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November 2011 Archives

The Huguette Clark Estate Battle -- 2nd Will Revealed

In May, Huguette Clark died at the age of 104. Clark was one of the last remnants of the gilded age as she was the heir of a copper fortune worth about $400 million, reports the Associated Press.

Clark was also known as a recluse in later years, and when her will revealed that she had cut out her family and friends, and instead left substantial gifts to her lawyer and accountant, the battle for the Huguette Clark estate was on.

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Estate Taxes

As we begin to look forward to the end of another year, many people think about reorganizing their lives and about planning for the future. For some, estate planning is part of this. A major part of estate planning is always developing an understanding of your potential tax liability.

The federal estate tax which is imposed on estates exceeding $5 million can be reduced through various estate planning techniques. The following is a list of ten methods you may want to think about as ways to reduce your estate taxes:

4 Things to Know About a New York Living Trust

When most people think of estate planning they think about writing down their last wishes such as who will get their home, car, and other property. This is a will, and it’s probably the most simple estate planning tool, though it’s not the only one.

One alternative, the New York living trust, is quickly gaining popularity and offers benefits on top of a will. To know whether a living trust is right for you, you will want to learn a few things:

Computing If You Owe Federal Estate Taxes?

You may have heard that you do not owe federal estate tax unless your estate is worth more than $5,000,000, but do you really know what this means?

Computing whether you owe federal estate taxes can be a complicated endeavor and you should work with an estate planning attorney if you are unsure; however, the following provides a summary on determining when you might owe federal estate taxes.

3 Questions Regarding New York Estate Tax

When an individual dies, not all of the estate is passed onto the heirs. Instead, in many cases, as much as half the estate will pass onto the state and federal tax man.

Under federal laws, the estate tax is somewhat lenient -- individuals can generally bequeath up to $5 million of their assets tax free. But just because you don't own $5 million in assets, does not mean you will avoid the tax man completely. Instead, New Yorkers must file state estate taxes even if they meet a far lower threshold.

The following are three questions often asked about the New York Estate tax.

Who to Choose to Witness a Will in New York?

We wrote before that to write a valid will in New York, you will need two witnesses. But while you pretty much have freedom to choose who you want to witness a will, you should be aware that should you choose the wrong witnesses, you may be adding a roadblock to the administration of your estate

So who should you choose as witnesses?

What Happens to Debts of the Deceased?

You may be wondering what happens to the debts of the deceased. For example, if your spouse or parent racked up a substantial amount of debt, do you have to personally pay the debts when they pass away?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. While a beneficiary of someone's estate is generally not personally liable for the debts of the estate, that person can still see the potential inheritance reduced to nothing. And if the debt is joint -- like a home mortgage between spouses -- you may even be on the hook.

Jurisdiction Shopping: Die in Florida Not New Jersey

If you have the choice, you’ll want to die in a state like Florida, Nevada, or Alaska to ensure that your heirs receive the largest inheritance. Die in a state like New Jersey, and the tax collector may take a large chunk of that inheritance away.

New Jersey estate law is tough as it has both estate and inheritance tax. So assets given are taxed and then taxed again once received. On the other hand, states like Florida have neither tax, so an estate there would only be subject to the federal estate taxes.

Who Can Be Executor of a Will?

It can be stressful thinking about end of life issues. Thankfully, deciding who can be executors of a will does not have to be one of those stressful decisions.

An executor of a will oversees the disposition of your property and possessions after death. Duties of an executor can include finding the assets of the deceased and filing the will in the appropriate court.