Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning Tax

Read Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning updates, articles, and legal commentary from leading lawyers and law firms:
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Bank of America as Trustee v. Commissioner of Revenue: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Will Hear Case in 2016

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) will hear the appeal of Bank of America against the Massachusetts Commissioner of Revenue in 2016. The SJC accepted Bank of America’s application for Direct Appellate Review on...more

End of the Line – Part II: Year End Tax Planning Strategies

This article is Part II in a series of tax planning strategies for year-end tax planning for the 2015 tax series. The article addresses the Pooled Income Fund (PIF) which as this article demonstrates, has surprising planning...more

The End of the Line – Part I: Year End Tax Planning Strategies

This article is designed to provide an overview of a technique that might allow taxpayers to accomplish significant income tax savings at the end of the 2015 tax year. This planning can be accomplished regardless of whether...more

Year-End Gift Opportunities

As 2015 comes to a close, we remind you to consider making gifts to minimize your potential tax liability and to maximize your use of available exemptions in order to reduce your ultimate estate tax liability. As you may...more

Is the Charitable Deduction for Trusts Limited to Adjusted Basis?

No, says a U.S District Court. An irrevocable trust received distributions from a partnership in one year and purchased property. In a later year it contributed the property to a qualified charity, after the property...more

Exemption Portability - What is it, and how does it work?

The term "portability" is used in many contexts, but in the estate planning context portability describes the way a surviving spouse can use the remainder of a deceased spouse's unused exclusion amount to further shield her...more

Can Correction of a Scrivener’s Error Retroactively Fix a Tax Problem with a Trust?

Yes, in a recently released Private Letter Ruling in regard to an irrevocable trust. There were actually two problems with the trust. First, the settlors retained powers to change the beneficial interests of the trust,...more

IRS Proposed Regs Redefine the Terms “Husband” and “Wife”

The Supreme Court has recently struck down state bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 US ___ (2015), after previously striking down the federal exclusion of same-sex couples from...more

Wealth Management Update - November 2015

November Interest Rates for GRATs, Sales to Defective Grantor Trusts, Intra-Family Loans and Split Interest Charitable Trusts - The November § 7520 rate for use with estate planning techniques such as CRTs, CLTs, QPRTs...more

Inflation Adjustments for 2016

On October 21, 2015, the IRS released the annual inflation adjustments which will apply to tax year 2016. These adjustments will help determine a taxpayer's tax bracket and available deductions, credits, exclusions, and...more

New IRS Procedure for Issuance of Federal Estate Tax Closing Letters

Effective for all federal estate tax returns filed on or after June 1, 2015, federal estate tax closing letters will be issued only upon request. The process for making a request: Timing – no earlier than four months after...more

“Is Better Late Than Never” Really Better?

Many may be unaware that tax provisions which expired at the end of 2014 may be retroactively renewed as a result of budget talks in Congress. Those talks, the handling of expired tax provisions, and the ever increasing...more

What Is Cost Basis and How Do You Prove It?

Knowing the "cost basis" of your property is important for tax purposes, but proving cost basis can be difficult. Cost basis adjusts at death, so it is a good idea to appraise property when a joint owner dies. Cost basis...more

Goodbye TEFRA, Hello New Partnership Audit Rules

Last week, President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. As I mentioned in a prior post, the budget bill contained a proposal to revamp how partnerships are audited. Specifically, TEFRA (the 1982 Tax...more

Succession Planning: “If I get hit by a bus tomorrow…”

Let’s face reality. We are all going to pass on someday, so we might as well be prepared and lessen the burden for those following behind us. One of the first steps in effective succession planning is to gather in one place...more

IRS Announces Inflation-Adjusted Amounts for 2016

The IRS recently announced the inflation-adjusted items for 2016, including gift, estate, and generation-skipping transfer tax amounts. The following adjustments should be considered in your estate and gift planning...more

Trusts, Estates, Exemptions and Taxes

It may be hard to believe that in 2001, the estate and gift tax exemption, also known as the unified credit, was a mere $675K. In 2016 that credit is anticipated to go up to $5.45M for single filers; potentially $10.9M...more

Nothing Is Uncertain Like Death Taxes

There's a saying about death and taxes, the certainty thereof, which has been oft repeated to the point of weariness. While it is true that the imposition of taxes is a certainty, the shape and form of such taxes, especially...more

The Halloween Edition: Frights of Publicity and Celebrity Ghosts

It is an undisputed fact that the 90’s were the best. The deadcade gave us some of the best television (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), movies (Clueless), fashion (flannel), and music (Backstreet Boys). Everything created since...more

How to Avoid Needlessly Exposing a Client's Assets to Creditors in an Estate Plan or Trust

Estate planners often recommend that their clients hold title in community property or in a trust in which the real property interests are held as community property. They do this primarily to give the client the benefit of...more

Conflating tax law and trust law: The strange case of Ciampa v. Bank of America.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) may be a trust. See 26 U.S. Code § 408(a). Or it may be a custodianship. See sub-section (h) to §408. Here is sub-section (h) verbatim: FOR PURPOSES...more

Treasury and the IRS Issue Proposed Regulations Implementing Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

In recent guidance, the Department of Treasury and the IRS issued proposed rules that clarify under the Internal Revenue Code (Code) that the terms “spouse” and “husband” and “wife” refer to individuals who are lawfully...more

New Partnership Audit Rules Heading Our Way?

The budget bill introduced yesterday includes a proposal to revamp/streamline how partnerships are audited. Specifically, it would repeal the much maligned TEFRA (1982 Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act) rules....more

The Bank of America Case: May Massachusetts Tax the Trust Fund Income of Non-Resident Families with Unborn and/or Unascertained...

Background - Before addressing the Bank of America case, it is necessary to understand the Massachusetts taxation of trustees and their beneficiaries, which is described in 830 CMR 62.20.1: Income Tax on Estates and...more

Estate Planning Pitfall: You jointly own property with a family member

A common estate planning mistake that many people make is to own property jointly with a child or other family member. True, adding a loved one to the title of your home, bank account or other property can be a simple...more

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