$5 MILLION (ACTUALLY $5.25MILLION) ESTATE TAX EXEMPTION RETAINED!

On January 2, 2013, President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which retains most of the estate and gift tax laws in effect in 2012.

The New Laws

Highlights of the Act include:

● The estate tax, gift tax and generation skipping tax exemptions of $5M have been retained. (Actually, the exemption is now $5.25M per spouse by reason of inflationary adjustments.) Continue reading

DISCLAIMER WILLS FOR MARRIED COUPLES — ESTATE TAX PLANNING IF YOU NEED IT

If you are a married and need a simple will that minimizes or eliminates estate taxes, consider using a “disclaimer will.” It provides “wait and see” flexibility on whether to use tax planning trusts when the first spouse dies. Continue reading

ESTATE PLANS FOR FARMERS AND BUSINESS OWNERS

Now that the federal estate tax exemption has increased to $5M per spouse, and is “portable,” death taxes are of less concern to family business owners. (“Portable” means that the unused exemption from the first spouse to die may be used by the surviving spouse, which effectively creates a $10M exemption for married couples.) Although Oregon and Washington still have an estate tax (with exemptions of $1M and $2M per spouse, respectively), the state death tax bill should not force the sale of the business.
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A/B TRUSTS ARE OBSOLETE IN OREGON AND WASHINGTON- USUALLY

General Overview.  For the last 20 years, variations of the A/B Trust have been the cornerstone of estate tax planning for married couples.  In a nutshell, the A/B Trust structure prevents all or a portion of the wealth from the first spouse to die from being included in the surviving spouse’s estate — even though she has the use of the money for the rest of her life.
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“PORTABILITY” OF $5M FEDERAL ESTATE TAX EXCLUSION

Each spouse’s $5 million federal estate tax exclusion is now “portable,” meaning that the portion of the exemption not used by the first spouse to die is added to the exclusion of the surviving spouse. See Internal Revenue Code Section 2010(c) and IRS Notice 2011-82. Thus, for example, if all of the decedent’s wealth passes to the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse’s exclusion at death will be $10 million, rather than just $5 million. With only modest planning, a married couple can now pass $10 million of wealth to their children without any federal estate tax.
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