If you are concerned about the impact of taxes on your estate, you’re not alone. The federal estate tax can take a bite out of your assets, sending a large portion of your earnings to the government after your death. If you want the property and assets that you have worked a lifetime for to go to your family and the organizations that you support, you will need to create a strong estate tax plan as soon as possible.
Your Estate Tax Planning Must Change With the Times
Federal estate and gift taxes primarily affect families with significant wealth. For this reason, estate taxes are a constant hot-button issue among legislators. Recent changes in the law have made it easier for individuals with high net worth to retain their assets, and if you have not taken advantage of these exemptions to the fullest, your estate plan needs to be revised.
Our estate planning attorneys can review your existing estate plan and identify any opportunities that could reduce your estate tax burden, including:
- Estate tax exemptions. Under The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018, individuals can pass on up to $11.2 million in assets to their heirs without taxes. Tax law also allows surviving spouses to use any unused portion of the gift and estate tax exemptions that were not used by the deceased. We can help ensure that these exemptions are applied so that the maximum of your estate is passed to your family.
- Gift exemptions. It is possible to gift funds to certain parties without incurring estate tax. However, there are limits on the amount that may be given as a gift each year. In 2018, individuals could give up to $15,000 (or $30,000 per married couple) to a child, charity, or other party without tax consequences. Since gifts are not a part of your lifetime exemption, it is possible to gradually pass on your estate through gifts and reduce the final value of the estate that will be subject to taxation.
- Living trusts. The establishment of a trust may reduce the taxable value of the estate, lessening the impact of estate and gift taxes. Our qualified estate tax attorneys can advise you on whether the creation of a trust is appropriate, oversee the transfer of your assets into the trust, and provide guidance on your duties as trustee during your lifetime.
- Dynasty trusts. A dynasty trust takes ownership of certain assets and allows them to be passed down from generation to generation. While these trusts may be subject to occasional income taxes, distributions may not be subject to estate tax if they are under the gift limit.
- Charitable trusts. A portion of your assets may be used to fund a charitable trust (such as a charitable lead trust or a charitable remainder trust). Not only do these trusts lessen the taxable value of your estate, they allow you to make generous tax-deductible gifts to a charity while maintaining an income stream for yourself or your heirs. Some charitable trusts allow trustees to make money off the assets in the trust during their lifetimes, while the remainder of the assets are distributed to the charity at a designated time. When the trust expires, you may set up planned gifts to charities with the remainder of the assets going to your beneficiaries.
Whether or not you expect to owe estate taxes, you should have a strong estate plan in place to provide financial security for your family. We can help you preserve assets for your children and surviving spouse, as well as future generations and the charitable organizations that reflect your values.
With so much at stake, you cannot afford to trust just anyone with your tax planning. Our experienced legal team at The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. can create a comprehensive and customized estate plan to give your family peace of mind. Contact us today to get started!