In case you missed any of them, here is a rundown of six hot estate planning topics we covered this year:
1. 5 Things You Need to Know About the ABLE Act: On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) into law. The Act will allow certain individuals with disabilities to establish tax-free savings accounts that can be used to cover expenses not otherwise covered by government sponsored programs. This blog covers five important things you need to know about the Act:
- what an ABLE account is,
- who can set one up,
- contribution limits,
- what expenses can be paid from an ABLE account, and
- when they will be available
Federal regulations were issued in June and several states have already passed or are in the process of passing implementing legislation. Talk with us now if you think an ABLE account might be a good fit for your plan.
2. 4 Steps to Stop Mail Addressed to a Deceased Person: One of the first things you should do as a newly appointed executor of a deceased person’s probate estate or successor trustee of a deceased trustmaker’s trust is ask the post office to forward the deceased person’s mail to your address. Unfortunately, along with important pieces of mail, many not-so-important pieces – catalogs, solicitations, and plain old junk mail – will end up in your mailbox. On the other hand, you may have purchased a home from a deceased person’s estate or trust and have received some of their mail at your new address. This blog covers four steps you can take to stop mail addressed to a deceased person, which can help to reduce the pile of annoying junk mail and protect against post-mortem identify theft.
3. Financial Firms Roll Out Form Aimed at Stopping Financial Elder Abuse: With cases of financial exploitation of the elderly on the rise, advisors who work with older clients are looking for ways to head off the abuse before it happens. Enter the “Emergency Contact Authorization Form” – a document in which clients can list a trusted person who should be contacted if an advisor suspects a client is starting to lose their mental capacity or, worse yet, being financially abused or scammed. This blog covers how the Emergency Contact Authorization Form works and what steps can be taken to protect you or a loved one from financial elder abuse. Learn today whether this option should be added to your plan.
4. What You Need to Know About the Final Portability Rules: This summer the IRS issued the final rules governing the “portability election” as it relates to the federal estate tax exemption. This blog covers:
- what the “portability election” is;
- how the election is made;
- which estates are subject to the final rules;
- what the final rules provide; and
- how they will affect existing estate plans and recent widows and widowers.
The “portability election” can be a great planning option. But, it only works well if your will or trust has been designed with portability in mind. Portability was first introduced in 2011 and the IRS has (finally) provided final rules on how it works. If you haven’t updated your will or trust since 2011, now is the time to see whether portability-based planning is right for you and your family.
5. Listen Up: These States Will Usher in Changes to Their Death Taxes in 2016: In 2015 there are still 20 U.S. jurisdictions that collect a death tax at the state level. This blog outlines changes that will occur in 2016 to state death taxes in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington. If you live or own real estate in any of these states, you will want to read this blog to understand how these changes may affect your estate and your estate plan.
6. IRS Releases 2016 Inflation Adjustments for Estate Tax and Related Exemptions and Estate and Trust Income Tax Brackets: In October, the Internal Revenue Service released the official inflation adjustments that will affect 2016 federal reporting for estate taxes, gift taxes, generation-skipping transfer taxes, and estate and trust income taxes. This blog lists the 2016 transfer tax exemptions along with the 2016 income tax brackets for estates and trusts. This important information helps you plan the receipt of income that you can control (such as a large capital gain resulting from a sale of an asset), gifts to family members or charities, and deductions.
As you can see, a great deal has changed over 2015. If your will, trust, power of attorney, health care directive, or other estate planning documents are more than two years old, they may be in need of an update. Contact us today to see how you can use these updated laws to improve your estate plan and protect your family.