Maximizing Your Legacy
Any comprehensive estate plan should thoroughly consider estate tax issues. The federal estate tax laws have changed frequently over the past decade: In 2001, estates over $1 million were subject to estate taxes. By 2009 the exemption amount was $3.5 million. The estate tax was repealed for 2010, then returned with an exemption of $5 million for individuals and $10 million for married couples. If no further changes are made by the end of the year, the amount exempt from estate taxes will drop to $1 million on January 1, 2013. In this dynamic environment, it is vitally important to seek the estate tax planning advice of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.
You Don't Have to Be a Multi-Millionaire to Care about Estate Taxes
Why worry about estate taxes if $5 to $10 million is protected for you? Many families need to keep an eye on the estate tax law in case the temporary increases are not made permanent by the end of the year (or are made permanent and later changed). A $1 million estate tax exemption could impact middle class families. Even if your estate will never be taxable, having a Will or Trust provides for the orderly distribution of your assets at your death, and eases the administrative burdens of death for the surviving family members.
The recent tax law added a new concept to the estate tax system: a "portable" exemption between husband and wife. Prior to 2011, if the first spouse to die did not claim her exemption, usually by having some or all of the estate flow into a "credit-shelter trust" (also known as a family trust, or a B trust), it was lost forever. Under the new law, the estate of a surviving spouse can "use" any leftover exemption of the first spouse to die. Whether this provision will be extended beyond 2012 is not known.
The experienced attorneys at the Fairfax, Virginia, law firm of Jean Galloway Ball, PLC, offer fact-based and family-centered legal guidance in estate tax planning matters. Since 1988, we have helped our clients address immediate concerns and achieve long-term goals for maximizing the value of their legacy by minimizing the amount of estate tax liability.
We Can Help
With our assistance, you can take immediate action to:
- Draft a Will or establish a living Trust that strikes the proper balance between protecting against future changes in the estate tax law and restricting the use of all assets by the surviving spouse
- Use credit-shelter trusts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, strategic charitable giving, family limited partnerships and other tools to avoid estate taxes on larger estates.
To discuss your situation with a caring and experienced estate tax planning lawyer, please call our Fairfax offices today at 703-359-9213 or contact us by e-mail now.