2018 Estate Tax Exemption Projections

Experts predict that the estate tax exemption for 2018 will increase slightly to $5.49 million for a single person and $10.98 million for couples.

The IRS has not yet announced what the 2018 estate tax exemption will be. However, expert analysts think there will be some slightly good news for wealthy people.

They predict that the exemption should increase to $5.6 million for a single person and more than $11 million for married couples.

At the same time, they predict that the annual gift tax exemption should also increase to about $15,000, as Forbes reported in “Estate Tax Exemption To Top $11 Million Per Couple in 2018.”

This should give wealthy people and their estate planning attorneys a little bit more flexibility, as they attempt to shrink estates to below the threshold.

While most people who might be affected by this exemption increase would prefer to see the estate tax repealed entirely, that is increasingly looking like it will not happen this year.

Congress has turned its attention to tax reform, but getting anything passed could be a long process and will likely continue into next year.

Repealing the estate tax is also controversial. If Democratic votes are needed to pass tax reform legislation, that might take the estate tax off the table.

If you have questions about your estate and how it might have an impact on the estate tax, then you should see an experienced estate planning attorney in your area.

Reference: Forbes (Sep. 15, 2017) “Estate Tax Exemption To Top $11 Million Per Couple in 2018.”

Will Trump Kill the Estate Tax?

One of the biggest questions concerning estate planning right now, is whether Donald Trump will carry out his campaign promise to eliminate the estate tax and whether or not he should.

The estate tax is a one of those hot button issues over which political parties are sharply divided. While campaigning for the presidency, Donald Trump repeatedly said he would eliminate the tax. His is a position that most Republicans in Congress share. Now that Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have the power to do away with the estate tax, the question becomes whether they will actually do so.

Financial Advisor addressed that question in “Death to the Death Tax?”

“I think there’s a chance he [Trump] will repeal the whole thing,” said tax attorney Martin Shenkman, whose namesake firm in Jersey City, N.J., and New York City focuses on estate and tax planning for high-net-worth individuals, closely held businesses and real estate professionals.

Shenkman also said there’s speculation about abolishing the gift and generation-skipping taxes. He pointed out that, while these taxes do not raise a lot of revenue, they were at one time intended to minimize the wealth-concentration in our country. Whether or not they still serve this social purpose, or should, is up for debate.

With all of this uncertainty, no one can predict the final outcome, but, as Shenkman said, “There’s no reason to stop planning because of this uncertainty, if the end result of the planning is to get assets in a better place than they are now regardless of the tax.”

Reference: Financial Advisor (January 3, 2017) “Death to the Death Tax?”

Depression Era Trusts May Expire Soon

Many family dynasty trusts created during the Great Depression to avoid rising taxation, will automatically terminate soon. Trustees and beneficiaries need to be prepared.

One of the lasting legacies of the Great Depression will soon come to an end. In response to that crisis, the government greatly increased the gift and estate tax rates. Wealthy families responded, in turn, by creating dynastic trusts to hold their wealth and preserve it for future generations.

Most of the trusts created at that time have mandatory termination dates at which time the trust assets must be distributed to the residual beneficiaries.
Successfully carrying out that process will require some planning as the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog explained in “Preparing for Trust Termination.”

The first challenge for many trusts and trustees will be determining the residual beneficiaries. In many cases, they could be distant relations of the original trust settlors and not the same people who currently receive regular distributions from the trusts.

Once the beneficiaries are determined, they will need to plan for how receiving the trust assets, will impact their lives and financial futures. Depending on the amount of money received, the beneficiaries’ tax and estate plans could change dramatically.

Those who do not plan appropriately, could face negative consequences that could have been avoided.

If you are a residual beneficiary of a depression era trust, you should seek independent legal advice. It might not be a good idea to rely on the advice offered by the trustees and their legal advisors.

You need an attorney who will be acting only in your interests.

Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Dec. 5, 2016) “Preparing for Trust Termination.”