A recent news article discussed the issues that California same-sex couples may face when it comes to making sure that they and their loved ones are fully protected financially. Same-sex couples can face more difficulties than heterosexual married couples when it comes to filing taxes, collecting insurance, contributing to retirement plans, collecting social security benefits and even going through probate, so LGBT couples need to take additional care when it comes to estate planning.
Our readers in the Sacramento area have surely heard about the impending federal estate tax break which is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2013. Anyone concerned about estate planning and avoiding unnecessary taxation should consider acting immediately to take advantage of the expiring estate tax exemption, as it could mean saving a significant amount of money down the line.
Sacramento residents may want to prepare themselves for a tax hike next year. According to Republicans, in 2013 we will see the largest tax increase in U.S. history. From a pure dollars and cents perspective this is true, but when measured as a percentage of gross domestic product and compared to other years, it quickly loses this label. The increases would represent roughly 2.6 percent of GDP.
Without federal legislative intervention before the New Year, the current generous gift tax exemption of $5.12 million could revert to $1 million. People in Sacramento seeking to pass along their financial assets might want to calculate the effect a vastly reduced exemption threshold could have on their estate plan. Many estate planning advisors are encouraging wealthy clients to take advantage of the current higher limits now in order to avoid unnecessary taxation.
Californians recently witnessed one of the largest initial public offerings of stock in Silicon Valley history when California-based Facebook, Inc. went public. For some, like Facebook's co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and other insiders, the IPO will only add to their already considerable financial assets. These 20 and 30-year-old millionaires prove that estate planning is not only the concern of the elderly; indeed, minimizing estate taxes and maximizing asset protection are very much on their relatively young minds.
A well-worn maxim tells us that death and taxes are the only two things of which we can be certain. Under particular circumstances, we can also be certain that the occurrence of the former will trigger the latter. Everyone should be aware of the estate tax, but especially those whose estates stand to be diminished because they exceed a specified dollar threshold. Proper estate planning can help avoid unnecessary taxation.
One of the concerns that California residents have when they do estate planning is the effects of federal taxes on their estate. At the moment, estate taxes have an exemption amount of $5 million with a top marginal rate of 35 percent, but that exemption is set to expire in 2013. If no action is taken by Congress, then the exemption will fall to $1 million and the top marginal rate will rise to 55 percent. So readers of this blog may be particularly interested in a piece of legislation by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington.The bill, called the Sensible Estate Tax Act of 2011, was recently introduced a week before Thanksgiving. If passed, the bill would allow the top marginal tax rate to rise to 55 percent, as it would under current law. However, the bill also proposes that the current exemption amount be allowed to expire, and that the $1 million exemption be indexed for inflation starting in 2000. That would mean the exemption amount would fall from the current $5 million for individuals and $10 million for couples to $1.31 million for individuals and $2.61 million for couples.
According to public records, while on medical leave from Apple in 2009, co-founder Steve Jobs and his spouse are said to have placed at least three properties into trusts. One reason for doing this may have been their desire to keep their assets from being disclosed in the event of his death. Jobs died on October 5 from pancreatic cancer in California at the age of 56.