Our readers may not be aware it, but more changes may be coming for the estate planning world, even after the "fiscal cliff" changes. The recent changes, as we've mentioned before, involved some rather positive changes in the arena of estate tax and gift tax. Now, there is a lifetime exemption amount of $5 million, adjusted annually for inflation.
As our readers may have heard us mention before, the end of 2012 will usher in big changes for the gift and estate tax regime. At present, taxpayers have the opportunity to pass on just over $5 million in wealth, free of estate tax. In 2013, that number is set to change back to $1 million, unless Congress takes action.
In our previous post, we began speaking about some considerations regarding tax minimization in estate planning. As we've already noted, lifetime gifting can be a good way to avoid estate taxes down the road, and disposing of appreciated assets in one's will rather than gifting them is a good way to avoid capital gains taxes later on when the asset is sold.
Tax minimization, as we often point out on this blog, is an important part of estate planning, and part of what is called asset protection. With respect to taxes, estate planning has the goal of minimization the liability of one's estate one's heirs and beneficiaries to estate, gift, income, capital gains, and other taxes.
Estate planning is not necessarily a conversation people are excited to jump into. Thinking about finances, providing for one's family, and of course death can be discomforting and stressing for some. One good piece of news, however, is that the present environment is very favorable for estate planning, particularly for elderly individuals who may die in the next year.
Are readers are already familiar with the uncertain state of estate planning beyond 2013. Currently, the federal estate tax is set to go through some changes in 2013 unless action is taken before then. That means that until 2013, individuals are not subject to federal estate tax unless their estate exceeds $5 million, or they may give up to $5 million in gifts without paying federal gift tax. That amount is $10 million for couples.
Reducing gift and estate taxes, while not the only goal of estate planning, is one important aspect of it. As we have mentioned before on this blog, trusts can be powerful tools for removing assets from your estate in order to decrease estate taxes, while still providing for your family.
In our last post, we began looking at the importance of proper estate planning, and specifically planning carefully so that the inheritance received by heirs isn't depleted by the need to pay off estate taxes.
One of the important facets of estate planning is proper tax planning. Knowing what is included in your taxable estate will enable you to properly plan so that your heirs aren't stuck selling their inheritance to pay off taxes.
As we mentioned in our last post, dynasty trusts-trusts having no expiration date and no required minimum distributions-can be an invaluable tool for the accumulation of family wealth. Such trusts have come into greater use since 1986, when Congress overhauled the generation-skipping transfer tax. Since that time, a number of states have chosen to repeal their rule against perpetuities-which limited the ability to make gifts to remove descendants-or to otherwise modify the rule to be more flexible toward such gifts.