Keep Your Estate From Getting Whacked

GaldofiniWhen he died in 2013 at the untimely age of 51, actor James Gandolfini bequeathed a financial disaster to his heirs. Gandolfini hadn't properly prepared his estate, an oversight that's all too common. The man famous for playing mob boss Tony Soprano left about 80% of his $70 million estate unprotected against estate taxes, with federal and state rates that will add up to a combined 55%. Don't be a "wise guy" to your family. Make sure you've put in place a plan to provide for your children and grandchildren far into the future. To protect your financial legacy, that means minimizing your estate tax bill.

A recent article on thestreet.com, "How to Protect Your Estate From Getting 'Whacked' Like James Gandolfini's," discusses a powerful estate tax planning tool – the irrevocable charitable lead trust. This trust cannot be amended, revised or canceled. This trust provides a stream of income for a designated number of years to the specified charity. At the end of that period, the property held in trust reverts back to the donor or to the donor's designated beneficiary. When the donor makes the gift under a charitable lead trust, he or she immediately receives a federal income tax deduction equal to the present value of the future income stream. But the donor is taxed every year on the value of the income interest that is payable to the charity.

A donor may create a charitable lead trust during his or her lifetime, or state in his or her will that it be established at death with the property returning years later to the designated heirs. When the donor's will establishes the trust at death, his or her estate receives an estate tax deduction instead of an income tax deduction. The goal of the creator of a charitable lead trust is simple: reduce taxes on the estate that you leave to your heirs when you pass away. This is done by donating to charities from the estate until all taxes are reduced. Once this is accomplished the estate is subsequently transferred to your beneficiaries.

Don't let your estate get whacked! Work with a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure that you put a plan into place that will provide for your children and grandchildren way into the future. This means you need to work on minimizing your estate tax bill. While you are at it, talk with an estate planning attorney about an irrevocable charitable trust to see if it might be a good fit for your circumstances.

Reference: thestreet.com (November 8, 2015) "How to Protect Your Estate From Getting 'Whacked' Like James Gandolfini's,"

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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.
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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.