When should I check my estate planning documents?

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Estate planning documents, such as Wills, trusts, powers of attorney and Health Care Directives are dynamic documents that need to be changed when the circumstances of your life change. There is a great temptation to feel that you can put the documents into a file or safety deposit box and say: “Thank goodness I won’t have to think about those documents again.” But in fact, as changes in circumstance occur, estate planning documents need to be reviewed to be certain that they are still appropriate for the new circumstances.

Here are several changes that ought to trigger a review of existing estate planning documents:

1. The birth of children. In almost every case, it is most appropriate to create a support trust to provide for the care of any minor children, and to provide for the investment of assets that are to be held until the children attain a suitable age. Such a trust also can provide for the education of the children.

2. Changes in marital status or other personal circumstances. It should be obvious that a change in marital status would be a good reason to review existing estate planning documents. Provision in a Will or trust for a new or a former spouse will likely need to be changed. In most cases, it will be inappropriate to continue to name the former spouse as the agent under a power of attorney to make financial or health care decisions.

3. The value of assets may increase or decrease. The decision to create existing estate planning documents was probably based upon certain assumptions about the value of the assets in the estate, and whether it was likely that the assets would increase or decrease in value over time. Significant changes in the value of assets may cause estate planning documents to be too complex, or perhaps, too simple to continue to meet the objectives originally identified.

4. The law regarding estate taxation may change. The law regarding state and federal estate taxation has changed numerous times and in many different ways over the past several years. Other changes are likely to occur in future years. All of these changes may have a significant impact on the propriety of existing estate planning arrangements. This factor alone is a very substantial reason why existing estate planning documents should be reviewed periodically.

5. Changes in health status. As the condition of health changes, there should be a corresponding evaluation of existing estate planning documents to be certain that the changes in the needs of the individual will be met by the estate planning documents.

For example, if a person is diagnosed with a form of dementia, existing powers of attorney should be reviewed to be certain that they will be sufficient to meet the likely increased need for the agent to undertake the management of financial decisions.

Similarly, if a diagnosis of a terminal condition has been made, all estate planning documents should be reviewed with an estate planning attorney to be certain that the documents are still appropriate in view of this change of circumstance.

All of these events are reason to double check to be certain that existing estate planning documents will be sufficient to fulfill the objectives to provide for loved ones, and to protect assets from unnecessary taxation and dissipation.

Daniel Orville Kellogg

Top 5 Estate Planning Mistakes

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I recently read a report that suggested that only about 20 percent of the population has a formal estate plan. After reviewing the points below, please take a minute to consider whether it's time for you to create or update your estate plan.

Here are five estate planning mistakes that people make that can be avoided.

1. Dying without a will or trust - If you die without a will or trust, the state in which you reside and the IRS will simply make one for you.  Of course, they have no interest in avoiding or reducing estate taxes, minimizing estate administration costs or protecting your family and legacy. The distribution of your assets will just be turned over to the Probate Court. The probate process is needlessly time consuming, frustrating and expensive. It is also open to the public, meaning creditors, predators or anyone else will have complete access to all information about your estate. For the vast majority of people, the benefits far outweigh any initial costs.

2. Having an "I love you" will – An”I love you” will is one in which all the decedent's assets have been left to the spouse. On paper, it might seem to be a caring, thoughtful gesture, but the reality is quite different, because such a will simply passes the complex issues and problems associated with transferring and protecting wealth onto the spouse or other loved ones.  It creates more problems than it solves, particularly for future generations.

3. Giving property outright to your children - Here is another solution that might sound good at first, but ignores several important realities. For instance, what if the child in question is too immature to handle the responsibility of a large sum of money on his or her own? What if the child suffers a severe financial setback that puts the inheritance at risk to creditors?  What if the child marries a fortune-hunter, is addicted to drugs or alcohol, gets divorced or remarried? You may need to protect your children and heirs from their own poor decisions.  These assets are also gifted assets which carry potentially large IRS penalties if not handled properly.

4. Owning property jointly - There are two types of joint ownership, Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS) and Tenants in Common (TIC).  Problems with JTWROS include postponement of probate only until last tenancy, the loss of the double step-up in tax basis creating more to pay in capital gains taxes, and outright distribution.  With TIC, you also lose the double step-up in tax basis where it's available, and your property is subject to the estate plan of each tenant as well as probate for each tenant.

5. Not having a trust - A trust is the single most effective estate planning tool available. There are many different types of trusts.  Among the better known and more commonly used are revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts and testamentary trusts. A Trust protects your privacy, and will help you leave what you want, to whom you want, in the way you want at the lowest possible cost overall.  The additional advantage is that you avoid Probate altogether, which means that the settlement of the living trust will be done swiftly, without court or attorney's involvement, in contrast to having only an "I love you" Will.

Planning Matters: Even estates of rich and famous crash and burn

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If you are like most people, you have done no estate planning. If that is the case, you are in good (bad) company.

You would think lawyers -- trained legal professionals -- would have completed their own estate plan. Alas, lawyers are no different than anybody else and often fail to plan. One of the most famous and respected lawyers of all time, Abraham Lincoln, died without a will. I also have known a number of attorneys who died without even having the simplest of wills.

More often problems arise when lawyers, who are not estate planning specialists, attempt to do their own estate plans. These lawyers often believe they are qualified to prepare estate plans for themselves and their clients. I regularly review wills and trusts, powers of attorney and other estate planning documents that are drafted by lawyers who are not estate planning specialists.

These plans usually have unintended results.

There are health care powers of attorney that do not to have living will provisions, mental health care powers, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act access and releases or signed patient advocate acceptances.

It is not uncommon for trusts to have faulty tax provisions. I have seen wills, which are death instruments; contain health care powers, which can only be used during a lifetime.

I often see financial powers of attorney that do not allow for the gifting of assets to the family instead of spending it all down on nursing home care. Unfortunately, many times I only see the estate planning documents after the maker's incapacity or death when there is little that can be done to remedy the situation.

What do Pablo Picasso, Howard Hughes and Sonny Bono all have in common? None of them had a will.

Often the rich and famous do no planning or poor planning. However, with estates whose amounts end in lots of zeros, the unintended consequences have much more of a financial impact.

The rich and famous make the same mistakes as everybody else, only worse. The failure to plan or failure to plan properly has resulted in many their estates to be eaten up administration expenses, taxes and litigation costs.

One of the more well-known estates that had unintended results is the estate of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Considering his stature in the entertainment world, Elvis left a relatively modest $10.2 million estate.

However, the settlement costs of his estate totaled nearly $7.4 million leaving only about $2.8 million to his heirs. About 73% of his estate was eaten up by the settlement costs.

The super-rich also are not immune from doing poor planning. Conrad Hilton of the Hilton Hotel chain left an estate of nearly $200 million. More than half of that was consumed in settlement costs.

Author and filmmaker Michael Crichton, best known as the author of "Jurassic Park" and creator of the TV series "ER," died unexpectedly when his wife was pregnant. He had not provided for his unborn child in his estate plan. This resulted in substantial legal fees for his widow in her quest to obtain a share of his estate for their child.

Andy Warhol on the other hand, did proper estate planning. This resulted in only a fraction of his estate being eaten up in settlement costs. Although his estate settlement costs were nearly as much as Elvis' at a reported $6.9 million, because his estate was nearly $300 million, only 2.3% of his estate was consumed by the settlement costs.

Because it looks like many celebrities' estate settlement costs have left their legacy as "not so rich and famous," don't take your cue from them.

Do proper planning with a legal specialist in estate planning. You wouldn't go to an oncologist to treat your diabetes any more than you should have a divorce or criminal lawyer prepare your estate plan.

The estate planning professional who prepares your estate plan should have a working knowledge of not only estate planning, but also federal and state tax laws and elder law. Without a working knowledge of all three of these areas, your estate plan could be missing some critical elements. So go forth and do proper estate planning today.

Matthew M. Wallace

Overview of Vermont Estate Tax Laws

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Understanding How Vermont Estate Taxes Affect an Estate
By Julie Garber, About.com Guide

If you live in Vermont, then you live in one of a handful of states that still collect a local death tax. The estates of Vermont residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property and/or income-producing property located in Vermont, are subject to a local death tax under the following guidelines.

NOTE: State and local laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

When is an estate subject to the Vermont estate tax?

If the decedent was a resident of Vermont at the time of death, the estate may be subject to the Vermont estate tax if the federal gross estate exceeds $2,750,000 on the date of death or if the estate is required to file a federal estate tax return, IRS Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return.

For nonresidents of Vermont, an estate may be subject to the Vermont estate tax if it includes Vermont sitused property (real estate, tangible personal property, and/or income-producing property sitused in Vermont) and the federal gross estate exceeds $2,750,000 on the date of death or if the estate is required to file a federal estate tax return.

Note: The Vermont estate tax exemption was increased to $2,750,000 on January 1, 2011. Prior to this date, the exemption was as follows:

2006 - 2010 = $2,000,000
2004 - 2005 = $1,500,000
2002 - 2003 = $1,000,000
2001 - 2002 = $675,000

What Vermont estate tax forms must be filed?

The personal representative or other fiduciary representing an estate that is subject to the Vermont estate tax must complete and file the Vermont Estate Tax Return, Form E-1.

Additional documents that must be filed with the Vermont Department of Taxes when a Vermont Estate Tax Return is required to filed are as follows:

If no federal estate tax is due and no federal estate tax return (IRS Form 706) is required to be filed, nonetheless the estate representative must complete and file a pro forma IRS Form 706, including all exhibits and appraisals, with the Vermont Estate Tax Return.

When federal estate tax is due and all assets are located in Vermont, the first page of IRS Form 706 must be included with the Vermont estate tax return.

When federal estate tax is due and some assets are located outside of Vermont, IRS Form 706 must be attached to the Vermont Estate Tax Return, but excluding exhibits and appraisals.

A duplicate of the Estate Tax Closing Letter issued by the IRS must be filed with the Vermont Department of Taxes.

Are transfers to a surviving spouse taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, a Vermont death tax may be due on the B Trust after the first spouse's death due to the gap of $2,500,000 between the Vermont exemption of $2,750,000 and the 2013 federal exemption of $5,250,000. While some states allow a married decedent's estate to make an election to treat a trust of which the surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary as "qualified terminable interest property" ("QTIP" for short) for purposes of calculating the local estate tax, Vermont law does not specifically allow for this. However, one commentator on Vermont estate taxes has stated that "representatives of the Vermont Department of Taxes have stated informally that Vermont will recognize whole or partial QTIP elections for properly drafted trusts as long as the election is, or would be, binding for both federal and Vermont estate tax purposes." (See Planning for the Vermont Estate Tax for more about this issue.) Thus, married Vermont residents should consult with a Vermont estate planning attorney to determine if they can incorporate ABC Trust planning into their estate plans.

When are the Vermont estate tax return and tax payment due?

The Vermont Estate Tax Return, Form E-1, must be filed, and any estate tax due must be paid, within 9 months of the decedent's date of death. An extension of time to file the Vermont Estate Tax Return does not extend the time to pay, so an estimate of the estate tax to be due must be paid with the extension of time request. Where are the Vermont estate tax return filed and tax payment made?

Mail all required forms and any payment due to:

Vermont Department of Taxes
133 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05633-1401

What is the Vermont estate tax rate and how is the tax calculated?

Computing the Vermont estate tax is a convoluted process. According to Vermont estate planning attorney Richard W. Kozlowski, the Vermont estate tax is based on "a complicated and slightly regressive tax system, with marginal tax brackets that begin at 35% (for the first dollars in excess of $2.75 million) and then decrease to 9.6% for estates in excess of $3.4 million, and then rise again to a max rate of 16% for estates in the $10+ million range." (See ESTATE TAXATION - FEDERAL & VERMONT on Mr. Kozlowski's website for his overview of Vermont estate taxes.)

Page 4 of the current Vermont Estate Tax Return, Form E-1, contains "Computation Schedules" for calculating the Vermont estate tax bill for residents and nonresidents.

Where can I find additional information about Vermont estate taxes?

For more information about Vermont estate taxes, refer to the Vermont Department of Taxation's website: Vermont Estate Tax.

You may also call the Vermont Department of Taxation at (802) 828-6820.

Refer to Vermont estate planning attorney Richard W. Kozlowski's article, ESTATE TAXATION - FEDERAL & VERMONT, for an overview of the Vermont estate tax laws.

Does Vermont collect an inheritance tax?

Does Vermont collect a local inheritance tax, which is a tax assessed against the share received by each individual beneficiary of an estate as opposed to an estate tax, which is assessed against the entire estate? The answer to this question is No, Vermont does not collect a local inheritance tax.

Overview of Rhode Island Estate Tax Laws

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Understanding How Rhode Island Estate Taxes Affect an Estate
By Julie Garber, About.com Guide

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

If you live in Rhode Island, then you live in one of the remaining states that collects a state estate tax or a state inheritance tax. The estates of Rhode Island residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in Rhode Island, are subject to a state estate tax under the following guidelines.

When is a Rhode Island Estate Tax Return Required to be Filed?

For a Rhode Island resident, a Rhode Island Estate Tax Return, Form 100A, must be filed if the decedent's gross estate plus adjusted taxable gifts exceeds $675,000 in 2009, $850,000 in 2010, $859,350 in 2011, $892,865 in 2012, or $910,725 in 2013.

For a nonresident, the estate must file Form 100A if the estate includes real or tangible personal property located in Rhode Island and the gross estate plus adjusted taxable gifts exceeds $675,000 in 2009, $850,000 in 2010, $859,350 in 2011, $892,865 in 2012 or $910,725 in 2013.

A signed copy of the federal estate tax return, IRS Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, must accompany Form 100A if the estate is required to file Form 706.

Note: The Rhode Island estate tax exemption increased from $675,000 to $850,000 on January 1, 2010, and has been indexed for inflation beginning in 2011.

When is the Rhode Island Estate Tax Return and Any Payment Required Due?

Form 100A must be filed and any tax due must be paid within nine months of the decedent's death.

An extension of time to file Form 100A may be requested, however, even if an extension is granted it won't delay the time for payment of any tax due.

Where is the Rhode Island Estate Tax Return Filed?

Mail the Rhode Estate Tax Return (Form 100A), a $25.00 filing fee, any payment due, and all other required forms to:

Rhode Island Division of Taxation Estate Tax Section
One Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908

Make checks payable to "RI Division of Taxation."

What is the Rhode Island Estate Tax Rate?

The tax rate is a progressive rate that maxes out at 16% for the amount above $10,040,000.

Are Transfers to a Surviving Spouse Taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used traditional AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, a Rhode Island estate tax may be due on the B Trust after the first spouse's death since there is a gap between the Rhode Island estate tax exemption and the federal estate tax exemption (for example, the gap in 2012 is equal to a whopping $4,107,135). A married decedent's estate is, however, authorized to make an election on Form 100A to treat property as marital deduction qualified terminable interest property ("QTIP") for Rhode Island purposes, so married Rhode Island couples can defer payment of both Rhode Island estate taxes and federal estate taxes until after the death of the surviving spouse by using an ABC Trust scheme instead of AB Trust planning.

Do Nontaxable Estates Have to File Any Forms?

For gross estates valued at the exemption amount or less, Form 100, Estate Tax Credit Transmittal, can be filed to obtain discharge of the automatic statutory lien that attaches to all Rhode Island real estate a person owns at death, to obtain a Notice of No Tax Due for probate administration purposes, and to allow the sale of Rhode Island securities, including Rhode Island incorporated stock, Rhode Island state and municipal bonds, and mutual funds organized as business trusts that do business in Rhode Island.

Form 100 should be signed by the executor, administrator, trustee or heir at law of the deceased person. It should be mailed along with a death certificate and $25.00 filing fee to the address listed above for Form 100A.

Note: As mentioned above, the Rhode Island estate tax exemption was increased from $675,000 to $850,000 on January 1, 2010, and was then indexed for inflation beginning in 2011. Does Rhode Island Impose a Lien on the Deceased Person's Property?

Form T-77, Discharge of Lien Form, must be filed along with Form 100A or Form 100 if the decedent had any interest in real estate located in Rhode Island. Form T-77 must be filed in triplicate and the description of the real estate must be stated as the tax assessor's description which can be found on the property tax bill issued by the applicable city or town.

Form T-79, Estate Tax Waiver Form, must be filed along with Form 100A or Form 100 if the decedent had any interest in a security of a Rhode Island incorporated business requiring an estate tax waiver. Form T-79 must be filed in duplicate.

Where Can I Find Additional Information About Rhode Island Estate Taxes?

For more information about Rhode Island estate taxes, refer to the Rhode Island Division of Taxation website.

Overview of Oregon Estate Tax Laws

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Understanding How Oregon Estate Taxes Affect an Estate
By Julie Garber, About.com Guide

If you live in Oregon, then you live in one of a handful of states that collects a state death tax. The estates of Oregon residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in Oregon, are subject to a state death tax under the following guidelines.

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

Does Oregon collect an estate tax or an inheritance tax?

Prior to 2012, the Oregon death tax was referred to as an "inheritance tax" in the Oregon code, but effective January 1, 2012, the Oregon death tax became known as an "estate tax." This makes sense since Oregon's death tax is collected based on the value of the estate (hence, an "estate tax"), as opposed to being based on who inherits the estate (hence, an "inheritance tax").

In this article, the Oregon death tax collected on or before December 31, 2011 is referred to as an inheritance tax, the Oregon death tax collected on or after January 1, 2012 is referred to as an estate tax, and both taxes are referred to in general as the death tax.

When is an estate subject to the Oregon inheritance tax or estate tax?

For Oregon residents, an estate may be subject to the Oregon inheritance tax or estate tax if the total gross estate exceeds $1,000,000.

For nonresidents of Oregon, an estate may be subject to the Oregon inheritance tax or estate tax if it includes real estate and/or tangible personal property having a situs within the state of Oregon and the gross estate exceeds $1,000,000.

What Oregon inheritance tax or estate tax forms must be filed?

For deaths that occurred on or before December 31, 2011, estates with a gross value that exceeds $1,000,000 must file an Oregon inheritance tax return, Form IT-1, even if no Oregon inheritance tax will be due as a result of applicable deductions and exemptions.

For deaths that occurred on or after January 1, 2012, estates with a gross value that exceeds $1,000,000 must file an Oregon estate tax return, Form OR706, even if no Oregon estate tax will be due as a result of applicable deductions and exemptions.

Are Oregon Registered Domestic Partners treated the same as married couples?

In 2007 the Oregon legislature passed HB 2007. Under the provisions of this law, the instructions for the Form IT-1 were amended to provide that the term “surviving spouse” may be replaced with "surviving Oregon Registered Domestic Partner."

Are transfers to a surviving spouse taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, an Oregon death tax may be due on the B Trust after the first spouse's death due to the gap of $4,120,000 between the Oregon exemption of $1,000,000 and the federal exemption of $5,120,000. Nonetheless, a married decedent's estate can make an election to treat a trust of which the surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary as "special marital property" for purposes of calculating the Oregon death tax. Thus, married Oregon residents can defer payment of both Oregon and federal death taxes until after the death of the surviving spouse using ABC Trust planning.

When are the Oregon death tax return and tax payment due?

The Oregon death tax return must be filed and any death tax due must be paid within nine months after the decedent's date of death.

An extension of time to file the Oregon death tax return and pay any tax due will be accepted for Oregon if granted by the Internal Revenue Service. If the estate does not have to file a federal estate tax return, then mark "For Oregon Only" at the top of IRS Form 4768 and federal guidelines will be used to consider the request. If an extension of time to pay is granted, the tax must be secured by collateral acceptable to the Oregon Department of Revenue. In addition, an extension of time to file the return does not extend the time to pay the tax, and interest will accrue during the extension period.

Where is the Oregon death tax return filed?

Mail the Oregon inheritance tax return, Form IT-1, or the Oregon estate tax return, Form OR706, and all other required forms and documentation to:

Oregon Department of Revenue
P.O. Box 14110
Salem, OR 97309-0910

If you are using a private delivery service such as FedEx or UPS, then use the following address:

Oregon Department of Revenue
955 Center Street
NE Salem, OR 97301-2555

What are the Oregon inheritance tax or estate tax rates?

For deaths that occurred on or before December 31, 2011, once the value of the net estate exceeded $1,000,000, the entire value of the estate was taxed. Inheritance tax rates ranged from 0.8% to 16% of the adjusted taxable estate.

For deaths that occurred on or after January 1, 2012, the first $1,000,000 of an estate is exempt from the estate tax calculation. For a table showing the estate tax rates that went into effect on January 1, 2012, refer to Lawmakers Tweak Oregon Estate Tax.

Overview of New York Estate Tax Laws

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Understanding How New York Estate Taxes Affect an Estate
By Julie Garber, About.com Guide

If you live in New York, then you live in one of a handful of states that collects a state estate tax. The estates of New York residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in New York, are subject to a state estate tax under the following guidelines.

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

When is an estate subject to the New York estate tax?

For New York residents, an estate may be subject to the New York estate tax if the total of the federal gross estate, plus the federal adjusted taxable gifts and specific exemption, exceeds $1,000,000.

For nonresident U.S. citizens, an estate may be subject to the New York estate tax if it includes real estate or tangible personal property having a situs within the state of New York and the gross estate, plus federal adjusted taxable gifts and specific exemption, exceeds $1,000,000.

For nonresident, non-U.S. citizens, an estate may be subject to the New York estate tax if it includes real or tangible personal property having a situs within the state of New York and the estate is required to file a federal estate tax return (Form 706-NA).

What New York estate tax forms must be filed?

Each estate that may be subject to the New York estate tax as described above must file a Form ET-706, New York State Estate Tax Return.

The estate of a nonresident must also file Form ET-141, New York State Estate Tax Domicile Affidavit.

Aside from these New York forms, the starting point for Form ET-706 is the federal estate tax return, IRS Form 706. Thus, a completed IRS Form 706 (or IRS Form 706-NA for a noncitizen, non-U.S. resident) with all schedules and supporting documents must be completed and submitted with New York Form ET-706 even if the estate is not required to file a federal estate return.

Are transfers to a surviving spouse taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, a New York estate tax may be due on the B Trust after the first spouse's death due to the gap of $4,250,000 between the New York estate tax exemption of $1,000,000 and the 2013 federal estate tax exemption of $5,250,000. A married decedent's estate is NOT authorized to make an election on Form ET-706 to treat property as marital deduction qualified terminable interest property ("QTIP"). What this means is that married couples cannot defer payment of both New York estate taxes and federal estate taxes until after the death of the surviving spouse using an ABC Trust scheme.

When is the New York estate tax return and any payment required due?

Form ET-706 must be filed and any tax due must be paid within nine months after the decedent’s date of death unless an extension of time to file the return and pay the tax is received.

An extension of time to pay the estate tax for up to four years from the date of death may be granted if it is established that payment of any part of the tax within nine months from the date of death would result in undue hardship to the estate, but annual installments may be required. Extensions of time to file the return, pay the tax, or both, are requested on Form ET-133.

Where is the New York estate tax return filed?

Mail the New York estate tax return, Form 706-ET, and all other required forms to:

NYS Estate Tax Processing Center
P.O. Box 15167
Albany, NY 12212-5167

What is the New York estate tax rate?

The New York estate tax rate is a progressive one that starts at 5.085% and rises to 16% for the amount above $10,040,000.

Where can I find additional information about New York estate taxes?

For more information about New York estate taxes, refer to the New York Department of Taxation and Finance website.

How can I get an estimate of my New York estate tax liability?

To calculate an estimate of your New York estate tax liability, refer to the following calculator offered by the New York law firm of Cohen & Schwartz, LLP: New York Estate Tax Calculator

 

Overview of New Jersey Estate Tax Laws

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Understanding How New Jersey Estate Taxes Affect an Estate
By Julie Garber, About.com Guide

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

In addition to a state inheritance tax, New Jersey also imposes a separate state estate tax which has been decoupled from the federal estate tax laws. Here is a summary of the current New Jersey estate tax laws.

When is a New Jersey Estate Tax Return Required to be Filed?

A New Jersey estate tax return, Form IT-Estate, must be filed if the decedent's gross estate plus adjusted taxable gifts exceeds $675,000. How is the New Jersey Estate Tax Calculated?

The New Jersey estate tax is either the maximum credit for state inheritance, estate, succession or legacy taxes allowable under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code in effect on December 31, 2001 (this is called the "Form 706 Method"), or an amount determined pursuant to the Simplified Tax System prescribed by the Director, Division of Taxation (this is called the "Simplified Form Method").

The Form 706 Method must be used if the taxpayer is required to file a federal estate tax return, IRS Form 706.

If the taxpayer isn't required to file IRS Form 706, then, in addition to the Form 706 Method, the Simplified Form Method may be used provided that it produces a tax liability similar to the Form 706 Method.

When is the New Jersey Estate Tax Return and Any Payment Required Due?

Form IT-Estate must be filed and any tax due must be paid within nine months of the decedent's death, or nine months plus 30 days if the Form 706 Method is used.

An extension of time to file Form IT-Estate may be requested, however, even if an extension is granted it won't delay the time for payment of any tax due.

The Form 706 Method requires that Form IT-Estate be prepared and filed along with a 2001 IRS Form 706. This is in addition to IRS Form 706 for the year of the decedent's death if one is required to be filed. Where is the New Jersey Estate Tax Return Filed?

Mail the New Jersey estate tax return, Form IT-Estate, and all other required forms to:

NJ Inheritance Tax and Estate Tax
P.O. Box 249
Trenton, New Jersey 08695-0249

What is the New Jersey Estate Tax Rate?

The tax rate is a progressive rate that maxes out at 16% for the amount above $10,040,000.

Are Transfers to a Surviving Spouse Taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, a New Jersey estate tax may be due on the B Trust after the first spouse's death if there is a gap between the New Jersey estate tax exemption and the federal estate tax exemption at the time the federal estate tax comes back into effect. A married decedent's estate is authorized to make an election on Form IT-Estate to treat property as marital deduction qualified terminable interest property ("QTIP") for New Jersey purposes, but married New Jersey couples cannot defer payment of both New Jersey estate taxes and federal estate taxes until after the death of the surviving spouse using an ABC Trust scheme.

Are Transfers to a Surviving Domestic Partner Taxable?

Federal estate tax laws do not have a provision providing a deduction for property passing to a domestic partner. However, if a New Jersey decedent was a partner in a civil union and died on or after February 19, 2007, and was survived by his or her partner, then a marital deduction equal to that permitted to a surviving spouse under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code in effect on December 31, 2001, is permitted for New Jersey estate tax purposes.

Does New Jersey Impose a Lien on the Deceased Person's Property?

For New Jersey decedents dying after December 31, 2001, the New Jersey estate tax remains a lien on all property of the decedent as of the date of death until paid. No property may be transferred without the written consent of the Director of the Division of Taxation.

Where Can I Find Additional Information About New Jersey Estate Taxes?

For more information about New Jersey estate taxes, refer to New Jersey Inheritance and Estate Tax General Information on the New Jersey Division of Taxation website.

Overview of Minnesota Estate Tax Laws

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Understanding How Minnesota Estate Taxes Affect an Estate
By Julie Garber, About.com Guide

If you live in Minnesota, then you live in one of a handful of states that still collect a local death tax. The estates of Minnesota residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property and/or business interests located in Minnesota, are subject to a local death tax under the following guidelines.

NOTE: State and local laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice. When is an estate subject to the Minnesota estate tax?

If the decedent was a resident of Minnesota at the time of death, the estate may be subject to the Minnesota estate tax if the federal gross estate exceeds $1,000,000 on the date of death or if the estate is required to file a federal estate tax return, IRS Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return.

For nonresidents of Minnesota, an estate may be subject to the Minnesota estate tax if it includes Minnesota sitused property and the federal gross estate exceeds $1,000,000 on the date of death or if the estate is required to file a federal estate tax return. Note that new legislation passed in late May 2013 and expected to be signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton will subject Minnesota property owned by an S corporation, partnership, LLC or a trust of which a nonresident is a shareholder, partner, member or beneficiary to the Minnesota estate tax.

What Minnesota estate tax forms must be filed?

The estate representative of an estate that is subject to the Minnesota estate tax must complete and file the Minnesota Estate Tax Return, Form M706.

Note that as indicated above, a Minnesota Estate Tax Return may be required to be filed even if a federal estate tax return, IRS Form 706, is not required to be filed. Thus, the estate representative must first complete IRS Form 706 for the year of death before completing Form M706.

Are transfers to a surviving spouse taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, a Minnesota death tax may be due on the B Trust after the first spouse's death due to the gap of $4,250,000 between the Minnesota exemption of $1,000,000 and the 2013 federal exemption of $5,250,000. While some states allow a married decedent's estate to make an election to treat a trust of which the surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary as "qualified terminable interest property" ("QTIP" for short) for purposes of calculating the local estate tax, Minnesota law does not allow for this. Thus, married Minnesota residents cannot incorporate ABC Trust planning into their estate plans.

When are the Minnesota estate tax return and tax payment due?

The Minnesota Estate Tax Return, M706, must be filed, and any estate tax due must be paid, within 9 months after the decedent's date of death.

All estates are granted an automatic six-month extension of time to file Form M706. This means that a written request is not required to be submitted to the Minnesota Estate Tax Unit to request an extension to file. But regardless of whether or not IRS Form 706 is required to be filed, each estate has either 15 months from the decedent's date of death in which to file M706, or the maximum amount of time granted by the IRS in which to file IRS Form 706, whichever is longer.

There is no extension of time to pay the Minnesota estate tax allowed. Thus, any tax not paid by the regular due date will be subject to penalties and interest.

Where are the Minnesota estate tax return filed and tax payment made?

You can use one of the mailing labels provided in the instructions for Form M706 to mail your return and all required attachments to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

If you choose not to use the label, mail your forms to:

Minnesota Estate Tax
Mail Station 1315
St. Paul, MN 55146-1315

Minnesota estate taxes can be paid electronically online or by check.

To pay electronically, login to e-services. Enter the decedent's Social Security number and follow the prompts for individuals to make an estate tax return or an extension payment. You will receive a confirmation number when your transaction is complete.

For payment by check, make the check payable to "Minnesota Revenue" and mail the check with the appropriate payment voucher. For a tax return payment (taxes due with Form M706), complete and attach the voucher Form PV47. For an extension payment, complete and attach voucher Form PV86. Follow the instructions on the voucher.​ How is the Minnesota estate tax calculated?

Minnesota did not adopt the changes in the federal Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. Thus, you must read the instructions for Form M706 for details on how to determine the federal gross estate and how to calculate the Minnesota estate tax. In addition, you must use the tax tables found in the Form M706 instructions and not the tables in the IRS Form 706 instructions in order to calculate the Minnesota estate tax due.

Also note that you can use the Minnesota Estate Tax Calculators for the applicable year of death provided on the Department of Revenue's website in order to verify that you have properly calculated the Minnesota estate tax due.

What is the Minnesota estate tax rate?

In general, a Minnesota estate will be subject to a tax of approximately 10%. However, the only way to calculate the exact amount of tax due is to complete the applicable IRS Form 706 and Minnesota Form M706. Where can I find additional information about Minnesota estate taxes?

For more information about Minnesota estate taxes, refer to the Minnesota Department of Revenue's Estate Tax Frequently Asked Questions.

You may also call the Estate Tax Unit at 651-556-3075 between 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or email the unit by following this link and clicking on "email" on the right hand side of the page: Estate Tax.

Overview of Massachusetts Estate Tax Laws

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Understanding How Massachusetts Estate Taxes Affect an Estate
By Julie Garber, About.com Guide

If you live in Massachusetts, then you live in one of a handful of states that still collect a state estate tax. The estates of Massachusetts residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in Massachusetts, are subject to a state estate tax under the following guidelines.

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

When is an estate subject to the Massachusetts estate tax?

For Massachusetts residents, an estate may be subject to the Massachusetts estate tax if the value of the gross estate, plus adjusted taxable gifts, exceeds the applicable exclusion amount in the Internal Revenue Code in effect on December 31, 2000. The applicable exclusion amounts for Massachusetts estate tax purposes are $700,000 for 2003, $850,000 for 2004, $950,000 for 2005, and $1,000,000 for 2006 and later years. Thus, in general, under current law an estate may be subject to the Massachusetts estate tax if the value exceeds $1,000,000. For nonresidents of Massachusetts, an estate may be subject to the Massachusetts estate tax if it includes real estate or tangible personal property having a taxable situs within the state of Massachusetts and the value of the gross estate exceeds $1,000,000 under the criteria set forth above.

What Massachusetts estate tax forms must be filed?

The estate representative of an estate that is subject to the Massachusetts estate tax must first complete a federal estate tax return, IRS Form 706, with a revision date of July 1999 and all applicable schedules. Once the federal return is completed, the estate representative can prepare the Massachusetts Estate Tax Return, Form M-706.

In addition to IRS Form 706 with a revision date of July 1999 and a Form M-706, the following documents may be required to be filed:

A Federal Closing Letter submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue within two months of receipt, if the filing of a federal Form 706 is required. This includes both the federal letter of acceptance and line adjustments, if any. Copies of federal changes must be accompanied by an Application for Abatement/Amended Return (Form CA-6), or by an amended Form M-706, as appropriate. No Massachusetts Estate Closing Letter will be issued without a copy of the Federal Closing Letter.

A Certificate Releasing Massachusetts Estate Tax Lien (Form M-792) in triplicate for each parcel of real estate where a release of lien is required. A copy of the deed or certificate of title, and the purchase and sale agreement (or mortgage commitment), if any, should be provided.

A Massachusetts Nonresident Decedent Affidavit (Form M-NRA) for the estates of nonresident decedents.

Are transfers to a surviving spouse taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, a Massachusetts estate tax may be due on the B Trust as a result of a gap between the Massachusetts exemption and the federal exemption. In 2013, that gap is $4,250,000. Nonetheless, a married decedent's estate can make a Massachusetts-only election to treat a trust of which the surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary as "qualified terminable interest property" ("QTIP Trust" for short) for purposes of calculating the Massachusetts estate tax. Thus, since there is a significant gap between the Massachusetts estate tax exemption and the federal exemption and a state-only QTIP election is allowed, married Massachusetts residents can defer payment of both Massachusetts and federal death taxes until after the death of the surviving spouse using ABC Trust planning.

When are the Massachusetts estate tax return and tax payment due?

The Massachusetts estate tax return must be filed, and any estate tax due must be paid, within nine months after the decedent's date of death.

By submitting an "Application for Extension of Time to File Massachusetts Estate Tax Return" (Form M-4768), an extension of time to file Form M-706 may be granted for a reasonable period, provided the application is made on or before the original due date of the return and 100% of the estimated amount of Massachusetts estate tax is paid. Failure to pay at least 80% of the amount of estate tax finally determined to be due on or before the due date will void any extension of time to file, and the return will be subject to the late filing penalty and, possibly, the late payment penalty. Interest will accrue on any unpaid tax from the original due date.

By filing an "Application for Extension of Time to Pay Massachusetts Estate Tax" (Form M-4768A), an extension of time to pay Massachusetts estate taxes may be granted for a reasonable period, but not to exceed six months. However, when an extension of time to pay is granted, interest on any unpaid tax accrues from the original due date. An extension is granted only for reasonable cause. An extension of up to three years from the due date may be granted upon a showing of undue hardship.

Where are the Massachusetts estate tax return filed and tax payment made?

Payment of the Massachusetts estate tax must be made by a check payable to the :Commonwealth of Massachusetts." Enter the decedent’s full name and Social Security number in the memo portion of the check. The executor signing the return is personally liable for payment of any tax shown on the return if it is not otherwise paid.

The return and the tax payment should be sent to the following:

Massachusetts Estate Tax Unit
P.O. Box 7023
Boston, MA 02204

What is the Massachusetts estate tax rate?

Effective for dates of death on or after January 1, 2003, the Massachusetts estate tax for the estates of residents and nonresidents is computed with reference to the allowable federal estate tax credit for state death taxes allowed in the Internal Revenue Code in effect on December 31, 2000.

If an estate consists solely of property subject to Massachusetts estate taxation, it pays to Massachusetts an amount equal to the federal credit for state death taxes computed using the Internal Revenue Code in effect on December 31, 2000.

In the case of a resident of Massachusetts who owned or transferred real estate or tangible personal property located outside of Massachusetts, Massachusetts grants a credit for estate or inheritance taxes properly paid to other states.

In the case of a nonresident of Massachusetts who owned or transferred real estate or tangible personal property located in Massachusetts, the amount of the Massachusetts nonresident estate tax is the proportion of the allowable credit from the federal estate tax return that the gross value of the Massachusetts property bears to the entire federal gross estate wherever situated.

For an explanation and examples on how to calculate the Massachusetts estate tax, refer to following information listed on the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website: A Guide to Estate Taxes (Applicable to dates of death on or after January 1, 2003).

When is a release of Massachusetts estate tax lien required?

For dates of death on or after January 1, 1997, if the amount of the gross estate requires the filing of a Massachusetts estate tax return, a "Certificate Releasing Massachusetts Estate Tax Lien" (Form M-792) is required for real estate that is owned jointly with rights of survivorship or as tenants by the entirety, real estate that is held in a trust and other real estate that is not part of the probate inventory but is includible in the taxable gross estate. Form M-792 may be required for probate real estate where there is a sale pending (or mortgage commitment), and no closing letter has been issued.

For estates of decedents dying on or after January 1, 2003 that are not required to file M-706, an affidavit of the executor, subscribed to under the pains and penalties of perjury, recorded in the applicable Registry of Deeds and accurately stating that the value of the decedent's gross estate does not require a Massachusetts estate tax filing, is required to release the gross estate of the lien. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue does not publish blank affidavits for filing in the Registry of Deeds, although some Registries may publish sample affidavits and provide them to the public.

For the estates of decedents dying on or after January 1, 2003 that equal or exceed the Massachusetts filing requirement for the year of death, the Commissioner of Revenue will release the lien with respect to property if the Commissioner is satisfied that the collection of the tax will not be jeopardized. The Commissioner will release the lien by issuing Form M-792, "Certificate Releasing Massachusetts Estate Tax Lien."

Where can I find additional information about Massachusetts estate taxes?

For more information about Massachusetts estate taxes, refer to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website: A Guide to Estate Taxes (Applicable to dates of death on or after January 1, 2003).

Overview of Maryland Estate Tax Laws

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Understanding How Maryland Estate Taxes Affect an Estate
By Julie Garber, About.com Guide

If you live in Maryland, then you live in one of a handful of states that still collect a state estate tax. In addition, Maryland is one of six states that collects a state inheritance tax (New Jersey is the only other state that collects both an estate tax and an inheritance tax.)

The estates of Maryland residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate, tangible personal property, and/or one or more business entities located in Maryland, are subject to a state estate tax under the following guidelines.

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

When is an estate subject to the Maryland estate tax?

For Maryland residents, an estate may be subject to the Maryland estate tax if the federal gross estate, plus adjusted taxable gifts, plus property for which a Maryland qualified terminal interest property (QTIP) election was previously made on a Maryland estate tax return filed for the estate of the decedent's predeceased spouse, equals or exceeds $1,000,000.

For nonresidents of Maryland, an estate may be subject to the Maryland estate tax if it includes real estate or tangible personal property having a taxable situs within the state of Maryland and the value of the federal gross estate equals or exceeds $1,000,000 under the criteria set forth above.

What Maryland estate tax forms must be filed?

The estate representative of an estate that is subject to the Maryland estate tax must first complete a federal estate tax return, IRS Form 706, for the year of the decedent's death, even if the estate is not required to file a federal estate tax return. Once the federal return is completed, the estate representative can prepare the Maryland Estate Tax Return, Form MET-1.

Are transfers to a surviving spouse taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, a Maryland estate tax may be due on the B Trust as a result of a gap between the Maryland exemption and the federal exemption. In 2013, that gap is $4,250,000. Nonetheless, a married decedent's estate can make a Maryland-only election to treat a trust of which the surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary as "qualified terminable interest property" ("QTIP Trust" for short) for purposes of calculating the Maryland estate tax. Thus, since there is a gap between the Maryland estate tax exemption and the federal exemption and a state-only QTIP election is allowed, married Maryland residents can defer payment of both Maryland and federal death taxes until after the death of the surviving spouse using ABC Trust planning.

When are the Maryland estate tax return and tax payment due?

The Maryland estate tax return must be filed, and any estate tax due must be paid, within nine months after the decedent's date of death.

An automatic six-month extension of time to file the Maryland estate tax return and related forms may be requested on Form MET-1E (or up to one year if the person required to file the return is located outside of the U.S.); however, this will not extend the time to pay the tax, and interest will accrue during the extension period. In addition, a penalty of up to 10% will be assessed if the estate tax bill is not paid by the estate tax return due date.

Where are the Maryland estate tax return filed and tax payment made?

For Maryland residents, the Maryland Estate Tax Return, Form MET-1, should be filed with the Register of Wills of the county where the decedent's probate estate is being administered or, if no probate estate is required, then in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death.

For nonresidents, file the Maryland Estate Tax Return, Form MET-1, with the Register of Wills of the county where the nonresident owned real estate or tangible personal property.

For links to all 24 Maryland Register of Wills websites, refer to the Office of the Register of Wills website.

Mail the estate tax payment directly to the Comptroller of Maryland on or before the due date of the Maryland estate tax return at the following address:

Comptroller of Maryland Estate Tax Section
P.O. Box 828
Annapolis, MD 21404-0828

What is the Maryland estate tax rate?

According to the Maryland Comptroller's website, there is no Maryland estate tax rate table. Instead, the Maryland estate tax tax is calculated using the maximum allowable credit for state death taxes under §2011 of the Internal Revenue Code, as computed for Maryland purposes, less any Maryland inheritance tax paid to the Register of Wills. For decedents dying after December 31, 2005, the tax cannot exceed 16% of the amount by which the decedent’s taxable estate exceeds $1,000,000. If the Maryland inheritance tax is equal to or exceeds the federal credit for state death taxes, no Maryland estate tax is due.

For an explanation and tips on how to calculate the Maryland estate tax, refer to following information listed on the Comptroller of Maryland's website: Maryland Estate Tax Calculation Method.

Where can I find additional information about Maryland estate taxes?

For more information about Maryland estate taxes, refer to the Comptroller of Maryland's website: Maryland Estate and Inheritance Tax.

Call the Maryland Comptroller's Office with your Maryland estate tax questions at 410-260-7850 from Central Maryland or 1-800 MD TAXES from elsewhere, Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EDT.

You can also e-mail your Maryland estate tax questions as well as fiduciary tax questions to taxhelp@comp.state.md.us. How have the Maryland estate tax laws changed over the past few years?

On May 22, 2012, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed the "Family Farm Preservation Act" into law. This legislation, which was passed by unanimous votes in both the House and Senate, reduces the Maryland estate tax rate assessed against Maryland farms valued over $5 million from 16% down to 5% when the property passes to someone who agrees to continue to use it for agricultural purposes. If the property is then taken out of agricultural use within 10 years of the owner's death, the estate tax will be recaptured. The law went into effect on July 1, 2012 and applies to deaths occurring after December 31, 2011.

 

Overview of Illinois Estate Tax Laws

Posted on

Understanding How Illinois Estate Taxes Affect an Estate
By Julie Garber, About.com Guide

If you live in Illinois, then you live in one of a handful of states that still collect a state death tax. The estates of Illinois residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in Illinois, are subject to a state death tax under the following guidelines.

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

How have the Illinois estate tax rules changed in the past few years?

The Illinois estate tax rules have changed significantly in the past few years. In 2009, the Illinois estate tax exemption was $2,000,000. In 2010, the Illinois estate tax was repealed due to changes in the federal estate tax laws. In 2011, the Illinois legislature acted quickly to reinstate the state estate tax with a $2,000,000 exemption. Then, in December 2011, the Illinois legislature acted to raise the estate tax exemption to $3,500,000 for 2012 and $4,000,000 for 2013. The information presented below applies to deaths that occur in 2012 only.

When is an estate subject to the Illinois estate tax?

For Illinois residents, a 2012 estate may be subject to the Illinois estate tax if the total gross estate exceeds $3,500,000.

For nonresidents of Illinois, a 2012 estate may be subject to the Illinois estate tax if it includes real estate and/or tangible personal property having a situs within the state of Illinois and the gross estate exceeds $3,500,000. What Illinois estate tax forms must be filed?

The estate representative of a 2012 estate that is subject to the Illinois estate tax must file an Illinois Estate & Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return, Form 700, as well as a federal estate tax return, IRS Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return (or any other form containing the same information), even if the estate is not required to file IRS Form 706. IRS Form 706 must include all schedules, appraisals, wills, trusts, attachments, etc., as the federal Form 706 would have for a 2011 decedent with a tentative taxable estate plus adjusted taxable gifts over $2,000,000. The Illinois estate tax will then be determined using the inter-related calculation for 2012 decedents as discussed below.

Note that when the 2012 tentative taxable estate plus adjusted taxable gifts exceeds $5,120,000, Illinois Form 700 is to be prepared in the same manner for 2012 as for 2011, and must therefore include a copy of IRS Form 706 with all attachments.

Are transfers to a surviving spouse taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, an Illinois death tax may be due on the B Trust after the first spouse's death due to the gap of $1,620,000 between the Illinois exemption of $3,500,000 and the federal exemption of $5,120,000. Nonetheless, a married decedent's estate can make an election to treat a trust of which the surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary as "qualified terminable interest property" ("QTIP" for short) for purposes of calculating the Illinois estate tax. Thus, married Illinois residents can defer payment of both Illinois and federal death taxes until after the death of the surviving spouse using ABC Trust planning.

When are the Illinois estate tax return and tax payment due?

The Illinois estate tax return must be filed, and any estate tax due must be paid, within nine months after the decedent's date of death.

An extension of time to file the Illinois estate tax return and related forms and pay any tax due may be requested; however, this will not extend the time to pay the tax, and interest will accrue during the extension period.

Where are the Illinois estate tax return filed and tax payment made?

For Cook, DuPage, Lake and McHenry Counties, file the original of the return with:

Office of the Attorney General Revenue Litigation Bureau
100 West Randolph Street
13th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60601

For all other counties, file the original of the return with:

Office of the Attorney General Revenue Litigation Bureau
500 South Second Street
Springfield, Illinois 62706

Effective July 1, 2012, an additional copy of the return, without attachments, must also be filed with the State Treasurer as indicated below.

Effective July 1, 2012, all estate tax payments should be directed to one of the State Treasurer’s offices, which is encouraging people to mail the applicable returns, attachments, and payments to the Springfield office; however, taxes may be paid in person at either office indicated below:

By mail or in person:

Illinois State Treasurer Estate Tax Division
400 W. Monroe, Suite 401
Springfield, IL 62704

In person: Illinois State Treasurer
100 West Randolph Street
Suite 15-600
Chicago, IL 60601

How is the Illinois estate tax calculated?

The Illinois estate tax is determined using the inter-related calculation. For both resident and non-resident decedents, the tax base will be calculated assuming all assets are located within Illinois. (Line 6, Schedule A or B, Form 700). The percentage of Illinois assets to total assets is then computed with the percentage applied to the tax base for apportionment purposes to determine the amount of Illinois estate tax due.

For deaths that occurred on or after January 1, 2012, use the following calculator provided by the Illinois Attorney General's office to calculate the tax due: 2012 Decedent Estate Tax Calculator. Where can I find additional information about Illinois estate taxes?

For more information about Illinois estate taxes, including information for the estates of decedents who died in 2011 and prior years, refer to the Illinois Attorney General's Estate Tax webpage. For more information about estate tax payments, refer to the Illinois Treasurer's Inheritance Tax and Estate Tax webpage.

Overview of Hawaii Estate Tax Laws

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Understanding How Hawaii Estate Taxes Affect an Estate
By Julie Garber, About.com Guide

If you live in Hawaii, then you live in one of a handful of states that still collect a local death tax. The estates of Hawaii residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in Hawaii, are subject to a local death tax under the following guidelines.

NOTE: State and local laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes.  For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

When is an estate subject to the Hawaii estate tax?

In 2013, an estate of a resident of Hawaii, or a nonresident of Hawaii but U.S. resident or citizen, is taxable in Hawaii and a Hawaii Estate Tax Return, Form M-6, is required to be filed if the taxable estate (determined using IRS Form 706, Part 2, line 3a) is $5,250,000 or greater. Nonetheless, if the decedent is survived by a spouse and the spouse is allowed to claim an election for transfer, or "portability," of the deceased spouse’s unused estate tax exclusion amount, then a Hawaii Estate Tax Return must be filed to make the election. See more on portability below.

The estate of a nonresident of the U.S., not a U.S. citizen, is taxable and a Hawaii Estate Tax Return is required to be filed if the taxable estate (determined using IRS Form 706-NA, Part II, line 1) is $60,000 or greater.

What Hawaii estate tax forms must be filed?

The personal representative or other fiduciary representing an estate that is subject to the Hawaii estate tax must complete and file the Hawaii Estate Tax Return, Form E-1.

Additional documents that must be filed with the Hawaii Department of Taxation when a Hawaii Estate Tax Return is required to filed are as follows: ◾IRS Form 706 (for the year of death) completed through Part 2, line 12, or IRS Form 706-NA completed through Part II, line 8 ◾All federal schedules with federal Forms 712, as required ◾Death certificate ◾Will ◾Trusts ◾Power of appointment documents ◾A copy of another state’s estate tax return or foreign estate tax return, if the estate is subject to other estate taxes ◾Any valuations or appraisals

Note that for estates that are not required to file a Hawaii Estate Tax Return, the personal representative or person(s) in possession, control, or custody of the decedent's property must file a Request for Release, Form M-6A, with the Department of Taxation if the agent wishes to obtain a release which indicates that the personal representative or person(s) in possession, control, or custody is/are free from taxes under chapter 236E, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS).

Are transfers to a surviving spouse taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, since the Hawaii estate tax exemption equals the federal estate tax exemption, a Hawaii death tax will not be due on the B Trust after the first spouse's death since there will not be a gap between the Hawaii exemption and the federal exemption.

Are transfers to a civil union partner taxable?

On January 1, 2012, civil unions became recognized in Hawaii. Civil unions entered into in a jurisdiction other than Hawaii are also recognized, provided that the relationship meets Hawaii’s eligibility requirements, has been entered into in accordance with the laws of the other jurisdiction, and can be documented. Hawaii law provides the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) sections and provisions referred to in Hawaii’s estate and generation-skipping transfer tax Laws that apply to a husband and wife, spouses, or person in a legal marital relationship will apply to partners in a civil union with the same force and effect as if they were “husband and wife”, “spouses”, or other terms that describe persons in a legal marital relationship.” Accordingly, references to “married”, “unmarried”, and “spouse” also means “in a civil union”, “not in a civil union”, and “civil union partner”, respectively.

Is portability of the Hawaii estate tax exception allowed between spouses?

Yes, but portability of Hawaii's estate tax exemption applies only to decedents who die after January 25, 2012 and who were U.S. residents or U.S. citizens and validly married on the date of death (including Hawaii civil unions or the equivalent) and to nonresidents of U.S., not U.S. citizens, where allowed by any applicable treaty obligation of the United States.

What is the Hawaii estate tax rate?

The Hawaii estate tax rate is a progressive one that starts out at 5% and tops out at 16%.

When are the Hawaii estate tax return and tax payment due?

The Hawaii Estate Tax Return, Form M-6, must be filed, and any estate tax due must be paid, within 9 months of the decedent's date of death. An extension of time to file the Hawaii Estate Tax Return does not extend the time to pay any tax due.

An extension to file the Hawaii Estate Tax Return, Form M-6, is based on the federal extension to file the federal estate tax return. Hawaii does not have a separate extension form, but an automatic six-month extension to file Form M-6 will be granted if: 1.A copy of the IRS approved extension to file the federal estate tax return, IRS Form 4768, is attached to Form M-6; and 2.Form M-6 is filed by the due date specified by the IRS for filing the federal estate tax return.

Where are the Hawaii estate tax return filed and tax payment made?

Mail all required forms and any payment due to:

Hawaii Department of Taxation
P.O. Box 259
Honolulu, Hawaii 96809-0259

Where can I find additional information about Hawaii estate taxes?

For more information about Hawaii estate taxes, refer to the Department of Taxation's website: Hawaii Department of Taxation.

You may call customer service at 808-587-4242 or toll free at 1-800-222-3229; Telephone for the Hearing Impaired at 808-587-1418 or toll free at 1-800-887-8974; or send a fax to 808-587-1488.

You may also email the department at Taxpayer.Services@hawaii.gov

Correspondence may be mailed to:

Taxpayer Services Branch
P.O. Box 259
Honolulu, HI 96809-0259

Does Hawaii collect an inheritance tax?

Does Hawaii collect a local inheritance tax, which is a tax assessed against the share received by each individual beneficiary of an estate as opposed to an estate tax, which is assessed against the entire estate? The answer to this question is No, Hawaii no longer collects a state inheritance tax because it was replaced with a state estate tax under "The Estate and Transfer Tax Reform Act of 1983."

Overview of District of Columbia Estate Tax Laws

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Understanding How DC Estate Taxes Affect an Estate

By Julie Garber, About.com Guide If you live in the District of Columbia, then you live in one of a handful of jurisdictions that still collect a local death tax. The estates of DC residents, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in DC, are subject to a local death tax under the following guidelines.

NOTE: State and local laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

When is an estate subject to the DC estate tax?

For DC residents, an estate may be subject to the DC estate tax if the total gross estate exceeds $1,000,000.

For nonresidents of DC, an estate may be subject to the DC estate tax if it includes real estate and/or tangible personal property having a situs within the District of Columbia and the gross estate exceeds $1,000,000. Ads

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If the estate is not passing to a surviving spouse or being donated to charity and the estate is subject to the DC estate tax, then the estate representative must file a DC Estate Tax Return called Form D-76.

If the estate is passing to a surviving spouse or being donated to charity and the estate is subject to the DC estate tax, then the estate representative must file a DC Estate Tax Return called Form D-76EZ.

The following documents should be attached to DC Form D-76 or DC Form D-76EZ, if applicable:

A copy of Form FR-77 (Extension of Time to File DC Estate Tax Return)     A copy of the Letters of Administration     A copy of the Power of Attorney     A copy of the decedent's Last Will and Testament     A complete copy of IRS Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, including all attachments, if the estate is required to file IRS Form 706; OR, a current copy of pages 1-3 of IRS Form 706, if the estate is not required to IRS Form 706     A copy of all certified appraisals of the decedent's property and a copy of the Death Certificate.

Note that as indicated above, a DC Estate Tax Return may be required to be filed even if a federal estate tax return, IRS Form 706, is not required to be filed. In addition, even if the estate will not be required to file IRS Form 706, if a DC Estate Tax Return is required to be filed, then pages 1 - 3 of IRS Form 706 need to be prepared and filed with the DC Estate Tax Return.

Are transfers to a surviving spouse taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, a DC death tax may be due on the B Trust after the first spouse's death due to the gap of $4,250,000 between the DC exemption of $1,000,000 and the federal exemption of $5,250,000. While some states allow a married decedent's estate to make an election to treat a trust of which the surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary as "qualified terminable interest property" ("QTIP" for short) for purposes of calculating the local estate tax, DC law does not specifically allow for this, although some practitioners have been able to do this. Thus, married DC residents should consult with a DC estate planning attorney to determine if they should incorporate ABC Trust planning into their estate plan.

When are the DC estate tax return and tax payment due?

The DC estate tax return must be filed, and any estate tax due must be paid, within 10 months after the decedent's date of death.

A six-month extension of time to file the DC estate tax return and related forms and pay any tax due may be requested; however, this will not extend the time to pay the tax, and interest will accrue during the extension period. Interest is charged at the rate of 10% per year, compounded daily and without regard to any extension.

All extension requests must be requested using DC Form FR-77; IRS Form 4768 will not be accepted. Where are the DC estate tax return filed and tax payment made?

Mail returns and payments to:

Office of Tax and Revenue Audit Division Estate Tax Unit
P.O. Box 556
Washington, DC, 20044-0556

Checks should be made payable to the "DC Treasurer."

How is the DC estate tax calculated?

The DC estate tax rate is a progressive tax that maxes out at 16% for estates valued at $10,040,000 or more. Use the Estate Tax Computation Worksheet to calculate the tax due.

Where can I find additional information about DC estate taxes?

For more information about DC estate taxes, refer to the DC Office of Tax and Revenue's Estate, Fiduciary, and Inheritance Taxes Frequently Asked Questions.

Does DC collect an inheritance tax?

Does the District of Columbia currently collect a local inheritance tax, which is a tax assessed against the share received by each individual beneficiary of an estate as opposed to an estate tax, which is assessed against the entire estate? The answer to this question is No, the District of Columbia inheritance tax was repealed effective for deaths occurring on or after April 1, 1987.

Connecticut Estate Tax Laws

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Connecticut, Land of Both Estate and Gift Taxes

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

Connecticut residents, as well as nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in Connecticut, are subject to gift taxes and state estate taxes under the following guidelines.

What is the Connecticut taxable estate?

The Connecticut taxable estate is the sum of (1) the total value of the decedent’s federal gross estate less allowable deductions other than the deduction for state death taxes; and (2) the aggregate amount of Connecticut taxable gifts made by the decedent during his or her lifetime for all calendar years beginning on or after January 1, 2005.

When is an estate subject to the Connecticut estate tax?

If the Connecticut taxable estate as determined above exceeds $2,000,000, then Connecticut estate tax is due and payable on the value of the taxable estate, including the first $2,000,000. Note: For deaths occurring on or after January 1, 2010 and on or before December 31, 2010, the state estate tax exemption was increased from $2,000,000 to $3,500,000.

What Connecticut estate tax forms must be filed?

All estates subject to the Connecticut estate tax must file Form CT-706/709, Connecticut Estate and Gift Tax Return, with the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services, and also file a copy of Form CT-706/709 with the appropriate Connecticut probate court.

Are transfers to a surviving spouse taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce federal estate taxes, Connecticut estate tax may be due on the B Trust after the first spouse's death. A married decedent's estate is authorized to make an election on Form CT-706/709 to treat property as marital deduction qualified terminable interest property ("QTIP") only for purposes of calculating the Connecticut estate tax (this is called a "state QTIP election"). What this means is that if the estate is passing to a surviving spouse through an ABC Trust scheme, then the payment of both Connecticut and federal estate taxes can be deferred until after the death of the surviving spouse.

Do Connecticut nontaxable estates have to file any tax forms?

If the sum of the Connecticut taxable estate is $2,000,000 or less for deaths occurring before January 1, 2010 or after January 1, 2011, or $3,500,000 for deaths occurring between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010, then no Connecticut estate and gift tax return will be due. However, all Connecticut estates must file Form CT-706 NT, Connecticut Estate Tax Return (For Nontaxable Estates), with the appropriate Connecticut district probate court. Do not file Form CT-706 NT with the Department of Revenue Services. Form CT-706 NT must be filed with the appropriate Connecticut district probate court.

When is the Connecticut estate tax return and any payment required due?

For deaths occurring before July 1, 2009, Form CT-706/709 for the Connecticut estate tax is due within nine months after the date of the decedent's death unless an extension of time to file is requested.

For deaths occurring on or after July 1, 2009, Form CT-706/709 for the Connecticut estate tax is due within six months after the date of the decedent's death unless an extension of time to file is requested.

Use Form CT-706/709 EXT, Application for Estate and Gift Tax Return Filing Extension and for Estate Tax Payment Extension, to apply for an extension of time to file.

Payment of the Connecticut estate tax is due at the same time as Form CT-706/709 unless an extension of time to pay has been granted.

Where is the Connecticut estate tax return filed?

Mail the Connecticut estate tax return, Form CT-706/709, and all other required forms to:

Department of Revenue Services
P.O. Box 2978
Hartford, CT 06104-2978

Do not mail your Connecticut nontaxable estate return, Form CT-706 NT, to the Department of Revenue Services. Instead, this form gets filed with the appropriate Connecticut district probate court. What is the Connecticut estate tax rate?

The Connecticut estate tax rate is a progressive one that starts with 5.085% of the first $100,000 over the $2,000,000 threshold and rises to 16% for the amount above $10,100,000.

Where can I get more information about Connecticut estate taxes?

For more information on Connecticut estate taxes, refer to Connecticut Estate Tax Resources From the Department of Revenue Website.

What about other states that collect estate taxes or inheritance taxes?

For information about other states that collect estate taxes, refer to the State Estate Tax and Exemption Chart.

For information about state inheritance taxes, which are different from state estate taxes, refer to the State Inheritance Tax Chart.

About.com

You’re Young; Do You Need an Estate Plan?

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While the trend these days is for people to live well into their 80s and 90s, I'm hearing more and more about the unexpected deaths of people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. During my 15 years of practice I've met with my fair share of young widows or widowers or the parents of a child who died unexpectedly, and in all cases but one there wasn't any estate planning done. And even in the one estate where the deceased husband did have a will, it had been written while he was still single and lived in New Jersey and it hadn't been updated after the birth of his child, his second marriage, or even after the couple moved to Florida. What a mess that was to deal with and I hate to say this, but in the big picture the young family probably would have been better off without any will at all instead of an extremely old and out of date will. I can't emphasize enough how important it is for everyone, young and old alike, to have an estate plan. But as my example of the young husband who failed to update his will after major changes in his life demonstrates, that's really not enough. You also need to make sure that all of the important documents that are included in your estate plan - wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance medical directives - are kept up to date and change as your family, finances, and the law change. This will require a yearly meeting with your estate planning attorney, but that's OK because you need to understand that estate planning is not a one shot deal but an ongoing process. And the time to start the process or continue the process is now.

In a 2004 survey conducted by Lawyers.com, the two most frequent reasons adult Americans cited for not having an estate plan were insufficient assets and not being old enough to need a plan. Sadly, those who hold these beliefs are greatly mistaken. With life's ups and downs comes the need for basic estate planning for both the young and old alike. Here are six estate planning tips for young singles and couples that can nonetheless be used by singles and couples of all ages.

1. Don't Rule Out a Prenuptial Agreement If you are young and do not think that you need a prenuptial agreement before getting married, think again. Many circumstances warrant at least considering a prenuptial agreement, including being involved in a family-owned business or owning your own business; having part of your paycheck stashed away in a 401(k) or other retirement plan; the possibility of inheriting assets from your family; owning a residence that will be used as the marital home; or marrying someone who has already accumulated a large amount of debt. A prenuptial agreement can protect what assets you currently have or significant assets that you expect to inherit, and can also protect you from your spouse-to-be's debts acquired before the marriage.

2. Make an Estate Plan for Medical Emergencies Twenty-six year old Terri Schiavo of Florida certainly did not anticipate slipping into a coma in 1990 and then having her husband and parents fight over her medical care and ultimate wishes for the next 15 years. Planning for medical emergencies is a must for everyone and should include the signing of two important legal documents called a Living Will and an Advance Medical Directive.

3. Make an Estate Plan for Financial Emergencies If you are out of the country on business and your spouse is at home trying to sell the house, or if you are in an accident and expected to fully recover but will be in the hospital for a while, then you will need a Durable Power of Attorney to allow your spouse or other person of your choice to manage your finances and sign legal documents on your behalf.

4. Make an Estate Plan for an Untimely Death Planning for an untimely death is important, particularly if you are in a committed relationship and/or have young children. If you fail to make an estate plan, then the state where you live at the time of your death will make one for you and in most situations the plan will not be what you would have wanted had you taken the time to make your own plan. Aside from this, assets titled in your individual name will need to be probated to transfer them into your beneficiaries' names after you die. Having at least a basic Last Will and Testament in place that puts someone in charge of settling your estate and names your preferred beneficiaries and a guardian for your minor children will give your loved ones peace of mind during a difficult time.

5. Make an Estate Plan for Your Minor Children Even if you do not think that you have enough money or property to need an estate plan, you will need to make a plan if you have minor children. If you do not, then control of the minor's inheritance will be taken over by a court-supervised guardian or conservator. Then, depending on the laws of the state where the minor lives, when the minor reaches the age of 18 or 21 all of the remaining guardianship funds will be turned over to the young adult, free and clear of any guidance or strings attached. Aside from this, if you and the other parent of your children both die while the children are still minors, then the children will become wards of the court until a judge can decide who the children should live with until they become adults.

6. Buy Term Life Insurance When you are young, term life insurance is really cheap and can offer your family financial security if you were to die prematurely. The insurance proceeds can be used for things such as paying off your outstanding medical and credit card bills; paying off your mortgage; replacing your lost income; paying for your children's care and education; and/or paying for a live in nanny, day care or after school care. Term life insurance is also easy to buy these days with services like Intelliquote, Quickquote and Reliaquote. Or, if you are offered term life insurance at work, buy it.

Everyone Needs an Estate Plan

Estate planning is not just for older or wealthy people. Younger people, especially those with minor children, need to have a will and estate plan in place in order to give instructions to their loved ones to follow in the event of a debilitating accident or untimely death. Celebrities like Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith (also known as Vickie Lynn Marshall), Princess Diana, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson, and, most recently, Brittany Murphy, all died unexpectedly, and yet each and every one of them had a will and estate plan. It's just common sense.

Julie's Wills & Estate Planning Blog

Mechelle McNair Asks Probate Court for Over $3.7 Million to Pay Estate Tax Bills

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On March 30 Jonula "Mechelle" McNair, the widow of murdered NFL quarterback Steve McNair, asked a Tennessee probate court to allow the dispursement of over $3.7 million from her husband's estate to pay nearly $2.9 million in estate taxes owed to the IRS and over $860,000 in estate taxes owed to the state of Tennessee.

The motion filed with the probate court stated that the tax payments were due on or before April 5. In fact, both federal and Tennessee estate taxes are due nine months after the date of death, but since McNair died on July 4 and April 4 fell on a Sunday, the estate had an extra day to pay. Strangely enough the motion that sought release of the funds was filed on March 30 and the judge signed the order granting the motion on the same day, leaving not a minute to spare.

The motion does state that both the federal and Tennessee estate tax returns will need to be amended once Mechelle McNair's share of the estate is finally determined. But since the estate clearly has the cash necessary to pay the estimated tax bills, Mechelle McNair apparently decided to pay the bills on time in order to avoid interest that would begin to accrue on any unpaid portion due and owing after April 5.

The really sad thing in all of this is the fact that 100% of both federal and Tennessee estate taxes could have been avoided if Steve McNair had simply taken the time to do proper estate planning. This would have meant over $3.7 million in the pockets of his heirs instead of in the pockets of the IRS and the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

 

FAQ’s

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What is the difference between affiliation and a free membership?

Affiliation positions you as part of the professional Advisor or Attorney Network, and allows you to access to our document solutions, full resources & website back-office, our nationwide Network and referral programs.  Choose affiliation if you want to participate in the process of helping your clients obtain the best trust documents for their estate planning needs, and the best resources to help you grow the estate planning portion of your business.  Affiliation includes an “Affiliate Membership” access level to the resources available on our website.

Do I have to affiliate to attend a Training Institute?

No. As a financial planner or attorney, you are welcome to attend our training Institutes.  View the details for each scheduled event on the home page under “Training Events.”  We want to see you there!

How often is new material posted?

New articles are posted monthly.  New videos and tools are posted quarterly.  Keep checking with us, as we have more exciting things on the way!

Can I link these videos or articles to my website?

Yes, there are videos that you can post in your website.  Please contact us for more details on this at 800-292-0223.

When I click an article or video, it takes me to the “Become a Member” page.  Why?

The articles, videos, case studies, and tools are coded for different levels of membership.  If you are a free member, only the articles on the home page or videos labeled “FREE” are available for viewing.  If you are not setup as an Affiliate member, you will need to at least register for a free membership to view the free postings.

Can I submit trust document requests directly through this website?

No.  All trust requests only come to us from our Attorney Network, which are provided with another system to communicate their document needs.

I don’t see a list of Network Advisors or Attorneys.  How do I know who’s available in my area?

If you would like to speak with an advisor or attorney about your estate planning needs, please contact our Client Services Department at 800.292.0223 to be provided with the closest active affiliate in your area.

If you are part of the Network and are looking for a colleague in another location, please call 800.292.0223 for assistance.

What if I want to upgrade my membership mid-year?

You can upgrade at anytime, just give us a call at 800-292-0223.

How do I change my password?

You are able to change your password by calling Advisor Services at 800.292.0223 for assistance.

How do I update my email address?

If you wish to update your email address please contact us at 800-292-0223 or alliances@tepsource.com

How do I cancel my membership?

You can cancel at anytime through your account or by contacting us at 800-292-0223 or alliances@tepsource.com

 

 

After The Fiscal Cliff

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Fiscal CliffWhat has Changed in the Estate and Gift Tax Laws? By Geri McHam

Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012’’ (“ATRA”) that made the federal estate tax exemption permanent on January 1, 2013.  In a last minute move before we went over the “fiscal cliff”, in an 11th hour tax law passed by the Senate on New Year’s Eve, and by the House of Representatives one day later, mostly what Congress did was to make permanent the system that has been in effect for the past two years.  I am just thankful that we now have permanence that has been missing for the last 12 years.

What’s most important to us as planners is how the “fiscal cliff” deal changes will affect our clients’ existing estate plans and whether any changes are necessary.

Most estate planning documents deal with non-tax issues, including the very valuable benefit of structuring assets to avoid the probate process at death and to provide creditor protection for beneficiaries.  The Power of Attorney, Conservator, and healthcare documents are all extremely important and necessary.  These documents are critical to avoid unnecessary court oversight and expense, delay, and intrusion.

What are the provisions of the ATRA that will affect my estate planning practice or clients?

Top gift, estate and GST tax rates are set at 40%. ATRA 2012 establishes the top gift, estate, and GST tax rates at 40% for gifts made and decedents dying in 2013 and thereafter. This top rate is higher than the 2012 rate of 35%, but lower than the 55% rate that would have come into effect on January 1 in the absence of legislation. This top rate will apply to transfers exceeding the exemption amounts.

Exemption amount:  Permanently set at $5,000,000 per client, indexed for an inflation adjustment beginning 2012 ($5.12 million in 2012).   The estate tax exclusion amount for deaths in 2013 will be $5.25 million.

Gift Tax Rate:  The estate and gift taxes will remain unified, so the $5 million exemption also applies for gift tax purposes, and will follow the estate tax rate.  The rate was permanently set to 40% of the amount over the exemption.  In addition, the annual gift exclusion amount was raised to $14,000 per person this year.

Generation Skipping Tax Rate:  The generation skipping tax exemption follows the estate tax rate.  The rate was permanently set to 40% of the amount over the exemption.

Portability made permanent:  Further, the deal continues the estate tax portability provisions that allow a surviving spouse to take advantage of his or her deceased spouse’s unused exemption amount. This provision allows a surviving spouse to avoid complicated estate planning by recognizing that gifts between spouses are typically tax free and allowing the exemption to be portable between both spouses.  In order to utilize this, a 706 tax return MUST be filed within 9 months, so in my opinion, portability is less than optimal in many cases.

Use of the A/B/Bypass Trust:  Some of the discussion since passing this legislation has focused on the use of A/B trust structure, and whether planning is better without the credit shelter trust.  I still am in favor of estate planning with an A/B/C trust, especially to preserve a decedent’s share in case of a remarriage of the survivor spouse, and also to allow the flexibility of state estate tax planning.  As long as the trust is flexible enough to allow the options of funding the various sub-trusts to the survivor spouse, which ours does, you still have the benefit of planning that gives the most flexibility to the survivor.  We will review the provisions in our trust as a precaution

Upside to IRA Planning in ATRA

Hidden in the law — along with the typical year-end riders attached to a last minute piece of legislation, including tax breaks for NASCAR and the alternative fuel industry — were a couple of tangible impacts to the retirement world, though one may offer just short-term benefits. First, it looks as though folks hoping to roll over their regular 401(k)s to Roth 401(k)s may get an opportunity for a long-term tax break — lord knows you’re going to need one, as your taxes really are going to go up.  A new provision in the package will allow 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) participants to make the leap to a Roth 401(k) without waiting for the traditional qualifying events (retirement, reaching age 59 1/2 or changing jobs).  Why? Because doing so immediately sends that tax deferral — which you’ll have to pay up front — to Washington, rather than waiting until your far-off retirement day, and Washington wants your taxes. It’s a huge opportunity for regular folks to make that Roth conversion – provided they have the financial wherewithal to pay those taxes much sooner than later.

Potential future legislation. It is important to note that there may be a push for additional revenue-raising legislation as political debates continue. The current administration has expressed its desire to limit the advantages of GRATs, grantor trusts, GST-exempt dynasty trusts, and transfers in family entities that qualify for valuation discounts. Clients who might consider employing those techniques may wish to do so sooner rather than later.

Press Release

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Gree Tree onlyThe Estate Plan launches revolutionary and state-of-the-art online estate planning source for financial and legal professionals.

TheEstatePlanningSource.com supports estate planning attorneys and financial planners with advanced documents, tools and resources to provide their clients with superior service.

Reno, NV, January 15, 2013 -The Estate Plan, Inc., a nationwide document solution company with a proven system that has benefited consumers with a quality product and service for over 30 years, announced today the launch of a new, innovative website theestateplanningsource.com.

“Times are changing; technology is at the forefront and is evolving at a rapid pace.  We’ve had to take heed to so many vital misconceptions occurring in our industry and respond with vital action in order to reach as many people as possible.  The mission of our founder, Henry Abts III, was to be an advocate for the public, doing what’s right.” G. McHam, CEO The Estate Plan.

The Estate Plan’s independent studies have shown there is more misinformation online regarding living trusts than correct information available for three primary reasons. Over the years The Estate Plan discovered the public has:

  • Been persuaded they do not need a trust and instead were sold a will
  • Received a trust they don’t understand and was never funded
  • Received a trust that isn’t worth the paper it’s written on

As a national authority on living trusts, The Estate Plan was compelled, if not fiducially obligated, to create a new and much more advanced website, TheEstatePlanningSource.com.   Hosting a broad array of resources and services, this site not only addresses these issues head on but also serves as the “go to” source for estate planning attorneys and advisors.

TheEstatePlanningsource.com’s platform boasts a comprehensive collection of estate planning news, editorial content, digital publications, and dynamic multi-media applications such as a blog, a forum and custom videos.  All attorneys and financial planners will access the host of services through memberships uniquely designed to provide their clients with superior advice and service.  Silver and Gold memberships receive instant access to advanced support and valuable tools.

Planners and attorneys interested in learning more about The Estate Plan and theestateplanningsource.com can visit the website or contact Kelly Isensee, Marketing and Recruiting Director at 1.800.292.0223, ext. 117.

About The Estate Plan
The Estate Plan is the nation’s oldest Living Trust production company, whose founder wrote The Living Trust book, a nationally acclaimed information resource.

Privacy Policy

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Privacy Policy

Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc. created this privacy statement in order to demonstrate our strong commitment to privacy. We are committed to providing state of the art revocable living trusts and other estate-planning documents designed to meet your needs as requested of us and as directed and supervised in their preparation by your attorney. We are equally committed to respecting your privacy and protecting the information about you that we receive online through TheEstatePlanningSource.com. We do not sell, nor plan to sell,  any user information to anyone.  We have prepared this notice to advise you what information we collect, how we use it, and how we protect it.

What Information We Collect

As an essential part of our business, we obtain certain personal information about you from your attorney in order to provide an estate planning document requested of us by your attorney suitable to your specific needs and desires. Some of this information may come directly from you. Other information may come from your financial advisor, your accountant, your agent, a member of your family, or some other trusted person. The type of information we receive often includes addresses, social security numbers, family information, financial information and information pertaining to the particular personal situation of individual members of your family.

What Information We Disclose

We do not disclose nonpublic personal information about our current or former clients to any non-affiliated person or entity, except as permitted by law. Examples of the disclosures which we are permitted by law to make include disclosures to any person who is your advisor or attorney or who is your Trustee or attorney-in-fact under a Power of Attorney which specifically authorizes him or her to obtain the information on you that we keep; disclosures to other third parties made with your consent or at your direction; disclosures made in response to a subpoena or an inquiry from a regulatory agency; and disclosures made to comply with federal, state or local laws and to protect against fraud.

Our Privacy Protection Procedures

We protect information about you from unauthorized access. Our officers, employees, advisors, and agents receive training regarding our privacy policies. In all cases access to information about you is restricted to those individuals that need such information in order to provide our documentation and our services to you. Examples of activities requiring access to your personal information include: preparing documents suitable to your estate planning needs, updating those documents, and participation in the settling of your estate. Finally, we employ secure technologies in order to safeguard transmission of information about you through our web site, and we have established and maintain procedures to comply with all state and federal laws and regulations regarding the security of personal information.

All employees are required to adhere to our strict policies and any employee who violates the privacy policy is subject to termination and other disciplinary measures, up to being criminally prosecuted for their violation.

At TheEstatePlanningSource.com you can visit most pages on our site without giving us any information about yourself.  This privacy policy explains data collection and use in those situations.

If you decide to become a member at TheEstatePlanningSource.com, you will receive a short series of orientation emails.  Members may receive notification of new services, changes to policies or price adjustments. We will not send you other email at the address you provide, except for infrequent communications to resolve issues that may arise with your own TheEstatePlanningSource.com account. More routine announcements are made in the TheEstatePlanningSource.com Quill e-Newsletter, rather than via email.

Our site uses cookies to save your username and password if you become a member and decide to use the "Remember Me" option. This means you don't have to re-enter these items each time you visit our site.

At some point, we may track and store geo-location information related to your IP address. This information may be used to provide you with the most relevant material, as well as allow for more effective communications.

Under our Free Membership or upon download of the “Free Whitepaper” the user's contact information is also used to send a newsletter.  Special offers are sometimes sent to subscribers. All third parties do not have access to your information. You will always have the option of opting-out of future newsletters or offers.

We may also use personal information in a manner that does not identify you specifically nor allow you to be contacted but does identify certain criteria about our users in general. For example, we may inform third parties about the number of registered users, number of unique visitors, and the pages most frequently browsed.

Protection of Children's Personal Information

TheEstatePlanningSource.com is a specified audience site and does not knowingly collect any personal information from children although the website may be viewed by children; we do not wish to receive data from children. TheEstatePlanningSource.com encourages parents and guardians to spend time online with their children and to participate in the interactive activities offered on the sites their children visit. No information should be submitted to, or posted at, the TheEstatePlanningSource.com or our Forum or Blog by visitors under 18 years of age without the consent of their parent or guardian.

Links to Third Party Sites

This website contains links to other web sites that are not controlled by The Estate Planning Source, LLC or The Estate Plan, Inc. ("Third Party Sites"). Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every website that collects personally identifiable information. The Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc. Privacy Policy applies solely to information collected by The Estate Plan, Inc. or The Estate Planning Source, LLC.

Changes to this Privacy Policy

The Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc. when we do, we will also revise the "last updated" date at the bottom of the privacy policy. For material changes to this statement, The Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc. will notify our users by placing prominent notice on the site.

Enforcement of this Privacy Policy and Contact Information

For any questions or concerns about this policy please contact us at 1.800.292.0223.  If you believe this policy has been breached please contact us at the above number.

 

Terms and Conditions

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Terms and Conditions 

Please Read These Terms and Conditions Carefully Before Using The Site.

By using TheEstatePlanningSource.com website, you agree to follow and be bound by these terms and conditions and agree to comply with all applicable laws and regulations described below.  If you do not agree to these terms and conditions, please do not use the site. Please note:  we may revise these terms and conditions at any time without notice to you.  If you have any questions regarding the terms and conditions, please contact us at 1.800.292.0223.

Please also refer to the Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc. Privacy Policy, which is incorporated by reference herein.

Overview

Before using this website, you must review and accept the following terms and conditions (the “Agreement”). The Agreement defines your rights and responsibilities as a user ("User") of the website operated by Estate Planning Source, LLC. (Together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, “The Source” or “we”) and located at TheEstatePlanningSource.com (the “Website” or “The Source”). The Website is operated in the United States of America. Access is governed by these terms and conditions under the laws of the State of Nevada and the United States. Registration as a user of or subscriber to the Website results in your information being stored and processed in the United States, and you specifically consent to The Source’s storage and processing the personal data you submit. The Website and services provided herein are intended for adults. When a minor uses the Website, the parent or guardian of that minor will be held responsible for the minor’s actions. If you don't agree with any of these terms, or if you have any objections to our Privacy Policy you must not use the Website.

Description of the Service

The Source offers an online service where Users review and download marketing and occupational related content and tools (the “Service”). Users of the Website also communicate with other Users in order to collaborate and exchange related information (together with the Users of the Website and other websites and platforms owned by affiliate companies of The Source, including The Estate Plan, Inc., as “The Source Community”). The Website contains graphics, information, data, user generated information, editorial and other content accessible by Users (the “Content”). Except for Article and Case Study Content, which are governed by the third parties that created the content. The Website is protected by copyright as a collective work and/or compilation, pursuant to U.S. copyright laws, international conventions, and other copyright laws.

Ownership

This website TheEstatePlanningSource.com is owned and operated by Estate Planning Source, LLC. All right, title and interest in and to the materials provided on The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc including but not limited to information, documents, logos, graphics, sounds, and images (the "Materials") are owned either by The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc or by its respective third party authors, developers, or vendors ("Third Party Providers").  Except as otherwise expressly provided by The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc, none of the Materials may be copied, reproduced, republished, downloaded, uploaded, posted, displayed, transmitted, or distributed in any way and nothing on this Site shall be construed to confer any license under any of The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc or The Estate Plan, Inc’s intellectual property rights, whether by estoppel, implication, or otherwise. The Source or The Estate Plan, Inc does not sell, license, lease or otherwise provide any of the Materials other than those specifically identified as being provided by The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by The Source or The Estate Plan, Inc.

Rules of Conduct

Before using the Website, you agree to comply with all applicable laws and refrain from infringing any third-party rights or interests (for example, privacy and intellectual property rights). You must also agree that you will not knowingly or willfully submit inaccurate, defamatory or offensive Content to the Website. In addition, the following policies are part of this Agreement and must be followed anytime you access the Website. The Source reserves the right to change these policies from time to time and the changes take effect when we post them on the Website:

 A. Rules of Conduct; here are the rules that all The Source members and visitors to the website need to know and follow. These rules are created to protect you and the entire The Source community.

No The Source member or visitor to the website may:

A. Post, transmit, or display anything that is illegal, threatening, harmful, abusive or otherwise objectionable. For example, but not limited to, actions that are harassing, invasive of another's privacy, degrading, defamatory, vulgar, hateful, libelous, fraudulent, obscene, pornographic, sexually explicit, hateful or racially or ethnically objectionable.

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C. Post, transmit, upload, or display content which contains proprietary or confidential information that you do not have a right to transmit. For example, but not limited to, posting any photos of living individuals without their permission or posting anyone else's email addresses without their consent.

D. Post or publish any information that you know is false or misleading. For example, but not limited to, impersonating any person or entity, or falsely misrepresenting your affiliation with any person or entity, or falsely claiming an endorsement that you do not have, or misrepresenting that you are an employee or representative of The Source or affiliated with The Source.

E. Post, transmit or make available advertising, promotional materials, junk mail, chain letters or any other form of solicitation.

F. Stalk or harass others. For example, but not limited to, using obscene, pornographic, sexually explicit, unlawful, threatening, abusive or vulgar language, or any other action that is hateful racially or ethnically, or is otherwise objectionable.

G. Reproduce, copy or sell any portion of The Source or The Source database contents, or systematically download contents and data of The Source database to make or populate another database or website or for any other purpose.

H. Interfere or attempt to interfere with The Source website. For example, but not limited to, using any software program, virus or routine to block, obscure, overwrite or modify any The Source-generated content or web pages, or to destroy the software, hardware or telecommunications equipment of another person.

I. Stalk or harass any The Source employee. For example, but not limited to, using obscene, pornographic, sexually explicit, unlawful, threatening, abusive or vulgar language to any The Source employee, or abusing The Source resources, such as misusing an The Source employee’s time.

J. Share your The Source member password with any unauthorized person, or permit a child under the age of 18 to publish information or post content under your The Source membership.

K. Use the Websites for any illegal activity, or provide material which promotes or teaches illegal activity.

This list is not exclusive. The Source prohibits members or any other person from engaging in any activity that The Source, in its sole discretion, determines is offensive, interferes with the rights of others, or causes harm to any person, including to The Source and its employees. Violation of, or acting inconsistently with, the letter or spirit of our rules may result, in appropriate consequences and at our sole discretion, suspension, cancellation or termination of the accounts of the offending user, and such violation may result in the forfeiture of any and all fees that the User has already paid to be a member of the Service or any other fee. The preceding sentence shall not in any way limit any other remedy, legal, equitable or otherwise, that The Source may pursue.

B. Community Guidelines: If we believe, in our sole discretion, that you are in breach of this Agreement or are acting inconsistently with the letter or spirit of this Agreement, we may limit, suspend or terminate your access to our Website. In such a case, no portion of your subscription payment will be refunded. Should we decide to suspend your access for any reason other than a breach by you, we will not refund you which will be your sole and exclusive remedy upon such a suspension.

Welcome to the world's largest online community dedicated to living trusts and estate planning. This is your chance to share ideas. Ask questions. Offer advice. Forge meaningful connections. Make groundbreaking discoveries. Overall, it's an opportunity to collaborate and share with your peers and other community members interested in estate planning.

The more active you are in The Source, the more you'll get out of it.

These guidelines will help you and others enjoy your experience. However, please remember that all use of the site is governed by the terms and conditions relating to them, which take precedence over these guidelines.

Community Values

Our community comprises The Source and The Estate Plan, all of which encourage open and frequent communication between members.

Here are the core beliefs behind our community:  

Everyone has something to contribute to the community.

Honest, open communication is essential, but it must be delivered with respect for other members' thoughts and expressions.

Member Conduct and Use

This community is your forum for sharing thoughts, experiences, resources and discoveries. We appreciate your participation. However, we ask that you carefully read and follow the guidelines below. You'll find that most of them come naturally to you.

As a community member, please: 

Simply treat others the way you want to be treated.

Respond to the subject (and not the person) if you disagree with something in a post.

Share only your own thoughts, ideas and content.

Post only information appropriate for a given topic. For example, if you're posting on the "The Watercooler" Forum, you should be writing only in reference to estate planning topics.

On the other hand, please: 

Don't post any photos of living individuals (other than just you) or anyone else's email addresses without their consent.

Don't harass abuse or threaten other members.

Don't post any content that's vulgar, hateful, sexually explicit, illegal or otherwise offensive.

Don't post commercial messages, fee-for-service postings, advertising or related links, etc.

Don't include identifiable information about living people without their direct consent, or, in the case of minors, the consent of their parent or guardian. This includes (but is not limited to) a person's full name, location or contact information.

Don't post anything you didn't personally create. That includes copyrighted material you're not authorized to distribute and email messages.

Don't impersonate any individual, business or other entity. Don't pretend to be an employee or representative of The Source or anyone affiliated with The Source or The Estate Plan. Inc.

Don't post a "seeking information" (query) message with a non-query (data) menu classification selection.

We reserve the right to delete messages that violate our terms and conditions, move messages posted in the wrong place and edit the surname field, subject line, etc. in any message. We reserve the right to do any of the above without notice in order to preserve community integrity and ensure that people can find what they're seeking.

Member-Contributed Content

We do not pre-screen or monitor member-contributed content. Please let us know if you encounter material that you feel is inappropriate under these guidelines or violates our terms and conditions.

We can't be responsible for the content our members create and share in the community. However, we do reserve the right to remove any postings that disregard the above guidelines or violate our terms and conditions. Serious violations or offenses will subject the responsible member to account termination.

Important Note: Any information you post in our community is public and can be copied, modified and distributed by others. By submitting or posting content in our community, you expressly grant The Source the rights set forth in the terms and conditions.

We may modify these guidelines from time to time. Please check back regularly for updates.  Nothing on this site should be construed as legal or tax advice.

Subscription Terms, Fees and Payments 

Users of the Website may be unregistered visitors, registered guests, paying subscribers or Users that pay per time they view a record. The different payment options and services offered for the different levels will be published on the relevant Website or at the time a subscription or other service is offered or renewed. The terms and conditions applying to such subscriptions or other services will be incorporated into this Agreement.

Terms for All

You must be 18 years or older to register or subscribe. You must provide The Source with accurate, complete, and up-to-date registration information. Failure to do so will constitute a breach of this Agreement. As part of the registration process, you will select a username and password. You understand that you may not (i) select or use a name of another person with the intent to impersonate that person; (ii) use the rights of any person without authorization; or (iii) use a name that we, in our sole discretion, deem inappropriate. You are responsible for all usage or activity on The Source via your account. Distribution of your password to others for access to The Source is expressly prohibited. You will never be required to reveal your password to any representative or agent of The Source, its owners or agents. You must notify us by regular mail or by e-mail at info@theestateplan.com of any known or suspected unauthorized use(s) of your account, or any known or suspected breach of security, including loss, theft, or unauthorized disclosure of your password or billing information.

All subscriptions are automatically renewing. This means that once you become a subscribing member, your subscription will be automatically renewed and your billing choice will be charged unless you opt out or cancel by following the instructions in this Agreement.  You will be notified via e-mail before your subscription ends and asked to correct any information which has changed and whether you wish to "opt out" of your renewal. The renewal of the subscription takes place subject to the terms in force on the date of renewal.

When other offers, promotions or free trials are made available, the specific terms and conditions that apply to each will stated at the time of purchase; please ensure you have noted any relevant rules, cancellation dates or price changes when a promotion or free trial ends.

Opting Out of Renewal

You may opt out of renewing your subscription by calling The Source at 1.800.292.0223 or by logging into your My Account page on the Website at least two days before the renewal date. If you do not let us know that you want to terminate your subscription at least two days prior to the end of the current subscription period the payment for the renewal period of the subscription will be made.

Cancellations and Refunds

You may cancel within 24 hours under Buyer’s Remorse (only under a suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller) and incur no charge. If the cancellation occurs after the first 24 hours, you will not receive a refund. For all renewals of subscriptions, you may cancel within 24 hours of the renewal date and receive a full refund.  Cancellations may be made by calling The Source at 1.800.292.0223 or by logging into your My Account page on the Website and providing the same information that you provided when you subscribed. Your cancellation must be received by end of business (5:00 p.m. Pacific Time) on the appropriate day as described above. All refunds will be given to the original credit card on which the purchase was made. Please allow a reasonable time for the refund to reach you or be charged back to your account.

Prices Subject to Change

Prices may be changed by The Source at any time and each renewal of your subscription will be at the then standard renewal cost for the period that you originally selected when you subscribed. The Source shall provide you with reasonable notice of any change in prices prior to the effective date of the new pricing by email or other reasonable means such as a notice on the website or in usual member communications. If you do not wish to continue with your subscription due to the new prices, you may opt out of renewal as set forth in this Agreement.

Links to Third Party Sites

This Site may contain links to Web sites controlled by parties other than Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc (the "Third Party Sites"). Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc  are not responsible for and does not endorse or accept any responsibility for the availability, the contents or use of the Third Party Sites or any Web site accessed from a Third Party Site, or any changes or updates to such sites. Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc are not responsible for webcasting or any other form of transmission received from any Third Party Site. Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc are providing these links to you only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc of the Third Party Site. You acknowledge that you bear all risks associated with access to and use of content provided on Third Party Sites and agree that Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc are not responsible for any loss or damage of any sort you may incur from dealing with a third party. You should contact the site administrator for the applicable Third Party Site if you have any concerns regarding such links or the content located on a Third Party Site.

Use of the TheEstatePlanningSource.com “ The Watercooler”

The Source’s The Watercooler (“Forum”) is a collaborative community where attorneys and advisors discuss questions amongst their peers.  Access to and use of the Forum is subject to this paragraph section, in addition to the other terms and conditions listed.

Rights and Responsibilities of TheEstatePlanningSource.com

The Source is not the publisher or author of any works posted on the Forum. It is a passive service for storage and dissemination of the works that The Source members may choose to post and distribute via the Forum. The Source disclaims all copyright and ownership in such works and all responsibility for them.

Although it cannot make an absolute guarantee of system security, The Source takes reasonable steps to maintain security. If you have reason to believe system security has been breached, contact us.

If the The Source technical staff finds that files or processes belonging to a member pose a threat to the proper technical operation of the system or to the security of other members, The Source reserves the right to delete those files or to stop those processes. If the The Source technical staff suspects an account is being used by someone who is not authorized by the account holder, The Source may temporarily disable that account in order to preserve system security. In all such cases, The Source will contact the member as soon as feasible.

The Source has the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to (i) edit, redact, to otherwise change the content of any works posted on the Forum, (ii) re-categorize any post to place it in a more appropriate category, or (iii) delete any post that is determined to be inappropriate, including but not limited to works that use offensive language and works that are advertisements.

The Source reserves the right to refuse service to anyone and to cancel an account at any time.

Rights and Responsibilities of TheEstatePlanningSource.com Members or Other Posters to the Forum:

You are legally and ethically responsible for any works - writings, files, pictures, or any other work - that you post or transmit on the Forum (or any other The Source service that allows interaction or dissemination of information). In posting works on the Forum, you are responsible for honoring the rights of others, including intellectual-property rights (copyright, patent, and trademark), the right to privacy, and the right not to be libeled or slandered. For example, if you wish to post a copyrighted work on the Forum, you are responsible for obtaining the copyright holder's permission first.

Under United States Federal law, you retain copyright on all works you create and post to the Forum, unless you choose specifically to renounce it. In posting a work on the Forum, you authorize other members who have access to that service to make personal and customary use of the work, including creating links or reposting, but not otherwise to reproduce or disseminate it unless you give permission for such dissemination. You also give permission to The Source to copy your works as part of the normal backup process. You have the right to remove any of your works from the Forum at any time.

The use of your The Source membership or posting on the Forum for any illegal activity under the laws of Nevada and the United States is a violation of these Terms of Use. Since the law as to jurisdiction of online systems is unsettled, we urge you to consider the possible effect of laws outside The Source locality or your own residence. The Source is open to members worldwide (and works published on the World Wide Web, Usenet, or other such services are accessible to anyone on the Internet), and The Source cannot guarantee that you won't run into legal trouble from other jurisdictions over your works.

Your Rights and Responsibilities as a TheEstatePlanningSource.com Member and Reader of Postings on the Exchange

You are not required to provide your real name when signing up as a member of The Source. The Source permits anonymous or pseudonymous accounts. Any member may request that such member’s e-mail address be hidden to provide for additional privacy.

If you have a complaint about the behavior or posts of another member, it is your responsibility to attempt to resolve the conflict, typically by contacting that person directly. Normally, The Source staff will not take a role in mediating conflicts between you and other members. The Source does not take responsibility for your behavior or that of other members. Notwithstanding the foregoing, should such a complaint or conflict arise, the member or members may request that The Source moderator intervene and attempt to resolve any dispute. Any such request is not a guarantee that a moderator will (i) intervene, (ii) intervene in a timely manner, (iii) resolve the dispute in favor of one party or the other, or (iv) successfully resolve the situation. The decision to intervene rests with The Source, in its sole and absolute discretion.

Your access to the works that members have posted on the Forum is for your personal use only. If you want to redistribute works you find on the Forum, it is your responsibility to obtain permission from the poster (and any other person with rights in such work).

You agree to help protect your account and the security of other members by guarding your password. If you have reason to believe your password has been compromised or there has been any unauthorized use of your account, contact us as soon as possible.

Use of TheEstatePlanningSource.com “Event’s Happening Near You”

The information contained in the Event’s Happening Near You section was gathered from attorneys and advisors via questionnaires. Product and service were not verified, and The Source does not make any warranty, expressed or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of the product and service provided. The listing of products and services does not represent an endorsement by The Source. In addition, because of the rapidly changing nature of the subject industries, the information may become outdated, and the list is in no way exhaustive. It is the sole responsibility of anyone using the information in a What’s Happening Near You to complete a thorough due diligence to confirm the validity of the information. In no way will The Source be liable for any damages arising out of the provision or use of the What’s Happening Near You section.

NO WARRANTY

THE SITE AND ALL MATERIALS PROVIDED ON THE SITE ARE PROVIDED ON AN "AS IS" AND "AS AVAILABLE" BASIS. TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THE SOURCE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT.

THE SOURCE MAKES NO WARRANTY THAT: (A) THE SITE OR THE MATERIALS WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS; (B) THE SITE OR THE MATERIALS WILL BE AVAILABLE ON AN UNINTERRUPTED, TIMELY, SECURE, OR ERROR-FREE BASIS; (C) THE RESULTS THAT MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE USE OF THE SITE, OR ANY MATERIALS OFFERED THROUGH THE SITE, WILL BE ACCURATE OR RELIABLE; OR (D) THE QUALITY OF ANY PRODUCTS, SERVICES, INFORMATION, OR OTHER MATERIAL PURCHASED OR OBTAINED BY YOU THROUGH THE SITE OR IN RELIANCE ON THE MATERIALS WILL MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

ANY MATERIALS OBTAINED THROUGH THE USE OF THE SITE IS DONE AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION AND RISK.  THE SOURCE SHALL HAVE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DAMAGE TO YOUR COMPUTER SYSTEM OR LOSS OF DATA THAT RESULTS FROM THE DOWNLOAD OF ANY CONTENT, MATERIALS, INFORMATION OR SOFTWARE.

LIMITATION OF LIABILITY

IN NO EVENT SHALL THE SOURCE,  ITS OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, OR AGENTS BE LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT, PUNITIVE, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGE (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO LOSS OF BUSINESS, REVENUE, PROFITS, USE, DATA OR OTHER ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE), HOWEVER IT ARISES, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER TORTIOUS ACTION, OR ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR INABILITY TO USE THIS SITE OR MATERIALS AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE, EVEN IF THESOURCE  HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE. IF YOUR USE OF MATERIALS FROM THIS SITE RESULTS IN THE NEED FOR SERVICING, REPAIR OR CORRECTION OF EQUIPMENT OR DATA, YOU ASSUME ANY COSTS THEREOF. SOME STATES DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OR LIMITATION OF INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, SO THE ABOVE LIMITATION OR EXCLUSION MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.

Indemnification

You agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Estate Planning Source, LLC, its officers, directors, shareholders, employees and agents from and against any and all claims, liabilities, damages, losses or expenses, including reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, arising out of or in any way connected with your access to or use of the Site and the Materials.

Unsolicited Submissions

The Source does not want you to submit confidential or proprietary information to it through this Site, without first contacting The Source. All comments, feedback, information or material submitted to The Source through or in associate with this Site shall be considered non-confidential and The Sources’ property, unless otherwise set forth herein or agreed to by The Source in writing. By providing any unsolicited submissions to The Source you hereby assign to The Source, at no charge, all worldwide right, title and interest in and to the submissions and any intellectual property rights associated therewith.  The Source shall be free to use and/or disseminate such submissions on an unrestricted basis for any purpose. You acknowledge that you are responsible for the submissions that you provide, including their legality, reliability, appropriateness, originality and content.

Promotions

Any sweepstakes, contests, raffles or other promotions (collectively, “Promotions”) made available by The Source may be governed by rules that are separate from this Agreement. If you participate in any Promotions, please review the applicable rules as well as our Privacy Policy.  If the rules for a Promotion conflict with this Agreement, the Promotion rules will apply.

Modifications to this Agreement

The Source has the right, at its sole discretion, to modify this Agreement at any time. Changes will be posted on the Website and by changing the date of last revision on this Agreement. If any portion of this Agreement or any change to the Website is unacceptable to you or will cause you to no longer be in compliance with the Agreement, you may cancel your subscription by following the instructions in this Agreement. Continued use of the Website now or following posted notices of changes in this Agreement means that you have accepted and are bound by the changes.

Compliance with Laws

You may not access, download, use or export the Site or Materials in violation of United States Federal or state laws or regulations, or in violation of any other applicable laws or regulations. Any such violation is expressly against these terms of use and you must cease from using this Site immediately.

Children

Minors are not eligible to use the Site, and we ask that they do not submit any personal information to us.

Use of Materials upon Membership Termination

Upon termination with The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc., you will immediately destroy any downloaded or printed Materials. Any unauthorized use of any Materials contained on this Site may violate copyright laws, trademark laws, the laws of privacy and publicity and communications regulations and statutes.

Governing Law; Venue

By using this Site, you expressly agree that your rights and obligations shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of Nevada, excluding its choice of law rules. Any legal action or proceeding relating to your access to or sue of the Site or Materials shall be instituted in a state or federal court in Nevada, and in the County of Washoe. You and The Source agree to submit to the jurisdiction of, and agree that venue is proper in, these courts in any such legal action or proceeding. These terms of use expressly exclude and disclaim the terms of the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, which shall not apply to any transaction conducted through or otherwise involving this Site.

Copyrights

All Site design, text, graphics, the selection and arrangement thereof, Copyright © 2012, Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Trademarks

Estate Planning Source, LLC, theEstatePlanningSource.com ,The Estate Plan, Inc., The Estate Plan all images and text, and all page headers, custom graphics and button icons on the Site are service marks, trademarks, and/or trade dress of Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc . All other trademarks, product names and company names or logos cited herein are the property of their respective owners.

Disputes

If a dispute arises between you and The Source, our goal is to provide you a neutral and cost effective means of resolving the dispute quickly. To that end, you agree to first contact The Source Customer Support at 1.800.292.0223 to describe the problem and seek a resolution. If that does not resolve the issue, then you and The Source agree to the following methods to resolve any dispute or claim between us. First, you agree that this Agreement is governed by the law of the State of Nevada, without regard to its principles on conflicts of laws, and the federal law of the United States of America. Second, you agree that you will seek arbitration consistent with the rules before initiating any litigation. If arbitration cannot resolve the issue, you agree to submit to the personal jurisdiction of the courts located within Washoe County, Nevada for the purpose of litigating all such claims or disputes.

Any arbitration will be governed by the Commercial Dispute Resolution Procedures and the Supplementary Procedures for Consumer Related Disputes of the American Arbitration Association (collectively, "AAA Rules"). The AAA Rules and costs are available online at www.adr.org or by calling the AAA at 1.800.292.0223. YOU AND THE SOURCE AGREE THAT EACH MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER ONLY IN YOUR OR ITS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING. Further, unless both you and The Source agree otherwise, the arbitrator may not consolidate more than one person’s claims, and may not otherwise preside over any form of a representative or class proceeding. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this arbitration agreement does not preclude you from bringing issues to the attention of federal, state, or local agencies. Such agencies can, if the law allows, seek relief against us on your behalf.  This arbitration provision shall survive termination of this Agreement.

Miscellaneous

We reserve the right to assign or transfer our rights and obligations under this Agreement. These terms are personal to you and, as a result, you may not without the written consent of The Source assign or transfer any of your rights and obligations under these terms.

You acknowledge and agree that The Source may disclose your information if The Source believes that it is required to do so by law, or that such preservation or disclosure is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with legal process or governmental requests; (b) enforce the Agreement; (c) respond to claims that any content violates the rights of third parties; or (d) protect the rights, property, or safety of the Website, the users, or the public.

In the event that any term of this Agreement is held to be invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of these terms shall remain valid and enforceable. We can replace any term which is not valid and enforceable with a term of similar meaning which is valid and enforceable.

Any failure by us to enforce any term of the terms of this Agreement shall not affect our right to require performance at any subsequent time, nor shall the waiver by us of any breach by you of any provisions of these terms be taken to be a waiver of the provision or provisions itself.

You agree to indemnify us against all liabilities, claims and expenses that may arise from any breach of this Agreement by you or otherwise as a result of your use of the Services or Website.

Official correspondence must be sent via postal mail to:

The Estate Planning Source
Attn: Customer Solutions
730 Sandhill Road, Suite 120
Reno, NV 89521

This Agreement, including any terms, conditions and policies expressly referenced herein, shall constitute the complete understanding and agreement between you and us, and shall supersede and cancel any prior or contemporaneous understandings and agreements, except as expressly provided otherwise by The Source.

 

Become an Affiliate

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JOIN OUR INDEPENDENT NATIONWIDE NETWORK

 

ATTORNEY

As an attorney in our Licensed Attorney Network, you will be able to provide the finest estate planning document packages to your clients, matured through more than 1,000 network attorneys, and utilize our excellent support services as your back office. Our system allows you to build the estate planning portion of your business by receiving referrals from our network of Independent Advisors, save valuable time on research of federal law changes, and reduce the cost of generating new clients.  View more

ADVISOR or Financial Planners

As an Independent Advisor you will be able to support your client from start-to-finish by assisting in the non-legal aspects of the estate planning process.  This includes educating your clients on estate planning concepts, gathering information, working in conjunction with an attorney who is affiliated with our network, to create a living trust, aiding in the execution and funding of the trust, and assisting with the settlement process.  View more

 

 

Our History

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OUR HISTORY

In the beginning…

This company began as a corporation called The Estate Plan founded by Henry Abts, III. He came up with the idea to help others out of his own personal suffering through the unforeseen process of probate that his mother had to bear. It was such a traumatic experience that he figured there had to be an alternative, something that he and others could do to avoid it. During this time he was pursuing a career in financial and personal estate planning and discovered the Living Trust was the key to avoiding probate. The beginning of The Estate Plan thus was created, a business model that had two objectives; educate the public about alternatives to probate; and second, supply clients with the solution of a proper estate planning program. It then grew into creating a set of living trust documents designed to cover the majority of circumstances in the general public but with the ability to tailor to each person’s individual needs. These documents could be used by attorneys very easily in their practice by assessing the client’s needs and applying them to the ready-made living trust. It was a win-win with the attorneys providing a quality trust and Henry peace of mind that the people are being served well.

The Living Trust book was created

After he met with more than a thousand clients from coast to coast he decided to write a book. The Living Trust book was created in 1989 and has since sold over 1 million copies and is considered the “bible of the industry.” The Estate Plan was now the only nationwide Living Trust Company whose trust documents were valid in all 50 states and has produced over 60,000 trusts.

The Institute for Estate Preservation was formed

Approximately 10 years ago Henry decided he wanted to train those who used the Living Trust documents (attorneys) not only to create a consistency and understanding of the documents throughout the company but in his high quality standards and ethics.  What he created is still being practiced today, The Institute for Estate Preservation in both basic and advanced levels. These institutes are typically viewed as just another training institute by those who’ve never attended; however, they are quite the contrary. There is rarely someone who attends that says it was not helpful or that they did not learn something new. Both The Estate Plan staff and Henry himself taught at the Institutes, he was always very passionate about his idea of reaching out to everyone who would listen.

Transitioning into the digital age

Unfortunately, in July of 2010 Henry passed away in his sleep at his home in Incline Village, Lake Tahoe. Although Henry was in his 80′s he was still very passionate about “Taking the Message to All Who Will Listen” his infamous quote amongst his community. He left this for us to carry forward which we are excited to not only carry forward but expand in new and better ways.

We are now in a digital age where it’s essentially “out with the old and in with the new.” What used to work is now obsolete regarding so many aspects in this industry. We are working diligently to transition by first, creating this robust website which hosts a wealth of estate planning information, knowledge, tools and tips and second, re-writing our current proprietary software into a cloud solution allowing our estate planning back office document model to be accessible online as well as including all new features to satisfy the end user in a way never thought possible. We are certain with both in place; we will be well beyond all of our competitors and will have created an entirely new way of doing business in this industry.

 

Unintentionally Disinheriting Your Children- It’s Easier than You Think

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One of the strange outcomes of sloppy estate planning work is the case of unintentionally disinherited children.  Obviously this isn't something that most of us want to do, as you can ask 100 parents off of the streets whom they want to inherit their estate and all but a handful would answer, "My kids."  Unfortunately, many estate plans fail to accommodate this simple wish.

How Disinheritance Happens

The most common way that an unintentional disinheritance occurs is responsible parents draft what is referred to as an 'I love you will'.  This is a simple will that essentially says that when one spouse dies, the other will inherit the estate.  When the second spouse dies, the estate will then go to the children.  Sounds reasonable enough, right?

This is all well and good as long as neither spouse remarries after the other dies.  However, many spouses will remarry and draft another 'I love you will', and this creates a major problem.  In this second will, children from the first marriage are left out in the cold, as when the second parent dies, the entire estate is passed on to the second spouse and not the children.  At that point, it is entirely up to the second spouse as to whether or not the kids will see any money.

Since it is a second marriage, the odds of animosity towards the second marital partner are significantly higher.  This means that the chances of an unintentional disinheritance are much greater.  To solidify this concept, let's use a hypothetical example.

Example:  Matt and Lisa and Jeff

Matt and Lisa were married at the age of 25 and had two children - Jake and Anna.  Being responsible parents, Matt and Lisa drafted a simple will that would pass the estate on to the surviving spouse and then on to the kids.  Unfortunately, Matt had a heart attack at the age of 42 and died.  Lisa inherited the estate and life insurance proceeds.

Lisa, also 42, began dating a couple of years later and fell in love with Jeff.

After dating for two years, they tied the knot at the age of 46.  Being responsible adults, they updated their estate plan to reflect their recent marriage and put together another 'I love you will'.  Their marriage was strong and everyone was happy.

Shortly after Lisa's 67th birthday, she died.  Her estate plan that was drafted more than 20 years earlier was reviewed and executed.  Jeff inherited the estate and Lisa's children received nothing.  Feeling this wasn't right, Lisa's children, Jake and Anna, contested the will to no avail.

This created animosity and Jeff decided to draw up a new will that eliminated Jake and Anna as beneficiaries.  And there you have it:  an unintentional disinheritance.

Wrapping Up

In this post, we examined the concept of an unintentional disinheritance and how it happens.  If you wish to avoid having something like this occur, there are a number of ways to do so that can be as complicated as drafting a trust with QTIP provisions to simply updating your will based on changing needs.  We will explore these solutions in upcoming articles, but for now, it is important that you recognize this problem exists - particularly if you're already remarried with children.

 

Those Who Don’t Know Exactly What a Trust Is – Class 101

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The "Living Trust" term comes from the Latin "Inter Vivos" which means "during life". This phrase is used to refer to the making of a gift while a person is still alive, unlike a bequest in a will. So a Living Trust or Inter Vivos Trust is a property controlling entity that is created and goes into effect while you are still alive, and will remain as long as you want it to, after your demise.

Trusts date back to the days of European Kings and conquerors during the Middle Ages. It seems that when a knight went off to fight in faraway lands for his King, the very same King often had the bad habit of taking over the management of any property owned by the knight. Eventually, the King would claim ownership of the property, considering it as payment for the management services rendered. Since some of these wars lasted for many years, the knight would come to nothing!

But, when the knights discovered Inter Vivos Trusts and placed their property in them before going away to war, they secured greatly enhanced asset and property protection. The Trust was an organized, legal vehicle complete with an appointed Trustee. Back then, the church was the Trustee of choice for the best chance of getting the property back later.  This Trustee was given the responsibility and power to manage the property and defend it from any claims of abandonment or other false claims the government might have made against it.

Eventually, the concept of the Living Trust migrated across the Atlantic. In 1765, Patrick Henry (who was not a lawyer) became the first to write a Living Trust in the New World. The Trust was written for Robert Morris, Governor of the Virginia colony. Interestingly, his Trust, the North American Land Company, is still operational today!

However, for most of the history of the United States, Living Trusts were not very popular with the mainstream population. This was because in modern times (the birth of the IRS), a separate trust tax return was required each year for all Trust holders which is known as IRS Tax Form 1041. Fortunately in 1981, congress passed a law that allows all American taxpayers to draft a Trust and no longer be required to file a separate Trust tax return (as long as you remain competent and in charge of your trust estate). That opened up the floodgate for this very popular legal estate planning vehicle here in the United States. It is being utilized today by younger and younger generations. (I have written trusts for executives still in their 20's!)

Prior to this huge IRS tax law change the Living Trust concept was usually used only in cases of vast riches. You can bet that most of the past relatives of families such as the Kennedy's, Vanderbilt's, and Rockefellers, had either a Living Trust or a Testamentary Trust in their Will when they died. (A Testamentary Trust is just a trust that is born upon your death and controls your money and property for the sake of your surviving heirs.)

When the tax law first changed, people caught on pretty slowly. But the Living Trust revolution gained steam throughout the 80's and was at full pace by the early 90's. Sadly, in spite of the revolution, about 70% of Americans today still die intestate, meaning they have no Will or Trust in place to control their lifetime achievement - their estate!

And just as the Trusts of old protected the property of knights, placing your property into a Trust with someone in charge as Trustee does protect your assets for both a long term disability as well as for your eventual demise. It was a good idea back in the beginning when they first came onto the scene -- and it is just as good an idea today.

Today, properly signed and funded Living Trusts also protect you against high legal fees as long as you choose adequate (meaning trustworthy and financially smart) Trustees and appoint one or two backup Trustees. This will insure that someone will always be in charge, and thus court intervention can be prevented.

The Trust Portfolio of almost any Arizona practitioner also contains valuable Power of Attorney documents. If you don't have these documents, a court may order a Conservatorship in the event that you become disabled. In Arizona, a legal Conservatorship requires attorney representation and multiple court appearances each year until you either recover or die. During this time, you can expect continuous generous withdrawals from your checking account. Fortunately, this "living hell" money scenario can easily be avoided via a low cost properly executed General Durable Power of Attorney document in most cases.

In summary, a Living Trust allows professional management of your property when you are disabled or die. The rest of the coordinated legal documents in a modern Trust Portfolio protect you further from hefty legal expenses and court fees. Normally, this holds true even without invoking an official court declared "disabled" status.

This allows the agent you appoint on your Money Care Power of Attorney document to manage your affairs privately without the extra expense of legal representation required by the court as is the case in Arizona with a legal court Conservatorship. Also, it allows your medical power of attorney agent to represent you in all medical decisions when you can't make them.

Three Documents You Shouldn’t Do Without

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Nobody plans to get crippled by an accident or immobilized by a terrible illness, but these sudden life-changing events do happen. In estate planning there are three particular documents individuals need to ensure they have a say in who manages their finances and health care should they become incapacitated. Failure to secure these documents could significantly reduce the amount that eventually goes to your loved ones or even break a family apart. Here we outline some problems that result from poor estate planning and demonstrate the importance of 1) a durable power of attorney, 2) medical power of attorney and 3) a living will.

The Hardships of Negligence 

Here's an example of how inadequate estate planning can put loved ones in a painful position.

After her husband died, eighty-nine year-old Thelma did not think it was necessary to meet with an attorney to review her estate plan. Thelma had always managed her own finances and never told her four children how much she was worth and where it was invested. Her plan was simply to have the children split the estate equally as specified in her twenty-year-old will.

One month before her birthday, Thelma had a severe stroke and ended up in a nursing home. One of her daughters, Sally, was a stay-at-home mom and lived close by, so she took on the job of managing her mother's finances. After five months, Thelma's mental capacity was less than 40%, with no improvement expected.

At $170 per day, the nursing home expenses were mounting up, and Sally was under pressure to pay them. Plus she had to worry about ongoing bills to maintain her mother's house. However, Sally could not access her mother's accounts. Desperate, she went to court seeking legal guardianship over her mother. But her siblings protested. They claimed that Sally was out to gain control of the money for her own use. Disgusted, Sally dropped the petition. The court declared Thelma incompetent and assigned a guardian to handle her affairs.

Thelma hung on for two years until she died. By that time, much of her hard-earned dollars had gone to attorneys and her guardian. And Medicaid had to pay her last six months' worth of nursing-home bills. Furthermore, her children were irrevocably divided over the guardianship issue. This is no doubt the opposite of what Thelma wanted for her family.

Avoid Estate Depletion 

Here's what you can do to avoid putting yourself or your loved ones in the same position as Sally. A durable power of attorney lets you arrange for someone you choose, called your "attorney-in-fact", to manage your finances.

A Power of Attorney can be effective immediately or have a springing power, applying only when a certain event takes place, such as incapacitation from an injury or illness. You can specify how the event is defined, for example, by the declaration of a doctor or even two that you are unable to make financial decisions.

With a power of attorney, you can insist on the amount of control your attorney-in-fact will have over your finances. This authority could include:

Making gifts
managing a business
paying household bills
buying and selling assets
handling retirement accounts
collecting government benefits
completing income tax returns

You choose who takes on this job. It could be a family member, close friend or your attorney or accountant. But make sure that it is someone trustworthy and competent with managing their own finances. Be sure also to select an alternate just in case the first person pre-deceases you or is unable to handle the responsibilities.

Avoid Family Breakup 

There are two more documents that can prevent confusion and mistrust between family members.

A medical power of attorney - also called a health-care proxy, medical directive or durable power of attorney for health care - gives whomever you select the legal authority to make medical decisions for you when you can no longer make them yourself.

A living will offers exact instructions for your doctors and family regarding the continuation of your life by artificial means or heroic measures. In cases where there is little certainty of the desires of a person in a vegetative state, a medical power of attorney and living will can help eliminate grief and dispute between family members.

Although living wills are used throughout the country, there are no universal forms spanning all states. And the law on honoring an advance directive between states is unclear. Some states will respect the different laws of the state where the document was drafted. Others might not. In addition, the documents' titles from state to state (or country to country) might differ. Problems with advance directives can pop up when you had your living will drafted in your home state (or country) and the state you are in:

makes you use their statutory forms specifies which types of advance directives they will honor require certain conditions are met before your instructions are followed will not recognize documents that do not include person's signature who is to make the medical decisions for you

If you spend a great deal of time in a state other than your home state, you may wish to consider having your advance directive meet the laws of both states as much as possible.

George D. Lambert

 

Read This Column Before You Die

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The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. - Mark Twain

It can be both comforting and horrifying to think that our time on earth is a nano-blink of an eye, a sliver of time that passes slowly when tax forms are being prepared and quickly when the sun is shining.

Death is something we all try not to think about, yet it is our ultimate goal, the ending of every book, if life were an autobiography. We mostly shrug it off because, after all, we can’t avoid it.

But we can make the most of the inevitable. How? By planning ahead, not only for the sake of our families, but for ourselves. We’ve written before about the importance of making financial goals, but life goals are also essential. And, as with financial goals, you can’t meet them if you don’t have them.

The ultimate plan

Whether you’re getting on in age, have a terminal illness or are young and healthy, no one knows what will happen tomorrow, so prepare today. But what should your ultimate plan entail?

Make a "bucket list." The co-author of the book, "100 Things to Do Before You Die," died in an accident when he was 47. According to his writing partner, he had completed about half of his "to do" list when he died. Because he had a list and was determined to achieve his goals, he did many things he never would have done otherwise.

However, his co-author also noted that he traveled alone, so he could move through his list quicker. Sadly, the author missed an important point - it really isn’t about the list. Your list should be a guide to living life to the fullest. If you’re going through a list just to cross something off, why bother?

Whether you’re planning to go skydiving and want to visit the seven wonders of the world, like Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman did in "The Bucket List," or you have more modest goals, like learning a foreign language or cooking a gourmet meal, keep in mind that it’s important to savor the moment - and shouldn’t you be savoring the moment with a loved one or friend?

When you make out your bucket list, be certain that everything on it is something you can accomplish. Although you never know until you try, dating Angelina Jolie or winning an Olympic gold medal are about as realistic for most of us as winning the lottery. While it is important to believe in yourself, you need to know your limitations.

It’s also important to give your list some thought. Many of us don’t really know what we want. Sitting and planning out your life - and beyond - is not something you should do one day during your lunch break. Take your time and really think about what you want to do. Then develop a plan for achieving everything on your list.

Update your financial goals. Ideally, you could plan for retirement first and then plan for the next phase when you’re retired. But, since no one knows when the next phase will begin, you need to plan for it now.

What do you want to happen after you’re gone? Is there a charity you would like to help? Do you want to fund your grandchildren’s college education? Think beyond your retirement and write out your goals.

Plan your estate

Estate planning is not just for the very wealthy. It’s true that current law allows an exemption of assets worth up to $5 million from federal estate taxes, but in Massachusetts any estate with a value greater than $1 million is subject to estate taxes.

If you reside in Massachusetts and your estate exceeds $1 million in value, including the value of your home, your investment portfolio, your life insurance benefits and other assets, it will be subject to state taxation at a rate of up to 16 percent.

However, because Massachusetts has no gift tax, gifts can be made during your lifetime to reduce your taxable estate. It’s been said that death and taxes are the only certainties, but with careful planning, sometimes one of the two can be avoided.

Of course, there’s more to estate planning that reducing taxes. It’s also important to have a will, which determines how your property will be divided after your death. Without this essential legal document, your property may not be divided according to your intentions. Most likely, it will also become tied up in Probate Court and it may take years before your survivors have access to your assets.

Make certain you seek the assistance of an attorney with experience making out wills. Having a will that is not legally valid can be worse than having no will at all because it may be disputed. Also, be certain to update your will periodically.

Keep in mind that retirement accounts and life insurance policies are not covered by your will, as you designate beneficiaries when you sign a contract for these assets. Make certain that you have designated individuals you truly want to be your beneficiaries and you have not unintentionally excluded anyone, such as a child born after you initially designated your beneficiaries. Plan your legacy assets. Most people consider their financial assets in planning their estate. You also have accumulated many other assets during your lifetime. Some of the best assets are the memories of special events or family gatherings. Many of these are recorded photographically and able to be passed on to heirs.

However, the asset value of the wisdom garnered, the valuable experiences received, the life lessons learned, the appreciation of others that have helped you along the way are all assets available for sharing.

Similar to a will that administers your financial assets, you can prepare a separate letter, memoranda or formal ethical will to pass on to your family and others.

Get organized

Your death will likely be difficult on your family. You can ease the burden by planning your funeral and letting your wishes be known. Do you have a cemetery plot? Have you picked out a casket? Is there a charity to which you would like contributions sent?

If you take care of every detail, your children and your spouse won’t have to. Clean out your attic and your closet and get rid of unwanted items. Give away anything you won’t use. Go through your photos and organize them. Determine if you need to change their medium to an electronic format.

People often tell me that they do not want to be a burden to their children. It can be painful for your family to have to deal with these issues; dealing with them yourself will make it easier on them.

Also, be certain to choose an executor for your will. Talk to your executor and make certain that he or she has a true understanding of your wishes and will carry them out to the last detail. Many times writing a letter of instruction to your executor or trustee is helpful for those matters not easily handled by the formal document.

You may not care what happens after you die, but keep in mind that your decisions today will have an eternal impact and could affect how you are remembered.

Seek balance

Death and taxes may be inevitable, but the more time you spend preparing for either, the better the outcome is likely to be. If you were to die tomorrow, that would be tragic. The tragedy would be compounded, though, if your family had to deal with matters without knowing your wishes. Regardless, in the process of planning for the future, don’t forget to live for today. Carrying out your bucket list is more important - and more fun - than preparing it.

Ask yourself what you are doing today that you would change. Is your career fulfilling? Do you have a secret ambition, like writing a book or taking a special trip? Act on your passions and interests today, before it is too late. Plan for the future, but enjoy life today. Carpe diem!

Darrell J. Canby

If you were gone – what would happen to your kids?

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Who’s the nominated guardian for your kids? How did you decide on that person?

Estate planning (i.e. having a Will, enduring power of attorney, health directive, etc) is a vitally important part of a good financial plan. It determines what happens to your stuff if something happens to you. I’m going to cover wills, life insurance and so forth over the next few blogs and today I thought I’d look at one specific area of estate planning: nominating guardians for your kids. In other words, who would look after your kids if you and your partner passed away?

Well over 60% of parents with children under the age of 18 don’t have a Will. So that means that while you might be comfortable assuming that your parents or sister or best friend will happily take on the responsibility of your kids if you died – things might not necessarily work out that way. And if it hasn’t been pre-planned then the transition is going to be way more chaotic than it needs to be – which is a huge emotional face-slap to be giving your kids at what would be an already devastating time for them.

So – who to nominate as guardian? It’s not a decision to make lightly. Obviously there’s never a perfect solution, but some considerations include:

•Financial. Can your preferred guardian afford to look after your children or would it place them in financial stress? (I’m going to talk about life insurance next week, which is the easiest way to overcome this issue. It’s important, with a recent ING report called “Picking up the Pieces” finding that losing a parent as a child was not only devastating, but caused further detriment psychologically, educationally and socially, if financial stress was added to the equation.

•Age. What is the current age of your preferred guardian? Would they have the maturity to care for your children if something were to happen to you tomorrow and are they at an appropriate life stage to do so? Conversely, are they young enough to cope with the care of your children not just now but over the next 18 years?

•Lifestyle. Will your preferred guardian be willing to instill in your children the values and outlook that are important to you?

•Geography. Obviously this can change suddenly, but at the moment is your preferred guardian likely to live in a location that would enable your children to retain contact with other friends and family members?

•Family considerations. It is important to consider and acknowledge the competing demands of the guardian’s own children. What if they don’t get along? If it changes the “pecking order” in the house? While many people choose a family member to act as guardian, that doesn’t have to be the case and depending on your family circumstances it may not always be practical. Some people choose a family friend instead on the understanding that their children will maintain constant contact with family members. At the end of the day the choice of guardian may be influenced by what you feel will be best for your child, irrespective of familial ties (which is a nice way of saying that if your nearest relative has a gambling problem, drug problem or you simply don’t get along with them then blood doesn’t necessarily have to be thicker than water), although it is always good if family are aware of your decision and understand the reasons for it.

And don’t forget that you can always change it (and in fact should review it from time to time). The most important thing though is doing it to start with. So – have you nominated guardians for your kids? If so, who did you choose? And why?

 

Advisor Affiliate Details-Sign up (Link on Advisor Sub Tab and Advisor button pgs)

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Attorney Affiliation Details Page.Advisors

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HOW OUR DOCUMENT PROCESS WORKS FOR ADVISORS

1.  Once your application has been approved,  you will receive a sample trust (full binder) customized to your home state, a training manual, a sample client workbook, and The Living Trust book by Henry Abts III.

2.  When you have a client you will  input their information into our client workbook (provided online); then you will provide the workbook to an attorney in our network to create the trust.

3.  The attorney will send us the client/trust information electronically; we will then prepare the documents and ship them by FedEx to you or the attorney’s door within 2 weeks.  (A mini-summary is printed in addition to printing the trust and provided in the shipment for the attorney to forward to you.)

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Once your application is approved, you are set-up as an affiliate in our Independent Advisor Network.  There is a $175 annual affiliation fee processed through automatic renewal at the end of your fiscal year from the date of sign up.  You will receive notification from us in advance of the auto-renewal transaction of $175 providing you the option to either approve or decline another year of affiliation.  Everything listed below is included in your affiliation.

TRAINING/EDUCATION INCLUDED

A training course is included in your sign-up fee, The Basic Institute for the Estate Preservation is offered several times a year (also known as New Affiliate Training).  It is necessary to complete this course within your first year of affiliation.  We require this course because we have found it to be extremely valuable in your performance and success.  We've gathered over 28 years of proven results.  For information on The Basic Institute for the Estate Preservation please click here.

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The Living Trust book

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The Living Trust book, by Henry Abts, III
"The Bible on How to Avoid Probate"
Over 1 million copies sold

The Living Trust book was written by Henry Abts III, founder of The Estate Plan. The Living Trust did not just materialize overnight. The seeds germinated for many years, he was influenced by situations that he encountered through personal experiences as well as a host of situations specific to his clients. Meeting with thousands of clients gave Henry the opportunity to address their technical questions in terms they could understand. When the clients asked for written information to forward to their parents in Florida, or to their children in New York, he began writing his experiences down. As the years passed, many of Henry’s clients, and eventually a publishing agent, asked him to write a book about the Living Trust in layperson’s terms. They felt he had a way of explaining complex concepts in simple and understandable terms. The Living Trust took four years of writing and a year of editing and was first published in June 1989. The book immediately became a nationwide success. It was updated in 1993, 1997, and in 2002, and more than one million copies have been sold.

The Living Trust : The Failproof Way to Pass Along Your Estate to Your Heirs

• The Living Trust makes the old-fashioned will obsolete
• Includes information on the estate tax, the gift, and the generation-skipping tax
• Eliminates estate-devouring probate charges and attorneys' fees
• Guarantees a timely distribution of funds to your heirs
• Assures that no one may contest or overturn your wishes regarding disposition of your estate
• Shows how to protect your business, savings, and retirement from frivolous lawsuits
• Legally valid in all fifty states

A Living Trust is a simple, inexpensive legal alternative that eliminates the costs and delays of probate and ensures that your loved ones will receive their inheritance promptly and exactly as you intended. The Living Trust- the bible on how to avoid probate- will show you how to take full advantage of this critical estate planning tool. The updated edition of The Living Trust includes the latest information on trust formations, tax changes, distribution rules, and more. It also offers:

• Insight into abuses within the probate system
• Advice on how to protect your business, savings, and retirement funds from frivolous lawsuits.
• The effects of the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act of 2001 on estate tax, gift tax, the generation-skipping tax, and stepped-up evaluation.

Sample and ancillary documents, including estate preservation and tax-saving documents, a living will, and costs of a Living Trust, all updated to reflect the latest tax changes and Living Trust requirements.

You may think your heirs have been well provided for, but did you know that:

• Your loved ones may have to wait more than two years before receiving a penny from your estate- even though you left a legally valid will?
• Costs of probating your will may eat up more than 10 percent of your estate- money your heirs will never receive?
• The specific instructions of your bequest may be contested or changed completely- even though clearly spelled out in your will?
• A will cannot help you in life. If you become incapacitated or your judgment comes into question, it becomes a matter for the courts to decide and is a very public process.

OUR GIFT TO YOU

View a portion of the book by clicking on the links below.

Chapter 1 - Lest We Forget

Chapter 2 - The Agony Of Probate

Appendix A

~ "The Living Trust is unquestionably the layman's most nearly complete source on living trusts...Recommended reading for anyone who wants to maximize his net estate left to heirs, speed asset distribution after death, avoid will challenges, minimize estate costs, and maintain privacy." -Robert Bruss, Esq., and nationally syndicated real estate columnist, Chicago Tribune

Click Below to Get Your Copy Now! 

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Attorney’s, How We Can Help

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Many attorneys search for the right company or outlet that provides the support they need to be successful in their estate planning practice.  Your search ends here with The Estate Planning Source Independent Attorney Network.  The following are three largest areas of concerns we address from practitioners over the last 28+ years;

HOW OUR PROCESS WORKS EASY AS 1-2-3

Apply for Affiliation and receive a custom software program designed to generate documents by state, a sample client Workbook, and a sample trust (full binder) for your state.

 


Input the client information into the software; send the information electronically to The Estate Planning Source office.

 

We will prepare the documents and ship them by FedEx to your door within 2 weeks.  An email with a PDF attachment of the trust will be sent to you automatically upon shipping.  Please note: We will work with each attorney on special requests, for example, we are happy to email a draft of the documents prior to print for any additional changes at no charge.

 

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Membership- General Overview

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Attorney Affiliation Details Page

 

 

Request Information & Application Packet

 

As an attorney in our Licensed Attorney Network, you will be able to provide the finest estate planning document packages to your clients, matured through more than 1,000 network attorneys, and utilize our excellent support services as your back office. Our system allows you to build the estate planning portion of your business by receiving referrals from our network of Independent Advisors, save valuable time on research of federal law changes, and reduce the cost of generating new clients.

  1.  Once approved, you will receive a custom software program designed to generate documents by state, a sample client Workbook, and a sample trust (full binder) for your state.
  2. Input the client information into the software; send the information electronically to our main office.
  3. We will prepare the documents and ship them by FedEx to your door within 2 weeks.  An email with a PDF attachment of the trust will be automatically sent to you at time of shipping.

 

Please note: We will work with each attorney on special requests, for example, we are happy to email a draft of the documents prior to print for any additional changes at no charge. 

Training/Education Course INCLUDED

A training course is included in your set-up fee, The Basic Institute for the Estate Preservation is offered several times a year.  It is necessary to complete this course within your first year of affiliation.  We require this course because we have found it to be extremely valuable in your performance and success.  We've gathered nearly 30 years of proven results.  For information on The Basic Institute for the Estate Preservation please click here.

Resource Center INCLUDED

You will have access to the Affiliate Resource Center.  This is a password protected area you will be given access to utilize numerous tools and resources at your fingertips.  It includes items such as articles, educational materials, forms, marketing materials, workbooks and more.

Referrals INCLUDED

We offer free referrals to our trusted Network professionals that are generated through The Living Trust book and through our websites.

Expert Support INCLUDED

We offer expert support for client estate planning solutions (strategy), developing business strategies, tracking changes in federal law and tax code that will impact the industry, and keeping you alert of the changes through email, your Affiliate membership to the website, and our newsletter The Source.

Affiliate Membership INCLUDED

ACCESS TO ALL:  Articles, The Source e-newsletter, Videos, Seminars, Case Studies, the Forum and Blog, 25% off Education, 45% off Training Institutes, Infographics, Tools and the Affiliate Resource Center.

Additional Affiliation Details:

There is a one-time set-up fee of 695.00. When your application is approved,  you are set-up as an affiliated professional in our network.  There is a $175 annual affiliation fee processed through automatic renewal at the end of your fiscal year from the date of approval.

GET STARTED NOW... Easy as 1-2-3

1. Request your Information & Application Packet, please print, fill out and submit it by faxing to 775-828-4444 or emailing it to alliances@tepsource.com 

2. Once we receive your completed application, we will review it and once approved, it will be processed. (Any application that is not accepted will receive a full refund or not be processed.)

3. We will send, by FedEx ground, your custom software, a sample trust (full binder) for your state, a sample client workbook, and The Living Trust book by Henry Abts III.  Included in your sign up price is our educational training course; The Basic Institute for Estate Preservation, it is recommended you attend this course at your earliest convenience.  The training manual you will receive is for this training course.

 

Get Started Today!
Attorney Information & Application Packet

 

Advisors

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Attorney Affiliation Details Page.Advisors

__________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Request an Information Packet

 

As an Independent Advisor in our professional network, you will be able to support your client from start-to-finish by assisting in the non-legal aspects of the estate planning process.  This includes educating your clients on estate planning concepts, gathering information, working in conjunction with an attorney in our network, to create important planning documents, a living trust, aiding in the execution and funding of the trust, and assisting with the settlement process. 

1.  Once your application has been approved,  you will receive a sample trust (full binder) customized to your home state, a training manual, a sample client workbook, and The Living Trust book by Henry Abts III.

2.  When you have a client you will  input their information into our client workbook (provided online); then you will provide the workbook to an attorney in our network to create the trust.

3.  The attorney will send us the client/trust information electronically; we will then prepare the documents and ship them by FedEx to you or the attorney’s door within 2 weeks.  (A mini-summary is printed in addition to printing the trust and provided in the shipment for the attorney to forward to you.)

Training/Education INCLUDED

A training course is included in your set-up fee, The Basic Institute for the Estate Preservation is offered several times a year.  It is necessary to complete this course within your first year of affiliation.  We require this course because we have found it to be extremely valuable in your performance and success.  We've gathered nearly 30 years of proven results.  For information on The Basic Institute for the Estate Preservation please click here.

Resource Center INCLUDED

You will have access to the Affiliate Resource Center.  This is a password protected area you will be given access to utilize numerous tools and resources at your fingertips.  It includes items such as articles, educational material, forms, marketing materials, workbooks and more.

Referrals INCLUDED

We offer free referrals to our trusted network professionals that are generated through The Living Trust book and through our website.

Expert Support INCLUDED

We offer education and expert support for client estate planning solutions (strategy), developing business strategies, tracking changes in federal law and tax code that will impact the industry, and keeping you alert of the changes through email, your Affiliate membership to the website, and our newsletter The Source.

Affiliate Membership INCLUDED

ACCESS TO ALL:  Articles, The Source e-newsletter, Videos, Seminars, Case Studies, the Forum and Blog, 25% off Education, 45% off Training Institutes, Infographics, Tools and the Affiliate Resource Center.

ADDITIONAL AFFILIATION DETAILS

There is a one-time set-up fee of 695.00. When your application is approved,  you are set-up as an affiliated professional in our network.  There is a $175 annual affiliation fee processed through automatic renewal at the end of your fiscal year from the date of approval.  

HOW TO GET STARTED

1. Request your Information & Application Packet, please fill it out and submit it by faxing to 775-828-4444 or emailing it to alliances@tepsource.com 

2. Once we receive the application, we will review and approve it.  We will contact you upon approval and payment. (Any application that is not accepted will receive a full refund or not be processed.)

3. We will send, by FedEx ground, a sample trust (full binder) for your state, a sample client workbook, and The Living Trust book by Henry Abts III.  Included in your set-up fee is our educational training course; The Basic Institute for Estate Preservation, it is recommended you attend this course at your earliest convenience, and modules are now available online if you prefer to get a quick start.  The training manual you will receive is for this training course.

Get Started Today!
Advisor Information & Application Packet

 

Document Solutions

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Comprehensive Estate Planning Documents - Revocable Living Trusts - Will Package - Ancillary Documents

What Gives Our Documents the Leading Edge?

Detailed and comprehensive, these documents have been developed through nearly 30 years of hands-on improvement by hundreds of attorneys throughout the US resulting in thousands of satisfied clients. They are drafted to ensure accuracy with current state and federal laws, and are updated as changes occur.

The Revocable Living Trust contains over 222 carefully worded provisions so that the trust can accommodate a client’s changing circumstances and to cover additional contingent situations without needing to be legally modified.  The trust is also universal; that is applicable in all 50 states, for a client may eventually own property in or even move to another state.

I Would Like an Advisor to Contact Me to Discuss My Estate Planning Needs

Here is a list of what our package includes:

  • 1 set of Ancillary Documents per person (DPOA for assets, DPOA for healthcare or Advanced Directive, Living Will, Nomination of Conservator, Appointment of Guardian, and Anatomical Gift)
  • Abstract of Trust
  • Trust Certification
  • Pour-Over Will
  • Assignment of Furnishings and Personal Effects
  • 1 three-ring professional quality binder with tabs and inserts
  • 1 set of quality documents with Plain English summaries
  • Funding Manual

We offer a wide variety of estate planning solutions and documents customized at your direction.

Nationally Transportable Living Trusts

Single A Trust
Married A Trust
Married/Unmarried AB Trust
Married ABC Trust
A Q-TIP Trust (for married person)
Partner AA Trust
Partner AB Secure Trust (for Domestic Partners)
Complete Amendment
Partial Amendment

Vital Ancillary Documents

There are a number of other legal documents that are not legally required parts of the Living Trust but which should be included in or with the Trust to provide for future contingencies. Our ancillary documents offer you additional control over your person or assets. These documents are so vital; they are included, at no additional charge as part of your comprehensive document package.

Pour-Over Will
Living Will
Durable Power Of Attorney For Health Care
Durable Power Of Attorney For Assets
Nomination Of Conservator/Guardian
Appointment Of Guardian
Anatomical Gift

Advanced Planning Vehicles

Because many individuals have needs that go beyond basic estate planning, we offer numerous Advanced Estate Planning Solutions that can be incorporated into your overall estate plan. These documents should be considered as a supplement to your Living Trust to shelter your hard-earned estate from unnecessary estate taxes.

■Asset Management Trust (Spendthrift Trust)
■Beneficiary Trust (Dynasty)
■Buy/Sell Agreement
■Catastrophic Illness Trust (Medicaid Planning Trust)
■Charitable Remainder Trust
■Family Catastrophic Illness Trust
■Gift Trust
■Insurance Preservation Trust- Spousal Support (ILIT)
■Insurance Preservation Trust (ILIT)
■IRA/Qualified Plan Trust
■Land Trust
■Special Needs

“A POORLY WRITTEN TRUST IS WORSE THAN NO TRUST AT ALL.” Henry Abts, III

A poorly drawn trust can become a restrictive nightmare for the surviving spouse or successor trustee and beneficiaries. As long as the clients are living, it does not matter what a Living Trust says, because it can always be revoked. However, upon the death of the client, these poorly written Trusts are going to end up in probate court, with petitions being presented to revise or clarify the Trust wording. (Even though the main advantage of a Living Trust is to avoid probate, a Trust falls under the legal jurisdiction of the probate code; any need for clarification of a Trust therefore must be handled in the probate courts.)

One size does not fit all – no two people or families are alike! Your family’s needs, dynamics, personalities, and values are unique. If you use a form kit, you are asking for problems. Even LegalZoom.com reveals that 80% of people who fill in blank forms to create legal documents do so incorrectly. Plus, if your Will or Living Trust is not executed properly, it becomes invalid. If you overlook the opportunity to write specific instructions about how you want to provide for your spouse and children, your family will receive whatever the “cookie cutter” document provides, and you may not know of other options. The only estate plan you rely on is the one that is custom prepared by a qualified estate planning professional attorney.

A well-written comprehensive trust document comes about only through extensive experience. The Estate Planning Source’s trust documents are the result of more than 28 years of working together with legal counsel to cover every imaginable contingency.

I would like an Advisor to contact me to discuss my Estate Planning needs

I would like to view more on The Estate Planning Source’s Advisor Network

I would like to view more on The Estate Planning Source’s Attorney Network

Institutes

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THE ADVANCED INSTITUTE FOR ESTATE PRESERVATION

The Advanced Institute is a professional training course that offers an extensive education on current topics affecting your estate planning practice.  Each subject is presented by an expert in the industry.  An example of training topics are Medicaid and Veterans Planning, When a Corporate Trustee is Necessary, The Power of Trust Provisions, IRA Trust Planning, Settling the Estate, and more.  The Basic Institute course is preferred prior to attending this course.

THE BASIC INSTITUTE FOR ESTATE PRESERVATION

The Basic Institute is a professional training course that offers a solid education on living trusts, solutions for clients and higher net worth clients using advanced planning concepts, how to properly execute and fund a revocable living trust, steps for estate settlement, available marketing materials and how to use them, and where to look to potentially unlock new business and more.

TOPICS YOU WILL LEARN IN THE BASIC ESTATE PRESERVATION TRAINING INSTITUTE

The History of the Living Trust and Its Relevance Today
The Dangers of Probate
The Revocable Living Trust System
The Revocable Living Trust – 222 Provisions
Ancillary Documents in a Good Trust System
The Planning Team and Avoiding the Unauthorized Practice of Law
Client Generation, Marketing, and New Internet Systems
Advanced Planning Vehicles
The Estate Planning Client Process
Building Estate Planning Office Systems
Working with The Estate Planning Source
Putting Your Plans in Motion
Case Studies

ONLINE TRAINING & EDUCATION

Various information, training and educational material available to network professionals

Who We Help

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JOIN OUR INDEPENDENT NATIONWIDE NETWORK

 

ATTORNEY

As an attorney in our Licensed Attorney Network, you will be able to provide the finest estate planning document packages to your clients, matured through more than 1,000 network attorneys, and utilize our excellent support services as your back office. Our system allows you to build the estate planning portion of your business by receiving referrals from our network of Independent Advisors, save valuable time on research of federal law changes, and reduce the cost of generating new clients.  View more

ADVISOR or Financial Planners

As an Independent Advisor you will be able to support your client from start-to-finish by assisting in the non-legal aspects of the estate planning process.  This includes educating your clients on estate planning concepts, gathering information, working in conjunction with an attorney who is affiliated with our network, to create a living trust, aiding in the execution and funding of the trust, and assisting with the settlement process.  View more

 

 

About Us

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About Us

As a leading national document fulfillment organization, The Estate Planning Source (TheEstatePlanningSource.com) offers one the finest revocable living trust document packages available, matured through more than 1,000 Network attorneys.

Acting as a "back office" for attorneys, the associates at The Estate Planning Source prepare requested documents, customizing, printing, and assembling a trust package. To date, the company has finalized over 60,000 trusts. Detailed and comprehensive, these trust documents have been developed through years of hands-on improvement by hundreds of attorneys throughout the United States resulting in thousands of satisfied clients. They are drafted to ensure accuracy with current state and federal laws, and are updated as changes occur.

The Estate Planning Source has a national Network of attorneys and financial planners, making its business model one of the most unique in the industry. Together, advisors and attorneys work as a team to help their clients obtain the best documents for their estate. This team aspect helps attorneys strengthen their business, while the advisor is able to support their client from start to finish by assisting with the non-legal aspects of the estate planning process.

Based in Reno, Nevada, the company continues to both streamline the living trust documentation process and educate the general public in choosing trusts as an alternative to traditional wills through TheEstatePlanningSource.com.

We strive to protect our fellow Americans from the evils of probate. We do so by recruiting and training reputable, knowledgeable and experienced Network Attorneys and Financial Advisors and provide them with the most comprehensive and up-to-date estate planning documents so they can offer all-inclusive estate planning services to the American public from concept through final settlement.

TheEstatePlanningSource Disclaimer

HOME PAGE

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As a leading national document fulfillment organization, The Estate Planning Source offers one of the finest revocable living trust document packages available, matured through more than 1,000 network attorneys.

Acting as a "back office" for attorneys, the associates at The Estate Planning Source prepare requested documents, customizing, printing, and assembling a trust package.  To date the company has finalized over 60,000 trusts. Detailed and comprehensive, these trust documents have been developed through years of hands-on improvement by hundreds of attorneys throughout the United States resulting in thousands of satisfied clients. They are drafted to ensure accuracy with current state and federal laws, and are updated as changes occur.

The Estate Planning Source has a national network of attorneys and financial planners, making its business model one of the most unique in the industry.  Together, advisors and attorneys work as a team to help their clients obtain the best documents for their estate. This team aspect helps attorneys strengthen their business, while the advisor is able to support their client from start to finish by assisting with the non-legal aspects of the estate planning process.

Based in Reno, Nevada, the company continues to both streamline the living trust documentation process and educate the general public in choosing trusts as an alternative to traditional wills through TheEstatePlanningSource.com.

Disclaimer

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TheEstatePlanningSource.com website provides information to its members and
guests. It does not provide legal or investment advisory services. Our information
is general and may not be applicable to a particular individual’s situation.
TheEstatePlanningSource.com website does not engage in the practice of law
or the sale of investment and/or insurance products or services.
Furthermore, the use of this website does not create an attorney-client
relationship and no attorney-client relationship shall be deemed to exist
between TheEstatePlanningSource.com, its officers and employees, and any
member, visitor or other user of this site.
If any member, visitor or other user of this site requires the services of a qualified
professional, we do encourage them to retain the services of one or more of the
professional service providers by using our Contact Us form.

Overview of Tennessee Inheritance Tax Laws for 2013

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Understanding How Tennessee Inheritance Taxes Affect an Estate
By Julie Garber, About.com Guide

If you live in Tennessee, then you live in one of a handful of states that collects a state death tax. The estates of Tennessee residents who die in 2013, as well as the estates of nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in Tennessee, are subject to a state death tax under the following guidelines.

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

Estate Tax vs. Inheritance Tax

While the Tennessee death tax is referred to as an "inheritance tax" in the Tennessee legislative code, it is really an estate tax since it is collected based on the value of the overall estate located in Tennessee (hence, a true "estate tax"); it is not a tax that is collected based on who actually inherits the estate located in Tennessee (a true "inheritance tax").

Interestingly enough, the Tennessee legislative code also provides for an "estate tax," which is actually a type of "pick up tax" that was tied to the amount of federal estate tax that was collected from the estates of decedents who died before 2005.

Since the Tennessee legislative code refers to both an inheritance tax and an estate tax, this article refers to the death tax that is currently collected under Tennessee law as an "inheritance tax," even though the tax is assessed against the assets located in Tennessee and not against the individual beneficiaries who inherit the estate.

When is an estate subject to the Tennessee inheritance tax in 2013?

For Tennessee residents, an estate may be subject to the Tennessee inheritance tax if the total gross estate exceeds $1,250,000.

For nonresidents of Tennessee, an estate may be subject to the Tennessee inheritance tax if it includes real estate and/or tangible personal property having a situs within the state of Tennessee and the gross estate exceeds $1,250,000.

Note: In May 2012, legislation was enacted which will phase out the Tennessee inheritance tax by 2016. See more on this below in the section titled "What is the future of the Tennessee inheritance tax?"

What Tennessee inheritance tax forms must be filed?

All estates with a gross value that exceeds $1,250,000 must file a Tennessee inheritance tax return, Form INH-301, even if no Tennessee inheritance tax will be due as a result of applicable deductions and exemptions.

Are transfers to a surviving spouse taxable?

Outright transfers to a surviving spouse are not taxable.

For married couples who have used AB Trust planning to reduce their federal estate tax bill, a Tennessee inheritance tax may be due on the B Trust after the first spouse's death if there is a gap between the Tennessee inheritance tax exemption and the federal estate tax exemption. Nonetheless, a married decedent's estate can make an election on Form INH-301 to treat property as marital deduction qualified terminable interest property ("QTIP") for purposes of calculating the Tennessee inheritance tax. Thus, married Tennessee residents can defer payment of both Tennessee and federal death taxes until after the death of the surviving spouse using ABC Trust planning.

When are the Tennessee inheritance tax return and tax payment due?

Form INH-301 must be filed and any inheritance tax due must be paid within nine months after the decedent's date of death unless an extension of time to file the return and pay the tax is granted. An extension of time to file Form INH-301 may be requested for up to one year by filing Form INH-304, Application for Extension of Time to File Inheritance Tax Return. Nonetheless, even if an extension is granted, it will not delay the time for payment of any inheritance tax that may be due.

Where is the Tennessee inheritance tax return filed?

Mail the Tennessee inheritance tax return, Form INH-301, and all other required forms to:

Tennessee Department of Revenue
Andrew Jackson State Office Building 500
Deaderick Street
Nashville, Tennessee 37242-0600

What are the Tennessee inheritance tax rates?

Anything over the $1,250,000 Tennessee inheritance exemption for 2013 is taxed at the following rates:

Where can I find additional information about Tennessee inheritance taxes?

For more information about Tennessee inheritance taxes and estate taxes, refer to the Tennessee Department of Revenue's Inheritance Tax webpage, Guide to Tennessee Inheritance and Estate Taxes, and Inheritance Tax Guide.

For assistance with Form INH-301 and Tennessee inheritance tax questions, call the Tennessee Department of Revenue toll free (in state only) at 800-342-1003 or 615-253-0600.

For information about the rules that apply to the estates of decedents who died in 2012 and prior years, refer to Overview of Tennessee Inheritance Tax Laws for 2012 and Prior Years.

Concerns of a Trustee, a Valuable Interview

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Concerns of a trusteeQ: Do your parents have a trust? A: Yes

Q: Do you know where the trust document is? A: Yes

Q: As your parents are getting up in years, what are your main concerns? A: Will I have enough money to take care of them or do they have enough money?  What will be my costs for supporting them if I need to?  Are their assets protected fromt he state or goverment, or prtoected from family members who they don’t want to have it?

Q: Do you have a copy? A: Yes

Q: What have they told you about it? A: Not much, I am the Executor and in charge of everything.

Q: Do you know what it means to be an Executor? A: Yes, to read out the document and make sure my parents’ wishes are carried out.

Q: Do you know Executor’s have specific fiduciary responsibilities? A: No

Q: Would it be helpful for you to have information that explains these responsibilities? A: Yes, as long as it was not too long ot in terms which are hard to understand.  I would like to know what’s expected of me.

Q: Do you have siblings? A: Yes

Q: Do you anticipate conflict with your siblings? A: For the most part, no.  I anticipate we could have frustrations over how to handle things, but nothing major.  My parents trusted that I could handle it best out of all kids.  My plan is to disperse everything evenly, without conflict…if possible.

Q: Do you feel added presure or burden for being the Executoe, especially because your siblings are not? A: Yes

Q: Do you know what Settlement means? A: Sort of. I have a basic understanding.

Q: Where would you turn for settlement help? A: An attorney

Q: Did you know a CPA could be needed for settlement? A: No

Q: Do you know all of your parents assets or have you seen a list of all their accounts? A: No but I have a decent idea.

Q: Do you know the name of your parents’ financial advisor? A: Fidelity

Q: Anyone at Fidelity specifically? A: No

Q: Do you know the firm or name of the attorney who drafted their trust? A: No

Q: If you have any questions about the trust document, where would you turn? A: An attorney

Why Does Probate Take So Long? (In California)

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In California probate proceedings are governed by the Probate Code which sets forth certain time limits. Once a petition for probate is filed, you will receive a date for the first hearing in which an administrator or executor is appointed. The hearing is often 2-3 months after the petition has been filed. Once the representative has been appointed, notice has to be given to creditors of the decedent. Creditors have four months after publication of the notice of probate or 60 days after receiving actual notice, whichever is later to file a claim. Then the process begins of collecting and valuing the decedent’s entire asset, paying the debts, taxes, possibly liquidating some assets, and finally distributed the assets to the heirs or beneficiaries.

The normal time for probate in San Diego County is between 9 months and 18 months. There are a number of factors that may make the probate process take longer. Some of these are:

1. Many beneficiaries 2. Beneficiaries that cannot be found 3. A will contest brought to dispute the validity of the will. If a contest is filed, it will have to be decided before the estate can be distributed. Sometimes this can take years if there are depositions that have to be taken and either mediation or a trial. 4. Disagreements among the beneficiaries such as who should be the administrator, whether the accounting is accurate, whether there are beneficiaries that should be disqualified, or having to set up a guardianship of the estate for minors. Each time a petition or motion is brought in the probate matter to resolve a disagreement; it lengthens the time for closing the estate. 5. A taxable estate. If the estate has to pay federal estate tax, this can delay closing the estate. This is not a problem for decedents who passed away in 2010, however in 2011, if the Legislature does not act, the federal estate tax threshold will revert to $1 million making many more estates subject to estate taxes. 6. A complicated estate with unusual assets. Typical estates consist of real property, bank accounts, investment accounts, etc. If one of the assets is a business, however, it can take time to appraise such an asset. The same is true of oil or mineral rights or other unusual assets. If there are many assets, it can also take additional time to appraise all the assets and liquidate them if they need to be.   Roy M. Doppelt

What We Inherit From Parents and Attitudes It Creates

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"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."  -Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Have you read Jonathan Franzen's new novel, "Freedom"? It has the dubious distinction of being one of Oprah's Book Club selections and receiving a devastating review in The New Republic.

There being no such thing as bad publicity, the breadth of comment and reaction in many venues at many levels of criticism and approbation has it firmly ensconced on the New York Times best-seller list. The main plot, the train wreck of a marriage between Patty and Walter Berglund and all the collateral damage caused to other family members and friends, I will leave to your reading.

The Berglunds are liberals during the George W. Bush administration and raise a family, have affairs, destroy relationships and generally wreak havoc. As Ruth Franklin, writing for The New Republic says, Freedom is a "The Way We Live Now" novel in which, as in Trollope's novel of that title, the perfidy and moral vacuity of the age are laid bare. "Mistakes were made."

Near the end of the book, Patty Berglund's mother, Joyce, is trying to make an estate plan. She is a widow and owner of a family estate her husband inherited from his father.

Spoiler Alert: The story that follows about Patty's family is near the end of the book. You may want to wait and read the book. On the other hand, in truth, this particular vignette has precious little to do with the rest of the book; and you won't really be spoiling anything.

What is Joyce's problem? Her children and other family members are pressuring her. Her son Edgar, his wife and numerous children live in the estate, which has fallen into grave disrepair. They live there rent free, of course. This son has produced Joyce's only grandchildren. He threatens that he, his wife and the precious grandchildren will relocate to a settlement on the West Bank in Israel if he doesn't get his way.

Patty's two sisters, Abigail and Veronica, who were the favorites while Patty was growing up, have failed to become self-supporting and count themselves entitled to mother Joyce's support.

Patty hasn't been part of the family for years — since the first Thanksgiving after she married Walter. Now she is back in the picture trying to broker a deal. But of course, she and her children aren't in line for part of the inheritance — she has been the family black sheep for too long.

Also in the picture are Joyce's two brothers-in-law. Her husband received the family estate from his parents. The other two brothers were left other assets in the will but, regrettably, these declined in value and were worthless when they were inherited. Joyce feels they may have a moral claim on part of the family estate.

What is the inheritance here? False claims of entitlement, emotional blackmail, long-held grudges, greed, and jealousy. Who is the property owner? That would be Joyce. Does anyone care, does anyone even ask, what she wants? Joyce is paralyzed by the conflicting demands, so does nothing? This is always making a decision in itself. By doing nothing she is choosing to let New York's intestacy statute apply, dividing the estate equally among the four children. And who is to say that is not the best thing?

From generation to generation: what is the legacy for Patty and Walter's two children? That selfishness and cruelty continue down the family tree? That people are really "selfish and shortsighted and egotistical and needy." Will Walter make sure that his children get the lake cottage he inherited from his mother? Will one of the children demand that they get all of it — cutting off a sibling in juvenile rivalry?

And you, what will you do with your estate? Are you avoiding making decisions because you know the children will be "unhappy?" Are you planning your dispositions secretly, so the bomb will go off after the funeral when the will is read?

By Patti S. Spencer, Staff Writer

Retirement Accounts – Who is the Beneficiary of Your Account?

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Have you checked your beneficiary designation for your retirement account recently? If not, you may find that your designated beneficiary is not who or what you think it should be, especially if you have divorced, remarried or had children since your retirement plan account was established.

Outdated Beneficiary Designations

There have been numerous cases of retirement-account owners who have been divorced and remarried but have neglected to update their beneficiary designations accordingly. This can be quite frustrating for their survivors, who must battle in court for a legal determination of the true beneficiary. The court's decision, however, may not necessarily be what the deceased would have wanted.

A similar dilemma arises if children are named as beneficiaries but the document has not been updated to include those who were born after you set up your account. To prevent these situations, you should update your beneficiary designation periodically or even immediately after you experience a change in family status. Should you need to, you may submit a change-of-beneficiary form.

Per Stirpes Designations

In the event your child predeceases you, a per stirpes beneficiary designation would allocate that share to the child's issue – your grandchildren.  If you don't name them, they will be disinherited from taking the share of their parent.

Make Provisions for Simultaneous Death

Many spouses, expecting that one will predecease the other, name each other as their designated beneficiaries. The issue of simultaneous death is then addressed by state law, which will determine that one spouse died first, even though both deaths occurred at the same time. This determination is critical, especially if there are children from a previous marriage: will all the children be included? Or will children from a previous marriage be excluded? Proper documentation designating successor beneficiaries for normal and extenuating circumstances will ensure that the retirement-account owner decides who the successor beneficiary is.

Look into a Trust for Your Distributions

If you feel you need to retain some degree of control over the disposition of the retirement assets after your death, you may consider designating a trust as your beneficiary. Designating the right type of trust as your beneficiary could offer these benefits:  allow you to provide financial support for your surviving spouse while ensuring that children from previous marriages are also provided for; helping to maximize your estate tax exclusions; and controlling distributions to the children you might think are not mature enough to handle a large IRA. Trusts require expertise to set up correctly, so please ask me for some assistance before you make any decisions regarding customized and/or trust beneficiary designations.

Beneficiary Designation Checklist

Check the default provisions of the document that governs your retirement account, as it may come into effect if your beneficiary predeceases you and you fail to make subsequent changes.

Look into the tax implications for the kind of beneficiary you choose, whether a particular person, such as a spouse or non-spouse, an entity, such as a charity, your estate or a type of trust.

Request a confirmation of receipt of the designation from your retirement account trustee, custodian or administrator. Documents do not always reach their intended recipient and/or may get lost in transit. Beneficiary designations are considered in effect only if they are received by the responsible party (e.g. trustee, custodian or administrator) before the retirement account owner dies.

If you prefer to use a customized beneficiary designation, make sure your trustee, custodian or administrator finds it acceptable. Not all financial institutions or qualified plans will accept customized beneficiary designations.

Check with your financial institution periodically to determine who your beneficiary is - you may need to make changes if you had a change in your family such as a birth, death, divorce or marriage.

Making a proper beneficiary designation is a very important part of your financial planning process.

Instruction Manual; Life after You

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Leave a little instruction manual to everything you think someone will need should they have to sort out your life after the fact. At a minimum, this includes all of your financial accounts, from bank accounts and brokerage accounts to where you have the deed to your house. Make it very simple for someone to come in and put everything in order because it’ll save them a lot of time.

A side benefit of putting together an instruction manual is that it forces you to collect and organize everything. Did you have an account you forgot about? What about policy coverage you weren’t aware of? We accumulate a lot of stuff, financial stuff included, that we forget about. Taking the time to sort it out can be very valuable.

Do you have a last will and testament? Advanced medical directives or a guide to where stuff is? Of the six the only two I’ve addressed are the beneficiary information (which is redundant for us) and a guide to “where stuff is.”

 

SBA Office of Advocacy

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Created by Congress in 1976, the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent voice for small business within the federal government. Appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the Chief Counsel for Advocacy directs the office. The Chief Counsel advances the views, concerns, and interests of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policy makers. Economic research, policy analyses, and small business outreach help identify issues of concern. Regional Advocates and an office in Washington, DC, support the Chief Counsel's efforts.   As the federal office responsible for examining the contributions and challenges of small businesses in the U.S. economy, we are constantly looking for answers to small business questions—those that intrigue researchers, challenge business organizations, enlighten policymakers, and vex small business owners. Reference materials published annually include small business profiles for each of the 50 states and U.S. territories, quarterly small business indicators, and The Small Business Economy report.   Advocacy attorneys work within the government, educating regulators about their obligation to consider how small entities will be affected by federal regulatory proposals. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and Executive Order 13272 require federal agencies to determine the impact of their rules on small entities, consider alternatives that minimize small entity impacts, and make their analyses available for public comment. The Office of Advocacy gives small firm owners and their representatives opportunities to make their voices heard about rules that affect their interests. Annually, the Office of Advocacy helps small businesses save billions in regulatory costs.   Recognizing that state and local governments can be a source of burdensome regulations, the Office of Advocacy works with policymakers to bring regulatory flexibility to the states. Many states have enacted legislation or taken other steps to strengthen regulatory flexibility for small businesses. Giving small employers a voice early in the process is key to reducing the small business impact of state regulations while increasing regulatory compliance and passing on cost savings. Our Regional Advocates in the 10 SBA regions stand ready to hear from you about small business concerns and to help you level the playing field for small businesses in your state.

Website: http://www.sba.gov/advocacy/7496/260591

 

 

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks which, together with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the Federal Reserve System. The Fed, as the system is commonly called, is an independent governmental entity created by Congress in 1913 to serve as the central bank of the United States. It is responsible for formulating and executing monetary policy, supervising and regulating depository institutions, providing an elastic currency, assisting the federal government's financing operations, and serving as the banker for the U.S. government. In addition, the Federal Reserve System has important roles in operating the nation's payments systems, protecting consumers' rights in their dealings with banks and promoting community development and reinvestment.

The New York Fed oversees the Second Federal Reserve District, which includes New York state, the 12 northern counties of New Jersey, Fairfield County in Connecticut, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Though it serves a geographically small area compared with those of other Federal Reserve Banks, the New York Fed is the largest Reserve Bank in terms of assets and volume of activity.

The New York Fed employs about 2,700 officers and staff at the head office and the regional office in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

In addition to responsibilities the New York Fed shares in common with the other Reserve Banks, the New York Fed has several unique responsibilities, including conducting open market operations, intervening in foreign exchange markets, and storing monetary gold for foreign central banks, governments and international agencies. Foremost among its functions is the implementation of monetary policy, one of the three missions of the New York Fed. The other two are supervision and regulation, and international operations.

Go to the website: http://www.newyorkfed.org/index.html

 

5 Reasons People Dither, Dawdle And Put Things Off- Self Growth Series

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Ever found yourself saying “One of these days I’m going to ………” but then finding ‘one of those days’ never happens? Or find yourself with so much to do but little desire to tackle any of it? What about the time you were determined to stick to your New Years resolution only to find your initial enthusiasm on the wane by January 2nd? If you can relate to any of the above, you have found yourself caught in the great procrastination trap. Procrastinating (delaying taking action) can lead to increased stress, a lack of fulfilment and rob you of living a more enjoyable life. How do I know? I’m talking from experience. I delayed tidying my garage for two years and then wondered why I’d been putting it off for so long when I finally tackled it. De-cluttering my office was a task I wish I’d done sooner……… about five years sooner! It was only when I felt my stress levels were becoming unacceptably high, that I finally decided clutter and calm were not compatible. And I have been a master of deluding myself into thinking that the reason I haven’t made that difficult phone call is due to a lack of time, rather than the real reason, which is I felt uncomfortable about making it.  So why do we do it?

Here are five reasons:

1. Failure Focus.

We choose to focus our thoughts on ‘what if I fail’, which can render us powerless to act. It undermines our confidence and self belief and we comfort ourselves with the notion that ‘if I don’t attempt something, I can never be accused of failing’. That’s true. And neither can you experience the emotional highs gained from achievement and success.

2. Comfort Blanket Syndrome.

Taking action may at times require us to leave our world of familiarity, safety and security. Yet when we do something new or different, it can feel strange initially. This feeling of uncertainty can see us reaching out for our comfort blanket of previous habits and behaviour and withdraw from our new challenge.

3. Frozen By Feelings.

We can sometimes allow our feelings to dictate whether or not to take action. So we wait until we feel motivated or feel creative. Put simply, emotions can take our actions hostage.

4. Illusions Of Activity.

You may appear busy, but busy doing what exactly? Planning, discussing and researching may all be very necessary, but there comes a point when only action will do.

5. Conned By Complacency.

“There’s no rush …….. I’ll wait till I’m older ……… I’ll start it in the New Year”. There is always some reason to put off taking action today. As time passes, we delude ourselves into believing ‘There’s plenty of time’ whilst we drift along in a haze of complacency.
By Paul McGee, Sumo Guy