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Estate Planning Blog

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McBrayer Blogs

Sticking to Your Guns: Accounting for firearms in an estate plan

An estate plan is designed to ensure a smooth transition of assets from a decedent to beneficiaries, as well as minimizing expenses, fees, and taxes associated with the transfer. Most estate planners may be concerned with the transfer of real property and other substantial assets, but what may be overlooked is the way in which a decedent’s firearms are accounted for. Failure to properly account for these items may produce unwanted results, all the way up to excessive fines and even prison time. More >

Planning for Digital Assets and the Struggle for Uniformity

As digital assets become more and more ubiquitous, they are increasingly becoming a headache for representatives of an estate and other fiduciaries acting on behalf of an incapacitated principal. This growing problem manifests itself in several ways, such as when a decedent elected to receive important documents such as tax documents, bills and bank statements electronically; created automatic and recurring payments online; or owned valuable online assets such as electronic currency, domain names or other digital property. Fiduciaries face a myriad of problems in accessing these items as transactions occur more and more in the digital realm. In 2014, the Uniform Law Commission – a group of lawyers, judges, legislators and academics charged with promoting uniformity across state laws where it is practical – tackled the problem head-on with the approval of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (“UFADAA” or “the Act”). The road to enactment of this uniform law, however, has been bumpy at best. More >

Special Needs Trust

Special needs trusts, or supplemental needs trusts, are a unique form of planning for a disabled individual. These trusts recognize the unique challenges facing disabled persons and the delicate interplay with government assistance programs designed to help provide for them. These trusts are designed to supplement such programs, providing additional resources for the care and comfort of the permanently disabled, while simultaneously preserving the beneficiary’s eligibility for government assistance. More >

Exemption Portability - What is it, and how does it work?

Posted In Estate Planning

The term "portability" is used in many contexts, but in the estate planning context portability describes the way a surviving spouse can use the remainder of a deceased spouse's unused exclusion amount to further shield her or his estate from tax liability. Portability first came about in 2010 as a temporary concept in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010. It was set to expire on December 31, 2012, but Congress, in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, made portability a permanent part of the estate and gift tax exclusion. The current unified exemption for estate and gift taxes is $5.43 million (for the year 2015), so portability allows for a potentially very large tax break for a surviving spouse's estate. More >

Nothing is uncertain like death taxes

Posted In Estate Planning

There's a saying about death and taxes, the certainty thereof, which has been oft repeated to the point of weariness. While it is true that the imposition of taxes is a certainty, the shape and form of such taxes, especially in an estate planning context, is anything but. Just when one believes the ground to be firm in any particular tax context, the sands begin shifting. The federal estate tax has been just such an example the past several years, and estate plans should account for future uncertainty. More >

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