Lifetime Gifts – Estate Tax NY – Nolfo McKenna Albany NY, Saratoga NY

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I wish you all a holiday season filled with peace, joy and happiness. As we approach the end of the calendar year, most of us inevitably look back on what we have accomplished this year, and what remains undone. Here are a few items to consider;

1. Last Will and Testaments and Trusts– If you have a Last Will and Testament or a Trust, you should review the documents every few years. You may have bequeathed specific property that has since been sold or exchanged. You may wish to change your beneficiaries, or the amount or percentage given to each beneficiary. Someone in your family or a close friend named as an executor, successor executor, trustee or guardian may have passed on or relocated. There may be changes to you or your family’s health, requiring amendments or additional documents to accommodate the changes.
2. Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy– The same questions would apply regarding individuals named to act as either your agent under a Power of Attorney or your health care agent under a Health Care Proxy. It is important you name someone who is able and willing to act for you, and preferably also name a successor in each document.
3. Lifetime Gifts– Gifting has become a preferred method of estate planning under the current federal estate and gift tax laws. Since lifetime taxable gifts are added back to New York estate tax returns at a lower rate than if the property was passed through a taxable estate, gifting can be an excellent planning tool for many individuals. In 2013 and 2014, the annual gift tax exclusion is $14,000.00. What that means to you is you may give away $14,000.00 to an individual (or several individuals) without filing a gift tax return and without any gift tax.
4. Estate Tax– New York State has an estate tax that applies to taxable estates of $1,000,000.00 and above. However, there may be a recommendation this year to increase our state estate tax exemption from one to three million dollars. This would benefit many of our state’s middle class residents, as their estate would then be exempt from filing and paying a state and federal estate tax. The federal estate tax applies to estate with $5,250,000.00 to $5,340,000.00 for 2014. That is the amount an individual can give away in lifetime gifts

Estate Planning Steps from Nolfo McKenna – Albany NY, Saratoga NY

Nolfo McKenna Albany NY Malta NY

Your passing will be a difficult time for your family and friends. How can you help your loved ones implement your wishes after you pass away?  There are several ways to ease the organizational burden:  

  • Pre-Plan Your Final Arrangements -Many people have discovered a pre-planned funeral is an excellent way to ensure their wishes will be carried out.  You should visit at least two different facilities, compare costs and discuss your wishes with an experienced professional.  There are those who want a religious service, and although this cannot always be prearranged, you may be able to determine some of the content of the service, and create a list with your detailed plan for those whom you trust to carry out your wishes.
  • Create A Family Tree – This can be a wonderful legacy for future generations, as well as a helpful tool for your estate.  You can create your geneology through research or on line if you need some assistance.  After your passing, the family tree is available should a search for heirs arise.
  • Identify Your Assets – Create a listing of your assets including bank accounts, insurance policies, retirement accounts, investments and any collections you have.  Be sure and include the name of the institution and the account number of each item.  This will be extremely helpful, as often there are assets unknown to family members.
  • Safe Deposit Box -This can be a valuable tool for many items, but not for your Last Will and Testament .  Your will should be in a place the named executor or executrix can access easily.  Some clients prefer to leave their original will in the safe of the attorney’s office.
  • Organize Your Important Documents – Keep copies or originals of titles, deeds, notes, mortgages, insurance policies and other identifying information together in a safe place.
  • Discuss Your Plan with Your Loved Ones– Let your family and other chosen individuals know what you want, and how you want your property distributed.  Often, if you have certain wishes that may be contrary to one of your loved one’s wishes, discussing it beforehand will prevent a disagreement or contest in the future.

Nolfo McKenna Law Office. Nolfo McKenna serves Malta NY residents and surrounding area; Clifton Park, NY, Ballston Lake NY, Ballston Spa NY, Burnt Hills NY, Mechanicville NY, Stillwater NY and Saratoga NY.