In the attempt to progress towards a modern US tax system, the Biden administration has proposed a number of changes to the current tax code. According to a publication released by the U.S. Treasury early this year, they hope to push these changes through Congress which is necessary to gain approval for the amendments. It’s true that many Americans are divided on the best methods for stimulating the US economy, however, one fact remains undoubtable - careful estate and tax planning is crucial for the wealth and financial security of American families. 

The Greenbook, a publication that provides information regarding the Administration’s revenue proposals, details the proposed changes which will ultimately impact estate planning in numerous ways. Many of the effective estate planning strategies that have been diligently defined by professionals in the industry for decades may be discarded. However, this could also enhance certain processes in estate planning by implementing other key strategies.   

How Might the Estate Tax Exemption Reduction Affect You?

Notably, the reduction of estate and gift tax exemption amounts is absent from the list of proposals. While it’s possible that this could change in the future, we know that for now, these tax exemptions remain extremely high. It’s important to understand the law as it is written today so that you can make appropriate decisions with your assets and prepare for other coming changes. 

As it stands today, the estate tax laws that were passed under the Trump administration will expire and reset to the prior laws starting in 2026. If there is no action made by Congress to change this, the reset will restore the estate and gift tax exemption amount to $5 million, as it was in 2016. However, the rate of inflation must also be included in this amount which brings the total to roughly $6.6 million by 2026. 

With this information in mind, it’s crucial that you do all you can now to determine the expected return on your investments for the future. To do this, you should consider the average rates of return on your current investments, compounded annually. Many people have found that a healthy return of 7% annually could double one’s net worth in just 10 to 12 years. However, if estate tax exemption amounts are reduced by roughly 50% and continue to increase with the inflation rate, you risk having to pay significantly high estate tax rates. 

Other Greenbook Proposals May Be a Factor

It can be difficult to prepare for the uncertainties that may affect your tax and estate planning strategies. Without knowing what the future holds, how do you determine the best way to protect your assets? To make a more accurate decision, some of the other Greenbook proposals should also be considered, such as: 

These changes haven’t been approved yet by Congress, but their consideration could help sway your strategic plans. The following strategies are still effective tools under current tax law, and implementing them now could provide significant tax savings.

Grantor Retained Annuity Trust

A grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) is an estate planning strategy that allows the grantor to contribute appreciating assets to chosen beneficiaries using little or none of your gift tax exemption. To do this, you would transfer some of your property or accounts to the GRAT in which you will still retain the right to receive an annuity. Following a specified period of time, the beneficiaries will receive the amount remaining in the trust.

inheritance estate planning

Installment Sales to an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust

Another estate planning strategy that may be beneficial for you is to gift seed capital, typically in the form of cash, to an intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT). You will then sell appreciating or income-producing property to the IDGT in which they will make installment payments back to you over a period of time. If the account or property increases in value over the period of the sale, the accounts or property in the trust will appreciate outside your taxable estate and will therefore avoid estate taxes. Additionally, the trust does not have to pay income taxes on the income the trust retains since the taxes are already paid on the income generated and accumulated in the trust.

Spousal Lifetime Access Trust

In a spousal lifetime access trust (SLAT), the grantor is to gift property to a trust created for the benefit of their spouse and possibly their beneficiaries. An independent trustee can make discretionary distributions to those beneficiaries, which can also benefit you indirectly. Contrary, an interested trustee should be limited to ascertainable standards when making distributions, such as health and education. With this estate planning strategy, you can take advantage of the high lifetime gift tax exemption amount by making gifts to your spouse. This trust avoids the use of the marital deduction which means the assets in the SLAT will not be included in either your or your spouse’s gross estate for estate tax purposes.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

Finally, there are irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs). This trust allows leveraging life insurance to ease the burden placed on your estate if it becomes subject to estate tax at your death. This type of trust is established by transferring an existing life insurance policy into the ILIT in which you make annual gifts to the trust in order to pay the premiums on the policy. At your death, the trust receives the insurance death benefit and distributes it according to the trust’s terms. The death benefit and the premiums gifted to the trust are completed gifts, meaning your estate would not include any of the trust’s value. 

Meet with Reputable Estate Planning Attorneys Today

We are holding a series of webinars over the coming weeks, from which you can obtain a great deal of useful information. Just choose the session that fits into your schedule. The webinars are being offered on a complimentary basis, so you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. This being stated, we do ask that you register in advance so that we can reserve your seat.

To sign up for an estate planning webinar, visit Anderson, Dorn & Rader here. Once you find a date that is right for you, click on the button that you see and follow the simple instructions to register. For more information regarding estate tax exemptions and planning, connect with our estate planning attorneys today.


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.

The Kiddie Tax can apply to the unearned income of children. Read on to learn if this tax applies to you or your children. Also, learn ways to avoid the Kiddie Tax.

Kiddie Tax is Worse Than Ever

two hands handing a small white gift wrapped box with a red bowReceiving an inheritance from a loved one can be thrilling, but for some it may also cause some concern. In fact, there are a host of questions you may have when you receive the news that an inheritance is coming your way - including, "Does this mean that I'm going to have to pay tax on this inheritance?" Inheritance tax is different from estate taxes, which is also different from (although related to) the gift tax. Whether or not you will be required to pay an inheritance tax depends on which state you, the beneficiary, live in. Here are the answers to five common inheritance tax questions as it applies to beneficiaries that are residents of Nevada.

No. 1 – What is a inheritance tax?

In general, an inheritance tax is a tax levied on money or property received from the estate of someone else. In those states that still impose an inheritance tax, the rate will depend usually on the type of beneficiary you are. In other words, spouses and children of the deceased are generally taxed at a much lower rate than others. In some states, certain categories of heirs are exempt from the tax completely.

No. 2 – Do I have to worry about a Nevada inheritance tax?

No, you don't need to worry about a Nevada inheritance tax! Nevada is among the majority of states that does not impose an inheritance tax. The federal government no longer levies an inheritance tax either. Beneficiaries of an estate will inherit the estate tax-free, and they receive a "step-up" in basis that can allow them to sell those assets immediately without paying capital gains tax.

No. 3 - Is inheritance tax the same as estate tax?

Basically, the difference between inheritance taxes and estate taxes is who is responsible for paying. Inheritance taxes are paid by the person receiving the money or property from someone else. Whereas, estate taxes are due from the estate of the person who has died, when the property is transferred to heirs and beneficiaries. The estate tax laws vary from state to state, and Nevada is one that does not impose an estate tax for those individuals that die as residents of Nevada or owning property in Nevada. For federal tax purposes, the federal government will only tax the deceased person's estate if the value of the estate (including prior gifts made above the annual exclusion amount) exceeds $5.45 million in 2016.

No. 4 – What if the person giving me money is still alive? 

Receiving a gift from someone who is still living is different from receiving an inheritance. You, as the beneficiary, will not be required to pay taxes on the receipt of a gift. Instead, the person making the gift is responsible for paying the applicable taxes. This is the "gift tax."  There should not be any immediate tax consequences for the gift recipient because gifts are not included as part of your taxable income.  But, there may be future tax consequences if you sell the gifted property later.  The recipient of the gift receives a "carry-over" basis, which means that if they later sell the gifted property they may be responsible for paying the capital gains tax.

No. 5 – Can I reject an inheritance?

You can reject an inheritance if you choose to, and in some cases, it may be a good idea. Understand though, that rejecting an inheritance requires more than simply telling the executor you do not want the assets you are set to receive. There are laws that govern the proper way to disclaim an inheritance. Essentially, if you need to make sure you are not considered the legal owner of the inherited property, there are specific steps that must be taken. To make matters worse, there are very strict rules about the timing required to properly disclaim an inheritance.

In order to correctly disclaim an inheritance, you need to put your disclaimer in writing and deliver it to the person in control of the estate. In most cases, that person is the executor of the estate, or trustee of the trust, that holds the property. In most cases, the disclaimer should be submitted to the executor or trustee within 9 months of the person’s death. The most important thing to remember is that you must not accept any benefit from the property if you want to actually reject the inheritance.

The Importance of Nevada Inheritance Planning

If you believe it is in your best interest to reject an inheritance, it is very important that you discuss this decision with a Nevada inheritance planning attorney before you take any action.  Your attorney can take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that your disclaimer is handled properly. Ultimately, receiving proper legal advice can decrease your chances of facing problems in the future. As with any estate plan, your inheritance plan should address both your present and future financial goals.

Decide How the Inheritance Would Fit Into Your Overall Plan

If you decide to ultimately accept the inheritance, then you need to consider the nature of the assets you will be inheriting. If you are married, there are important steps that should be taken if you want to keep the inherited assets separate from the marital assets. If you need to sell an inherited asset, but you wait too long to do so, you could increase the risk of unfavorable tax consequences. Also, it is important to determine how you will handle any retirement accounts you may inherit, including planning for how you will withdraw the retirement funds.  Understanding your options, while creating a plan that will protect you from potential tax consequences, is an important part of inheritance planning.
If you have questions regarding Nevada inheritance tax, estate tax, gift tax, or any other estate planning issues, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. for a consultation, either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

To learn more, please download our free Nevada capital gains tax here.

annual gift tax exclusion in renoDuring this Holiday season, the majority of us get wrapped up (pun intended) in giving.  'Tis the season, right?  But did you know that certain gifts may be subject to a transfer tax?
Whenever ownership of property is transferred, the IRS imposes a “gift tax.”  What is considered a gift?  According to the government, a gift is “any transfer to an individual, either directly or indirectly, where full consideration is not received in return.”  Despite the general rule that all gifts are taxable, there are some exceptions.  For example, tuition or medical expenses you pay for someone else are not taxable.  Also, gifts to a spouse, certain political organization or qualified charities are deductible from your taxes.
The most important exception is the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion, which provides that gifts not exceeding the annual exclusion amount for that calendar year are not taxable.  The Annual Gift Tax Exclusion for 2015 is $14,000 per recipient.  In plain language, this means that you can give away as much as $14,000 per recipient during the year to anyone you choose without any tax consequences.  These gifts can be to anyone, including family, friends or strangers.  You and your spouse can also combine your gift tax exclusions, meaning the gift can be for as much as $28,000 for each recipient, if it is given as a joint gift.
This is not to imply that you cannot make a gift larger than $14,000 per recipient per year.  If you make a gift that exceeds the annual exclusion amount, the gift must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service any applied against your unified credit (discussed below).

Not all gifts fall under the annual gift tax exclusion.

The annual gift exclusion only applies to gifts of “present interest.”  This means that the person must receive an unrestricted right to immediate possession, use and enjoyment of that particular gift.  For example, cash left in an envelope hanging on the Christmas tree is a gift that conveys a present interest.  On the other hand, an irrevocable trust that does not allow the beneficiary to have access to the money until they reach a certain age is an example of a gift of a future interest.

What is the unified credit?

The gift tax and estate tax exclusions are often referred to as the unified credit.  Together they entitle you to a lifetime exclusion of $5.43 million (in 2015), meaning that $5.43 million of your estate will be exempt from inheritance or gift taxes.  To the extent a gift made during a year exceeds the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion, then your unified credit is reduced by that amount.  In other words, if you make a gift to an individual in the amount of $1,014,000, the gift will not be taxable but will reduce your estate tax exemption to $4.43 million upon your death (the $5.43 million unified credit, less the $1 million gift that exceeds the Annual Exclusion Amount).  The unified credit is also “portable,” meaning that if you do not use the full amount of your tax credit the remainder may pass to your spouse when you die.

What happens if I exceed the lifetime exclusion amount?

If you exceed the $5.34 million lifetime exclusion amount, you will be required to pay as much as 40% tax on any transfers made either during your life (as gifts) or upon your death (passed on as an inheritance).  One exception is a gift made to your spouse, as long as he or she is a U.S. citizen.  Those gifts are considered tax-free under the unlimited marital deduction.

How to make the most of your Annual Gift Tax Exclusion

In order to make the most of your annual gift tax exclusion, remember that the exclusion is based on a calendar year.  You cannot go back and claim a year you may have missed.  However, you can spread a large gift over two or more years and still avoid gift tax complications.  If you have a goal of gifting as much as possible without tax, you may write a check to to your beneficiary for $14,000 before December 31, 2015 (or $28,000 if you are married and splitting gifts with your spouse), and write a second check to the same beneficiary for $14,000 on January 1, 2016 (or $28,000 if you are married and splitting gifts with your spouse).  That way, both gifts will be tax free and will not reduce your lifetime exclusion.
If you have any questions about gift taxes, estate taxes, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

Estate Issues Following the Death of a Spouse from Brad Anderson

The death of a spouse is always traumatic. In that time of loss, the surviving family members are often at a loss as to what needs to be done. Whether you and your spouse had a living trust, a will, or some other estate planning tool, there are some initial things that will need your attention.

generation skipping tax in renoConsidering how to pass your wealth on to the next generation?  Then the generation skipping tax is something with which you should be familiar.  The generation skipping transfer tax is a tax assessed on property as it is passed on to a generation that is two or more levels below the generation actually transferring the property.  Simply put, if you transfer your property to a grandchild, instead of your daughter or son, the transfer would be subject to the generation skipping tax.  The same is true if you transfer your estate to someone who is unrelated, and who is 37 ½ years or more younger than you.  This type of transfer would also be subject to the generation skipping transfer tax.
Government tax schemes do not take into consideration those of us who want to include our grandchildren in our estate planning.  Instead, the government apparently believes a family’s wealth should only be allowed to trickle down from one generation to the next.  However, some grandparents may choose to assist their grandchildren in paying for their education or getting on their feet with their new families.  The purpose of the generation skipping tax was to close the obvious loophole in the estate tax, and ensure that taxes will be paid at each level.

Are there some exemptions that may apply?

In 2009, the federal government created an exemption for property transfers up to $3.5 million from the generation skipping transfer tax. The tax was actually repealed in 2010, but reinstated in 2011, with a $5 million exemption.  Since then, the exemption has been increased from $5 million to the current exemption of $5.34 million, as of 2014.

Can I plan for this tax?

Yes.  There are specific estate planning tools designed to eliminate estate taxes at each generational level.  A Generation Skipping Trust, also known as “dynasty trusts,” is a kind of irrevocable trust created to deal with this tax, especially.
A General Skipping Trust is intended to avoid, or at least minimize, estate taxes on transfer to subsequent generations.  This trust accomplishes this by holding the assets in the trust and distributing the funds in a pre-defined way to each generation.  This way, the entire amount of the trust will be protected from estate taxes with each passing generation.  Because these trusts also provide protection from creditors and predators, Generation Skipping Trusts are not just for wealthy families.
Another option is gifting assets to your grandchildren.  This can potentially reduce the size of your estate, as well as the tax that must be paid upon your death. A grandparent can give his or her grandchildren up to $14,000 per recipient per year without having to report the gift.  This money can also be placed in a properly established and maintained gift trust.  Although you can make an outright gift, pay health care or education expenses directly, or put the money in a custodial account, putting the money into a trust has some major advantages that you should discuss with your estate planning attorney.

Getting Legal Help with Generation Skipping Tax in Reno

Generation skipping trusts are complex legal documents that should be drafted by a competent, experienced Reno estate planning attorney.  They are most knowledgeable about deciding whether a generation skipping trust in Reno would benefit you.

do heirs pay inheritance taxSo, you just received a notice that you will inherit from your great aunt’s estate.  A wonderful surprise, no doubt.  Of course, an estate may be required to pay taxes to the government, but do heirs pay taxes on the inheritance they receive from someone’s estate?  The answer depends entirely on which state you live in.  Since state laws are always subject to change, you should check with competent counsel in your state if you are receiving an inheritance.

What is inheritance tax?

An “inheritance tax” is a tax imposed on money received from someone else’s estate after their death.  Inheritance taxes apply a tax rate schedule to bequests made, depending on the class of beneficiary.  For instance, surviving spouses and lineal heirs are generally taxed at a lower tax rate, or may be totally exempt from taxes.  More distant or unrelated heirs, sometimes referred to as collateral heirs, will normally be taxed at a higher rate.  The federal government does not have an inheritance tax.  Inheritance taxes are only imposed at the state level. However, not all states impose an inheritance tax.  In fact, only a few remaining states have continued to impose the tax.

How is inheritance tax different from estate tax?

The Estate Tax is a tax on the transfer of estate assets at your death. It is calculated by first making an accounting of everything you own or have some type of ownership interest in.  The total value of all of these items is your "Gross Estate." Property that is generally included in your gross estate would be cash and securities, real estate, insurance, trusts, annuities, business interests and other assets.  After certain deductions are allowed, to arrive at your "Taxable Estate," the tax is assessed on the net amount.  The estate tax is imposed on the estate of the person leaving the property, not the beneficiary.  Therefore, the key difference between an estate tax and an inheritance is who is responsible for paying the tax.

Why do heirs pay taxes on inheritance?

From 1924 through 2001, the federal estate tax allowed a dollar-for-dollar credit for state death taxes paid up to certain maximum limits.  At that time, all states imposed estate taxes up to the amount of the federal credit.  Some states also imposed additional inheritance or estate taxes. However, from 2001 to 2005, Congress phased out the federal credit for state death taxes.  Once that happened, most states stopped imposing estate or inheritance taxes.  Now, only seven states continue to impose inheritance taxes: Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.  The Tennessee tax is scheduled to be eliminated after December 31, 2015. Nevada does not impose an inheritance tax.

Do I have to pay taxes on a gift while the person is still alive? 

Another common question is whether the recipient of a gift is required to pay taxes if it is not an inheritance, but the donor is still living.  In most cases, the person making the gift is responsible for paying any required taxes, and reporting the gift to the IRS and to their state, if necessary.  The person receiving the gift should not have any immediate tax consequences.  Gifts generally are not included as part of the recipient’s taxable income.  However, there may be future tax consequences, such as a capital gains tax when the gifted property is later sold.
If you have questions regarding inheritance taxes, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.

inheritance tax in renoYou have to be concerned about taxation when you are planning your estate. Taxes on asset transfers at death are going to be a factor for many high net worth families.  Nevada, however, has no inheritance or estate tax, so we only have to be concerned about the federal estate tax.
There is an estate tax credit or exclusion. In 2014 the amount of this exclusion in this country, including Reno Nevada, is $5.34 million. Lifetime asset transfers exceeding this amount are potentially subject to a transfer tax of 40 percent.
The question of whether or not an inheritance recipient will be required to pay taxes is a multifaceted one. If the assets that comprise the estate do not exceed $5.34 million in value, the estate as a whole will not be taxed. So the answer is no on this level, when the estate is worth less than $5.34 million.
If it was worth more, the individual beneficiaries do not pay the estate tax. The estate is responsible to pay the tax, so it comes out before other transfers, which means that the value of the estate as a whole would be reduced by the imposition of the tax.

Inheritance Tax in Reno

Many laypeople would naturally think that an inheritance tax and an estate tax are exactly the same thing. They assume that these are just different terms that describe the same death tax.
In fact, an inheritance tax is something that is by definition different from an estate tax. As we have already touched upon, an estate tax is imposed on the entire estate. An inheritance tax is levied upon each person receiving an inheritance.
Fortunately, there is no inheritance tax in the United States on the federal level and as mentioned above, we do not have a state level inheritance tax in the state of Nevada. However, there are some states in the union that do have inheritance taxes. As we said, the beneficiaries of the estate typically pay an inheritance tax in those states. State level estate taxes are typically paid by the estate, similar to the federal estate tax.
In fact, residents of New Jersey and Maryland are faced with the prospect of paying a state level estate tax, a state level inheritance tax, and the federal estate tax.
It should be noted that states that have an inheritance tax generally exempt very close relatives like spouses and children.

Income Taxes on Inheritances

You may wonder if you are going to be forced to report an inheritance on your annual tax return claiming it as income. If you receive a bequest, generally speaking it is not going to be looked upon as taxable income.
However, if the inheritance was to appreciate during the administration process before it was distributed, the gains could be taxable. Similarly, if income is generated during that time, it could be subject to income tax.
Of course, if you sell property that you inherited at a later date after it appreciated, the capital gains tax would be a factor, but the cost basis is stepped up to the value as of the date of the deceased owner's death, so the tax would only be for the appreciation after that date.

Tax Efficiency Consultation

This post provided a little bit of information about estate planning and taxation in Reno Nevada. To learn all of the details, contact our firm to schedule a free tax efficiency consultation.

During 2010 the estate tax was temporarily repealed. This repeal was in place due to provisions that were included in the Bush era tax cuts.
Under the laws as they existed during 2010, the estate tax would return in 2011. The amount of the federal estate tax credit or exclusion would be just $1 million. The top rate for estates in excess of $1 million was scheduled to come in at 55 percent.
In 2009 the estate tax exclusion was $3.5 million, and the top rate was 45 percent. It seemed that come 2011, we would be facing a huge tax increase.
Fortunately, in December of 2010 a new tax relief measure was passed through Congress. This measure is called the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.
Under terms contained within this act, the estate tax exclusion was set at $5 million for 2011 and 2012. Ongoing annual adjustments for inflation were mandated. A maximum rate of 40 percent was put into place. The law was scheduled to sunset at the end of 2012 again, but fortunately Congress made it permanent in 2013.
Incremental Increases
For 2012 the Internal Revenue Service raised the exact amount of the federal estate tax exclusion to $5.12 million to account for inflation. Another adjustment was applied in 2013, bringing the amount of the exclusion up to $5.25 million.
2013 is rapidly coming to a close, so the IRS has announced the amount of the estate tax exclusion for 2014. An additional $90,000 will be added to the existing $5.25 million exclusion. Next year the exclusion will be $5.34 million.
Exclusion Afforded to Each Taxpayer
It should be noted that this is a per person exclusion. Each individual taxpayer is entitled to an exclusion of $5.34 million. As a result, if you are married you and your spouse would have a combined exclusion amount of $10.68 million next year.
If you were to pass away next year, your spouse can take some legal steps that would still allow him or her to have a total exclusion of $10.68 million, because the estate tax exclusion is portable between spouses.
Annual Gift Tax Exclusion
In addition to the estate tax there is also a federal gift tax. The two taxes are unified. The $5.34 million exclusion that we will see next year will apply to transfers by gift during your life or by inheritance at death. Because it covers taxable gifts that you give while you're living along with the value of the assets that will be passed to your heirs after you die, the gifts you make that are in excess of the annual exemption will reduce the exemption amount at your death.
The annual gift tax exclusion is the amount you can give without filing a gift tax return or reducing your estate tax exclusion. You don't use up any of your unified lifetime exclusion unless you make a gift to a single person during a calendar year that exceeds the amount of this annual exclusion.
During 2013 the amount of this exclusion has been $14,000. Because of the fact that the Internal Revenue Service raised the lifetime unified exclusion, you may wonder if the annual gift tax exclusion was increased as well.
Unfortunately, the annual gift tax exclusion is not going to be raised for the 2014 calendar year. The $14,000 figure will remain in place next year. Remember, however, it is a per person exclusion, so you and your spouse can gift $14,000 each to your daughter and her husband, a total of $56,000 per year without filing a return or adversely affecting your lifetime exemption.

Wealth preservation involves the deployment of estate tax strategies. To determine whether or not your wealth is potentially subject to the estate tax before it is passed on to your heirs you should be aware of the federal estate tax exclusion.
For the rest of this year the estate tax exclusion is $5.25 million. The maximum rate of the federal estate tax is 40% under the provisions of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. (Ironically, prior to this "relief" the maximum rate was 35%.)
Under existing laws the estate tax exclusion can be adjusted annually for inflation if such an adjustment is warranted. As a result you may see a slightly different estate tax exclusion amount in 2014 and in subsequent years assuming existing laws remain in place.
In addition to the federal estate tax we have a federal gift tax. It carries the same top rate, and it is unified with the estate tax. As a result, the $5.25 million exclusion is a unified exclusion. It applies to taxable gifts and your estate's value. For this reason giving gifts using this exclusion throughout your life is going to reduce the estate tax exemption at death, so you have to determine which is the best approach for you.
The good news is that there is an annual per person gift tax exclusion that exists separate from the lifetime unified exclusion. The exact amount of this exclusion does not necessarily remain constant every year, but in 2013 the amount of this annual per person exclusion is $14,000.
As a result, if you wanted to write a $14,000 check and give it to your son this transaction would not be taxable, and your lifetime unified exclusion would not be reduced by the value of the gift.
This is an exclusion that is afforded to each taxpayer. So, a married couple could give as much as $28,000 to any number of gift recipients this year free of taxation. If you had several children, friends or others to whom you wish to make gifts, you could transfer quite a bit of money tax-free, and you could also give tax-free gifts to their spouses using this annual exclusion.
The estate tax exclusion is portable. This means that the surviving spouse could use the unused portion of the exclusion that his or her deceased spouse was entitled to.
When you're planning your estate you should be aware of the fact that there is an unlimited marital deduction. You can give your spouse any amount of money while you are living free of the gift tax. Your spouse can also inherit any amount of money from you without incurring any estate tax exposure.

The Sopranos television series obviously generated a lot of revenue, and as you might imagine "Tony Soprano" James Gandolfini left behind a considerable estate. At the time of his passing his net worth was estimated to be approximately $70 million.
The accumulation of wealth can result in a great deal of estate tax liability if you don't take the correct steps to position your assets with wealth preservation in mind.
Apparently the actor did not plan ahead very effectively. He did have an estate plan in place, but most of his wealth is being transferred under the terms of a last will. Simply creating a simple will to direct the transfer of assets is not going to do anything to provide you with estate tax efficiency.
On the federal level the estate tax carries a 40% maximum rate, and the current exclusion is $5.25 million. Gandolfini resided in New York, so his family faces yet another layer of taxation because there is a state-level inheritance tax in the state of New York.
The New York state inheritance tax exclusion is $1 million, and the maximum rate of the tax is 16%.
When you combine the rates on both the federal and the state level you are looking at total taxation that consumes more than half of the taxable portion of an individual's estate.
In the case of James Gandolfini it is estimated that his heirs will receive only $40 million out of the $70 million that he left behind after estate taxes have been paid. With proper planning, there is a good possibility that the entire estate tax liability could have been avoided. Unfortunately, most of us rationalize our procrastination until we have a "wake up call" such as a personal medical event or the death of a loved one. Gandolfini was not elderly and had little forewarning, so he likely thought he had time to consider his estate planning. Perhaps, his untimely death and the tremendous costs associated with it will be the wake-up call more of us need to meet with qualified counsel and complete our estate planning before the unfortunate event occurs.

The federal estate tax carries a 40% maximum rate, and the exclusion amount is $5.25 million in 2013. What this means in simple English is that only $5.25 million worth of assets can be passed on to your heirs before the estate tax is imposed. Married couples, with proper planning, can preserve the exclusion amount for both spouses for a combined exclusion of $10.5 million.
We also have an unlimited marital deduction that allows you to leave any amount to your spouse free of the estate tax, even if it exceeds the exclusion amount. That is, as long as you and your spouse are both United States citizens.
It is not entirely uncommon, however, for Americans to marry people who are citizens of other countries. At any given time we have a lot of military personnel stationed overseas, and sometimes they marry people that they meet in other countries.
Many civilians work abroad as well, and there are international dating sites that some people find to be appealing. And of course world travelers sometimes fall in love along the way.
Whatever path you may have taken to an international marriage you must concern yourself with the estate tax because the marital deduction is not extended to an American who is married to a non-citizen.
A partial solution could be the creation of a qualified domestic trust. With these trusts the beneficiary, your surviving spouse, can receive distributions from the trust for their needs according to an ascertainable standard established by the IRS.
What remains in the trust at the spouse's death would be subject to the estate tax. However, applying other strategies, it could be possible to avoid the estate tax, altogether.
To learn more about these trusts and other tax efficiency tools contact our firm to set up a free consultation.

People that have assets that exceed the exclusion amount ($5.25 million in 2013) most certainly need to discuss tax efficiency strategies with a licensed estate planning attorney who places an emphasis on wealth preservation.
However, there are those who the only reason someone would meet with an estate planning lawyer is to avoid taxes. They may reason that because their estate is less than the exclusion amount, there is no need for estate planning.  In fact, there are myriad concerns that can be addressed with a properly constructed estate plan that have nothing to do with tax exposure.
One of these concerns could be long-term access to financial resources. You may be concerned about leaving lump sum inheritances to certain people on your inheritance list. After all, you won't be around to help if someone in the family was to burn through his or her inheritance too quickly.
A way to respond to this would be to convey assets into a spendthrift trust. You appoint a trustee, and this could be a family member, the trust department of a bank, or a trust company. This trustee will administer the funds according to your stated wishes and distribute assets to the beneficiary in a measured fashion. The beneficiary will not be able to control the principal, which also means their creditors would not have access, either.
This is only one possible scenario. There are many others, including planning for blended families and providing for a family member with special needs without jeopardizing disability benefits.
Arranging for the transfer of your financial assets to your loved ones is a profound act. It is something that is best undertaken with the benefit of professional guidance.

The role of Life insurance is extremely important when considering your estate plan.  We would like to highlight three commonly asked questions about the tax implications, and provide the answers to them here.
I have been made aware of the fact that I am the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, and I'm concerned about the tax implications. Will I be required to report the receipt of the proceeds when I file my income tax return?
This is a frequently asked question, and the answer is probably going to be a welcome one. In general proceeds received from a life insurance policy are not going to be looked at as taxable income by the Internal Revenue Service.
I own a number of insurance policies, and my estate is quite valuable. Will the value of the insurance policy proceeds count as part of my taxable estate for estate tax purposes?
Unfortunately the answer to this question is yes. At the present time the estate tax exclusion is $5.25 million, and the maximum rate is 40%. If the sum total of your assets is in excess of $5.25 million, including your life insurance policy proceeds, the estate tax may indeed be a factor.
Can anything be done to remove these policies from my taxable estate?
Yes, it would be possible to place the policies into an irrevocable life insurance trust. However, to satisfy IRS regulations you must live for at least three years after transferring the policies into the trust for the assets to be effectively removed from your estate. There are ways to avoid the three-year wait, but they must be addressed by a qualified estate planning lawyer.

The estate tax parameters we could expect for 2013 were hazy throughout last year. At the end of 2010 a piece of legislation called the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 was passed that implemented the rules for 2011 and 2012.
Due to provisions contained within this act the estate tax exclusion was $5 million at its base with annual adjustments for inflation.  The estate tax, the gift tax, the generation-skipping transfer tax was set at a flat rate of 35%.
This tax relief act was scheduled to sunset at the end of 2012. Under laws that existed throughout the year the maximum rate would automatically go up to 55% while the exclusion went down to $1 million upon the expiration of this measure. This tax increase was one of the perils that we would have faced had the country gone "over the cliff."
Because of the agreement that was reached around the first of the year we avoided the cliff and the estate tax parameters are largely unchanged. We still have a $5 million base exclusion adjusted for inflation. The Internal Revenue Service has announced that adjustment, making the estate tax exclusion $5.25 million in 2013.
The top rate of the federal estate tax has been raised, but the increase is not anywhere near as severe as it could have been. In 2013 the rate has gone up from 35% to 40%, and once again this applies to the gift tax and the generation-skipping transfer tax as well.
Though things could have been worse 40% of your taxable legacy is a lot of money. It is however possible to implement tax efficiency strategies that will preserve your wealth.
As Reno estate planning attorneys we have a thorough understanding of tax laws, and we urge you to contact us to arrange for a consultation if you would like to tap into some professional expertise.
We can be reached by phone at 775-823-WILL (9455), or online at

A couple of years ago a legislative measure was passed that has subsequently been named the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010. This legislation re-unified gift/estate tax exclusions.
In 2011 the amount of the unified gift and estate tax exclusion was $5 million. This year the exclusion has risen to $5.12 million to account for inflation.
Throughout both 2011 and 2012 the maximum rate of the gift tax, the estate tax, and the generation-skipping transfer tax has been 35%.
As a result of the above, people who have resources that do not exceed $5.12 million have been more or less immune from taxes on such transfers to their loved ones.
However, things are changing in the very near future.
This tax relief act is going to expire at the end of 2012. If this expiration takes place without any new legislation being enacted the exclusion will go down to $1 million while the top rate rises to 55%.
Those who have resources in excess of $1 million may want to consider giving gifts during the 2012 calendar year. There is, of course, a very limited window of opportunity left because the end of the year is rapidly approaching.
The act of funding certain types of trusts such as dynasty trusts could be taxable under gift tax regulations. Aside from giving direct gifts, however, there are methods that could allow you to take advantage of this larger exclusion to fund an irrevocable trust for the benefit of loved ones. These methods may allow for discounting, so an even greater amount may qualify for the exclusion.
Giving shares in a family limited partnership  or family limited liability company may also be a possibility.
These methods are relatively sophisticated, so if you are serious about wealth preservation you would do well to discuss this temporary opportunity with a qualified Reno estate planning lawyer as soon as possible.

A trust is often used as an estate planning tool in order to accomplish a variety of goals. At its most basic, a trust consists of a grantor (sometimes called a settlor, or trustor) who establishes the trust, a trustee who administers the trust assets, at least one beneficiary, and assets to fund the trust. Often, all three positions -- grantor, trustee and beneficiary -- can be held by the same person. Beyond that, trusts come in numerous forms that range in complexity; however, one simple distinction centers around whether the trust is revocable or irrevocable. Understanding some of the important features of the two options can help you decide which one is right for you.
All funded trusts, including the revocable trust, avoid probate. What this means is that the funds held in the trust are not required to pass through the often lengthy legal process that follows the death of the grantor, making the trust benefits available to the beneficiaries in a much more timely fashion. A much more important aspect of a revocable trust is that a revocable trust, as implied by the name, can be revoked, amended or modified by the grantor at any time. This feature can be very important if you feel that you may wish to change the beneficiaries or the specific terms of the trust at some future point. This flexibility makes a revocable trust an attractive option for most people.
An irrevocable trust cannot be revoked, amended or modified without court intervention in most states. Under most circumstances, the grantor may not be the trustee or the beneficiary.  All control and access is delivered to an independent trustee and a third party beneficiary.  What the grantor receives, however, for giving up the ability to control the trust is asset protection, probate avoidance, possible estate tax avoidance and potential income tax and, when the beneficiary is a charity, capital gains tax advantages.  These are highly complex strategies and must be entered into with appropriate caution.  The expertise of a qualified estate planning attorney should always be sought.

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