over his estate.
Steve Hartnett, Associate Director of Education for the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, was quoted in the Associated Press’ article Jackson May Be ‘Worth More Dead Than Alive’ explaining some of the options that Michael Jackson had to protect his family. “Jackson might have shielded some of his estate from creditors and ensured that his children were taken care of by placing a life insurance policy and other assets in an irrevocable trust.”
May 29, 2009 / By: Nickolas Pittman
Carolyn Bigda’s article “Rethink Your Legacy” in the June issue of Money Magazine explores the five questions you should be asking regarding your estate. The article recommends the American Academy’s website, www.aaepa.com, as a source to find a qualified estate planning attorney. The Associate Director of Education at the Academy, Steve Hartnett, was also interviewed in the article and lent his expertise to one of the five questions. This is the fifth mention of finding a quality attorney on the American Academy’s members list by Money Magazine in the last 21 issues.
January 29, 2009 / By: Nickolas Pittman
The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys was recommended in the January 2009 Consumer Reports Money Adviser newsletter. The article “How to Avoid Inheritance Feuds” focuses on techniques for avoiding conflict after a loved one passes away. The article recommends using the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys as a source for selecting a qualified estate planning attorney. The article also warned consumers to be explicit in their will in order to avoid disagreements. Other advice included deciding what is fair for each heir versus just dividing assets evenly and to keep everyone in your family informed of decisions beforehand.
Consumer Reports Money Adviser is an independent, non-profit newsletter that offers expert advice.
The Academy is a national organization dedicated to promoting excellence in estate planning by providing its exclusive membership of attorneys with up-to-date research on estate and tax planning, educational materials, and other important resources to empower them to provide superior estate planning services. The Academy expects members to have at least 36 hours of legal education each year specifically in estate, tax, probate and/or elder law subjects. To ensure this goal is met, the Academy provides over 40 hours of continuing legal education each year. For over 16 years, the Academy has been a highly-regarded and sought-after resource for attorneys and consumers alike, and has been recognized by Consumer Reports, Suze Orman in her book, 9 Steps to Financial Freedom and numerous times by Money Magazine.
Click here to find out why our American Academy membership is so important to our firm and the many families we provide guidance to each year.
December 26, 2008 / By: Nickolas Pittman
In the January 2009 issue of Money Magazine, Walecia Konrad’s article entitled “Keep It In The Family” focuses on making sure the wealth you’ve worked so hard to accumulate will go to the people you love. The article recommends the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys as a source to find an estate planning attorney who can tailor a plan for your situation and address your state laws. It also includes a useful estate planning checklist and valuable tips for putting together a proper estate plan that will safeguard your hard-earned assets from estate taxes, lawsuits and probate.
This is the fourth time in the last 16 issues Money Magazine has recommended the American Academy as an estate planning attorney resource. As members of the American Academy, we are dedicated to providing our clients with quality estate planning information, resources and services.
The Academy is a national organization dedicated to promoting excellence in estate planning by providing its exclusive membership of attorneys with up-to-date research on estate and tax planning laws, educational materials, and other important resources to empower them to provide superior estate planning services. The Academy expects members to have at least 36 hours of legal education each year specifically in estate, tax, probate and/or elder law subjects. To ensure this goal is met, the Academy provides over 40 hours of continuing legal education each year. The Academy has been recognized as a consumer legal source by Money Magazine and Suze Orman in her book, 9 Steps to Financial Freedom. Click here to find out why our American Academy membership is so important to our firm and the many families we provide guidance to each year.
March 18, 2008 / By: Nickolas Pittman
Robert Armstrong, President of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, was interviewed by Money Magazine senior writer Penelope Wang for her article “A Midlife Money Checkup” in the March 2008 Issue. The article was part of the Cover Story “A Boomer’s Guide to Financial Freedom” that included multiple articles focusing on financial trends, aging well and other issues Baby Boomers are facing today. This is the third mention of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys by Money Magazine in the last seven issues.
The “Midlife Money Checkup” is a nine-step test that highlights questions Boomer’s should be asking themselves at this point in their lives. Mr. Armstrong’s expertise in estate planning was highlighted in question five, “Is your estate plan in order?” Make sure you don’t have to ask yourself that question by meeting with a qualified attorney.
December 20, 2007 / By: Nickolas Pittman
The John Tesh Radio Show recommended the American Academy as a resource for finding an estate planning attorney. The segment focusing on money and finance originally aired in September 2007 and was repeated in December 2007. Mr. Tesh recommended that listeners go to the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorney’s website to find a qualified estate planning attorney in their area. The Academy website is also recommended on his site.
The John Tesh Radio Show airs on 260 stations across the United States and Canada with an audience of over 8 million listeners. John Tesh is known as a popular television host, singer and syndicated talk show host.
October 25, 2007 / By: Nickolas Pittman
Our mission is to arm consumers and professional advisors in our community with the information needed to make informed decisions about their family’s and client’s future. With that purpose, we are pleased to announce the rollout of our new and improved Estate Planning website!