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House Held In Trust Lost Marital Asset Status

December 22, 2016

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In the afterglow of a wedding, the spouses probably don’t immediately start thinking how the bliss they feel may end spectacularly and expensively.  Chances are they may even start estate planning, thinking how they can seamlessly transfer assets to the other.  In Nelson v. Nelson, a Florida appellate court reminded us that the estate planning choices spouses make, however, have far-reaching consequences if before death they doth part.

Husband and wife bought a house together in California and titled it in both of their names.  They then transferred the home into an irrevocable trust established for the benefit of the wife and her descendants, and named the wife as the sole trustee of the trust.  Husband and wife divorced and a Florida trial court characterized the house as a marital asset subject to equitable distribution.  The Florida appellate

To Do: Year-End Gifting. Check (or not)

(This is an updated post from December 2015)

With the end of the year approaching, we thought now would be a good time to re-post and update this blog from the end of 2015.

For 2017, the annual exclusion gift amount will remain the same at $14,000 but the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption will increase to $5,490,000 (up from 2016’s $5,450,000).

With fourteen days left in the year, many people are still planning how to make 2016 gifts, whether by making “annual exclusion” gifts of $14,000 per beneficiary, or by taking advantage of the 2016 gift tax exemption amount of $5,450,000.  Whatever the reason for the last-minute gifting, as the end of the year approaches, people may be tempted to make a “quick and easy” gift to their beneficiaries by simply writing a check. As the year draws to a close, however, if your gift is dependent on utilizing 2016

Your Estate Planning New Year’s Resolution Checklist

(This is an updated post from December 2015)

Need a New Year’s resolutions to kick start 2017? Here is an idea you probably hadn’t considered: review your estate planning documents.

If you are like most people, you are probably thinking that reading legal documents does not sound like an even remotely enjoyable way to start a new year. But, it doesn’t have to be as unpleasant as it sounds. Reviewing your documents does not mean you have to read them cover to cover. If you know what are the most important elements, it is easy to review your will, trust, and powers of attorney regularly to ensure they still comply with your wishes. These documents not only determine who will receive your property when you die, but also likely determine who has the right to make financial and major medical decisions during your lifetime. Needless to say, it is important

Comparison of Current Tax Rates, Trump Proposed Rates and Republican Blueprint Proposed Rates


While there is considerable uncertainty among wealth planners and tax professionals regarding how the incoming administration will impact the federal tax code, nearly everyone agrees that change is imminent. With that in mind, we have assembled this chart, which compares current tax rates with President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed tax plan, and the House Republicans’ Blueprint plan (released in June, 2016).  Click here.

How Far Can A Grantor Go In Eliminating The Duty To Account?

December 1, 2016

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Trusts are often used to transfer wealth privately without the messiness of a public estate administration.  That financial privacy can get blown, however, when trusts become the subjects of very public litigation.  In open court and in publicly available filings, dollar figures, assets, and dirty laundry can get thrown about for anyone to see.  This is especially true in trust accounting actions, which dig into the financials: income, expenses, assets, investment performance, and so on.  In Estate of Fuller, however, the Court of Appeals of Mississippi indicated that a grantor may be able to shroud a trust in greater secrecy through restrictive language in the trust instrument.

The trust at issue was a private trust that provided that the trustee would not “be required to account to any

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