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June 2015 Archives

Estate planning for same-sex couples just got easier

The recent Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges has significant implications for same-sex married couples in New York and around the country. Now that same-sex marriages are legally recognized in every state, estate planning will be much simpler for millions of Americans. Gay and lesbian spouses will now be recognized as surviving spouses on death certificates, and many adopted children will now have two legal parents.

Important advice about estate planning in New York

Estate planning is an important consideration for people in New York and across the U.S. Individuals planning for asset distribution need to bear numerous issues in mind as they make decisions while preparing wills. To have a full grasp on various strategies that can be implemented, it is key to remember the following five tips regarding estate planning.

An examination of blind trusts

Some people in New York might want to set up trusts but do not understand the different types. One of these types is a blind trust, which is designed to conceal its assets and how they are being invested or managed from the beneficiaries of the trust. Rather, a trustee makes all the decisions regarding how the assets are invested.

Beneficiary designations important in estate planning

Some New York individuals who are preparing for the distribution of their assets after they die may not realize that choosing their beneficiaries carefully can be as important as preparing a will. In fact, in some cases, the bulk of an individual's assets may be transferred by beneficiary designations rather than via a will. Assets such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies are passed to heirs in this way.

Estate tax changes

As some New York residents may know,the laws governing federal estate tax have changed. While estate planning is always important, reevaluating that plan on a routine basis is essential. Federal estate tax rules and regulations were modified in 2012. Ten years earlier, an estate valued at more than $1.5 million would be subject to an estate tax at a rate of up to 47 percent of the excess. In 2012, the federal estate tax exemption was increased to $5 million subject to inflation adjustments, and the exemption currently stands at $5.43 million.