It’s the new year and with that comes new goals! Usually, people vow to get in better shape or to save money for something big. However, we tend to start off strong and have no follow-through. Creating an estate plan is a lot like getting into better shape. We all know we should do it, but most of us never make it to the finish line because the task seems daunting.
In November’s recent election, California passed Proposition 19 (Prop 19), which has changed two important California property tax assessments that could have a lasting impact on your estate planning.
In 2017, a window was opened. And at the end of 2025, that window will close. This breath of fresh air was granted by the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which increased the Basic Exclusion Amount (BEA) from $5 million to a new base of $10 million (indexed for inflation after 2011) for gifts and inheritances bestowed from 2017 through the end of 2025. Though there are many motivations for lifetime gift-giving, it is often a strategy to maximize the value of wealth and inheritance while minimizing its subjectivity to taxation as much as possible. An estate tax is technically calculated as a combined value of lifetime gifting and taxable estate, but lifetime gifting also has the added benefit of removing the appreciation of the amount gifted from the value of the estate, so the incremental amount is not subject to the estate’s overall taxation. And of course, there are some gifts that are exempt from taxation altogether, like annual exclusion gifts of $15,000 or less per recipient and direct payments of medical expenses or school tuition. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has opened a window of gifting for those looking at federal estate taxes, but this legislation has an expiration date of January 1, 2026, at which time the $10 million bases will revert back to the $5 million base and the ability to take advantage of the increased estate and gift tax exclusions will cease. We are currently in an important opening of opportunity that should not be missed.
As moratoriums in most areas of California have been extended and ongoing worry about evictions persist, landlords and tenants may find themselves in a predicament. As state government jurisdictions continue to protect tenants, the question then arises of what landlords can and should do about rent payments once moratoriums are lifted.
With our daily lives changing constantly during the current COVID pandemic, unforeseeable circumstances may prevent real estate owners and tenants from being able to complete the duties outlined in their rental contracts. This situation is referred to as Force Majeure, a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance happens beyond the control of either party.
Elder financial abuse is a very real situation that can cause immense problems for both the elder being abused and for an entire family in general. The behaviors of the perpetrators can be extremely damaging and may often require the abused to seek legal assistance. If family members contribute to the abuse of an elder, it is suggested that an attorney step in and assist in stopping the abuse and finding compensation. Who the perpetrators might be, their behaviors and which types of elderly individuals that may be at risk are all aspects of elderly financial abuse that should be addressed.
With the introduction of the Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act in effect as of January 1, 2020, new and big changes have been made that affect one large aspect of retirement accounts: the payout process for beneficiaries. Previously, those who inherited someone’s retirement account were able to spread withdrawals from the account over the course of their lifetime. However, under the SECURE Act, beneficiaries are now required to withdraw all funds from an account within a 10 year period.
Oh, the burden of setting up an estate plan. With so many steps to take in the process of planning your estate, it can be easy to unintentionally leave some important things out, such as providing for the furry member of your family in your overall plan – your pet.
If you’re over the age of 18, regardless of financial status or property owned, it’s important to set the measures of an estate plan for health purposes. Estate plans not only allow for finances to be managed in the case of an accident, but they also amount to a number of other important measures that any individual should consider.