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With behind us, and many changes to our new tax codes, there are several major, compelling updates to share from the estate planning world. As we leap into a new year, here are five hot estate planning topics to know for The annual federal exemption amounts are set to increase annually indexed with inflation through December 31, On January 1,without further changes to the tax laws, the exemptions will return back to the previous federal tax law.
Increase to the annual gift tax exclusion. Remember, gifts in excess of the annual exclusion are reportable to the IRS on a gift tax return.
In addition, the IRS will also consider certain transactions as gifts, such as loans between family-members with below-market interest rates or the sale of a home for a bargain price. Commercial cannabis sales, both recreational and for medical purposes, have been legalized in many states, most recently in California, Washington, Oregon and Colorado.
Despite marijuana continuing to be a banned substance at the federal level, commercial cannabis businesses in states that allow it are flourishing. Like with any new industry, there is often a gold-rush mentality to get ahead of the competition by investing and growing the business plan quickly. In that rush to succeed, small family-owned business owners, regardless of the industry, often focus on growth and development of the business and put off succession and estate planning.
However, without proper planning prior to the death or incapacity of a founding owner, family members might find themselves excluded from participating in the day-to-day operations of the business.
In addition, a lack of a written agreement can often result in disagreements over valuing the business for a buy-out. Specialized state industry cannabis licenses could be in jeopardy with the death of the owner of the license without prior planning.
All of these problems can create significant family stress, expense and can often put serious restraints on relationships. A written succession agreement should be a foundational element for any family business in planning for retirement as well as setting out the rules in handling the unexpected incapacity or death of a business partner.
Maintaining life insurance, disability, and umbrella policies against the disability or death of key players in the business will help to insulate the business as well as the families supported by the business. Finally, individual business owners should consider updating their own estate plans to nominate who they want to act for them in the event of incapacity or death as well as to develop a distribution plan in their Will or Trust.
Be aware that the tax and benefits qualification rules for establishing and maintaining ABLE accounts are complex. With an improving economy and increasing comfort with online marketplaces, digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin, are becoming arguably more mainstream, with Bitcoin Kiosks in local malls and increased media attention.
Digital currencies are notorious for their strong privacy and security measures, which often allow anonymous coin storage and purchasing power.
However, that same high level of privacy and security can also make the digital currency impossible to locate or access in the event of the incapacity or death of the owner. Sound strategies to avoid the pitfalls of lost digital currency might include inventorying your digital assets, creating several security levels to allow easier access for some levels of your digital currencies, and updating your estate planning documents to anticipate the need for the protection and distribution of digital assets in the future.
Implementing an estate plan that includes instructions on the management and distribution of digital assets, in the event of your incapacity or death, will provide peace of mind and may reduce the risk of your digital currencies being forgotten or permanently locked and inaccessible.
If you already own digital currencies or are considering purchasing digital assets in the future, remember that your estate planning attorney is a great resource to help you weigh privacy concerns in online marketplaces versus establishing easy access to digital currencies in the future.
Your estate planning attorney is ready to work with you to create an estate plan that anticipates the complexities of an increasing digital footprint. Amy is a member of the Oregon state bar and focuses her practice exclusively on estate planning issues, including wills and revocable trusts, estate and gift taxes, probate administration, asset protection planning, and beneficiary and trustee representation.Buy Business Planning 4th edition () by Franklin A.
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