Estate Planning After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Estate Planning After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The new tax laws increased the estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) exemptions to $11.2 million in 2018.  The annual gift exclusion has been increased to $15,000 in 2018.

It is still very important to plan even with the new tax laws.  The tax laws related to estate planning automatically expire after 2025.  Also, many states have estate taxes as well.  While California currently does not have an estate or inheritance tax, that could change in the future.  Even if there is no estate tax, your estate could be subject to probate which is a long and expensive process.  Finally, with the rise of financial elder abuse, it is important to have an estate plan in place while you are still able to have one prepared and eventually implemented.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not make changes to some of the following:

  • Step-up in basis of appreciated assets at death
  • Grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs)
  • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs)
  • Charitable Trusts
  • Crummey Trusts
  • Lack of Control or Marketability Discounts

The preceding list is not exclusive.

If you have questions about any of this, it is important to speak with an estate planning lawyer who understands the tax laws.

Christina Weed has an LL.M. in Taxation, and assists clients with their estate planning and tax questions.

Mendes Weed, LLP is here to help you if you have any questions.  (925) 390-3222.

The tips and materials provided on this page are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information on this website should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.

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Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667

[Video] Revoking a California Will or Trust

In California, a will can be revoked by a new will that specifically revokes the old one, or by destroying the will by physical act.  A physical act can include burning, tearing, canceling, obliterating or destroying the will.  This must, however, be done by the person who created the will.

A revocable living trust revocation is different.  It is governed by the terms of the trust.  For example, the trust may allow for revocation through a signed writing by the Trustor or Settlor that is delivered to the Trustee.  A trustor could also take the assets out of a trust, and the trust would cease to have control over the assets.

Revoking a will or revocable living trust is fairly straightforward, but it is important to make sure it is done in the right way.  An attorney who is knowledgeable of wills and trusts can assist you if you are considering revoking your will or trust.

Contact Mendes Weed, LLP for Advice 

If you want more information about revoking a will or trust, Mendes Weed, LLP may be able to help.  With offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Walnut Creek, we’ve been helping clients in the Bay Area and beyond feel confident that their future wishes are taken care of per their instructions. Contact us for more information.

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
lawyers of distinction badge 2020

Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667

Estate Planning Tips: Sweetheart Trusts & Your Spouse’s Future

Estate Planning Tips: Sweetheart Trusts & Your Spouse’s Future

While exploring your options for estate planning, you may have heard the term Sweetheart Trust. The name has a nice ring to it, and these kinds of trusts are great for couples thinking about their own future in addition to their loved ones’ futures. Let’s take a quick look at how sweetheart trusts can work best for you, your spouse, and your loved ones.

What is Involved in a Sweetheart Trust?

The term can refer to a variety of trust structures, but Sweetheart Trusts are focused on giving the surviving spouse control over your assets upon your passing. The assets remain in the trust for the surviving spouse’s lifetime. If the surviving spouse is given Full Control, he or she can modify the trust easily without legal difficulty which sometimes includes adding or removing beneficiaries. Sweetheart Trust further stipulates that while both spouses are living, either person can revoke their shares of the trusts.

Want to learn more about estate planning? Download my free estate planning guide!

The Benefits of a Sweetheart Trust

  • A sweetheart trust makes sense if you and your spouse are aligned on your trust administration goals and you want to have a simple agreement for the administration of your assets.
  • Keeps control over how assets are distributed.
  • Allows the surviving spouse to make changes to the trust.
  • Tax benefits: One major benefit was enhanced in 2012 when the unified tax credit amount, which is the tax-free amount one can pass on, was increased to $5 million under the American Taxpayer Relief Act. For the 2016 tax year, the amount went up to $5.45 million, and for the 2017 tax year, it will be $5.49 million. The increased amount means increased peace of mind for you and your spouse.

Smart Estate Planning Means Finding the Right Attorney

Sweetheart trusts are not right for every estate planning situation. No matter what your estate planning goals are, it’s essential to find a trusted, experienced estate planning attorney. If you are looking to set up an estate plan or modify an existing plan, get in touch with Christina Weed at Mendes Weed, LLP today.

Christina Weed has worked with clients in San Francisco, the East Bay, and throughout the United States. As a licensed attorney with an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of San Diego, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy, Christina offers a unique combined focus on Trusts & EstatesTax LawTax Litigation, and Business Law. Christina is Chair of the Tax Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association and is also a member of the Estate Planning Council Diablo Valley and the Tri-Valley Estate Planning Council.

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
lawyers of distinction badge 2020

Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667

[Video] Preparing and Executing or Amending Estate Plans

As a tax and trust lawyer with experience in litigation, I can help my clients navigate different estate planning situations.

As an Estate Planning Lawyer in Walnut Creek, I can:

  • Prepare, execute and amend estate plans
  • Help families navigate through difficult or uncomfortable times
  • Facilitate communication between family members
  • Advocate for my clients to make sure they receive updates and information
  • Help resolve wrongful actions by a trustee
  • Clear up issues after a loved one’s passing
  • Perform legal actions such as a petition to the courts
  • Advise against elder abuse

Looking for an estate-planning attorney in Walnut Creek? 

Get in touch with Mendes Weed, LLP, your trusted, experienced estate-planning law firm today!

Christina Weed has worked with clients in San Francisco, the East Bay, and throughout the United States. As a licensed attorney with an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of San Diego, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy, Christina offers a unique combined focus on Trusts & EstatesTax LawTax Litigation, and Business Law. Christina is Chair of the Tax Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association and is also a member of the Estate Planning Council Diablo Valley and the Tri-Valley Estate Planning Council.

Disclaimer: The tips and materials provided on this page are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information on this website should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.

 

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
lawyers of distinction badge 2020

Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667

Why Should I Update My Trust? Tips from the Estate-Planning Attorney

Why Should I Update My Trust? Tips from the Estate-Planning Attorney

As a trusted Estate-Planning Attorney in Walnut Creek, I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about trusts. You worked very hard for your assets, and it’s crucial that you take the time to designate how you want your assets designated to your beneficiaries. Preparing in advance will eliminate the hassles, expenses, and red tape that can go along with not having a trust.

Redefining What a Trust Is

  • A trust is a legal document that ensures how assets and finances are held for an individual or individuals. Trusts can be arranged in many ways with specific directions as to how and when assets will be passed to your beneficiaries.
  • In estate planning, trusts are often used to ensure that your loved ones are provided for exactly the way you wish. Trusts can hold assets in a specific legal standing to avoid estate taxes or other penalties.
  • When a trust agreement is set up, the arrangement takes into account the present needs, laws, and situation.
  • A trust is a document that needs to be updated as time passes. For several reasons, it can be crucial that you update your trust so that it is not stale, leaving you and your loved ones vulnerable to complications.

Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons to update your trusts…

Your Children Have Grown Up & They’re Now Adults

If you planned to use a trust to provide for your children when they were minors, and they are now grown, you likely want to shift your trust terms. As needs arise, trust money can be re-allocated to attend to different circumstances. What once was money set aside for college can now be set aside for a house, investment, retirement, or the needs of your grandchildren.

Laws Have Changed Regarding Taxes or Trusts & Administration

Trusts are subject to federal and state laws that govern how assets can be taxed and administered. As laws change, you want to hire a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who will help you keep your trusts current. Look for someone who keeps up-to-date on the new laws and rules.

Changes in Your Assets & Finances

Whether your assets and finances increase or decrease, any changes are a major reason to update your trusts. A career change, inheritance, investment, or purchase or sale of property can all alter your assets and finances. These changes might affect your tax status and the extent to which your assets will or will not be subject to estate tax. It’s crucial that you find a trusted tax and estate planning attorney who will advise you and advocate for your needs and those of your beneficiaries.

Marriage & Divorce

Changes in your marital status are a major reason to update your trust. Remarrying and replacing a former spouse may alter the executor of your trust. Providing for children from past marriages and making arrangements for children in the current marriage are also strong reasons to update your trust.

Life’s Changes Require a Trusted and Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

If your life plans are altered by situations in and out of your control, you need to turn to an experienced estate planning attorney. Get in touch with Mendes Weed, LLP today!

Mendes Weed offers a unique combined focus on Trusts & EstatesTax LawTax Litigation, and Business Law. Principal Attorney Christina Weed is Chair of the Tax Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association and is also a member of the Estate Planning Council Diablo Valley and the Tri-Valley Estate Planning Council.

Mendes Weed, LLP has offices in Walnut Creek, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose.

 

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
lawyers of distinction badge 2020

Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667