On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court decided United States v. Windsor, a case involving a same sex couple married in New York, where such marriages are authorized. One of the women died leaving a substantial estate. An estate tax return was filed and the surviving spouse, because of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), was not entitled to the unlimited spousal deduction that heterosexual couples could take advantage of generally reducing the estate tax on the first death to zero. The spouse filed the return, the IRS disallowed the spousal deduction, and the surviving spouse sued for a refund of taxes paid.
“Everybody has a Will. But, perhaps you don’t know what yours says?”
In New York State, everybody has a plan to distribute assets after death. Without a written Will Last Will and Testament, your assets will pass-on by what is commonly referred to as “intestate distribution” or “intestacy.”
April 16, 2013 is “National Healthcare Decisions Day.” It is a day set aside to educate the public about the importance of health care planning. This is to encourage people to express their personal wishes regarding healthcare, in writing, before a health care crisis occurs.
Every person who lives in New York State dies in one of two ways: with a Will (testate) or without a Will (intestate).
The New York State Department of Financial Services now offers a FREE service to assist families with locating unclaimed benefits on life insurance policies and annuity contracts owned by or insuring the life of a deceased family member.
Medicaid is a joint federal-state Social Security program established by federal law in 1965. The laws governing Medicaid vary depending on whether the applicant is single or married, receiving services in the community or in a nursing home, and under or over the age of 65. Disabled individuals of any age, and medically needy individuals over the age of 65 are eligible for Medicaid as long as they meet the financial criteria.
There are three basic estate planning documents that all individuals should consider when making a life plan strategy. The specific content of each document will depend on personal and family circumstances, but, everyone should consider having the following documents in place:
Back in December 2010 there was a much reported flurry of work done on changes to the US Tax laws. One of the big changes was to increase the amount an individuals could pass free of estate or gift (“transfer”) taxes. The changes made it possible to pass during $5,000,000 you life or at death (or combination thereof) without paying either of the transfer taxes. This “exemption amount” was substantially more than in prior years. (The amount is adjusted for inflation and is $5,120,000 for 2012.) Additionally, the then new law made it possible for spouses to share this amount so that a surviving spouse could use any unused portion of a predeceased spouses $5,000,000.
Durable Power of Attorney: A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you appoint an agent to assist you with handling your financial affairs and to make financial decisions on your behalf during your lifetime, either for convenience or in the event you become incompetent or disabled. A Durable Power of Attorney can help avoid the necessity of a costly and protracted guardianship proceeding. A Durable Power of Attorney remains in full effect throughout your lifetime and terminates only upon your death or revocation.
The news is full of talk about President Obama wanting to repeal “The Bush Tax Cuts” for the wealthy. Also, the compromise tax law that passed at the end of 2010 is scheduled to expire or “sunset” on December 31 of this year – sort of automatically repealing the tax cuts for everyone. But what are the tax cuts? How will the changes look basically? That is the key.