Estate Planning Hot Topics


Welcome to our Estate Planning Hot Topics center.  This is our Blog containing current and timely short articles of interest to our clients about various estate planning, legacy planning, tax planning, business succession planning, and estate administration issues.  You may view our Estate Planning Hot Topics archive here and you may subscribe to the Estate Planning Hot Topics to be alerted when we post additional articles of interest.



Latest Blog Posts

Do Not Name Your Minor Children as Beneficiaries of Your Retirement Plan

Posted on: July 14th, 2015
Naming minor children as beneficiaries of a retirement plan is fraught with danger. Anyone with a retirement plan should visit an estate planning attorney with substantial experience with retirement plans and tax consequences to ensure that it is passed on to beneficiaries and not diluted by taxes or wiped out by creditors....

Do Not Add Your Children to the Title of Your House!

Posted on: June 9th, 2015
In an all too common scenario, an elderly couple with modest assets may take seemingly minor steps that have devastating tax consequences. One of the most common of these mistakes is adding their children to the title of their house. Often, they do this without the benefit of advice from a legal professional because they want to avoid spending a few hundred, or even one or two thousand dollars on professional advice. What they do not realize, however, is that the result of these actions often cost their children tens of thousands of dollars in taxes once the parents are gone!...

Top Ten Mistakes Made by Trustees and Personal Representatives

Posted on: March 11th, 2015
Trustees and Personal Representatives, i.e., estate fiduciaries, are bound by a bewildering array of responsibilities and duties, meant to protect estate assets for the beneficiaries. We present here the top ten mistakes that Trustees and Personal Representatives of estates commonly make and must make sure they avoid. ...

An Estate Planning Checklist to Facilitate Wealth Transfer

Posted on: January 12th, 2015
Studies show that 70% of family wealth is lost by the end of the second generation and 90% by the end of the third. Help your loved ones avoid becoming one of these statistics. Educate and update your heirs about your wealth transfer goals and the plan you have put in place to achieve these goals....

Year End Estate Planning Tip #4–Make Gifts that Your Family Will Love but the IRS Will Hate

Posted on: December 22nd, 2014
Don't let the chaos of the holiday season prevent you from avoiding federal gift tax by making 'annual exclusion' gifts, medical payments gifts, and educational gifts....

Year End Estate Planning Tip #3–Check the Privacy of Your Estate Plan

Posted on: December 15th, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area of planning that many people overlook is ensuring that their final wishes remain private....

Year End Estate Planning Tip #2–Check Your Beneficiary Designations

Posted on: December 8th, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One of the most overlooked aspects of financial and estate planning is beneficiary designations....

Year End Estate Planning Tip #1–Check Your Estate Tax Planning

Posted on: December 1st, 2014
With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to fine tune your estate plan before you get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. One area that married couples should revisit is their estate tax planning....

Announcing the 2015 Adjustments for the Federal and Maryland Estate Tax Exemptions

Posted on: November 28th, 2014
The Internal Revenue Service has released the official adjustments that will affect 2015 federal reporting for estate taxes, gift taxes, generation-skipping transfer taxes, and estate and trust income taxes. Maryland also has adjusted its state estate tax threshold for 2015....

2015 Changes to State Death Taxes, Including DC and Maryland Estate Taxes

Posted on: November 7th, 2014
Both Maryland and the District of Columbia impose estate taxes at thresholds much lower than the Federal estate tax. If you or your heirs live in one of the states that imposes an estate tax, you should consider estate tax efficient ways to pass assets to your heirs....

3 Asset Protection Tips You Can Use Now

Posted on: August 24th, 2014
A common misconception is that only wealthy families and people in high risk professions need to put together an asset protection plan. But in reality, anyone can be sued. A car accident, foreclosure, unpaid medical bills, or an injured tenant can result in a monetary judgment that will decimate your finances. Below are three tips that you can use right now to protect your assets from creditors, predators and lawsuits....

Who’s Going to Get It: Do You Really Know the Beneficiaries of Your Dynasty Trust?

Posted on: July 10th, 2014
Today many estate plans contain irrevocable dynasty trusts that will continue for the benefit of a spouse's lifetime and then for the benefit of several generations. Since these trusts are designed to span multiple decades, it is important that they clearly define who will be included as trust beneficiaries at each generation....

4 Strategies for Avoiding a Will or Trust Contest

Posted on: June 23rd, 2014
A will or trust contest can derail your final wishes, rapidly deplete your estate, and tear your loved ones apart. But with proper planning, you can help your family avoid a potentially disastrous will or trust contest....

Estate Tax Portability-A Back-Up Plan for Estate Tax Planning

Posted on: May 12th, 2014
The federal estate tax sometimes is a voluntary tax. Estate planning attorneys used to say, 'You only pay if you don't plan.' Now, the portability between spouses of the federal estate tax provides both an alternative and a back up plan to lifetime tax planning....

Does Your Revocable Living Trust Reduce Your Estate Tax Bill?

Posted on: April 1st, 2014
Many people believe that once they set up and fund a revocable living trust, property held in the trust will avoid estate taxes after they die. In reality, this often is not true depending on your choice of beneficiaries and the terms written into your trust agreement....

Charitable Estate Planning Part II - Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs) - Leave Your Legacy to Loved Ones & Charities; not to Uncle Sam

Posted on: February 10th, 2014
The Charitable Remainder Trust ('CRT') permit you to transfer ownership of assets to an irrevocable trust in exchange for an income stream to the person or persons of your choice (typically you, your spouse, or you and your spouse) for life or for a specified term of up to 20 years. With the most common type of Charitable Remainder Trust, at the end of the term, the balance of the trust property (the 'remainder interest') is transferred to a specified charity or charities. Charitable Remainder Trusts reduce estate taxes because you are transferring ownership to the trust of assets that otherwise would be counted for estate tax purposes....

Charitable Estate Planning Part I - Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs)--Leave a Legacy to Charity & Loved Ones; not to Uncle Sam

Posted on: February 3rd, 2014
The Charitable Lead Trust is a type of charitable trust that can reduce or virtually eliminate estate taxes that might be imposed on wealth passing to heirs. Clients use this attractive planning tool to ensure their estates pass to their loved ones and those charitable organizations in which they believe rather than passing to the government through taxes....

Long Term Care Planning Part 2: The Solution

Posted on: December 10th, 2013
How will you pay for long term care when needed? Many people are surprised to learn that long-term care is not covered by health insurance, disability income insurance, or Medicare. Here we provide an overview of the various options for paying for long term care....

Long Term Care Planning, Part 1: Essentials

Posted on: December 3rd, 2013
Long term care often is needed due to aging, chronic illness or injury, and with people living longer, most of us will need it for at least some time before we die. But it is not just for the elderly--a good number of younger, working-age adults are currently receiving long-term care due to accident, illness or injury....

What to Do with an Inherited IRA

Posted on: October 4th, 2013
Those who inherit an IRA must be very careful to follow the rules, which are complicated and often confusing. It is possible to keep an account growing tax-deferred for decades, but an innocent error can cause the recipient to lose the tax-deferred advantage and force her to pay tax now on the entire account balance. As a result, it is critical to talk with an expert before making any decision or taking any action, and to understand all available options. ...