Categories ArchivesKarrie R. Hruska Blog


There are two major estate tax reforms that could potentially be enacted in 2017.  The first is a repeal of the Federal Estate Tax.  The second is a repeal of the step-up in basis at death. The Federal Estate Tax/Gift Tax is currently imposed on estates with a value of more than $5,490,000.  In other words, you can give away, during your lifetime and/or at your death, $5,490,000 without paying estate or gift tax.  This amount is also portable, meaning you can share this exemption with your spouse, allowing a married couple $10,980,000 in exemption between the two of them.  This tax currently affects a very small percentage of estates. Current tax laws allow assets that pass to a beneficiary through ...

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Death and Taxes standard

“… in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”   -Benjamin Franklin One of the most common questions I am asked by my estate planning clients is how much tax will be owned at the time of death.  There can be two levels of taxation at the time of death: federal tax and state tax. First, the good news is that the federal estate tax only applies to decedents who own more than $5.45 million in assets at the time death.  Thus, with the new portability rules, a husband and wife can own $10.9 million at the time of the death of the survivor and owe no federal estate tax.  The bad news with the federal ...

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Inter Vivos Trusts: One of the many tools an Attorney can use to develop your Estate Plan standard

While there are a number of different estate planning mechanisms available, one of most popular is an inter vivos (living) trust.  Like a will, an inter vivos trust can transfer your assets at your death, but there are also many differences. Key advantages of a trust include that, so long as all of your estate assets are titled in the name of your trust, you can avoid probate.  Avoiding probate ensures that your assets and your distribution plan are kept confidential and you avoid the expense of probate. Trusts are also much more flexible than wills.  Trusts can continue for many years (and in some states, like South Dakota, they can continue forever) without being distributed.  That allows you to not ...

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Premarital Agreements: A Potentially Critical Element of an Effective Estate Plan standard

Despite public perception, premarital (also called prenuptial or antenuptial) agreements are not only about planning for divorce.  Yes, they can provide protection in the event of a divorce, however, they can also provide necessary protection for estate planning purposes as well. In Iowa, absent a premarital agreement, it is impossible to disinherit your spouse.  If you have a will or trust your spouse can “elect against” the plan and take up to 1/3 of your assets (note that it is possible to “disinherit” your spouse via a trust if the appropriate elements, including your spouse’s written consent, are met).  If you don’t have a will your spouse can elect to take all your assets (when you do not have kids ...

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