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Posts in Estate Plans.
By Keith Grissom on July 8, 2019 at 3:10 PM

Dollar bill being stretchedOn May 23, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 417 to 3, passed legislation called Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, or the SECURE Act. This legislation, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, will cause significant changes for retirement planning, many of which are positive, but it also includes aspects that could have a big impact on estate planning.

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By Keith Grissom on August 29, 2018 at 10:20 AM

Jar of money with another jar labeled "tax"Traditionally, due to lower estate tax exemption amounts, many married couples would use bypass trusts or credit shelter trusts as part of a typical estate plan. For example, on the death of the first spouse, assets in that spouse’s revocable trust would be allocated to a bypass trust (frequently referred to in the trust document as a family trust) up to the amount of the deceased spouse’s remaining estate tax exemption, with the balance allocated to a marital trust for the surviving spouse. The bypass trust would not only pass estate tax free at the first spouse’s death, but would also be outside of (i.e., bypass) the surviving spouse’s taxable estate at death. In addition, the bypass trust assets might continue from generation to generation without being subject to any additional “transfer taxes” like the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax, if GST exemption was allocated to the trust. This type of planning continues to provide a variety of benefits.

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By Andrew Wolkiewicz on August 22, 2018 at 3:50 PM

Aretha Franklin singing on January 20, 2009Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, died Aug. 16, 2018. Within days, her four sons filed court documents alleging that she died without a will or trust. If the court filing is confirmed and no will or trust is found, her estate will be considered “intestate.” In other words, Franklin gave no indication as to how her assets should be distributed when she died and the matter will need to be resolved under state law.

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By Serafina Nicolais on February 16, 2018 at 11:52 AM

Dancer showing Michael Jackson's "toe stand" dance moveWhen Michael Jackson died in 2009, he left behind a convoluted legacy that has presented issues for fans and tax collectors alike, and the legal repercussions are ongoing.

At the time of his death, Jackson’s reputation had suffered from allegations of child abuse, drug use and erratic behavior. The circumstances of his death, however, heightened fans’ sympathy for the tragic “King of Pop.” Because of this, Jackson’s estate is embroiled in a legal dispute with the IRS over the value of Jackson’s name and likeness.

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By Andrew Wolkiewicz, Keith Herman on January 31, 2018 at 10:54 AM

Paper house and calculator on top of a book, showing estate planningOn Dec. 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law what is commonly known as the Tax Reform and Jobs Act of 2017 (2017 Act). As explained in more detail below, the 2017 Act increased the estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemptions. This legislation expires at the end of 2025 and the tax laws will revert to where they stood prior to the 2017 Act unless Congress makes additional changes before then.

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By Garrett Reuter, Jr. on January 12, 2018 at 10:40 AM

Flipping through the calendar, showing the passing of time.How many times have you prepared your income tax returns for the previous year, only wishing you knew then what you know now, so you could go back and make more advantageous tax decisions? In most cases, you are stuck with the decisions you made before the new tax year began, even though you may not have all of the relevant tax information available to assist with those decisions until several months into the new tax year. Too bad for you, says the IRS, unless you are an estate or trust.

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By Elizabeth Pack on October 20, 2017 at 9:45 AM EST

String around finger to remind of estate planning awarenessOctober 16–22 is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. During this week, many people are reminded that estate planning involves the creation of documents such as trusts, wills, financial powers of attorney, and health care powers of attorney to allow for the handling of their financial and health care decisions during life and after death. There are other aspects of estate planning that deserve to be highlighted as well that are no less significant than the creation of these basic documents.

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By Elizabeth Pack on July 20, 2017 at 9:25 AM

$100 bills with wedding ring on topMany people may think they have the option to leave their spouse nothing when they die, but almost every state has what is commonly called an “elective share” statute. These statutes work to protect a surviving spouse from being cut out of a deceased spouse’s estate plan, permitting the disinherited spouse to elect to take a portion of the estate. This is especially helpful, for example, in a situation in which someone has decided to leave nothing to his or her spouse and instead leave everything to another romantic partner.

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By Betty Schaefer on May 3, 2017 at 11:55 AM

Stack of coins with s-a-v-e letters in wooden blockOn April 24, 2017, Missouri launched MO ABLE, the state’s Achieving a Better Life Experience disability savings program. Missourians with disabilities may now open an ABLE account to save and invest, tax-free, without jeopardizing federal needs-based benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. For more information about the ABLE Act, which Congress passed in December 2014, and about ABLE accounts in general, please see our prior e-alert.

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By Andrew Wolkiewicz on April 12, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Image of moving van filled with moving boxesMoving from one state to another is often time-consuming. You may spend days looking for the right home or apartment, and more time painting, remodeling or ripping down outdated wallpaper — not to mention countless hours bubble-wrapping and then unpacking fragile items.

But to really make sure your move is perfect, you need to review your estate plan with an attorney. While trust and estate laws may be similar from state to state, no two legal systems are identical.

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