Estate (Tax) Planning Perspectives

Tax changes that President Barack Obama and Congress hammered out in the final days of 2010 discouraged clients from seeking estate-planning advice last year, even though estate lawyers argue there are many planning opportunities that shouldn't be missed.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to estate law. That’s the lesson from a recent article out of Investment News, a gentle reminder that the estate law trap may be closing soon.

As many taxpayers are well aware, the current laws related to wealth transfers (i.e., the estate tax, the gift tax, and the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax) were set just over a year ago in the final days of December. Those laws offered fairly generous policies, effective rates, and exemption amounts, generous enough to surprise even the experts and to calm the thousands of families just spared from the estate tax. According to a Trusts & Estates magazine survey of legal and financial advisors, over the past year tax avoidance dropped from the primary concern of many to the fourth place concern.

The gentle reminder: The laws are only good until 2013 and, barring any sudden outburst of non-partisan productivity at Capitol Hill, are set to expire within a year’s time.

Snap, the tax trap shuts!

While tax avoidance need not be your primary concern when it comes to planning, it’s likely to be a very important factor for purely economic reasons and, since estate planning is about the long haul in the first place, you can’t base it on short-term laws.

Of course, however you rate the importance of tax avoidance when it comes to estate planning; it is rarely the sole concern. This lull in the taxes also can help clarify your goals in other areas.

If tax avoidance dropped from number 1 to number 4, what did people start thinking about? According to the survey, people began planning in earnest to avoid chaos and discord among beneficiaries, to avoid probate, and to protect children from mismanaging their inheritance.

Reference: Investment News (January 15, 2012) “Estate tax lull may trap wealthy

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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
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Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.