Articles Posted in Estate Taxes

Your “basis” for calculating capital gains taxes is what you paid for the stock or the real estate. For real estate, the basis gets raised by the amount of any capital improvements you make to the property.  When you sell your primary residence you may exclude the first $500,000 of gain if you’re a couple or $250,000 if you’re single.  The $500,000 exclusion for a couple get extended for a sale occurring up to two years after a spouse dies.

For gifts you receive of appreciated stock or real estate during the donor’s lifetime, no capital gains tax is payable, however the donee receives the donor’s basis.  It is generally considered better to wait, if possible, and pass the gift to the donee at death, due to the “stepped-up basis”.  The basis of any inherited property is “stepped-up” to date of death value.  If the property is sold within six months of the date of death, then the sale price is deemed to be the date of death value.

If the property is going to be held for some time it is helpful to get date of death values to establish the new basis.  For real estate, this means getting an appraisal from a licensed real estate appraiser (not a real estate broker!).  For stocks, you simply ask the company holding the stocks to provide this information.

You should strive to review your estate plans every few years. While it might not seem like it, many events can occur during this period that impacts your estate planning goals. Besides personal changes, the country also experiences national elections every four years which often lead to changes in estate taxes.

Consider Role Appointments

One of the most critical parts of estate planning is appointing who among your friends and family members will act in the role of executor, power of attorney, and other estate planning positions. You should also question whether the parties you nominate to act in such a role remain fit and willing to act in these positions. It’s also important to remember that the suitability of appointments can change. While a person might seem like a good executor, they might not be a suitable executor a decade from now. 

The estate tax exemption is slated to return to $5 million in 2026. For married individuals, the exemption is considered portable”, which means that the estate of the second spouse to pass away can benefit from the unused amount of the exemption that was available to the first spouse who passed away.

This change in tax law means that wealthy individuals’ estates can be protected from the claw of federal law through a $10 estate tax exemption. The indexed amount is $12.06 million for people who pass away in 2022. Meanwhile, transfers among spouses remain exempt from taxation due to the unlimited marital deduction. Consequently, many people do not need to be concerned about the federal estate tax.

The portability election, which has been titled by legislatures the “deceased spouse unused exemption” (DSUE) is an election utilized by an estate’s executor.

New York’s estate tax cliff can lead to heirs in the state paying estate tax at a rate that surpasses 100%. The existing per-person New York state estate tax exemption is $6.11 million. This is the amount that a person can pass on to heirs at his or her time of death without being obligated to pay New York state estate taxes.

Provided a person’s taxable estate falls into the “Estate tax cliff range”, which occurs between $6.11 million and $6.711 million in 2022, a person falls off the estate tax cliff in New York state, and the amount surpassing the exemption is taxed at a rate greater than 100%. Fortunately, various solutions exist to this challenging situation. 

Utilizing Charitable Bequests

Estate planning relies on a countless number of assumptions. One assumption is that assets only flow in one direction: from older person to younger person. In reality, this does not always have to be the case. By making the most of some unconventional estate planning techniques, people can realize some tax and estate planning advantages. This is where the concept, of “reverse estate planning” comes in.

Some adult children who have more assets than parents and can help take care of the older generation. In these cases, reverse estate planning can play a valuable role. This is particularly true when parents will not be able to use the entirety of their estate and gift tax exemptions. This is just as true if a parent is in a lower tax bracket than their child. 

Tax Advantages through Reverse Estate Planning

Even if you’ve already abandoned your New Years’ resolution, you should still do your best this year to focus on your loved ones and what’s best for your future. One of the best things that any of us can do during times of uneasy political or economic times is to focus on what’s important. Your planning for what lies ahead should understandably address critical issues like what happens if you become incapacitated or unexpectedly pass away. This article reviews some of the basic frameworks that you should start (or revise) your estate plans in 2022.

Critical Questions to Ask About the Status of Your Estate Plans

Some of the important issues that you should ask about the status of your estate as you decide the strength of your estate plan include:

In 2022, the annual exclusion for federal Gift Taxes was increased to $16,000 per individual annually. Even though a near-universal acceptance exists that gift-giving can play an important role in estate planning, a person should consider various issues before making gifts.

The way that gifts are made can have a substantial impact on beneficiaries. This is especially true if the party who receives a gift is below the age of 21. Direct gifts made to young people can have their own challenges which include exposure to creditors and limited control over how gifts are made. Consequently, it’s a wise idea in these situations to consider placing gifts in a trust.

The Danger Behind Direct Gifts

In the recent case, Heiting v. the United States, an appellate court denied a claim-of-right deduction in accordance with Section 1341 of the Internal Revenue Code. The case originated from an effort by a taxpayer to receive a tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service. Following a denial of the refund by the Internal Revenue Service, the taxpayer initiated a lawsuit pursuing a tax refund of the taxes paid on an unauthorized stock sale made by the grantor trust. 

Claim-of-Right Deductions

The claim of right deduction is a regulation that governs how income recognition is time. The law decides when income is taxed instead of whether it can be taxed. The regulation results from Congress’s implementation of an annual accounting period. If a person who pays taxes receives earnings under a claim of right and no restrictions exist regarding the disposition, the individual has received income to which he or she is required to return. This is true even though the person may claim that he or she has no entitlement to retain the funds.

While some people anticipated otherwise, 2022 started without any new federal regulation or tax changes addressing estate planning. As proposed legislation passed through the legislative process in 2021, major potential changes to federal estate and gift tax were dropped. These potential changes included a decrease in the estate and gift tax exemption as well as the elimination of a step-up basis.

Furthermore, no reports exist that any changes will be made any time soon. This is not a guarantee, though. Potential changes can emerge at any point in the future. While no changes are looming, it’s worth noting that one substantial change will occur in a few years when in 2025, the federal estate and gift exemption will be reduced to $5,000 per person.

Positive Changes to Estate Planning This Year

Each year, it’s important for anyone interested in planning for the future of their assets to either create or revise their estate plan. Taking the time and including loved ones in estate planning discussions is the best thing that you can do to avoid conflict or estate planning disagreements. 

Estate planning involves planning for the use of your assets after you become incapacitated or pass away. While many people think that estate plans are written in stone, this is not the truth. In actuality, various life events including births and divorce should lead people to review and ultimately revise the terms of their estate plan.

Acknowledge What You Own

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