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We went over the “fiscal cliff”—if only for a few hours—now what?

Technically speaking, we actually went "over the fiscal cliff," as many significant tax increases and spending cuts automatically took effect at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2012.  Later that day, however, on January 1, 2013, retroactive legislation (going back at least several hours) passed the Senate, and then later the House.  Our new law, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), permanently extends important tax provisions and temporarily extends others.  Following is a very brief overview of ATRA: Transfer (Estate, Gift & GST) Taxes:  Now for the big surprise—ATRA makes permanent the $5 million exemption amounts for the estate,...

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RE: An Open Letter to My Parents—2013 Annual Exclusion Goes Up to $14,000

Dear Mom and Dad, Good news, for the first time since 2009 the IRS has raised the gift amount allowable under the annual exclusion.  In 2013 a person will be able to give $14,000 to any and each donee, free of gift tax (see Rev. Proc. 2012-41). As an example, in 2013 I will be able to give each of my five children $14,000, or $70,000 total.  Because my wife will also be permitted to make use of her own annual exclusion amount, together we can give up to $140,000 to our children next year, free of gift tax, under our combined...

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Bill Gates, Sr., Billionaire Warren Buffett, and Others Call for $2 Million Exemption, 45% Estate Tax Rate

Several dozen wealthy people, including Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Sr., Jimmy Carter, and George Soros, have signed a statement calling for a "strong tax on the largest estates." The statement was released on Tuesday by a group called "United For a Fair Economy." Bill Gates, Sr. noted, “Those of us who have signed this statement to date – including my friend Warren Buffett – believe that a $4 million exemption per couple and a 45% rate, rising on the very largest fortunes, is perfectly reasonable, and should be put into law. Particularly in the face of the devastating cuts to social programs...

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Recommended Estate Tax Laws

Yesterday I blogged about the history of the estate tax and other transfer tax laws.  While the past is certainly instructive in understanding the future, to prognosticate future law, it’s also helpful to look at those proposals and suggestions which have been offered up to Congress and the White House.  In March we shared President Obama’s estate tax ideas as set forth in his budget proposal.  Today, we share options for tax reform as recommended to Congress on April 4, 2012 by the Joint ABA Sections of Taxation and Real Property, Trusts & Estates Law.  The full document can be...

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Brief History of Transfer (Estate, Gift, GST) Tax Laws

1797.  The first version of the estate tax was levied in the United States in 1797 for the specific and limited purpose of funding the formation of the U.S. Navy. 1862.  The Revenue Act of 1862 enacted an inheritance tax and introduced a gift tax for the first time in order to specifically fund the Civil War effort. 1898.  The War Revenue Act of 1898 implemented a graduated inheritance of between 0.74% and 15% of the amount inherited for the specific purpose of funding the Spanish-American War. 1916.  The Revenue Act of 1916 implemented an estate tax equal to 1% on amounts between...

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Estate Planning Attorneys Will Keep Busy After 2012 Election Results

Good morning America.  President Obama has won another four-year term as President of the United States! So what might that mean for the estate and gift tax laws?  While the President certainly surprised most everyone in December 2010 by temporarily raising the exemption equivalent of the unified credit to $5,000,000 and lowering the transfer tax rates to 35%, those hoping for the estate tax to disappear should probably not look for another similar surprise. The probability is now greater that we’ll have lower exemption amounts (as low as $1,000,000) and higher transfer tax rates (as high as 55%).  Let me be clear,...

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Top 10 Reasons Not To Do Estate Planning

Estate Planning is something everyone should implement yet so many do nothing until it is too late. So, we put together this Top 10 list as a parody to lighten the mood and hopefully open your eyes to the importance of proper estate planning. My spouse doesn’t need any direction or help in what to do or whom to call in the event of my death; if anything happens to me he/she will have no trouble figuring it out at that time. I plan on living forever, anyway. I don’t have any assets to speak of, just a house, a...

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Grant Named Top Estate Planning Lawyer in Southern Nevada

Attorney David Grant was recently named as one of Southern Nevada’s “Top Lawyers” for Estate Planning by Desert Companion Magazine in its October 2012 issue.  Click here to read this issue online (see pages 69-88).  Mr. Grant is one of the partners at the Law Firm of Grant Morris Dodds, a law firm specializing in the areas of Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, and Asset Protection. According to the magazine’s masthead, “Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans.  With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain.  [It]...

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Estate Planning Horror Stories: Lessons Learned

(Republished from Vegas PBS Source Magazine; October, 2103) For many, the thought of Halloween conjures up frightful images of haunted attractions, horror films, and gruesome costumes.  While these things might scare small children and pets, most folks would see them as entertaining, amusing, or even trivial.  For those seeking a truly horrifying experience for themselves and their loved ones, there’s nothing entertaining, amusing, or trivial about a poorly planned estate. As an estate planning and probate attorney I have witnessed some of the most horrifying of events.  I’ve seen accidental disinheritances, excessive taxes paid, costly probate litigation, the collapse of small businesses,...

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Probate: What to Expect…

As a probate professional, the questions I most often hear from potential clients are: What is probate?  How complicated is it?  Can I do it myself?  How much does it cost?  And, how long will it take?  Here are a few short answers to these very important questions. What is probate? Probate means to prove a Last Will and Testament, or generally carry out the administration of a decedent’s estate with some level of court oversight wherein title to assets in the decedent’s name is transferred to beneficiaries of the estate, after the payment of debts and expenses. There is a common misconception...

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