Baron Law LLC

Estate Planning – Trends Following the American Taxpayer Relief Act.

Estate Planning – Trends Following the American Taxpayer Relief Act.

A recent survey concluded that sixty percent of Americans are afraid they will outlive their retirement.   Thus, there has been a moving trend that people are more concerned about wealth preservation compared to wealth transfer.  For example, a fifty year-old man in the top income quintile in 1980 could expect to live 31.7 more years.  A fifty year old man in the top income quintile in 2010 could expect to live 38.8 more years.  At $75,000 per-year of spending, increased longevity creates an additional $532,500 in cost. Thus, estate planning methods have changed and the American Taxpayer Relief Act has adopted new laws conforming to the wealth preservation vision.

Up until recently, many estate planning attorneys would urge clients to include a trust in their estate planning package.  A trust is a good means to avoid creditors and shield assets from other liabilities.  However, because of the recent changes in the American Taxpayer Relief Act (“ATRA”), trusts are most often not necessary – even for the wealthy.   Pre-ATRA, an estate planning attorney would set up a trust with an amount equal to the deceased’s remaining exemption.  This is often called a “bypass trust,” or B or credit shelter trust.  Assets would often not be included in the spouse’s estate.  The balance would go to the spouse outright or to marital deduction (A) trust, eliminating tax after the first spouse dies.  In the end, these assets (plus any appreciation) will be included in the spouse’s estate.

Post-ATRA no changes the landscape for estate planning by offering several wealth preservation concepts.  First, the concept of “portability” means that the surviving spouse can add to his or her own exemption whatever amount of exemption the deceased had not used during their lifetime.  Thus, a bypass trust is not needed to avoid wasting the exemption.  However, the Deceased Spousal Unused Exemption Amount (DSUUEA) is not indexed for inflation.  In addition, ATRA now permanently sets the estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemptions at $5 million and indexes that amount for inflation.  Therefore, in 2016 a married couple could avoid the gift tax for any amount less than $10,900,000.00 ($5.4 million x 2 for married couples).

People are living longer and the ATRA has adjusted for that.  For more information, contact Cleveland, Ohio estate planning attorney Dan Baron.  Call Baron Law LLC today.  You will speak directly with an attorney who will help you with your estate planning and tax planning needs.  Baron Law LLC is a Cleveland, Ohio law firm located in Independence, Ohio.