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Trust Beneficiary Basics

family gift

How Do I Know If I Am a Trust Beneficiary?  You are a trust beneficiary when you are named in a Trust as a person who will receive or may receive a distribution of cash or assets from the Trust.  Often, if you are a beneficiary, the trustee or another person administering the trust will contact you to tell you that you are a beneficiary. If a close relative has died, and you believe that you may be a trust beneficiary, it is appropriate, after a reasonable period of time has elapsed, to inquire about your relative’s estate planning documents.  Often,...

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Implications of New Leadership in the White House

The White House

Regardless of the outcome of this election, we can be certain that the future of estate taxes is uncertain. Both major party candidates for president have set out proposals for changes in US fiscal policy.  Fiscal policy is not set solely by the president, but if the president has cooperation from Congress, he or she can have a major impact. Current federal estate tax law exempts estates worth $5.45 million or less ($10.9 million for a married couple). Estates worth less than $5.45 million will not pay any estate tax at all.  According to a 2015 report from Congress’s Joint Committee on...

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New Proposed Regulations Under Code §2704

family business

On August 4, the Treasury Department issued long-awaited Proposed Regulations on valuation discounts for family-owned businesses under §2704 of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”).  The regulations are out for public comment until the public hearing on December 1, 2016.  If adopted, the regulations will become effective on or after the date of publication of the Treasury decision. The Proposed Regulations will introduce significant changes that eliminate almost all valuation discounts in the family context.  These changes clarify the application of IRC §2704 and curb transfer tax valuation discounts used by family-owned businesses.  The Proposed Regulations (1) apply to limited liability companies...

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Why Do I Need an Attorney to Draft an Operating Agreement?

Operating Agreement

The first rule of any new business is to maximize profits while avoiding any unnecessary expenses.  Unfortunately, legal fees to help properly set up a new business are often some of the first expenses to be cut when forming a business plan.  Why do we need to spend money on an agreement when we can get free forms online?  Besides, we all understand how the business will be run and we will simply divide profits equally among the owners.  What else is there to decide? If you are like many small businesses today, your business is organized as a limited liability...

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Estate Planning after Divorce

Divorce

Divorce will involve serious and important questions related to minor children, division of assets, and financial support.  Often, after the divorce is finalized, crucial estate planning considerations may be overlooked. The last thing you’ll want to do after a divorce is more legal work.  Nevertheless, it is crucial to properly update, correct, and understand your estate planning after divorce.  Here are a few issues to consider: Your Estate Planning Attorney: It is typical for a married couple to use the same attorney for their estate planning.  Once you are divorced, your financial and personal interests with your former spouse are no...

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What to Look for in an Estate Planning Attorney

Estate Plan

You probably realize that you need estate planning of some kind, whether it’s a simple document naming someone with authority to handle your finances in the event of your incapacity or a complex estate plan.  These decisions will involve the people and property that you care most about, and you should not make them without legal advice from a trusted source.  While you understand that, choosing an estate planning attorney can be overwhelming. A fast Google search for “estate planning attorney” will reveal hundreds of attorneys who advertise as having estate planning expertise and experience.  Most will take the time to...

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Underestimating the Risk of Disability – The Importance of Being Prepared

No one likes to think about the possibility of their own disability or the disability of a loved one. However, as the statistics below demonstrate, we should all plan for at least a temporary disability. This newsletter examines the eye-opening statistics surrounding disability and some of the common disability planning options. Disability planning is one area where each and every person and family we work with should have great comfort in knowing that, if they or a loved one becomes disabled, they will be prepared. Most Americans Grossly Underestimate the Risk of Disability The most important takeaway of this newsletter is this:...

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What Every Estate Planner Should Know About Planning for Non-US Citizens

Pablo and Lena Rodriguez are wealthy South Americans who have three children, ages 18, 17, and 15, who will be attending college in Southern California in the not-too-distant future. Rather than have their children live in student housing, Pablo and Lena have decided to purchase a home in the Los Angeles area that their children will live in while attending college on student visas. Neither Pablo nor Lena is a resident or citizen of the US, and at this time, neither intends to become a US resident. However, it is unclear whether one or more of their children will remain...

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Recent Developments in Estate and Tax Planning . . . and What to Expect in 2015*

2014 was a relatively quiet year by historical standards, but there were nonetheless some major cases and pronouncements from the IRS that have a significant impact on clients and our practices. This article addresses the more significant events of 2014 . . . and planning ideas and actions you may want to consider as a result. FACTA The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) took effect July 1, 2014. Originally signed into law in 2010, FACTA was designed to fight tax evasion by taxpayers with undisclosed foreign financial accounts and other offshore assets by requiring reporting with respect to those accounts and...

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The ABLE Act: A New Tool for the Special Needs Community

Late in 2014, the ABLE (“Achieving a Better Life Experience”) Act was signed into law. The law is aimed at achieving a manner in which those with special needs can save money without losing needs based public benefits such as SSI or Medicaid (Medi-Cal here in California). This is an important issue and, perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the Act is that it brings attention to this valuable community and addresses a serious struggle that they face. The fact that the ABLE act had strong bi-partisan support is encouraging for the special needs community and those who serve it. While an...

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