Planning for Life

Should There Be a Tax on Just 2,000 Estates Each Year?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 28, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis

federal-estate-tax-attorney-Wellesley-MA

With the current federal estate tax threshold set at $11.58 million (over $23 million for a married couple) in 2020, fewer than 2,000 estates are expected to pay any tax this year. That's out of more than 2.8 million deaths, or approximately 0.07% of all estates. (The threshold for Massachusetts estates is $1 million.)

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Topics: Estate Planning, estate taxes, tax law

Massachusetts Taxes Real Estate in Estates of Non-Residents

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on September 24, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis

Massachusetts-estate-tax-planning-attorney-Wellesley-MA

That house on the Cape, Martha's Vineyard, or in the Berkshires, what happens when the owner dies and is not a Massachusetts resident? Is it subject to the Massachusetts estate tax?

Yes.

And it's a bit complicated.

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Topics: Massachusetts, estate taxes, real estate

Why You Don't Need to Review Your Estate Plan Every 5 Years (Unless You're 60+)

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 31, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

How often should you review your estate plan? The answer, like that to many other legal questions, is it depends. It depends on how old you are and whether there has been a significant change in your circumstances. If you are over age 60 and you haven't updated your estate plan in many decades (which is the norm among our clients), it's almost certain that you need to update your documents. After that, you should review your plan every five years or so. But if you're younger, you don't need to do so nearly as often.

estate-planning-guidelines-attorney-Wellesley-MA

Age

Here are a few age ranges and what they mean in terms of estate planning:

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Topics: Estate Planning, estate taxes

Should You Engage in Massachusetts Estate Tax Planning?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 3, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

 Massachusetts-Estate-tax-planning-attorney-Wellesley-MA

With the threshold for federal estate taxes now at $11.58 million (in 2020), you probably don't have to worry about it or do any planning to avoid it. Very few Americans have federally taxable estates. But the threshold for Massachusetts residents is $1 million. So, if you live in Massachusetts and your estate is above $1 million—which isn't hard if you own a house in many communities in this state—should you engage in estate tax planning?

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Topics: estate taxes

Another Reason to Support the Estate Tax

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 9, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

federal-estate-tax-baby-boomers-milennials-estate-planning-attorney-Wellesley-MA

In December 2017, while it was still pending, I wrote a post about the competing versions of the GOP tax law with regard to federal estate tax. The House bill would have eliminated it entirely. The Senate version, which ultimately passed, doubled the threshold for taxation to $11.2 million for individuals and $22.4 million for married couples (as of 2020, the estate tax threshold is now at $11.58 million). At the risk of getting too political, I made my pitch as to why an estate tax is important in terms of equity and democracy.

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Topics: estate taxes

The Estate Tax: Going, Going, Gone?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on December 5, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

federal-estate-tax-legislation-donor-wealth-gap-Wellesley-MA

When I originally wrote this post in 2017, the U.S. House and Senate were poised to eliminate the federal estate tax for all but the richest Americans, raising the estate tax threshold from the then current $5.5 million for individuals (and $11 million for married couples) to $11 million (and $22 million, respectively). The House bill would have ultimately eliminated the tax all together in 2024. This was the culmination of a long-term campaign against the estate tax which began more than two decades ago when the threshold for taxation was just $600,000.

Already, the result had been that only about 5,000 estates per year pay estate taxes, down from 52,000 in 2000.

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Topics: estate taxes

7 Reasons You Should Consider A QTIP Trust

Posted by Anthony Bushu on April 26, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

QTIP-trust-estate-planning-attorney-Wellesley-MASo, what's a QTIP trust? "QTIP" stands for qualified terminable interest property. Total legal gobbledygook, right? So forget the words. What it means is a trust that you leave for your spouse that gives him the right to all of the income and limits his right to the principal. Those limits can be total, meaning no right to principal, or minor, meaning simply limited by the HEMS standard (for health, education, maintenance and financial security) or fully available but controlled by a trustee other than your spouse.  

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Topics: trusts, asset protection, Estate Planning, estate taxes

2 Reasons Surviving Spouses Should File Federal Estate Tax Returns: Portability and Capital Gains

Posted by Anthony Bushu on March 29, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

real-estate-capital-gains-federal-estate-tax-planning-attorney-Wellesley-MA

With the threshold for federal estate taxes set at $11.58 million as of 2020 (it adjusts each year for inflation), very few estates have to file a federal estate tax return. In contrast, the Massachusetts threshold is $1 million, meaning that many more estates must file a Massachusetts return. For estates that fall between $1 million and $11.58 million, it can still make sense to file a federal return if the decedent left a surviving spouse.

This is for two reasons: portability and capital gains step up.

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Topics: capital gains taxes, Probate Estate Administration, estate taxes

Beware the Mass Estate Tax at the Threshold

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 25, 2017

By Harry S. Margolis

estate-tax-planning-attorney-Wellesley-MA

While the threshold for the federal estate tax is $11.58 million in 2020, the Massachusetts threshold is $1 million. Fortunately, the Massachusetts rates are much lower than the federal rate, graduated from 0.8% to 16% on estates exceeding $10 million, a flat 40%. (For estates in the $1 million to $2 million range, the marginal rate is 6.4% or 7.2%.) Unfortunately, in Massachusetts if the estate exceeds that threshold, the entire estate gets taxed. The result is a much higher marginal rate.

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Topics: Estate Planning, estate taxes

Is Anyone Entitled to an Inheritance?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 30, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

entitled-inheritance-estate-planning-attorney-Wellesley-MA-1

David Karofsky of the Transition Consulting Group, who advises family businesses on succession planning, has written about cases of entitlement he has run across in his business and elsewhere. They include:

The woman who was overheard talking on her cellphone about her father who had more than enough money with his three houses. She and her siblings, she said, had to take control of his finances so that he did not "waste" them before they got passed down to her generation.

The son who was paid a salary of $750,000 a year working in the family business who thought this reflected his value to the company when, in fact, it was a means of passing some of the business's value down to him.

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Topics: Estate Planning, estate taxes

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