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January 2013 Archives

A living will, essential to estate planning

For many individuals and couples, the first step towards establishing a comprehensive estate plan typically starts with a will. Once a will, and perhaps a trust, has been established another important, but often overlooked estate planning component is a living will or health care directive.

What can go wrong with a do-it-yourself will?

With the advent of the internet there has been a plethora of do-it-yourself websites that portend to teach people how to do everything from fix a washing machine to a do-it-yourself will. But there are limits these websites may or may not disclose in the process, especially when it comes to estate planning and the proper preparation of an executable will. Each state has its own rules when it comes to wills and probate law, and according to one estate planning attorney in Irvine, California, the DIY online legal software is simply inadequate for the needs of most consumers. Even in cases when a will is not contested, the court must follow the law. Many courts will not validate the will or provisions in the will if it is not properly executed with the required notarization and number of witnesses. Some states will recognize an oral will, whereas others will not. Some states require a will to be signed by two disinterested parties at the end of the will, other states require three signatures. And if there are mistakes made, it is possible survivors and intended beneficiaries will end up in an expensive court battle contesting the will.

Gift and estate tax changes after 2012 'fiscal cliff' bill, pt. 2

This week's post will continue on last week's topic of what the American Taxpayer Relief Tax Act of 2012 means to life-time gift and estate tax planning. In regards to the portability of exclusion amounts, there are requirements in timing and filing of paperwork in which an estate planning attorney should be consulted as early in the process as possible to avoid losing this important exclusion. The prerequisite filing of an estate tax return when the first spouse passes is important, even if there is no tax owed.

Gift and estate tax changes after 2012 'fiscal cliff' bill, pt. 1

There has been much uncertainty with what Congress would do to the estate and gift tax rates and limitations, but that has all been determined with the American Taxpayer Relief Tax Act of 2012. Now, California estate planning attorneys have a tax code they can work with for the long-term. Few changes were made but the important point is that Congress made the system that has been in place for two years permanent.

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