The New Estate Tax

The New Estate Tax image

Congressional Republicans reached a final deal on a tax reform bill. They kept the estate tax in place, with an important modification.

One of the bigger issues with the Republican plans to reform federal taxes had to do with the estate tax. Most Republicans would like to see it done away with entirely.

The initial bill passed in the House of Representatives did just that, by phasing the estate tax out over a period of time. However, the Senate version of the bill was more cautious and just changed the exemption limit, while keeping the estate tax in place.


The Deceased Spousal Unused Exclusion

The Deceased Spousal Unused Exclusion image

Many people who do not have to pay the federal estate tax are unaware that there is still a benefit to the spousal election that might benefit them in the future.

When talking about the estate tax exemption limit, estate planning attorneys often discuss two different numbers. They mention the individual exemption amount and the married couple exemption amount, which is double the individual number.

The reason they do this, is because of the spousal election.

When one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse can take what is called a spousal election which will give them the married couple’s exemption...

A Contract to Make a Will

A Contract to Make a Will image

Some decisions to bequeath certain assets to people cannot be undone by creating a new will and changing who gets the assets.

One of the oldest principles of estate planning law is that people can always change their minds about what to do in their wills. All they need to do if they want to do something different, is create a new will reflecting their new desires.

It is best to destroy any copies of the old will. However, that is not strictly necessary. There are some times when people cannot change their minds about their wills.

One example is...

Few Americans Have Sufficient Retirement Accounts

Few Americans Have Sufficient Retirement Accounts image

The stock markets might have risen to record highs this year, but few Americans own enough stock to take advantage of it.

After Republicans passed their tax reform bill, some Republicans are indicating that they might be turning to entitlement reforms next.

Markets have risen to record highs this year. It seems like Americans have more in their retirement accounts than ever before.

However, while the total amount of money in retirement accounts might be at all-time highs, that money is heavily concentrated in a small percentage of the population, as Think Advisor discusses in “Trump Asks ‘How’s...

Challenging an Estate Plan

Challenging an Estate Plan image

Before deciding whether or not to launch a legal challenge to a will or trust, it is important that you see an estate attorney to learn about no contest clause laws in your state.

Many wills and trusts today have what is known as a “no contest” clause. Including such a clause is standard procedure to help fend off any legal challenges to the contents of a will or trust.

What these clauses say is that anyone who receives an inheritance from a will or who is a beneficiary of a trust receives nothing, if they challenge the validity of...