Monday, December 10, 2012

Still no decision for estate taxes for 2013

Congress still has not been able to come to a compromise regarding the estate tax.  The last time this happened was in December of 2010, regarding the estate tax for 2011.  They finally reached a compromise on December 17, 2010.  So, we still have time...

Here is a short article that is mostly correct in summarizing the issue:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

More on IRA beneficiaries...

Here is an article in a recent AARP bulletin.

It contains some basic helpful information regarding naming beneficiaries, as I have mentioned before.  However, it does not get into the details.  I suggest you talk with an attorney or your financial adviser more regarding these issues.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Staff Changes

In October 2012, Tricia Ponder moved from the real estate department to the estates department.  She will be learning estates and assisting Sarah and Laura.  Do not be surprised if she calls updating clients on the status of an estate or asking for information needed to serve you!

On the real estate side, the office has been very busy with closings this fall.  Hopefully it means that the economy is starting to turn around!  Pam Rogers is still our lead full time closing paralegal.  Linda Correal is still with us part time, assisting with closings, and helping with title work and post closing documentation.  Pam Starnes has recently joined us, working three days a week.  So, we are working hard to serve our clients with the increase in closings!

Of course, Tiffany is still the first person most people see or talk to when calling the office!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Retitling Real Estate and Bank Accounts into Your Trust

Many clients come to see me to update their trust, often from out of state, or with a trust drafted by another attorney.  However, I find that they often have not completed the process of "funding" their trust.

When you set up a revocable or living trust, you are setting up a trust that exists during your lifetime.  You may have done so for estate tax planning purposes, or perhaps to avoid probate.

However, if you do not actually change the title or ownership of your assets into the name of your trust, you are generally not avoiding probate.  That means that if you pass away, someone will still have to open an estate at the courthouse and administer your estate (filing court documents, accountings, publishing a creditor's notice, etc.) in every state and county where you own real estate, and handle every bank account in your personal name through your probate estate.

So, please remember to make sure your attorney prepares and records a deed transferring the property from you to yourself as trustee of your trust.  And, make sure to retitle your bank accounts to yourself as trustee of your trust.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Passing $5,120,000 Free of Estate Tax in 2012

I have received a lot of questions lately about how much a person can pass free from the estate tax when the person passes away.  This is referred to as the estate tax exclusion amount.  At the moment, it is $5,120,000.  (The amount was adjusted for 2012.)  However, the tax laws are set to default back to $1 million on January 1, 2013 (and at a greater tax rate for any amounts above that!).  Generally, a married couple can double the amount that can be passed upon their deaths, if they have done the proper estate planning.  This usually involves setting up a joint trust or separate trusts.

We will see what happens after the November election.  No matter where you stand politically, we are hoping this issue will be resolved before the end of the year.  In 2010, we were facing the same situation - defaulting back to $1 million on January 1, 2011, and Congress acted to amend the law through 2012.  But they waited until December 17, 2010!  So, I anticipate we will face a similar situation this year, with Congress acting sometime in December.  Until then, we cannot be sure what amount a person can pass estate tax free.

- Sarah P. Wenzel

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Real Estate Closing Staff

Please welcome several new staff members who have joined our real estate department in the past few months.  As our practice grows, we believe in adding experienced staff to be able to continue to provide excellent customer service to our clients.

Pam Rogers joined our office in July, bringing over 16 years of real estate paralegal experience to our team.

And, most recently, Tricia Ponder joined our office in August, to assist in the real estate department, and also with the bookkeeping.

We hope you enjoy working with our new staff members.  We feel that they bring experience and professionalism to add to our office and our ability to serve you, our clients.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.

Monday, May 7, 2012

New Staff

Please welcome Tiffany Hudson, who joined us in January as our receptionist.  She brings experience assisting clients, and is your first connection with our office.

Edited 9/1/12.