Estate Administration During Coronavirus & Social Distancing

Loss of a loved one is always difficult, but losing a family member at this time of pandemic is made harder by the social distancing and other restrictions being put in place. Funeral homes are limiting who can attend a funeral.

At this time, when it may not be possible to meet with an attorney face to face, my estate law practice is ready to serve families through use of technology. We can assist with estate administration without an in person meeting. We have a long-established practice of utilizing technology to provide efficient and reliable service for our clients. We are experienced using videoconference or teleconference to meet with clients. Our technology is easy and accessible to use, and will allow us to meet with you from the comfort and safety of your home.

We regularly represent out-of-state or remote clients, many of whom are unable to meet face-to-face. We are ready to apply this experience to serving more families during this time of social distancing, when we may not be able have an in-person meeting.

Our Indiana estate practice has utilized technology for many years, and we are an entirely electronic law practice. Indiana Courts now all use electronic filing of estate administrations. We can meet with you and open estate administrations all without meeting in-person. We are ready to help you through this difficult time of loss, and we understand that it is made all the more difficult and challenging by the current global public health crisis. We will do everything we can to ease the complications created by current restrictions and social distancing, and help you through the administration of your loved one’s estate.

Estate Planning During Coronavirus & Social Distancing

During this frightening time, we are all reminded of life’s unpredictability and the need for estate planning.  I utilize technology to virtually meet with clients, via videoconference or teleconference.  You can work with us to get your estate plan in place now, from the comfort and safety of your home, without in person meetings.

Key documents all Indiana adults should have in place, at any time, but especially during a time of health risk:

  1. Last Will and Testament. In its most basic form, your Will provides for you to direct the distribution of your assets titled to your name individually upon your death and appoint a person (or persons) to administer your estate upon your death. If you die without a Will, assets titled in your individual name may be subject to intestate administration.
  1. Appointment of Health Care Representative. Also called Health Care Proxy and Health Care Power of Attorney, this document provides for the appointment of a person (or persons) to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.
  1. General Durable Power of Attorney. In your General Durable Power of Attorney, you name a person (or persons) to make financial decisions for you in the event of your incapacity.
  1. Living Will. Your Living Will allows you to state your preferences regarding end of life decisions in the event of an incurable illness or persistent vegetative state.

New Years Resolutions?

Is an estate planning tune up on your list of New Years Resolutions?

If yes, you’re in good company!

Check out this fun “punch list” from Above the Law: Estate Planning Resolutions For 2019: How To Be A Grown-Up In The New Year.

This is a great list and includes items I’ve written about here and here.  A short summary of their list:

  1. Write a Last Will and Testament.
  2. Make a Power of Attorney.
  3. Execute a Health Care Proxy.
  4. Purchase a life insurance policy.
  5. Check beneficiary designation forms.
  6. Consider long-term care and disability insurance.
  7. Consult with a financial advisor.
  8. Talk to your parents and grandparents about their estate plans.
  9. Consider burial options.
  10. Inventory your assets.

Happy New Year – 2019 Estate & Gift Tax

Happy New Year!

Now, time to talk taxes!  The 2019 tax changes are:

  • The Estate and Gift tax exemption rate is increased (adjusted for inflation) to $11.4 Million per individual in 2019.  This is an increase from $11.18 Million per individual in 2018.
  • Planning together, in 2019, married couples can transfer a total of $22.8 Million in inheritance or gifts without paying gift or estate tax (subject to prior use of the credit).
  • The annual gift exclusion amount is unchanged from 2018.  It remains at $15,000.

Remember, the tax law that ushered in these increased Federal Estate Tax exemption amounts expires at the end of 2025.  Talk with your accountant or attorney to see if you could benefit from taking steps before 2026 to utilize the tax exemption.

Estate Planning Under New Tax Law

With the new tax law, and the Federal Estate Tax exemption at more than $11 Million per person, the question arises: Is Estate Planning Now Dead?

The answer is without question: No, estate planning is certainly not dead!  Planning is as important as ever.  The change in tax law merely provides an opportunity to focus on other priorities, including providing for care and protection of minor children, determining the right decision makers, and achieving charitable and family goals.  The list of planning considerations is as diverse and as unique as each individual, and the for those who no longer planning around the Federal Estate Tax, this is a great opportunity to make sure other planning objectives are achieved.

Inheritance Tax in Indiana

Good news for Hoosiers doing their estate tax planning: Indiana does not have an inheritance tax.  Indiana previously had an inheritance tax, but it was repealed in 2013.  Thus, there is no Indiana Inheritance tax for those who die after December 31, 2012.

Indiana is in good company.  The majority of U.S. states do not have Inheritance Tax.  However, Federal Estate Tax and other taxes remain and are important considerations in planning your Indiana estate.

Happy New Year!

With 2016 only a few hours away, here’s a look at changes to the Federal estate and gift tax exemptions for 2016.

  • The Federal Estate Tax Exemption amount will be $5.45 million per individual, an inflation-adjusted increase from $5.43 million in 2015.
  • The annual gift tax exclusion amount remains at $14,000, the same as in 2015.

The increase in the Federal Estate Tax Exemption means an individual can leave $5.45 million to her beneficiaries without Federal Estate Tax, or gift tax during her lifetime. In 2016, a married couple will be able to collectively transfer $10.9 million without Federal Estate Tax, or gift taxes during their lifetimes.

Happy New Year!

A Celebrity’s Daughter’s Death and Estate Planning for Young Adults

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of having your now adult child get his or her estate planning documents prepared.  The idea may seem unnecessary at first blush — your now 18 year old (or twenty-something) “adult” child has just reached the legal age of adulthood and likely has yet to accumulate significant assets.  He or she may in many ways seem still like a child to you, and not yet ready for important adult documents.  However, under the law, they are adults, and you are no longer their default decisionmaker nor are you automatically granted access to your adult child’s medical records.  This is an important time for your child to designate whom he or she wishes to make these types of decisions.

A celebrity death serves as reminder to us of all the necessity of getting these documents in place.  Bobbi Kristina Brown, the twenty-two year old daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, died recently after several months in a comatose state.  You can read more about the tragic story here and here.  Unfortunately, her lack of incapacity planning documentation and resulting legal protections (not unusual, given her age) resulted in a family legal fight during her incapacity.  A reminder to talk with your young adult children about the necessity of getting, at a minimum, their incapacity documents in place under the counsel of an estate planning attorney.