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Estate Tax

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Did you update your Power of Attorney?

By Mark A. Schaum

The Florida legislature recently enacted legislation which beefed up the previously modest (7 page) statute concerning powers of attorney under Chapter 709 into a comprehensive set of provisions that is now known as “The Florida Power of Attorney Act” (hereinafter “The Act”) which became effective on October 1, 2011 (now 27 pages in length). Due to an array of issues that arose over the years in recognizing these documents, the Act is intended to insure that, when certain requirements are met, these documents will be recognized. As a consequence of the Act, additional duties  and responsibilities are imposed upon both the Agents (the people named to act under the Powers of Attorney) and Third Parties (such as financial institutions). Certain people granting these powers (“the Principals”) may have to have their Power of Attorney (“POA”) documents reviewed and updated at their expense. This article summarizes what the author believes are the most pertinent provisions relating to Durable Power of Attorney documents.


Read more . . .


Thursday, February 14, 2013

2013 Changes to Federal Estate Tax Laws

Changes to income taxes grabbed the lion’s share of the attention as the President and Congress squabbled over how to halt the country’s journey towards the “fiscal cliff.”  However, negotiations over exemptions and tax rates for estate taxes, gift taxes and generation-skipping taxes also occurred on Capitol Hill, albeit with less fanfare.

The primary fear was that Congress would fail to act and the estate tax exemption would revert back down to $1 million.  This did not happen.  The ultimate legislation that was enacted, American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, maintains the $5 million exemption for estate taxes, gift taxes and generation-skipping taxes.  The actual amount of the exemption in 2013 is $5.25 million, due to adjustments for inflation.

The other fear was that the top estate tax rate would revert to 55 percent from the 2012 rate of 35 percent.  The top tax rate did rise, but only 5 percent from 35 percent to 40 percent.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 also makes permanent the portability provision of estate tax law.  Portability means that the unused portion of the first-to-die spouse’s estate tax exemption passes to the surviving spouse to be used in addition to the surviving spouse’s individual $5.25 million exemption.

Some Definitions and Additional Explanations
The federal estate tax is imposed when assets are transferred from a deceased individual to surviving heirs.  The federal estate tax does not apply to estates valued at less than $5.25 million.  It also does not apply to after-death transfers to a surviving spouse, as well as in a few other situations.  Many states also impose a separate estate tax.

The federal gift tax applies to any transfers of property from one individual to another for no return or for a return less than the full value of the property. The federal gift tax applies whether or not the giver intends the transfer to be a gift.  In 2013, the lifetime exemption amount is $5.25 million at a rate of 40 percent.  Gifts for tuition and for qualified medical expenses are exempt from the federal gift tax as are gifts under $14,000 per recipient per year.

The federal generation-skipping tax (GST) was created to ensure that multi-generational gifts and bequests do not escape federal taxation.  There are both direct and indirect generation-skipping transfers to which the GST may apply.  An example of a direct transfer is a grandmother bequeathing money to her granddaughter.  An example of an indirect transfer is a mother bequeathing a life estate for a house to her daughter, requiring that upon her death the house is to be transferred to the granddaughter.
 




Law Office of Mark A. Schaum, P.A. is located in Boca Raton, FL and serves clients throughout Palm Beach County and Broward County, including: Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Coconut Creek, Pompano Beach, Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Ft Lauderdale, Miami, Jupiter, Hollywood, Coral Gables and the state of Florida.



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| Phone: 561.750.7575

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