Categories ArchivesRobert F. Meis Blog

2017 FEDERAL ESTATE TAX REFORM standard

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 ...

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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 ...

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Four Things To Know About Agricultural Leases standard

A farm lease can be either oral or written. In Iowa, an oral lease for the tenancy of a farm is enforceable for up to one year.  While it seems that an oral lease for the tenancy of a farm is the easier route to take, and perhaps the oral lease option may have the least expensive up-front cost, consider that oral lease agreements can end up being much more expensive in the long run if a dispute arises due to the need to litigate the details of the oral lease. A written farm lease is the alternative that the lawyers at MHMJ&M recommend that their Clients take.  A well written lease will ensure that all parties to the lease ...

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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 ...

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TAX PLANNING USING CHARITABLE GIFTS standard

With the April 15 income tax filing deadline looming, many taxpayers are looking for ways to reduce their income tax liability.  One way to reduce income taxes is to make gifts to charity. Perhaps the most efficient way to make a charitable gift is to give long-term appreciated assets such as stocks, bonds and/or mutual funds to charity.  There are two primary advantages to giving appreciated assets to charity.  First, the donor may take (subject to certain limitations) a deduction from the donor’s taxable income for the full fair market value of the asset at the time of the gift.  The second advantage to giving appreciated assets is that the donor pays no capital gains tax on the appreciation of ...

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