Estate Planning

New Legal Library on Trusts, Estates, and Tax Law

Posted on: March 23rd, 2017
TrustCounsel's new Legal Library is now a permanent free online resource with guides to help direct executor’s discussions with attorneys, as well as to alert legal and financial practitioners of important probate and trust law matters....

The Taboo Subject of Estate Planning and Firearms

Posted on: January 25th, 2017
A guest contributor on Southern Gun Law Group, Dennis Gayness is a Certified Firearms Appraiser with the Triangle Shooting Academy. In his guest post he delves into events throughout history that have influenced rare and collectible firearms passed down through generations....

Remarriages and Inheritances in North Carolina

Posted on: May 9th, 2016
Individuals in North Carolina who have married more than once might have estate planning issues they are not aware of. Whether one has remarried following a spouse’s death or divorce, one should take time to review existing estate planning documents....

Estate Planning for Multiple Homes

Posted on: April 29th, 2016
Families may consider ownership of multiple properties for different reasons. Some folks prefer to have an extra property closer to family, for professional purposes, for leisure, or as an investment. While owning multiple properties may accomplish one or more of these goals, acquiring additional property can cause liability issues, tax complications, and probate concerns....

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

Posted on: April 25th, 2016
Our estate planning attorneys in Chapel Hill look at a few demographics that some might consider are not in need of a plan and discuss why these segments of our society would in fact benefit from an estate plan....

Does Your Executor Live Out-of-State?

Posted on: March 24th, 2016
Not all family members and trusted friends live nearby. North Carolina law does not require an executor be a resident of the state. However, there are certain restrictions the state imposes on out-of-state executors....

The Stress and Responsibilities Required of Executors

Posted on: March 23rd, 2016
Individuals who choose to accept the role of executor, or personal representative, of a loved one’s estate have more to manage than mere financial matters....

Discussing Inheritances With Children

Posted on: February 18th, 2016
Starting discussions during one’s lifetime about how personal items, collectibles, and assets will pass on can help to prevent conflicts after death. Surviving children might feel less inclined to contest a will if they understand that a parent’s wishes match the instructions in the will....

Estate Planning Documents for Young Adults

Posted on: November 26th, 2015
Many legal responsibilities and freedoms are afforded to United States citizens when they reach the age of 18. Who will provide reliable care and maintenance of a young adult’s affairs if they are incapacitated? ...

5 Estate Planning Items for Family Businesses in NC

Posted on: October 15th, 2015
Whether owners wish to transfer the business to the next generation, or ensure that the transition of the business into new hands is managed in a way that benefits family members, these goals are difficult if impossible to reach without having a plan in place....

Elective Share Waivers in North Carolina

Posted on: October 13th, 2015
A case from the North Carolina Court of Appeals highlights the critical function of financial disclosure in the elective share process, while also showing the legal entitlements of a soon-to-be-former-spouse navigating divorce in North Carolina....

3 Mistakes Parents Make in Estate Plans

Posted on: September 25th, 2015
For many remarried individuals, estate planning decisions must take into account not only one’s biological children, but also step-children, future children, or a new spouse. In revising estate plans to incorporate these considerations, parents might utilize planning methods that unintentionally expose family to risks....

Including Jewelry in North Carolina Estate Plans

Posted on: July 13th, 2015
June is a popular choice of month for weddings. This past June was the first one that same-sex marriages were nationally legalized. How should couples include engagement rings and wedding bands in their estate plans?...

What Happens if an Executor Doesn’t Do Their Job in North Carolina?

Posted on: July 8th, 2015
If the appointed executor accepts and then exploits their authority or fails to meet their responsibilities, another individual or business can file a petition with the court to have the executor removed. ...

Phone Scam Using Our Firm Name

Posted on: June 24th, 2015
Be advised we do not make unsolicited phone calls to persons with whom we have no prior relationship, regarding tax advice or any other legal or financial services....

NC Estate Planning Blog New Platform

Posted on: June 17th, 2015
Our attorneys in Chapel Hill with TrustCounsel recently switched blog platforms for the North Carolina Estate Planning Blog....

New Birth Certificate Guidelines in North Carolina for Same-Sex Couples’ Children

Posted on: May 29th, 2015
Same-sex couples who have a child in North Carolina could previously only list one parent on the child’s birth certificate. ...

A Will’s Limits in North Carolina Probate

Posted on: May 8th, 2015
A will cannot achieve every goal of the testator. No matter how finely crafted provisions are made and assets are addressed in a will, additional tools can help the testator preserve their wishes. An improperly drafted will, one that is not filed, or dying without a will could prompt courts to distribute the estate according...

Last-Minute Estate Planning in North Carolina

Posted on: April 9th, 2015
Forbes cited a survey in 2014 that revealed 51% of Americans aged 55 to 64 do not have an estate plan. Sometimes a health crisis prompts an individual to create a plan for bequeathing their assets. ...

Beneficiary Designation Reminder

Posted on: March 25th, 2015
Beneficiary designation forms are an important way for account and asset owners to ensure the respective assets pass to the individuals of their choosing. Mistakes with beneficiary designations could result in serious loss – the testator’s wishes might not be carried out, surviving family might lose assets, and lengthy and costly probate might result. (Individuals...

Creditor Claims Against Decedents in North Carolina

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015
One of the many responsibilities executors have is ensuring that the decedent’s debts are satisfied. Creditor claims against estates in North Carolina generally fall into categories of priority. The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts provides the Order of Priority of Claims in Estate Procedures: Property liens up to the amount of the property...

When To Omit Beneficiaries From a Trust

Posted on: February 18th, 2015
Depending on the goals of the individual, trusts might name family, friends, or charities as beneficiaries. However, certain types of trusts may be structured with no human or organizational beneficiaries at all....

5 Tips for Millennials’ Estate Plans

Posted on: January 30th, 2015
Every adult can benefit from an estate plan, regardless of marital status, age, income, or assets. Our Chapel Hill estate planning attorneys have even reviewed estate planning tips for college students. ...

State Residency and Domicile in Estate Planning

Posted on: January 29th, 2015
Tax, probate, and asset protection laws in each state vary. Individuals might want to establish residency in a jurisdiction with attractive legislation for estate planning purposes, and they do not necessarily have to relocate in order to take advantage of the laws. ...

Estate Planning Mistake: Forgetting to Fund

Posted on: December 19th, 2014
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....

Portability Deadline Weeks Away for Estate Tax Exclusion

Posted on: December 11th, 2014
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 and Tax Refunds for Art

Posted on: November 19th, 2014
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. ...

Same-Sex Marriages Legal in NC: Prenuptial Agreements & Estate Plans

Posted on: November 13th, 2014
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....

Title Issues in North Carolina Estates: Joint Tenants

Posted on: October 31st, 2014
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

Posted on: October 29th, 2014
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....

Same-Sex Marriage Update

Posted on: October 9th, 2014
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. ...

North Carolina Durable Powers of Attorney

Posted on: August 8th, 2014
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. ...

Estate Planning Mistakes of Newlyweds

Posted on: June 1st, 2014
Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements are not the only estate planning tools engaged couples and newlyweds in North Carolina should consider. ...

Estate Planning for New Parents in North Carolina

Posted on: May 20th, 2014
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?...

What to Leave in Your Will: Culture & Values

Posted on: March 27th, 2014
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. ...

Tax Tips for Married Same-Sex Couples in North Carolina

Posted on: February 12th, 2014
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

Posted on: February 7th, 2014
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. ...

Estate Planning for Posthumous Conceptions

Posted on: December 30th, 2013
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? ...

Estate Plan Controversies

Posted on: December 18th, 2013
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....

What to Know About Last-Minute Will Changes

Posted on: December 9th, 2013
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. ...

SCINs Excluded From Estates

Posted on: August 30th, 2013
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. ...

Starting College? Start an Estate Plan

Posted on: August 23rd, 2013
Students leaving home for college may be focusing on studying for classes, but they may want to consider studying their own estate plan. ...

NC Estate Tax Repeal Retroactive

Posted on: August 1st, 2013
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. ...

NC Estate Changes for Surviving Spouses Effective October 2013

Posted on: June 24th, 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. ...

When Spouses Disagree During Estate Planning

Posted on: June 4th, 2013
Choosing beneficiaries and deciding which assets each will receive may become a challenge if your spouse does not agree with your choices. ...

No NC Tax Reform Bill Yet, Here’s the Plan

Posted on: May 15th, 2013
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. ...

Obama’s 2013 Budget Proposal to Push Estate Tax Back to 2009 Terms

Posted on: April 16th, 2013
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. ...

Disadvantages of a DIY Will in North Carolina

Posted on: March 25th, 2013
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

Posted on: March 11th, 2013
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. ...

What Was Approved in the Fiscal Cliff?

Posted on: January 2nd, 2013
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. ...

Tax Changes and Limitations on Dynasty Trusts

Posted on: December 19th, 2012
Dynasty trusts, which help families legally avoid estate taxes and preserve assets for heirs of future generations, are the target of new legislation that could significantly limit their value. ...

It’s Not Too Late to Use Your $5 Million Exemption!

Posted on: December 15th, 2012
Estate Planning attorneys all across the country are frantically working to help their clients utilize the $5.12 million gift and estate tax exemption before it disappears at year end. ...

The Fiscal Cliff Cometh – Things to Do By 12/31/12

Posted on: December 11th, 2012
Ben Franklin said that the only two certainties in life were death and taxes. Tax exemptions and rates, however, are subject to change, and unless Congress acts soon, taxes are going up significantly next year. ...

The $5.12 Million Exemption – Use it or Lose it

Posted on: November 27th, 2012
Now, weeks past the election with nothing positive coming out of Congress, people of means are finally starting to realize that it makes sense to use some or all of the $5.12 million federal gift and estate tax exemption before it falls to $1million next year. ...

Springing Powers-of-Attorney in NC: New Court Case Makes Third Parties Responsible

Posted on: November 11th, 2012
Powers of attorney, which should be part of every estate plan, allow an individual to appoint someone of their choosing to manage their assets and affairs, make medical decisions and handle other matters the individual would have controlled when they were competent. ...

Don’t Fall Off the Fiscal Cliff Without an Estate Plan

Posted on: October 21st, 2012
Estate Planning Awareness Week comes during the final quarter of the year, just before the New Year shift known as the “fiscal cliff.” What is the fiscal cliff?...

Dynasty Trusts Ranked – NC Doesn’t Make the Cut

Posted on: October 13th, 2012
Nevada attorney Steve Oshins, who produces an annual ranking of Domestic Asset Protection Trusts, has now done the same for Dynasty Trusts. ...

The Olympics and the Quest for Excellence

Posted on: August 14th, 2012
The last couple of weeks I have been so busy I have neglected my blogging. However, I have taken some time to watch the Olympics at night, seeing athletes from all over the world compete to win a gold medal. ...

The New 3.8% Investment Surtax – Will it Apply to You?

Posted on: July 10th, 2012
Now that the health care law has been declared constitutional, the remaining provisions will be going into effect. One little known provision is a new 3.8% investment income surtax, also called the health care surtax or the Medicare tax; ...

Free Estate and Financial Planning Book

Posted on: June 5th, 2012
Here’s a press release I received today from the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER): ...

Most Americans Die Without a Will

Posted on: May 14th, 2012
I came across a recent article in the Yahoo Finance Blog, Half of Americans With Kids Set to Die Without a Will. If you are a North Carolina resident, what happens to your estate if you don’t have a will (you die intestate, in legal terms)? ...

NC’s Amendment One and Estate Planning

Posted on: May 8th, 2012
Today is election day in North Carolina, and I’m sure every North Carolinian, and many others across the country, know that the controversial Amendment One is on the ballot. Amendment One states that "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. ...

7 Big Estate Planning Mistakes

Posted on: April 29th, 2012
This recent Forbes article 7 Major Errors In Estate Planning is a must read for everyone, and most errors discussed apply to those with estates below $1 million....

New Estate Planning Resource

Posted on: April 14th, 2012
The national estate planning attorney group WealthCounsel, LLC has introduced the new EstatePlanning.Com, which, no pun intended, contains a wealth of estate planning information for the general public....

Estate Planning – Fast and Distant or Slow and Local?

Posted on: April 12th, 2012
I’m a member of WealthCounsel, LLC, a national organization of estate planning attorneys. Lately there has been a lot of discussion on the list serve about how the internet is affecting estate planning and what the future holds for the profession and the public....

Why I Love LegalZoom

Posted on: April 10th, 2012
First, my ideal estate planning clients do not use LegalZoom for their estate planning. The people who use LegalZoom would never go to a lawyer who is not dirt cheap. Unfortunately, experienced estate planners are not dirt cheap. Therefore, LegalZoom certainly is not costing me any business....

The Importance of Planning for Young Families

Posted on: March 13th, 2012
Many folks have the misconception that legacy planning is only for the wealthy, or for the elderly. Young families often overlook the importance of planning in the event of a parent’s incapacitation or death....

Why Lawyers vs. the Internet – a Baker’s Dozen

Posted on: January 13th, 2012
It’s Friday the 13th, and I’ve been at the University of Miami School of Law’s Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning all week. This morning there was some discussion on the future for estate planning attorneys. ...

Four Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Posted on: November 20th, 2011
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) recently published an informative article entitled Four Estate Planning Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them). Although the article is geared toward CPAs for counseling their clients, I recommend it as reading for all, as I see these problems everyday. The four mistakes featured are: ...

SECU – Estate Planning Friend or Foe?

Posted on: October 27th, 2011
The North Carolina State Employees Credit Union has a relatively new program called Estate Planning Essentials. Members of SECU are offered "estate plans" for $250, or $350 for married couples. The program description states that "[A] slate of experienced estate planning attorneys has been identified who have agreed to prepare these documents at a set price for Credit Union members." ...

National Estate Planning Awareness Week

Posted on: October 17th, 2011
October 17-23 is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Most people are woefully unaware of the importance and benefits of estate planning. Even if you have implemented a comprehensive, up-to-date plan, chances are your family members and friends have not. Encourage them to talk to an estate planning attorney about how to protect their loved ones, preserve assets and save taxes. Here’s our Press Release on the topic. ...

Low Rates, Low Values Create Planning Opportunities

Posted on: October 13th, 2011
In How Low Rates Can Cut Your Tax Bill, WSJ columnist Laura Saunders reports out that current low interest rates create several advantageous tax planning opportunities: ...

Parents – Important Tips to Legally Protect Your Kids

Posted on: September 24th, 2011
Parents – if something were to happen to you, have you done all that you can to ensure that your children are legally protected? Most parents of young children have not done anything at all, or if they have, the planning is often incomplete or outdated....

Estate Planning Checklist

Posted on: July 12th, 2011
Here’s a test every adult should take – it’s not hard, but the consequences of failing can be serious:...

10 Most Overlooked Issues in Estate Planning

Posted on: May 15th, 2011
A couple of days ago I blogged about the dangers of bad estate planning, and presented a hierarchy of worst to best ways to plan. Today I’m providing a list of 10 of the most overlooked issues in estate planning (things that frequently aren’t dealt with in lesser methods of planning). ...

Hierarchy of Estate Planning

Posted on: May 14th, 2011
I have seen plenty of bad estate planning planning in my 23 years of practice. The pitfalls are many – I will list them in my next post. Here’s my list of the hierarchy of estate planning, from worst to best (and I have seen them all!):...

10 Estate Planning DONT’s

Posted on: March 14th, 2011
From a presentation I gave last week for Duke University’s OLLI program’s course on retirement and wealth management, here are 10 things NOT to do in terms of estate planning:...

12 Estate Planning Gifts to Your Family

Posted on: December 23rd, 2010
Christmas is in 12 days, so I thought it appropriate to use the "12 Days of Christmas" theme to talk about the fact that estate planning is truly a gift to your family or other beneficiaries. ...

7 Events That May Necessitate Will Revisions

Posted on: November 17th, 2010
Wills Must Keep Up With Life Changes A will is an essential part of planning for the future. But don’t think creating a will is a one-time proposition. ...

Little Thought-of Reasons to Complete an Estate Plan

Posted on: October 20th, 2010
So maybe the prospect of protecting your family, preserving your assets, and saving taxes doesn’t motivate you to get your estate planning done. If so, here are some less-mentioned benefits of completing a plan with an estate planning attorney:...

Run, Don’t Walk to Your Estate Planning Attorney

Posted on: October 8th, 2010
Time is running out – we are in the last quarter of 2010, with a host of dramatic changes in the tax laws approaching:...

Online Estate Planning? Think About It

Posted on: September 30th, 2010
Call me old-fashioned, but I think estate planning should involve a personalized and continuing relationship, not a transaction. While some may prefer to use low-cost websites or software because they are more concerned about price than value, think about what they won’t be getting....

LegalZoom Responds to My Post of 9-27-10

Posted on: September 28th, 2010
Boy, that was fast! I stand corrected by LegalZoom’s Senior Counsel, Kenneth Friedman. The Attorney General of Washington State did not file suit against LegalZoom, but did institute an investigation of their business practices. ...

Top 10 Estate Planning Considerations

Posted on: September 7th, 2010
Now that Labor Day has come and gone, with no more summer vacations and the kids back in school, it’s time to get serious and give thought to creating or updating your estate plan. Here are some things that should be examined/implemented as part of every estate plan:...

A “Will” for your Digital Assets

Posted on: July 31st, 2010
A new online service, Entrustet, provides a free way to safeguard your digital assets, such as domain names, blogs, twitter accounts, online financial accounts, etc. I have tried it out, and it’s very user friendly. ...

Estate Tax Uncertainty – Forbes Says See a Lawyer

Posted on: May 15th, 2010
Thanks to a client for bringing this article to my attention: How To Protect Your Family From Estate Tax Uncertainty. It contains good advice, which I have highlighted in bold in the following text from the article:...

It’s Time to Review Your Will!

Posted on: April 2nd, 2010
My law firm, TrustCounsel, is currently in the process of reviewing all of our clients’ estate plans and notifying those that need to update their plans due changes in the law, and possibly changes in the client’s situation. ...

Dividing Assets Among Adult Children

Posted on: March 31st, 2010
When children are young, the primary concern of parents is to provide for them. After they grow up, parents usually still want to provide for them in their estate plans....

GRATs and FLPs okay this year?

Posted on: January 25th, 2010
I’m at the University of Miami School of Law’s Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning this week. ...

Estate Planning Alert

Posted on: January 8th, 2010
I just put this Estate Planning Alert on my firm’s website homepage, but thought it would also be appropriate for this blog:...

The Estate Tax is Gone (for Now) – Estate Plan Updates are Imperative

Posted on: January 4th, 2010
It’s 2010! As of January 1st, the federal estate tax is no more and it may mean that you should revise your estate plan and related documents. ...

When Choosing an Estate Planner

Posted on: December 8th, 2009
In looking for estate planning assistance, you should consider the following: 1. Do they concentrate their practice solely in estate planning?...

The Dirty Dozen – 12 Estate Planning Mistakes

Posted on: October 29th, 2009
As Halloween approaches, here’s another reason to be scared – failure to do proper estate planning. Make sure you have not committed any of these common mistakes that I see all too often: ...

FLP gets 47.5% Estate Tax Discount

Posted on: September 30th, 2009
In addition to providing ease of management and significant asset protection, FLPs and (FLLCs) are still a excellent planning tool for obtaining gift and estate tax discounts (for minority interests and lack of marketability) – provided that the implementation and valuation are done correctly. ...

When to Review Your Estate Plan

Posted on: September 29th, 2009
The following is a list of some of the events that should trigger a review of your estate plan: (1) Marriage, divorce, death of spouse....

10 Foolish Estate Planning Myths

Posted on: September 23rd, 2009
I saw this post by a fellow estate planning attorney on linkedin and thought it would be good to share with my readers: Ten Dangerous Estate-Planning Fantasies By FREYA ALLEN SHOFFNER – an attorney in Boston who focuses on estate planning....

The BBB on Estate Planning – a solid C

Posted on: September 3rd, 2009
This morning I came across this article on estate planning advice by the Better Business Bureau. I certainly endorse the idea of urging people to do proper planning, but articles like this can sometimes do more harm than good. I give a grade of C (mediocre)....

Dont’ Leave a Mess for your Loved Ones

Posted on: September 1st, 2009
Most people fail to do any estate planning at all, and many more have outdated or inadequate plans. A recent article, A slacker’s guide to death, discusses this issue. ...

Children are the Most Important Thing

Posted on: August 1st, 2009
There’s been a lot of coverage in the news lately about the care and custody of young children of deceased parents. First it was Anna Nicole Smith’s baby. She didn’t have a will naming a guardian for young Dannielynn....

Independence

Posted on: July 3rd, 2009
I’m down in Amelia Island Florida this weekend for a Florida Bar Tax Section meeting. Today is a day off for many, and will be an afternoon off for me, as I head to the pool and then a movie with the family....

FLP Gift Discounts Alive and Well – for Now

Posted on: June 1st, 2009
In the recent case of Estate of Valeria M. Miller v. Commissioner; T.C. Memo. 2009-119; No. 5207-07 (27 May 2009), the U.S. Tax Court allowed a 35% discount for gifts of family limited partnership interests. No discount was permitted for the FLP interest owned by the decedent at her death....

Beware of “Pure” or “Constitutional” Trusts

Posted on: April 30th, 2009
Here’s a great article from Santa Barbara attorney Mark Cornwall – Beware the Pros at Cons. Occasionally clients ask me about such arrangements, and, of course, and I inform them that’s it’s a bunch of baloney. Remember – if it sounds to good to be true, it most likely is!...

Safe Kids Week in North Carolina

Posted on: April 27th, 2009
This week is Safe Kids Week in North Carolina. While Safe Kids Week is designed raise awareness about protecting children from unintentional injuries, parents also need to plan to keep their kids safe from a financial standpoint should something happen to the parents....

The Octomom – I bet she hasn’t done proper estate planning

Posted on: April 2nd, 2009
The other day I started thinking about Nadya Suleman (the Octomom), the California single mother of 14 who has been in the news so much lately. A professional hazard, I guess, but I wondered – has she done any estate planning? ...

Alphabet Soup – the ABCs of Estate Planning

Posted on: March 18th, 2009
It all boils down to the fear of mortality. Many people don’t want to deal with death so they postpone estate planning. As a result, an estimated 70 percent of Americans don’t even have a will....

Don’t Delay Reviewing Estate Plans

Posted on: March 14th, 2009
Yes, these are times of financial uncertainty and difficulty for many of us, and federal estate law is likely to change sometime later this year, but not reviewing and possibly revising one’s estate plan now can be a big mistake. ...

UNC Law School to Host Clinic for Same-Sex Couples

Posted on: February 9th, 2009
On Thursday, February 12, 2009, the Lambda Law Students Organization of the UNC Law School will hold an event for same-sex couples to fill out and have notarized general and health care powers of attorney....

Looks Like Estate Tax Here to Stay – Don’t Delay Planning

Posted on: January 23rd, 2009
There’s a couple of good recent articles on forbes.com – Dems Dedicated to Death Tax and Why You Need a Will. ...

The 12 Keys to Proper Estate Planning

Posted on: December 23rd, 2008
All of us know the Christmas song The 12 days of Christmas. Keeping with the holiday theme, I have come up with "The 12 Keys to Proper Estate Planning." ...

It may not seem like it, but Now is the Time to Plan

Posted on: December 10th, 2008
Difficult topics when planning for your estate is a recent article on the Chicago Tribune’s website that discusses the advantages of wealth transfer planning during down market and low interest rate environments such as the one we are experiencing now. ...

Estate and Income Tax Reduction Strategies in a Bear Market

Posted on: October 8th, 2008
1) If you are not selling options or using margin trading, you should revoke your margin agreements. This reduces your risk by ensuring that your securities are not lent. 2) Roth IRA conversions should be aggressively reviewed....

Top 10 Excuses for Failure to Plan One’s Estate

Posted on: October 1st, 2008
Most folks never get around to doing any estate planning, even so much as a simple will. Why?...

Older Estate Plans Should Be Reviewed

Posted on: September 30th, 2008
While folks who put an estate plan into place years, or even decades, ago are to be commended for planning ahead, they should not assume that the job is completed. ...

Estate Planning Checklist

Posted on: September 26th, 2008
Do you have an Estate Plan in place? If so, are you confident that it fully covers matters relating to health care, family, taxes, and asset protection?...

Estate Planning for Parents

Posted on: June 3rd, 2008
Parents of minor children would be well-served to view this video, Estate Planning for Parents, which features my WealthCounsel colleague Alexis Martin Neely on the Today show. ...

Estate Tax Changes Likely

Posted on: March 14th, 2008
From this article in the New York Times yesterday: Beginning next year, the federal estate tax exemption will increase to $3.5 million. This means that the tax would apply to only about 0.3 percent of people who die each year. Not exactly the average American....

Estate Plan Effectiveness and Maintenance Information

Posted on: January 2nd, 2008
Even the best estate planning documents will not be effective if they are lost or inaccessible. To help ensure that the documents are available when needed, we offer the following suggestions to our clients:...

Tax and Other Aspects of Vacation Homes

Posted on: October 7th, 2007
Considering a second home? Read the Vacation Home Survival Guide on forbes.com. A couple things to keep in mind that aren’t mentioned are that second home in other states can trigger probate in that state,...

Anatomy of an Estate Plan

Posted on: September 29th, 2007
Everyone can benefit from planning for the future, whether it involves the distribution of property, tax reduction, or the care of family members. ...

House Passes Ban on Tax Strategy Patents

Posted on: September 13th, 2007
On September 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1908, The Patent Reform Act of 2007. Section 10 of that bill prohibits patenting tax strategies. ...

Top 10 Estate Planning Mistakes

Posted on: July 15th, 2007
This article on Morningstar.com lists common estate planning problems. Click on "Continue Reading" to see the full text of the article, with my commentary....

Seniors in Love – the Practical Considerations

Posted on: May 17th, 2007
Are you a widowed retiree who has found love again and is considering marriage? Or maybe you’re a middle-aged child whose parent is about to tie the knot. ...

Estate Planning School

Posted on: May 15th, 2007
CNNMoney.com contains a wealth of information about financial matters, including Money 101, a series of 43 lessons....

Consumer Reports – Use a Lawyer for Estate Planning

Posted on: May 8th, 2007
This afternoon a client brought to my attention an article on do-it-yourself finance-related matters, including estate planning, in the May 2007 Issue of Money Adviser by Consumer Reports....

10 Things Your Estate Planner Won’t Tell You – My View

Posted on: March 12th, 2007
I recently came across an article on SmartMoney.com entitled 10 Things Your Estate Planner Won’ t Tell You. Being an Estate Planner, I read the article with interest, and while it contains some useful tips, I found several things that I strongly disagreed with or were just plain wrong....

Top 10 Estate Planning Tips for 2007

Posted on: December 26th, 2006
1) Last Will and Testament- Have an up-to-date, professionally prepared Will or Living Trust. Keep the original in a safe place....

Prenuptial Agreements – Not Just for Donald Trump

Posted on: November 13th, 2006
For most engaged couples, the break-up of a marriage is farthest thing from their minds during the months prior to the wedding....

What if Your Pet Outlives You?

Posted on: November 7th, 2006
A recent article by my associate, Rebecca Streamo, J.D: Many of us have spent considerable time planning for the care of our spouse and or children at our deaths or in the event we become ill or incapacitated. ...

How to Choose an Estate Planning Attorney

Posted on: November 6th, 2006
Developing a comprehensive estate plan requires a lot of thought and time, and sometimes a lot of money. It is not always a simple or easy task, so having the right advisor can make all the difference in the world. ...

2007 IRS Standard Mileage Rates Announced

Posted on: November 2nd, 2006
From the IRS Newswire: IR-2006-168, Nov. 1, 2006 WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2007 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. ...

Planning for Electronic Data

Posted on: October 7th, 2006
The following was posted by Ed Poll on his LawBiz Blog Taking Electronic Passwords to the Grave Attorneys advising clients on estate planning should ask them to determine who they want to have access to their computers when they die...