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Insight on Estate Planning - August/September 2016

Aug 01, 2016

Here's a brief glance at what you'll find in the August/September issue...

Alternate valuation date

Flexible postmortem planning a plus when markets are volatile

Many people may assume that filing a federal estate tax return is pretty cut-and-dried. The executor or professional representative completes the return, pays the requisite amount of tax, if any, and that's the end of the matter. However, a savvy move by an executor might save a wealthy family hundreds of thousands of estate tax dollars by making a timely election to use the "alternate valuation date" for assets. This article explains the qualifications to make the election and offers a fictional example of how the election can work in beneficiaries' favor.

The write stuff: A letter of instructions

When drafting an estate plan, the centerpiece is a will or living trust. Such a document determines who gets what, where, when and how, as well as tying up the loose ends of an estate. A valid will or living trust can be supplemented by other legally binding documents, such as trusts (or additional trusts), powers of attorney and health care directives. But there's still a place at the table for a document that has absolutely no legal authority: a "letter of instructions" to one's heirs. This article explains how this informal letter can provide valuable guidance and act as a road map to the rest of a person's estate, while a sidebar looks at creating a family mission statement.

Making the most of your GST tax exemption

To share wealth with grandchildren, great-grandchildren or even more remote generations, special planning may be required to keep generation-skipping transfer (GST) taxes to a minimum. When it comes to GST tax planning, the good news is that a significant GST tax exemption is available. But in some cases, automatic allocation rules that apply to the exemption can lead to undesirable results if one doesn't opt out of them. This article details when the GST tax applies and discusses how to allocate the exemption.

Estate Planning Pitfall

You're transferring your home to your children

Frequently, parents choose to transfer ownership of a home to their adult children to remove it from their taxable estates. There are many good reasons to do this, but the road is paved with tax potholes. This brief article explains the estate and income tax implications of transferring a home to a child.

To view a PDF of the newsletter with full articles, click here.