ETA 2026 – Switching from Inclusion to Exclusion Planning for the Estate Tax

Currently (and since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017), we, like many other practitioners, have seen an incredible uptick in inclusion planning[1] instead of the traditional exclusion planning (getting assets out of one’s taxable estate). A primary driving force for this major shift was the essential doubling of the estate tax exemption (from…
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The Revocable Trust – An Estate Planning Option Everyone Should Consider

Have you ever heard someone referred to as a “trust fund baby?” Such term usually carries a negative connotation and references a younger person whose parents established a trust fund which provides for the child’s financial security for life. Such term also perpetuates an unfortunate misconception: that trusts are only available to, and utilized by,…
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Is a Revocable Trust a Trust (and Related Topics)?

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has recently issued an opinion that discusses a number of topics especially important to asset protection and trust attorneys.[1] Some of the issues discussed involve trust law, tax law, asset protection law, and contract law. As recognized in the dissent, the court’s conclusions on a number of these issues…
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Spousal Lifetime Access Trusts Basics

Spousal Lifetime Access Trusts (“SLATs”) are one of the many estate planning tools available to taxpayers, and have seen a surge in popularity recently, such that they are one of the most used options for utilizing taxpayers’ federal lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion (“Exclusion”) during life. Each taxpayer’s Exclusion amount, or the amount which…
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What is your Business Worth? Buy-Sells and the Connelly Case

Is your business worth more to the IRS than it is to you? Will you owe estate tax on more value than you receive? A recent tax case illustrates how this is possible.[1] It is very common, even advisable, that closely-held business owners enter into buy-sell agreements limiting transferability of interests and setting forth procedures…
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Court Says No to IRS Attempt to Aggregate Gifts for Discount Purposes

In a recent case out of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, the Court denied the IRS’ motion for summary judgment and refused to aggregate the gift of partial interests in real estate together for purposes of valuing the gifts and thus determining appropriate discounts.[1] The IRS alleged that no discount…
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Michael Jackson’s Estate, Valuation Battle of the Century

In May of this year the U.S. Tax Court issued a memorandum of opinion on the value of several assets included in the Estate of Michael Jackson (“Estate”) for federal estate tax purposes.[1] This opinion comes more than a decade after Jackson’s death in June of 2009 and provides some resolution (albeit subject to appeal)…
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Update on President Joe Biden’s Proposed Tax Policies

Introduction Last year I discussed President Joe Biden’s Proposed Tax Policy For Individuals, Charles J. Allen discussed the tax plans of the democratic presidential candidates, and Josh Sage discussed some of Biden’s potential changes. We are now a few months into President Biden’s tenure and the first ripples of tax reform can be felt by…
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