Can a Trust Replace a Will for Estate Planning?

An increasing number of people are using a revocable living trust instead of a will to transfer their assets to their heirs. The primary reasons are to avoid the expense and delay of probate, and to keep the contents of the estate from becoming public knowledge.

Many people mistakenly believe that if they have a will, they can avoid probate. This is not true as a will, to have any legal effect, must be probated. This adds time and cost to the settlement of the estate, and also exposes the contents of the estate through public records. Continue reading

Better to Give It Away Before Uncle Sam Takes It Away

By Michael D. Koppel, CPA
Gray, Gray & Gray, LLP

 As a tax accountant my job is to make sure my clients meet their legal obligations to the Internal Revenue Service, while helping them to retain as much of their assets as possible. It is a delicate balance that may soon be tipped further in favor of the tax collector. This is especially true for successful business owners who have managed to accumulate significant savings. Continue reading

Death, Taxes and a Pending Deadline

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Benjamin Franklin
In the years since Mr. Franklin penned this notable adage, the question has ironically become, “How can we best avoid the taxes caused by death?”
Gift and estate taxes have been part of the American tax scene for many years. Currently, with proper planning, a couple can pass approximately $10,000,000 of assets to their heirs without incurring additional taxes. This amount can be significantly higher depending on the type of assets and discounts that may be applied. It is also important to remember that, for a number of years prior to 2011, the gift exemption was significantly less than the estate tax exemption. Continue reading