2014 Posts

  • 2014 Tax Extensions – Limited Time Remains

    With less than two weeks remaining in the 2014 tax year, Congress passed several tax extensions. The tax provisions were included in H.R. 5771 Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. ...
  • Estate Planning Mistake: Forgetting to Fund

    Many estate plans include a living trust, a tool that can be amended at any time during the trust creator’s life and becomes irrevocable upon their death. Even the most carefully planned and detailed estate plans could be at least partially ineffective if the trust creator fails to fund the trust....
  • Timeshares in Estate Planning

    Many of the clients our estate planning attorneys in Chapel Hill serve own property in multiple states, and some of the properties are timeshares. Timeshares are generally considered real property, with a deed as evidence of ownership. ...
  • 3 Signs You Should Update Your Retirement Plan

    Reports continue to show Americans are not saving enough for retirement. Some retirement account owners may miss out on opportunities that could help grow their assets, even if they are not contributing suggested amounts. ...
  • Successor Trustee Responsibilities

    When a trustee passes away or becomes incapacitated, a successor trustee must step forward. In addition to the trustee’s duties, a successor trustee is responsible for presenting an affidavit or certificate of trust that provides proof of their legal power over the trust. ...
  • Year-End Gifting to Charities

    The spirit of the holiday season is a generous one. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, “The last few months of the year make up what is commonly called the Giving Season for the nonprofit community.” ...
  • North Carolina 2014 Tax Year Changes to Note

    Individuals and businesses across North Carolina are approaching the end of the 2014 tax year. Our tax attorneys in Chapel Hillreview below a few income tax legislation amendments for the 2014 tax year. ...
  • Portability Deadline Weeks Away for Estate Tax Exclusion

    For estates of decedents who died in 2011 or 2012, the chance to elect portability of the decedent’s estate tax exemption will expire on December 31, 2014....
  • Estate Planning for Healthcare Costs in Retirement

    AARP has released a study that estimates caregiving costs for families in the United States will total more than $520 billion annually. This estimate reflects the time and resources devoted by families and not skilled workers; the skilled worker estimate runs over $640 billion. ...
  • Estate Planning and Tax Refunds for Art

    Art collections require specialized estate and tax planning. Without proper planning, a collection acquired over a lifetime could translate into tax debt for surviving heirs or become lost to creditor claims. ...
  • Estate Planning for Collectibles: Wine, Art, Cars & More

    Estate plans are not only vehicles for passing cash, investments and real property along to named beneficiaries, these tools can also transfer more complex assets. How does one pass on a wine collection, valuable artwork, antique cars, or rare baseball cards that were accumulated over a lifetime?...
  • Same-Sex Marriages Legal in NC: Prenuptial Agreements & Estate Plans

    Before October 10, 2014, same-sex marriages were not recognized in North Carolina. This posed complicated tax filing and estate planning challenges for North Carolina LGBT couples who legally married in an out-of-state jurisdiction....
  • Real Estate in Your IRA

    Some Individual Retirement Account (IRA) owners may choose to buy real estate with their IRA. Perhaps the property is intended for a retirement home in the future, as an investment, or for other reasons. ...
  • Top 5 States for Dynasty Trusts

    Dynasty trusts offer asset protection and estate and generation-tax skipping tax avoidance over many generations. Three years ago attorney Steve Oshins started a ranking system of dynasty trusts. ...
  • 2014 Tax Changes

    As we are in the final quarter of 2013, our North Carolina tax attorneys are taking a look ahead at what the New Year brings for American taxpayers:...
  • Title Issues in North Carolina Estates: Joint Tenants

    This post addresses the possible issues that may develop with one way of titling property: Joint Tenants with right of survivorship (JTWROS). ...
  • NC Estate Planning for Singles

    As the number of cohabiting unmarried couples rises, more families have multiple generations residing in a single household, and the law develops regarding the rights ofmarried same-sex couples in North Carolina, a large demographic of our state’s residents is overlooked: Singles....
  • Trends in 529 College Savings Plans

    As student loan debts are at historic highs, new families are responding by investing in the next generation’s college savings. Record high funding of 529 College Savings Planswas recently reported by financial asset management company Strategic Insight....
  • Pending Court Case May Affect ‘Double Income Tax’

    A couple’s case addressing the taxation of out-of-state income by their resident state is currently pending in the United States Supreme Court. Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne questions the circumstances under which income earned out-of-state may be taxed, whether tax credits exist and what they provide, and if these procedures comply with state and county tax clauses....
  • Access to One’s Digital Estate

    More states are starting to address a growing area of an individual’s estate: Digital assets. Last year North Carolina was slated to amend the durable power of attorney and estate administration laws to include power to manage digital assets, but the provisions did not pass. ...
  • Protecting IRA Assets for Beneficiaries: IRA Beneficiary Trusts

    Earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled in Clark v. Rameker that inherited retirement accounts are subject to bankruptcy claims. As a result of this ruling, IRA owners are taking steps to ensure assets accumulated over a lifetime are protected for loved ones. ...
  • Gifting Trends Among Wealthy

    How and why individuals choose to donate to charities are influenced by several factors. Tax incentives for charitable giving are believed to be driving gifting trends, but there are also personal values and family legacies to consider. ...
  • Same-Sex Marriage Update

    On Monday, during its first day in session, the Supreme Court declined to hear seven pending appeals from federal appellate courts regarding same-sex marriage. The denials, which came without comment, mean that there is still no declaration at the national level that denial of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. ...
  • Business Succession Options in North Carolina

    Business succession plans address the future growth or disposition of the business upon a planned succession, or the death or incapacitation of the owner. Transitioning a business under these circumstances requires careful review and assessment. ...
  • Protect Parents’ Assets

    As parents age, the risk of health problems grows. TheSandwich Generation—those caring for both their children and their parents, may experience the stresses and expenses of elder care, and then more issues later with probate of a deceased parent’s estate if no advance plans are made....
  • Asset Protection and Marriage

    In the process of legally dissolving a marriage, the fate of assets may not match a spouse’s intentions. What should couples know about spousal claims and providing for children? ...
  • 3 Problems With Life Estate Title of Real Property

    Real estate laws in North Carolina allow property owners to create and convey remainder interests in real property, while retaining lifetime rights to the property (a life estate). ...
  • Asset Protection in Second Marriages

    What asset protection strategies should an individual consider after divorce if they play to re-marry? Whether a marriage is a first or fifth, some planning tools always offer a degree of protection. Every couple’s goals, life stage, and assets are unique. ...
  • Estate Plan Update: New Life Insurance Option life insurance trust

    Life insurance can be a great estate planning tool. Payments generally do not go through probate, loved ones may not need to struggle financially after one’s death, and proceeds can be protected from creditors. ...
  • Increasing Trust Income Distributions

    Many trusts provide for lifetime income, but no principal, to the first generation of beneficiaries. In these days of low interest rates, income payments have suffered. However, income distributions from trusts do not have to be permanently affected by low interest rates. ...
  • North Carolina Durable Powers of Attorney

    A Durable Power of Attorney(“DPOA”) is an essential estate planning tool for most of our clients, allowing them to name an individual to handle their financial affairs in the event of incapacity. ...
  • When Beneficiary Designations are Void

    As a general rule, beneficiary designations supersede instructions for transferring assets that may appear in a Will. This is one of the reasons why regular reviews of one’s estate plan are critical. ...
  • Consequences of No Digital Asset Protection

    Digital asset protection is more than leaving behind one’s passwords. In an increasingly paperless world, failing to create instructions for accessing digital accounts could create problems for surviving family members....
  • Chatham County, NC Estate Administration Changes

    The Chatham County Clerk of Superior Court recently released updates to estate administration rules. We provide a link to the official changes to Estate Administration – General Rules Practices 2014. ...
  • Debt Inheritance: Credit Cards, Tax, and Other Liabilities

    An individual may accumulate assets during his or her lifetime, but debt may reduce or eliminate an inheritance family members expected to receive. Loved ones may “inherit” debt if a decedent lacked effective estate planning, beneficiary designation updates, and asset protection....
  • Repeal of the Permanent Federal Estate Tax?

    The federal estate tax was made permanent as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act. (A few months after ATRA passed, Obama’s 2013 Budget Proposal moved to revert the “permanent” estate tax to 2009 terms.)...
  • Non-profit 501(c)(3) Application Now Easier

    Filing for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status has streamlined to a shorter process, both in time and in required paperwork. ...
  • Tax Requirements for North Carolina Trusts

    In many states, an important factor in determining whether the trust is taxable is where the beneficiaries, settlor, and trustees are domiciled. A tax attorney may help determine how trust assets might need to be structured respective to a state’s tax laws to achieve the most favorable tax treatment....
  • Timing Prenuptial Agreements

    Marriage offers the union of love, and it also involves the merging of assets, new tax requirements, and legal entitlements. As prospective spouses navigate asset management prior to their wedding day, how far in advance should prenuptial agreements be prepared? ...
  • Supplemental Needs Trusts: Critical Trustee Duty

    A supplemental needs trust is funded with third party assets for the benefit of a disabled individual. (Special needs trusts are funded with the disabled person’s assets.) Both of these trusts help preserve a disabled person’s assets and their eligibility for certain public benefits programs. ...
  • Protect Assets: Liability or Malpractice Insurance May Not Be Enough

    Having liability or malpractice insurance may be a requirement in some professions, and in other cases these policies are obtained on a voluntary basis. Depending on the line of work, liability insurance policies may be an expensive annual cost. ...
  • Incentive Trusts

    Trusts may be customized to suit the grantor’s wishes, which may include their determination of what’s best for their beneficiaries....
  • Named in a Power of Attorney for a Foreign Account? FBAR Rules Required

    Individuals may or may not know if they are listed as an agent of a power of attorney, but they are still subject to Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) requirements....
  • Estate Planning Mistakes of Newlyweds

    Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements are not the only estate planning tools engaged couples and newlyweds in North Carolina should consider. ...
  • Tennessee is #3 for Domestic Asset Protection Trusts in 2014

    A year ago Tennessee tied for the fourth spot in Steve Oshins’ AnnualDomestic Asset Protection Trust State Rankings. Last summer Oshinsupdated the rankings after pending legislation failed to pass, and Tennessee jumped a spot—tied for third with Ohio....
  • Estate Planning for Unmarried Seniors

    Earlier this year the National Survey of Family Growth reported an increase in cohabiting unmarried couples between the ages of 15-44; the trend has grown faster among seniors. ...
  • 4 Tax Considerations for Parents of Special Needs Children

    Special needs children may require the expenditure of significant sums for day-to-day healthcare, home modifications, and education programs. Fortunately, however, these expenses typically offer some tax advantages....
  • Estate Planning for New Parents in North Carolina

    According to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, over 17,800 babies were born in the three major counties of the Triangle during 2012. How should parents update their estate plans for new babies?...
  • New NC Court Ruling Affects LLCs

    North Carolina Limited Liability Company (LLC) owners may be interested in a new court ruling that illustrates the protection these asset preservation tools offer. ...
  • How to Change an Irrevocable Trust

    Irrevocable trusts have historically been viewed as just that: Irrevocable. However, with advances in state law and drafting techniques, there are now a few ways to amend the terms of an irrevocable trust....
  • Non-Tax Benefits of Family Limited Liability Companies

    Family Limited Liability Companies (FLLC) are one of several asset protection tools used to preserve assets of family businesses. These assets may include real estate and investments....
  • IRA Rollover Annual Limit Changes Effective 2015

    The recent Tax Court ruling of Bobrow v. Commissioner set a precedent for owners of multiple Individual Retirement Accounts: Multiple IRA rollovers may not occur annually. ...
  • Reverse Mortgages and Inheritances

    Should beneficiaries of a potential inheritance be concerned if their elderly relative decides to get a reverse mortgage? Reverse mortgages are not the right choice for everyone. The New York Times recently reported how adult children are often against the idea of their parents using a reverse mortgage as this would deplete the asset the children would ultimately expect to inherit. ...
  • Retirement Plans in Same-Sex Marriage

    Some retirement benefits only apply to spouses in a legal marriage. Since legal marriages are not recognized in every jurisdiction and theWindsor ruling granted federal recognition of same-sex marriages, how should retirement benefits be handled?...
  • 5 Proposed Rules for Retirement Accounts

    Our tax attorneys covered several pending federal revisions in our Tax Changes for 2015, one of which affects retirement accounts. ...
  • IRA Custodian Not Responsible for RMDs

    Failing to take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) results in a penalty for the account owner. IRA account custodians are only responsible for notifying owners of their RMD; the owner must take the steps necessary to draw a distribution....
  • 3 Requirements for NC Long-Term Care Insurance Policies

    Time and research is required to understand elder care in North Carolina. Individuals starting to explore long-term care insurance may not realize that North Carolina imposes several requirements on insurance providers. ...
  • Last-Minute Tax Review for Same-Sex Couples

    As Americans across the country prepare tax returns in the final days before April 15th, married same-sex couples face unique tax filing requirements. ...
  • What to Leave in Your Will: Culture & Values

    Estate plans can designate real property, personal items, and financial assets to named individuals, and can also impart how the estate plan creator wants to be remembered. People care about their personal values. ...
  • 5 Last-Minute Tax Tips

    Taxpayers know the tax-filing deadline, but every year individuals around the nation wait until the final hours—and sometimes final minutes—to file. TrustCounsel’s tax lawyers reference a few tips below to help taxpayers manage tax filing under a time crunch. ...
  • Tax Planning for 2015

    Retirement accounts, estate plans, and trusts may be impacted by possible federal tax law changes next year in 2015. While the current configuration of Congress makes these changes unlikely, reviewing possible future changes can help individuals make effective planning decisions now....
  • Tax Scams to Avoid This Tax Season

    Throughout the year our tax planning attorneys in Chapel Hill offer news about back tax scams, charity frauds, andelder financial abuse affecting North Carolina taxpayers. ...
  • Planning a Prenuptial Agreement in North Carolina

    Prenuptial agreements are designed to protect the property of one or both spouses in the event of a divorce or death. With recent changes to spouses’ elective shares in North Carolina, engaged couples have more complex legislation to review now. ...
  • North Carolina Elder Care: 2014 Nursing Home Rankings

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released ratings of North Carolina nursing homes, showing 29% of the Triangle’s nursing homes received 5 out of 5 stars. ...
  • Protect Assets for the Elderly

    TrustCounsel’s Chapel Hill estate planning and elder law attorneys Gregory Herman-Giddens and Kristin Burrows present “A Lawyer’s Perspective: Financial and Legal Strategies and Planning, and Assistance Paying for Long-Term Care” at the Senior Center in Pittsboro, North Carolina on March 4, 2014. The workshop is coordinated by the Chatham County Council on Aging....
  • Elder Care Trend: Avoiding Nursing Home Care

    New reports from The Washington Post show that baby boomers are electing in-home medical care in lieu of nursing home services. From 1990 to 2010, the number of Americans over age 65 living in nursing homes nationally has dropped 2%, according to the Census Bureau. ...
  • Permitted Distributions for Special Needs Trusts

    If you are starting to explore options for Special Needs Trusts in North Carolina, one of the first differences you discover are “third party” trusts and “self-settled” trusts. ...
  • Tax Tips for Married Same-Sex Couples in North Carolina

    Although married same-sex couples can file their federal tax returns jointly, their marriage is not recognized for tax purposes under North Carolina tax law. ...
  • Cohabiting Couples on the Rise

    The National Survey of Family Growth, a federal report completed every four years, shows significantly more couples are having children and delaying or avoiding marriage. ...
  • NC Tax Questions for Same-Sex Marriages

    Same-sex marriages are not legal in North Carolina, however same-sex couples who reside in North Carolina and were legally married in a jurisdiction that recognizes these marriages may have questions about North Carolina taxes....
  • What Happened to the Estate Tax Exclusion Portability Deadline?

    Estates who have not yet filed a federal estate tax return (IRS Form 706) electing portability now have a new deadline to file election of portability. ...
  • Look Out For Tax Scams

    Fraudulent companies and individuals take advantage of American taxpayers every year. The tax scammers use deception—and commonly prey on elderly persons—to acquire sensitive personal information....
  • 3 Things When You Inherit an IRA

    Last year North Carolina passed legislation that provides added creditor protection for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). ...
  • Step-Parents and Step-Children in Estate Planning

    Estate planning for blended families is critical to ensure that assets are distributed as intended. A spouse’s family members are not included under North Carolina intestacy laws. Without a will, individuals who die in the Tar Heel State may not effectively leave assets to non-blood relatives....
  • Pending Legislation May Change Veterans Service Pension Benefits

    Congress has a few pending law changes that may affect Veterans Service Pension Benefits. Current regulations do not penalize veterans for making gifts or other transfers of their assets any time prior to their application for veterans service pension benefits. ...
  • North Carolina Ranks in Top 15 for Trust Decanting

    Attorney Steven J. Oshins, the force behind the annual Domestic Asset Protection Trust and Dynasty Trust Rankings, released the inaugural Trust Decanting Rankings Chart. ...
  • Estate Planning and Real Estate Titles in North Carolina

    Some families attempt to manage their own estate planning. For those who own a home and plan to eventually leave the home to children or other relatives, they may change the way the property title is held in an effort to make the transfer of ownership easier upon their death. However, without the counsel of a North Carolina estate planning or tax lawyer, these do-it-yourself methods may result in significant tax liability for the children....
  • NC Living Will Possibly Invalid For Pregnant Women

    North Carolina is one of approximately two dozen other states where a living Will may not be valid for pregnant women. ...
  • Cost to Consider When Funding Pet Trusts: Pet Hospice

    Pet trusts offer animal owners a way to preserve assets for their pets’ benefit once the owners themselves pass away. In addition to designating a care provider, these estate planning tools help cover the costs for pet healthcare, food, living expenses, and basic enjoyment of life. A new trend is developing that pet owners should consider when deciding how much money to leave for their non-human family members: Pet hospice....
  • Mistakes in Beneficiary Designations

    Beneficiary designations are an important tool in estate planning – one must always remember that their terms trump the distributions provided in a decedent’s Will. Retirement accounts, life insurance, and other assets offer owners the power to entitle individuals to these assets upon the owner’s death. Errors could cost a surviving family member their expected share of a loved one’s estate, pass assets to an unintended party, incite family conflict, or cause unnecessary tax burdens for beneficiaries....