Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now.Alan Lakein
There are two certainties in life, death, and taxes. We will help you keep the two from exploding into one big, ugly death tax!
For deaths in 2015, the estate tax exemption has been set at $5,430,000, and in 2016 it's $5,450,000. There is also now a provision to port any unused exclusion between spouses. This means if spouse A passes before spouse B, and the value of A’s half of the assets is only $1 Million, spouse A had $4 Million of exemption left over that ports, or passes, to spouse B, who now has an exclusion amount of $9 Million. This is all very good news, as it means few will have to worry about estate taxes.
For those with assets in excess of the exclusion limits, several strategies exist to minimize the impact of estate taxes. These strategies include gifting, both below the gift tax filing amount ($14,000 per person gifted, per person gifting, for the year 2013) and gifting at levels beyond the “free gifting” amounts. Other strategies involve the use of trusts: Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRT), Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT), Grantor Retained Unified Trust (GRUT), Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT), and others. If a business is involved, selling or gifting fragments of the business to the ultimate beneficiaries may also prove useful, especially if discounting can apply to valuing an asset with multiple owners.
Another option to minimize the tax impact on your estate is filing a 706 Estate Tax Return. The 706 allows the exclusion limit from one spouse's death to be held over through the death of the second spouse, essentially doubling the amount of the exemption. There are lots of rules and conditions that go along with this, but this is one of the ways that the Estate Planners at All About Numbers can help protect your estate for future generations.
Some of the above strategies should be considered even if estate taxes are not the primary focus. The best way to make sure your wishes are respected is through the use of trusts, and a living trust is a great way to make this happen.
Some things to consider about your future
- Who do you want to control your assets after you pass?
- Who do you want to receive which assets?
- What will happen if your spouse remarries after you pass?
- What will happen if your spouse remarries and then passes before the new spouse?
- Would anything have to be sold in order to pay the taxes on your estate?
- Do you have adequate life insurance to cover your burial costs?
- Do you have adequate life insurance to replace the income you provide to your family?
Estate planning is best done in tandem with an estate attorney, a tax accountant, and a financial advisor. Estate plans should be updated and reviewed anytime there are significant changes to one’s family, wealth, or the tax codes. In the absences of any of these changes, the estate plan should still be reviewed every 5 years. This review might be as simple as taking it out and reading it to make sure the plans still meet your desires!
We are happy to provide services in estate planning. We have partners in the finance and legal professions if you need these areas represented as well. The most important thing is to have a plan. The greater your wealth, the more important it is to plan!