William Byrnes' Tax, Wealth, and Risk Intelligence

William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Posts Tagged ‘Death’

Subsequent Divorce Decree’s Impact on Beneficiary Designation

Posted by William Byrnes on July 18, 2011

Which prevails when it is time to make a claim, a last in time divorce decree or a beneficiary designation made at the time of the application years ago?  A wife had her estranged husband, sign a separation and property-settlement agreement to release him from any claims to her estate or property.  When the wife passed away, her former husband sought the life insurance proceeds, as did her mother and son.  The answer is provided in a cautionary tale of beneficiary designations told in a recent 4th circuit case.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber)

For previous coverage of beneficiary designations in Advisor’s Journal, see The Effect of Divorce on Life Insurance Beneficiary Designations (CC 10-39) & Don’t Overlook Beneficiary Designations and Settlement Options (CC 09-28).

For in-depth analysis of beneficiaries and settlement options, see Advisor’s Main Library: D – Problems In Beneficiary Designations.

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Obama Tax Cuts Analysis: Estate and Generation Skipping Transfer Tax

Posted by William Byrnes on January 18, 2011

The recent Obama Tax Cuts reinstated the estate and generation skipping transfer taxes effective for decedents dying and transfers made after December 31, 2009.  As was discussed earlier this week, the estate tax applicable exclusion amount is $5 million for decedents dying in calendar years after 2011, and the maximum estate tax rate is 35 percent. Furthermore, the generation skipping transfer tax exemption for decedents dying or gifts made after December 31, 2009, is equal to the applicable exclusion amount for estate tax purposes ($5 million for 2010).

For a general background on the Generation Skipping Transfer Tax, see our November 1st Blogticle entitled: Life Insurance and the Generation—Skipping Transfer Tax

Although technically the generation skipping transfer tax is applicable for 2010, the generation skipping transfer tax rate for transfers made during 2010 is zero percent. After this year, the generation skipping transfer tax rate equals the highest estate and gift tax rate in effect for such year (35 percent in 2011 and 2012), notwithstanding the exclusion amounts.

Moreover, under the new law, a recipient of property acquired from a decedent who dies after December 31, 2009, generally will receive fair market value basis (i.e., “step up” in basis). [1]

To read this article excerpted above, please access http://www.advisorfyi.com/2010/12/obama-tax-cuts-analysis-estate-and-generation-skipping-transfer-tax/

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Does the New Estate Tax Make the Bypass Trust Obsolete?

Posted by William Byrnes on January 17, 2011

President Obama’s tax compromise introduces a new estate tax concept for 2011 and 2012, the deceased spouse unused exclusion amount (DSUEA).  Essentially, the DSUEA allows a surviving spouse to utilize the unused exclusion amount of the first spouse to die.  The new law raises an important planning question: Is the bypass (credit shelter) trust obsolete as an estate planning device? Also: Do existing bypass trusts need to be amended in light of the new law?

In general, under the new estate tax, an estate’s exclusion amount, referred to as its applicable exclusion amount, is the sum of two components: the basic exclusion amount and the DSUEA. The basic exclusion amount for estates of decedents dying in 2011 and 2012 is $5 million. The second part of the equation, the DSUEA, is the amount of the first-to-die spouse’s exclusion amount that is not used by the that spouse’s estate. Note that a surviving spouse’s DSUEA is equal to the unused exclusion amount of the surviving spouse’s last deceased spouse.  Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of Obama’s tax agreement, including its estate tax provisions, in Advisor’s Journal, see Obama Tax Agreement Faces Stiff Resistance in Congress (CC 10-112) and Obama Tax Agreement Passed by House (CC 10-117).

For in-depth analysis of the estate tax, see Advisor’s Main Library: Estate, Gift and GST Taxes.

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The Future of Estate Planning under the Obama Tax Cuts

Posted by William Byrnes on January 11, 2011

Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Presents discussion on the effect of the Obama Tax Cuts on the Estate Planning industry in general.  Also presents analysis regarding the estate tax burden on taxpayers.

The quintessential planning tool that many wealth managers relied on could easily become a thing of the past.  In other words, the Obama Tax cuts are creating concern for some wealth managers who sold life insurance to cover the tax of an estate at the death of the decedent. Sections 301-304 of the new law reinstated the estate tax, but nevertheless, created large exclusions, essentially removing the need for many to cover the estate tax burden with the purchase of life insurance.

Specifically, the applicable estate tax exclusion amount is $5 million under the law (and is indexed for inflation) for decedents dying in calendar years starting in 2011.  Married individuals’ will see a total exclusion of $10 million.  Furthermore, the new law reinstates the maximum estate tax rate of 35 percent.  To read this article excerpted above, access www.AdvisorFYI.com


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Incidents of Ownership and Burden on the Estate

Posted by William Byrnes on September 22, 2010

Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers?   Discusses estate tax considerations in regards to life insurance policies.  Also, includes a detailed dialogue of the incidents of ownership concept. 

What do most wealth managers try to avoid when planning with life insurance and trusts?

That the Gross Estate for Estate Tax calculations would include the death benefit from the policy in the estate.

What are some common ways to avoid this dilemma when using a trust and life insurance in regards to estate planning?

For the answer to this question, and planning analysis, see the blogticle at AdvisorFYI

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