2013 Posts

  • Estate Planning for Posthumous Conceptions

    A child may be born after a parent dies, which is a possibility couples can address in their estate plan. However, what are the inheritance rights of posthumously conceived children in North Carolina? ...
  • Avoid Charity Frauds

    Many people in North Carolina try to take advantage of year-end tax deductions, including tax-deductible contributions to charities. Legitimate charities help serve many purposes in communities and for causes that may have personal meaning for those making donations. ...
  • Protecting Tangible Assets

    Asset protection in North Carolina is not limited to preservation of investments and financial accounts. Art, antiques, classic cars, and other collectible items require asset protection tools and careful tax planning. ...
  • 3 Year-End Giving Tips: Use All Your Deductions

    The holiday season hits Americans just as the tax year is coming to an end. While most people are distracted with buying gifts for their friends and families, they could be enjoying tax deductions by making smart year-end gifts:...
  • Estate Plan Controversies

    Celebrities are not the only individuals whose estate plans experience controversy. The Will of any individual may be contested in court. Some estate plan provisions might cause conflicts. Controversy is particularly likely if an individual includes provisions for a spousal disinheritance or conditional inheritances based on marital status, religious beliefs, political affiliations or similar factors....
  • Forming an LLC in North Carolina

    As North Carolina continues to top “Best for Business” lists year after year, how are entrepreneurs and business owners across the state protecting their professional and personal assets?...
  • Locate a Will: Access a Safe-Deposit Box in North Carolina

    In addition to in-home fireproof safes, a common place for families to store important documents is a safe-deposit box at their bank. A Will, titles to real property and vehicles, life insurance policy information, trust paperwork, and other critical documents may be inside....
  • First Steps for Executors in North Carolina

    In most cases of estate administration in North Carolina, an executor is aware of their appointment before the decedent passes away. Occasionally, an individual only learns they are the executor of an estate after a close friend or family member dies. ...
  • What to Know About Last-Minute Will Changes

    Any competent individual over the age of 18 can create or update their Will in North Carolina. Sometimes a simple codicil (amendment) is sufficient in reflecting an individual’s wishes, but in other situations a completely new Will should be prepared. ...
  • 3 Mistakes in Pet Trusts

    Pet trusts offer legal instructions for the continuing care of pets—including dogs, cats, horses, and exotics—after the pet owner passes away. Animal owners may try to make their own arrangements for pet care, but without learning about how pet trusts are created and administered under North Carolina law, their wishes may not be carried out. Do-it-yourself pet trusts may not fully ensure an individual’s instructions for pet care are legally enforced. ...
  • More Tax Deductions Expiring End of 2013

    If you have not yet consulted with your North Carolina tax attorney or CPA about several state deductions that are expiring (like the deduction for contributions to NC 529 College Savings Plans), over four dozen federal deductions scheduled to expire at the end of 2013 may prompt you to schedule a meeting soon. ...
  • NC 529 College Savings Deduction Repealed 2014

    The North Carolina state tax deduction for contributions made to 529 College Savings Plans will be repealed effective January 1, 2014. Before this date, taxpayers are able to deduct $2,500 contributions annually. ($5,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly.)...
  • Life Estate Insurance Blunder

    Forgetting to simply add one name to a homeowner’s insurance policy could compromise an heir’s property inheritance. For individuals who take advantage of the added protection, reduced taxes, and ability to avoid probate that a life estate offers when holding title to property, one mistake with insurance may create more problems than their careful planning had intended to prevent. ...
  • 3 Concerns for Minors Inheriting IRAs

    Beneficiary designations for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) allow account holders to designate a trust, charity, or any individual, regardless of their age, as a beneficiary. ...
  • Elective Share Changes in North Carolina

    Provisions in a Will in favor of a spouse are revoked in divorce in North Carolina, however beneficiary designations are not revoked. Beneficiary designations for life insurance policies, as well as retirement accounts must be updated in order to prevent an ex-spouse—or a soon-to-be ex-spouse—from being legally entitled to these assets. ...
  • Affordable Care Act Info Session in Raleigh

    Disability Rights of North Carolina, a not-for-profit dedicated to preserving the rights of those disabled in the Tar Heel State, hosts information sessions about the Affordable Care Act in Raleigh on November 6 and November 12, 2013....
  • Tax Season Postponed: Use Time to Review 2 Changes

    The Internal Revenue Service recently announced a slight delay for the 2014 tax season. As a result of the government shutdown in October 2013, the IRS anticipates a 1-2-week delay for filers in January 2014. ...
  • Equitable Distribution Process in North Carolina

    Claims for equitable distribution in North Carolina are only valid if they are made after the date of separation and before the date of divorce. When filed timely, the process starts with identifying marital and separate property....
  • Retirement Accounts Vulnerable to Back Taxes

    Tax shelter for long-term savings is one of the features that attract people to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Once certain age requirements are met, distributions from IRAs are penalty-free, and Roth IRA distributions are tax-free—as opposed to taxable Traditional IRA distributions, since contributions to these retirement accounts are made with pre-tax dollars. ...
  • Dissolving a Trust in North Carolina

    A year ago the nation waited for the government’s announcement about the estate tax exemption for 2013. A large number of American taxpayers established and funded irrevocable trusts just in case the federal estate tax exemption dropped to $1 million. ...
  • Important Tax Steps for Same-Sex Couples in NC

    Even though North Carolina does not grant or recognize same-sex marriages, the Internal Revenue Service announced in August 2013 that same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal tax purposes. ...
  • National Estate Planning Awareness Week 2013

    Just before the holiday season starts siphoning shoppers’ money out of their pockets and into local economies, estate planning attorneys around the country spread awareness about important saving, investing, and planning opportunities during National Estate Planning Awareness Week. ...
  • Top 5 States for Dynasty Trusts

    Dynasty trusts in North Carolina offer creditor and asset protection for future generations while at the same time legally bypassing certain taxes. ...
  • 3 Common Mistakes in Special Needs Trusts

    As part of Special Needs Law Month, our attorneys in Chapel Hill reviewed past posts that outline special needs law information in North Carolina. We have also created a list of common mistakes that families make when establishing special needs trusts for the benefit of a disabled loved one. ...
  • Exempt Assets: Retain Medicaid Eligibility

    Families need every resource available to cover the costs of nursing homes in North Carolina. A senior’s unwise spending or gifting prior to moving into a nursing home could come with a significant price tag....
  • Swiss Accounts: New Tax Terms for Offshore Accounts

    Offshore trusts offer many benefits, which our attorneys explain in this foreign trust protection post. Offshore trusts or accounts are not exempt from domestic taxes, however some taxpayers have illegally used offshore accounts as a means of tax evasion....
  • Lost Life Insurance Policies

    Were you told by a loved one that you were a beneficiary of their life insurance policy? If they passed away and didn’t leave behind policy details, how do you find the policy number and value of the benefits?...
  • When Powers-of-Attorney are Not Accepted

    While powers-of-attorney are important estate planning tools, they may not always be recognized by third parties. Why might this happen?...
  • Special Needs Law Month

    Special Needs Law addresses multiple legal, financial, and medical concerns for families who care for a disabled loved one. October is Special Needs Law Month, a time when resources for special needs issues are promoted and explained. ...
  • North Carolina Back Tax Scam

    Last week the North Carolina Department of Revenue released a warning in response to reports of back income tax collection scams. ...
  • No Health Insurance? You Still Have to Pay

    If you don’t pay for health insurance, then you have to pay a fee. This fee is called the Shared Responsibility Payment. Affected taxpayers are obligated by law to satisfy these payments....
  • Same-Sex Marriages Recognized by Jurisdiction of Ceremony

    Last week the Internal Revenue Service announced that valid same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal tax purposes based on the where the couple’s union took place. ...
  • Interest Rates and Retirement in North Carolina

    North Carolina is consistently rated a top place to retire in national reports, and this year the Tar Heel State became even more attractive with the repeal of the North Carolina estate tax. ...
  • Creditor Protection for Inherited IRAs

    In June 2013, North Carolina’s Governor signed Senate Bill 279 into law, which made changes to statutes related to estates, trusts, and guardianships. One change provides additional creditor protection on retirement accounts in North Carolina....
  • BVI Accounts Under Scrutiny in 2014

    A new law will reveal more details about United States taxpayers who maintain accounts in the British Virgin Islands. Starting in 2014, the BVI will need to provide account information about US taxpayers in order to comply with the new legislation....
  • 3 Tax Benefits of Education Trusts

    rustCounsel’s Gregory Herman-Giddens will present ‘Education Trusts and 529 Plans: Estate Planning Strategies for College Savings’ On September 5th in a 60-minute teleconference through the National Constitution Center....
  • SCINs Excluded From Estates

    Last month the IRS issued Chief Counsel Advice regarding how SCINs are recognized under federal estate tax law. SCINs (self-canceling installment notes) are used in estate planning to minimize gift tax burdens. ...
  • North Carolina Pet Trusts

    Not every state has laws addressing pet trusts. Fortunately, North Carolina pet trust laws allow residents to establish clear plans for the care of their companion animals....
  • Trust Modifications if you Move Out-of-State

    If you are moving to North Carolina and already established a living trust in another state, or if you established a living trust in North Carolina and are now moving out-of-state, are you compromising the terms of your trust with your relocation?...
  • 3 Things to Include in a North Carolina Prenuptial Agreement

    Creating a North Carolina prenuptial (premarital) agreement for engaged couples empowers both partners with the ability to decide what happens to their respective property in the event of divorce, a spouse’s death or incapacitation....
  • Starting College? Start an Estate Plan

    Students leaving home for college may be focusing on studying for classes, but they may want to consider studying their own estate plan. ...
  • Can I Use a Power of Attorney to Modify a Trust?

    Although not an everyday question, at times those who are attorneys-in-fact—the authorized agents appointed in an individual’s power of attorney—inquire about their abilities to amend a trust....
  • Finding Elder Care in North Carolina

    Choosing an assisted living center, nursing home, or home healthcare provider in North Carolina should not be a quick decision. Recent reports show that 1 out of 3 nursing homes nationally have reports of abuse. ...
  • Are You Legally Required to Care for Elderly Parents?

    Although federal laws governing a child’s responsibility to care for elderly parents do not currently exist, this matter is addressed on the state level. Over twenty states, including North Carolina, have filial responsibility laws....
  • What if Stretch IRAs are Lost?

    Stretch IRAs have been a popular tool for preserving wealth for future generations as distributions are tax-deferred. However, the Obama Administration has proposed disallowing stretch IRAs....
  • Updated: Top States for Domestic Asset Protection Trusts 2013

    Our asset protection lawyers in Chapel Hill shared Steve Oshins’ Annual Domestic Asset Protection Trust State Rankings earlier this year, and now there is a mid-year update:...
  • NC Estate Tax Repeal Retroactive

    Earlier in 2013, Forbes ranked North Carolina as one of the top states in the nation “Where Not to Die”, reflecting the burden of the state estate tax. ...
  • 3 Tips to Avoid Family Conflicts in Estate Planning

    Whether you are creating an estate plan for the first time or making changes to one, be aware that how you plan to leave your assets may create tension in your family. ...
  • Tax Tips for Charity Travel

    Do you travel for charity? You may not be taking advantage of the many tax breaks that the federal government offers for charitable travel expenses. ...
  • Potential Changes for Special Needs Trusts

    Special needs trusts are excellent tools that help protect an individual’s assets while preserving his or her eligibility for government benefits, such as Medicaid....
  • North Carolina Tax Reform Passes

    Last week the House and the Senate both passed the North Carolina tax reform bill. (Bill 998. The Tax Simplification and Reduction Act.) Governor Pat McCrory signed it into law this week on Tuesday, July 23, 2013....
  • What You Need to Know About Life Insurance and Annuity Changes

    A growing number of Veterans Affairs life insurance policy holders are being unpleasantly surprised by undisclosed terms in their policies that are limiting their products’ values. ...
  • Preparing for Early Retirement

    Those who plan an early retirement need to take steps to preserve their assets in the face of shrinking resources and ever-increasing costs. ...
  • Health Care Reform Scams

    Senior citizens are vulnerable to financial predators and scams, but now families with elderly relatives need to be aware of scams associated with the new health care reform. ...
  • 3 Things to Consider for Retirement Planning

    Without a retirement plan, an individual may diligently contribute to a savings account, but fail to be prepared for the true cost of their senior years. ...
  • Estate Planning Concerns for Adult Children Living With Parents

    The numbers of individuals living with extended family have only been growing. Our North Carolina estate planning attorneys blogged about estate planning issues of the “Sandwich” generation – the large pool of Americans who are caring for both their children and their aging parents. ...
  • Trust Trend: Make Heirs Wait

    How long will it take you to receive your inheritance in North Carolina? If our state follows a national trend, the time may be growing longer. ...
  • Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples in North Carolina

    The landmark federal ruling of the United States vs. Windsor in late June 2013 has deemed the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. ...
  • Checklist for Estate Planning in 2013

    Now that the year is halfway over and theAmerican Taxpayer Relief Act’s (ATRA) “permanent” changes may be altered once again—and North Carolina Tax Reform has yet to establish definite changes—our estate planning lawyers in North Carolina created a list of three steps you can take by the end of 2013....
  • 3 Steps to a Better Retirement Plan

    What is your ideal retirement? Everyone takes their own strategy toward retirement, but generally individuals try to create a retirement plan that will provide enough money to care for themselves while affording them the means to do the things they enjoy. ...
  • NC Estate Changes for Surviving Spouses Effective October 2013

    In June 2013, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed Senate Bill 279, a bill amending matters concerning estates, trusts, powers of attorney, and guardianship. ...
  • Estate Planning Tips for Second Homes

    North Carolina coastal properties from Corolla down to Sunset Beach are attractive investment homes that can be rented out during the summer season, used as a winter escape, and eventually a primary retirement home. ...
  • Estate Planning Steps Before 40

    According to the North Carolina Office of State and Budget Management, as of 2012 there are over 3.5 million people in North Carolina between the ages of 18-44. In 20 years, approximately half will be close to retirement age. ...
  • Tax Concerns When Modifying Trusts

    In May 2013, the Internal Revenue Service issued a Private Letter Ruling addressing tax concerns resulting from a trust modification agreement. PLRs are issued when a taxpayer directly requests guidance from the IRS on a specific matter....
  • Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples in North Carolina

    There are thousands of couples living together in North Carolina who are not married. Relationships may be just a year old or spanning a few decades....
  • What is an Heir Search Firm?

    When an individual dies without a surviving spouse, siblings, parents, descendants, or named beneficiaries, their estate still needs to be distributed. ...
  • Drawing Too Soon on IRAs

    Americans between the ages of 61 and 70 are withdrawing money from their IRA accounts earlier than necessary. ...
  • When Spouses Disagree During Estate Planning

    Choosing beneficiaries and deciding which assets each will receive may become a challenge if your spouse does not agree with your choices. ...
  • 3 Estate Planning Mistakes You Can Fix

    Choosing to make an estate plan is smart, but some individuals happen to make mistakes at the same time. Estate planning should not be intimidating. ...
  • 3 Reasons Why You Need IRA Beneficiary Trusts

    Naming a trust as an IRA beneficiary has become a popular estate planning tool in recent years.* There are many advantages to using an IRA Trust: ...
  • National Elder Law Month: 3 Factors When Considering Long-Term Care Insurance

    As part of National Elder Law Month our North Carolina elder law attorneys are providing a series of posts to help educate senior citizens and their caregivers. ...
  • What Happens if Your Beneficiary Dies Before You Do?

    As you prepare your Will and estate plan, you will choose beneficiaries to receive your financial and personal assets. What happens if a beneficiary dies before you do?...
  • Should an Estate Plan be Revised Before or After a Divorce?

    We’ve written about the importance of updating your beneficiaries, but when you’re going through a divorce, should you update your estate plan while navigating separation or after the divorce is finalized? ...
  • Retirement Savings Change Based on Income Projections

    The Boston College Center for Retirement Research released a study that involved over 15,000 employees who were offered projections of their retirement income based on potential voluntary contributions. ...
  • No NC Tax Reform Bill Yet, Here’s the Plan

    The North Carolina Senate had announced plans to reveal the new NC tax reform bill in early May. However, the press conference instead produced the outline of a measure that the Senate hopes to turn into a bill later in 2013. ...
  • Creditors Can Still Collect From Foreign Trusts

    Foreign trusts, or offshore trusts, are popular asset protection tools as they are notorious for providing superior protection from creditors. However, foreign trusts are not creditor-proof. ...
  • National Elder Law Month: What Does Medicare Cover for Nursing Homes?

    As part of National Elder Law Month, ourNorth Carolina elder law attorneys are providing a series of posts to help educate senior citizens and their loved ones who care for them about their legal options. ...
  • Top States for Domestic Asset Protection Trusts

    Steve Oshin’s 2013 Annual Domestic Asset Protection Trust State Rankings were released and show the highest scoring state for DAPTs is Nevada....
  • 2013 Changes to NC Medicaid Law

    Last week House Bill 399 was ratified, creating changes to laws pertaining to Medicaid in North Carolina. The new legislation grants the NC Department of Health and Human Services “all rights available to estate creditors, including the right to qualify as personal representative or collector of an estate.” ...
  • Distribution Advantages for Spouse IRA Beneficiaries

    Designating a spouse as a beneficiary of an IRA not only ensures they will have access to retirement accounts in the event their partner passes away, but it offers them unique advantages to which non-spouse beneficiaries are not entitled....
  • North Carolina Voting Restrictions Proposed for Mentally Incompetent

    A recent North Carolina Senate proposal for the ballots in November of 2014 is an amendment to remove the right to vote in North Carolina for individuals who have been determined incompetent by a court of any state. ...
  • Kids in College? North Carolina Income Tax Changes for Parents

    Parents are allowed to take a federal and state income tax deduction for each dependent child. However, North Carolina proposed Senate Bill 667 (Equalizer Voter Rights) in early April 2013 that will not allow parents to claim their child for state income tax purposes if their child has registered to vote at an address other than where the parent or legal guardian resides....
  • Disclaiming Inheritances in North Carolina

    Why would an individual renounce or disclaim an inheritance in North Carolina? An inheritance may not always be expected and it may not be desirable for the beneficiary. Certain assets, like real estate or personal items, may require complicated or expensive maintenance that the beneficiary does not want to manage. ...
  • Ways to Protect an Inheritance from Creditors

    Bequeathing assets involves more than naming beneficiaries. Creating a proper estate plan offers individuals and families the ability to protect their assets for loved ones after they’re gone. Unexpected claims could drain accounts and threaten properties that were intended to be passed on to beneficiaries. ...
  • Google’s Digital Asset Management Tool

    2013 seems to be the year of digital afterlife planning. Last month the North Carolina Senate approved Bill 279, a bill for the state’s first-ever laws addressing digital assets. This month Google took their first step forward in post-death account management of their applications....
  • Why You Should Update Your Beneficiaries

    Neglecting to update beneficiaries, or failing to name them, may leave life insurance and retirement accounts to unintended recipients, create probate expenses, and cause tax problems. ...
  • 3 Ways to Gift for College

    Family members have the best intentions when they offer money to cover college expenses, but if they neglect to use a wise gifting strategy they could affect the student’s eligibility for federal aid....
  • Obama’s 2013 Budget Proposal to Push Estate Tax Back to 2009 Terms

    Although Obama’s American Taxpayer Relief Act was said to make permanent changes, lawmakers had also advised that it was just the first step in a series of changes. ...
  • $3M Limit on IRAs in Obama’s Proposal

    Individual Retirement Accounts are a top retirement choice for individuals who want to enjoy tax-deferred savings. However, Obama’s new budget plan includes caps on IRA accounts. ...
  • 3 Reasons Why You Don’t Need to be a Senior Citizen to Use an Elder Law Attorney

    A common misconception is that elder law attorneys are used primarily by senior citizens. Although elder law attorneys can assist with crisis Medicaid planning and present eligibility for Veterans’ Benefits, they can also help younger individuals make a plan in advance. ...
  • 5 Final Hour Tax Filing Errors

    Entering the wrong routing and account numbers.Filers often elect to receive their refund via direct deposit to avoid waiting weeks to receive their check in the mail; however a simple account number error could result in an even longer wait. ...
  • 5 Tax Scams of 2013

    Every year many innocent people fall victim to tax scams. Taxpayers may be taken advantage of by scammers, dishonest tax preparers, or may have their identity stolen by other means. ...
  • Ways to Protect Your Finances: Financial Literacy Month

    April is Autism Awareness Month, Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and it is also Financial Literacy Month. These three campaigns may at first appear unrelated to each other, but they are interconnected....
  • North Carolina Bill Affecting Digital Assets

    Recently we reviewed the challenges of digital estate planning—the ways surviving family members’ access to a decedent’s online accounts are affected—and how accessibility is determined by individual account policies....
  • Can I Inherit Debt in North Carolina?

    North Carolina estate planning discussions usually put an individual’s assets under the microscope. What trusts would avoid taxes best? How much should be designated for charitable contributions? ...
  • Disadvantages of a DIY Will in North Carolina

    Everyone wants to save money, but choosing to cut corners on estate planning in North Carolina may end up costing individuals more than they ever expected. ...
  • 3 Estate Planning Baby Steps

    When a baby is on the way, it is a perfect time for expectant parents to complete or update their estate plan to ensure their child’s future care. ...
  • Special Needs Planning: When Children Become Adults

    Parents of special needs children need to carefully plan for their children’s future. Many families turn to special needs trusts to ensure their child will have access to finances after their deaths, without hindering the child’s ability to qualify for public benefits, such as Social Security and Medicaid. ...
  • Traditional IRAs: 3 Penalty-Free Withdrawals are Allowed Before Retirement

    Traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) may receive annual contributions up to $5,000 (as of 2013), and individuals over the age of 50 may contribute an additional $1,000. ...
  • More Estate Planning Opportunities Forecasted for Roth 401(k)s

    A new study reveals more employers will offer Roth 401(k)s to their employees in 2013. About a third of all employers surveyed by Aon, a human resource services provider, have plans to add a Roth contribution option. ...
  • Serving Estate Planning to the Sandwich Generation

    The “Sandwich Generation”—today’s 10 million baby boomers who care for both their own children or grandchildren and elderly parents or relatives—may need to take a different approach to estate planning. ...
  • Repeal of the North Carolina Estate Tax?

    Recently we wrote about North Carolina potentially joining several other states that are repealing state estate tax (or “death tax”). Last week, the North Carolina House Finance Committee approved repeal of the state’s death tax. ...
  • Memory Loss, Retirement and Aging

    Memory loss comes in many forms. From mild cognitive impairment and dementia, to the severe effects of advancing Alzheimer’s, the number of senior citizens affected by memory impairments is only going up. ...
  • Digital Estate Planning Challenges

    Estate planning has always involved a great deal of paperwork. Today, individuals have personal access to online banking, social media accounts, and email that has pushed the industry into a new realm: Digital estate planning....
  • North Carolina’s Estate Tax: Dying Out?

    Most of the country’s attention has been on federal estate tax changes made by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. ...
  • 3 Asset Protection Tips for 2013

    As North Carolina business owners and other taxpayers adjust to the effects of the 2012 American Tax Payer Relief Act, they are starting to focus on asset protection strategies at the same time as minimizing taxes to the fullest extent possible....
  • Statutory Forms vs. Five Wishes: Health Care Documents in NC

    North Carolina health care directives and powers of attorney are required in order for another person to make decisions about an individual’s medical or financial matters. ...
  • What the Fiscal Cliff Deal Means for Retirement Accounts

    The fiscal cliff deal has not only affected income and estate taxes, but it has also changed how retirement rollovers are handled....
  • What Was Approved in the Fiscal Cliff?

    Taking every last minute available in 2012 and then some, yesterday Congress approved a bill that will reduce the nation’s deficit by raising taxes for high income earners. ...
  • 2013 Estate and Gift Tax Exemption Set at $5.25M

    Just over a week since tax legislation changes were made in the last-minute fiscal cliff deal, the Internal Revenue Service has confirmed the 2013 applicable exclusion amount (gift and estate tax exemption) will be $5.25 million....