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Bitcoins and Other Hidden Assets

treasuremapYears ago, my grandparents were robbed.  While going through the house and noting the missing items, my grandmother told my mother she was grateful they did not find the family silverware hidden in the attic staircase.  This was the first time my mother had heard of the hiding place and told my grandmother, “I would have sold this house having never found the silverware.”

Nearly everyone has a hiding place for a few special, tangible items, and increasingly many individuals have assets that are not easy to identify or locate.  After the death of the owner of such assets, it can be very difficult for the personal representative of the estate to locate and take possession of all of the decedent’s assets.

Estate Planning and Your Pets – Real Life “Aristocats”

Recently, a man who died in Tennessee left his two cats a life interest in his estate. Upon the death of the surviving cat, the remaining estate will pass to the man’s family. Comments on the internet have focused on the cats’ safety, which reminds me of the old Disney move, The Aristocats, where a wealthy old lady leaves her estate to her cats for their lives and the remainder to her butler. After the will is drawn up, the butler tries to dispose of the cats, so he will inherit the estate immediately upon the lady’s death. When her cats expose the butler’s plan, with the aid of several other animals, the lady writes him out of her will and adds the animals that helped save her cats into her will.  You can read more about the Tennessee Aristocats here.

Leaving one’s entire estate to the pets is

I Want My Exemption Back! Reconsidering Gift Splitting after The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

In 2012, the federal estate and gift tax exemption, which is the amount a person can give in life or pass at death before having to pay estate and gift tax, was $5,120,000 per individual. As the infamous “fiscal cliff” approached, the federal exemption was set to drop back to $1,000,000 per individual on January 1, 2013 if Congress did not pass new tax legislation. At that time, most commentators believed that Congress would compromise by lowering the exemption to $3,500,000, which was part of the Obama Administration’s tax plan.

Based on these assumptions, many clients entered into gifting plans in 2012, the primary goal of which was to use as much of the $5,120,000 exemption, or combined exemption of $10,240,000 for married couples, as possible before it was lost. Many married couples who could not give $10,240,00, transferred assets to a single spouse to allow that spouse to give

2012 Gift Tax Opportunities: Wait to Give, but do not Wait to Plan

The 2010 Tax Relief Act has provided a great opportunity for lifetime gifts to family members with a temporary increased estate and gift tax exemption of $5.12 million making these gifts potentially free of ever incurring gift or estate tax. The exemption will return to $1 million on January 1, 2013 unless Congress acts, and although most commentators think a return to $1 million is unlikely, there is a good possibility the exemption will be reduced.

Despite this great gifting opportunity for wealthy individuals, many people are reluctant to make use of the exemption for many reasons. Some of the many reasons are:

(1) The economy. While the markets have improved since the lows of 2009, many people are worth less than before the market crash and they have less confidence in their holdings due to the volatility of the market.

Atlanta Humane Society 2012 Pet Parade – Bryan Cave LLP Walk Team

Kimberly E. Civins and Brent A. Howard serve on the board of the 1873 Society Club, the junior board for the Atlanta Humane Society (“AHS”), and organized a Bryan Cave LLP walk team for AHS’ Pet Parade. The Pet Parade is an annual event that helps promote AHS and raises money for AHS while giving dogs exactly what they want, play time and a walk. The Bryan Cave walk team had a lot of fun and helped raise money for AHS. AHS is the oldest private charitable organization in Atlanta, founded in 1873. Originally chartered to protect women, children, and animals, AHS is now a widely recognized pet adoption center, clinic, and educational program provider, which has been serving Atlanta at 981 Howell Mill Road since the 1930s. AHS does not euthanize for time or space. To adopt, volunteer or donate, you can visit AHS’ website.

New Foreign Asset Reporting Requirements for Tax Year 2011

Before your file your 2011 tax return, make sure you have included the new IRS Form 8938 if you have the threshold amount of interest in foreign assets. The IRS Form 8938 must be completed and filed with the US income tax return of any US individual taxpayer holding interest, either directly or as a beneficiary, in “specified foreign financial assets.”

IRS Form 8938 is part of the new foreign asset reporting laws enacted under the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act in 2010 commonly referred to as the HIRE Act. The form covers the reporting requirements which many tax advisors thought would be just an expansion of several other forms, which already collect similar information. However, IRS Form 8938 is in addition to and does not replace any other forms such as IRS Form 3520 or the FBAR, but the information requested on the IRS Form 8938 is reduced

IRS on your iPhone or Android device

February 17, 2012

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IRS on your iPhone or Android device

February 17, 2012

Authored by: Brent Howard

Last week the IRS announced the availability of IRS2Go 2.0, an expanded version of its smartphone app designed to provide taxpayers easier access to practical tools and information. It works on the iPhone and Android devices, and has a new YouTube feature, news feed and tax transcript service in addition to existing tools, such as checking on the status of a tax refund.

To learn more, click here (IR-2012-16, last updated Feb. 8, 2012)

The Silver Lining – Transferring Assets in a Down Economy

The current economy has created a great opportunity for individuals to transfer assets, and future appreciation of such assets, with little to no transfer tax. This opportunity is created by the depressed asset values and historic low applicable federal interest rates (“AFRs”), which are the minimum interest rates, set monthly, permitted by the IRS. (The current AFR for a loan with a term under three years is 0.19%, three to nine years is 1.17% and over nine years is 2.63%.)

The federal gift tax is imposed on all lifetime gifts that exceed the annual exclusion from gift tax (currently $13,000 per person), and the federal estate tax is imposed on the value of all assets and property that an individual owns at the time of death. Each individual, however, has an exemption of $5,120,000 against the gift and estate tax.

A gift during life of an appreciating asset can reap

“But I don’t want it!” — Even small estates require probate.

A Georgia court in a recent case, Villas at Stone Mountain Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Blair (Ga. App., 2011), No. A11A0912 (the “Blair Case”), held that the children and heirs of a decedent owed the homeowner association fees on the decedent’s condominium despite the fact none of the heirs wanted the condominium. The fees accrued between the decedent’s death and foreclosure of the condominium by the mortgage company.

In the Blair Case, the decedent died without a Will and the decedent’s children (also her heirs under Georgia law) never opened an estate administration with the probate court nor signed any documentation to disclaim ownership of the condominium. When a Georgia resident dies without a Will, which is known as an intestacy, title to real property automatically vests in the decedent’s heirs effective as of date of death subject to an administration of the estate. An heir may decline an inheritance

Advance Directives, Preparing for Your Incapacity

A doctor must obtain informed consent from you before providing medical care or performing any type of medical treatment. If you are unable to communicate your wishes, state laws determine with whom the doctor should consult regarding these decisions and the decisions would be made with the medical preferences of the family member(s) and the doctor. However, you can direct who should make these decisions and establish your preference with an advance directive for healthcare.

An advance directive is a document authorized by state law that combines a living will with a healthcare power of attorney. This document is typically referred to as an advance directive because it allows you to provide your directions in advance of your incapacity, but the exact name of the document will vary from state to state. Most people have heard of a living will, which allows you to state end-of-life treatment preferences when you

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