Friday, March 26, 2010

Estate Planning News for March 26, 2010: READ NOW!

Estate Planning News for March 26, 2010

Due to congressional inaction, the world of estate planning, as well as your estate remains in total upheaval for 2010. Here is a list of issues to focus on:

1. Our Client Alert concerning the 2010 estate tax changes remains in effect. If you haven't reviewed your existing plan to understand how it is affected by the 2010 estate tax rules, it is time to do so now.

2. The 2011 estate tax changes (in current law) are even worse. Even if your estate plan works for 2010, is it flexible enough to deal with the coming estate tax disaster that is 2011? If you don't know, it's time to find out.

3. Many people have still not revised their Powers of Attorney to incorporate HIPAA provisions. This is vital for you and your family. If you haven't revised your Powers of Attorney, it's time to take care of this issue.

4. Congress has passed the health care bill and the president has signed this sweeping and in many cases life changing legislation. Stay tuned for more reports on how this affects your estate planning. One area you will notice right away is the federal government's take over of your diet. More on this alarming change soon.

Call or email me at any time with questions or to discuss these issues. Thank you.

Bernie Greenberg

Thursday, March 18, 2010




On January 1, 2010, we entered uncharted territory with the federal estate tax system. You may have already read about these changes, however, this alert letter is to advise you of the current status of the 2010 estate tax rules and advise you how to proceed. Ignoring these changes or pretending that they do not apply to you will be hazardous to your estate and beneficiaries. If your estate plan divides into a marital and family trust at the first death, it needs to be reviewed immediately. This is due to the 2010 changes in federal estate tax laws that are detailed below.

Back in 2009 we had a $3.5 million estate tax exemption with full step-up in basis. Those rules are now gone. For 2010 there is no exemption because there is no federal death tax. Also gone are the unlimited marital deduction on which your plan is based and the step-up in basis. For 2010 we now have carry-over basis. This means a new tax if a beneficiary inherits property which grew in value in the hands of the decedent. These new basis rules are beyond the scope of this letter. Suffice it to say that everything you once heard or knew about federal estate taxes no longer applies.

It is uncertain how your current documents will work under these new rules. This is because several provisions of your documents are phrased in terms of the estate tax exemption and marital deduction which have been repealed for 2010. Because these tax concepts are not in the law for 2010, there may be questions about what your documents mean and how they will work. This could cause serious tax questions to arise that could require involvement of the courts to resolve. This is not the reason you created your estate plan and why we are urging you to review your plan with us immediately.

Please call us as soon as possible to arrange a meeting to review your estate plan and to determine whether any revisions are necessary to protect your property and family. We look forward to seeing you and reviewing these changes with you in greater detail.

Bernie Greenberg
Bernard H. Greenberg

Federal tax regulations require us to notify you that any tax advice in this communication was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding any tax or penalties

Friday, March 12, 2010

Living Wills; Last Wills; DNR's: What's the Difference and How do They Work?

I have been asked many times recently to describe the differences between Wills; Living Wills and DNR's. That's a great question and the subject of this article.

Let's start by defining our terms and explaining what each of those actually is.

Last Wills: This is a dispositive document I wrote about in the 8 Steps to Getting Yourself in Order. A Last Will, or Will for our purposes, is a legal document which handles the disposition and distribution of your property AFTER your death. The Will can also create trusts for your spouse, children; appoint guardians for children and many other things. The key is that a Will has no force or validity during your life.

Living Wills: A Living Will addresses your wishes about life support measures and artificial feeding tubes at the end of life if you are in a coma. It is completely different from a Last Will because a Living Will is in force during your life and has no validity after death. It is an important document to express your wishes about how you want to be treated if you are in this condition. If you sign a Living Will, it becomes mandatory. Compare granting authority to a trusted person to make decisions for you with a Health Care Durable Power of Attorney.

DNR or Do Not Resuscitate Statement: A DNR expresses your instructions about not being resuscitated under certain circumstances. It is generally useful for elderly clients, since most of us wish to live if possible, even if measures are necessary to restart our hearts if we stop breathing. People in accidents; swimming incidents and even chest injury situations typically wish to be resuscitated unless they are elderly. Even some older clients wish this to be true. Before signing a DNR, carefully think through your desires and goals.

All three of these planning tools are important, but involve completely different situations and consequences. Always discuss each of these with your estate planning attorney before signing such documents.

I hope this is helpful and if you have further questions, feel free to give me a call at: 303-730-7100. Thank you for your interest and support.