Trusts and Estates Blog

How Securities Are Valued At Death

U.S. tax forms with glasses, pen, and calculatorEstate plans containing securities have specific rules that are best negotiated by a certified estate planning specialist. The federal government has specific rules for the valuation of securities and financial instruments included inside or outside of estate plans. Since there are a vast number of financial instruments available in the market, this article will focus on the more common instruments included in estate plans which include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, Treasury securities, cash and cash-equivalent accounts and retirement accounts.

The federal rules for valuation are:
Stocks, bonds and mutual funds – for stocks, it is the average of the trading range on the date of death, or in the event of a weekend or holiday, the average of the preceding and following trading days. Bonds are priced by averaging the closing price on the date of death and the preceding trading day, and must include any accrued interest. U.S. Savings Bonds are valued at their redemption value at the end of the month, according to the redemption value published by the U.S. government. U.S. Treasury notes and bonds are valued the same as commercial bonds. U.S. Treasury bills are valued at their redemption price, since interest in included in their price.
Cash, bank, and credit union accounts – All cash and cash-equivalent accounts must report the exact value on the date of death. Any uncleared checks must be listed separately so their value can be deducted from the account.
Retirement accounts – including IRA’s, pension, 401(k) and similar retirement accounts must account for the value on the date of death. Any stock, bonds or mutual funds will be valued using the rules mentioned above.

Proper recordkeeping of all of the investments in your estate plan will make the valuation process much easier for your estate planning attorney and loved ones. Keeping meticulous records with your estate planning documents will enable them to efficiently value your assets and avoid any unnecessary investigation that will be subtracted from your estate value.

Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln (TVT) offers sophisticated estate planning and administration for the affluent, discriminating client. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve these clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand. For more information, contact TVT at 661-945-5868 or visit their websites at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com and www.Medi-CalHelp.com.

Move Quickly on Very Long Term Dynasty Trusts

file system - focus on the taxation sectionFor years now wealthy people have used dynasty trusts to shield their assets from estate taxes for tens and hundreds of years, or even forever. But the dynasty trust is under attack from a new piece of legislations in President Obama’s 2012 budget. The bill would limit tax-free dynasty trusts to a maximum of ninety years. While experts say the bill has little to no chance of passing this year, the fact that its shown up is reason enough for investors and those seeking to transfer wealth to act quickly on establishing dynasty trusts as the bill will not be retroactive.

Besides the short time span before a bill limiting the effectiveness of the dynasty trust is signed, several positive reasons exist for establishing such a fund. The dynasty trust contains a generous terms on the state and gift tax—a $5 million individual exemption and a top 35% rate (both of which will expire after 2012).

Since a tax overhaul in 1986, many people have begun using dynasty taxes to transfer funds without penalty. For example, a man who wishes to leave money to his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren would leave the money in a Dynasty Trust to his children and the trust would be rolled on to the next generation without estate taxes until it reached its final recipient. Without using a Dynasty Trust, each generation would amass an estate tax to be paid. Rather than losing wealth on taxes, this man could place his entire estate into a Dynasty Trust and avoid the many layers of taxes. In essence, heirs don’t have to spend their inheritance on estate taxes.

The Obama administration proposal would remove the federal estate tax exemption after ninety years so the trust can go on indefinitely but the tax exemption cannot. Because allowing such a trust affects many current state tax laws, only the following states allow dynasty trusts: Alaska, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Again, while the bill should not be passed this go-around according to experts, the fact dynasty trusts are being targeted is a good reason for those wanting to roll inheritance monies on to many generations to establish a trust as soon as possible.

Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson | Von Tungeln, A P.C. (TVT) offers sophisticated estate planning and administration for the affluent, discriminating client. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve these clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand. For more information, contact TVT at 661-945-5868 or visit their websites at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com and www.Medi-CalHelp.com.

Easing into Elder Care

Elderly hands holding adult handsElder care is a giant step for most families who go through the transition of an older loved one living on their own to living with assistance. Some transition well, yet others can become discouraged by the lack of complete freedom. To ease your loved one into elder care (and to reduce the burden on yourself as well) consider these three steps to take as you make the transition.

Ask for help. If you are becoming the primary carer for a parent or loved one, seek help from other friends, family, or those who’ve gone through the process. You don’t have to be the only one caring for your loved one. Others can help with certain tasks or providing relief for you once a week or so. Be sure to value your own health and freedom by seeking help from others.

Encourage social activities. Many communities have provided seniors with social activities to connect them with other older people and to help them maintain social interaction. Whether through a community center, a church, an independent group, or a retirement home, check into activities your loved one can partake in to keep their spirits high. Also, organize family game nights or other personal activities that will keep them connected with family as well as those their age.

Communicate with doctors. Doctors, nurses, caregivers, and other medical personnel are a vital part of your loved one’s life. If possible, accompany your loved one on doctors’ visits and speak with the doctor about your loved one’s health. Be willing to help with new medication, watch for side effects, better care for illnesses, and be an extension of the doctor in your home. As you stay current with their overall health, you’ll be able to better help them live in ease.

Remember that you and your loved one are both transitioning in this time. You are caring for others, but also will be forced to take better care of yourself. Plan time for yourself and get others involved so the burden doesn’t fall squarely on you. Also, make the needs of your loved one a priority in your life. Keep their spirits high by keeping them involved with the outside world. Also be a help to their doctor by being actively involved in their medical health.

Transitioning to full-time (or even part-time) care of an aging loved one comes with its challenges, but the benefits of spending time with someone you love and gleaning from their life wisdom is an invaluable opportunity to have.

If you would like more information concerning Elder Care or any other aspect of estate planning, contact Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln (TVT) at 661-945-5868 or visit their websites at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com and www.Medi-CalHelp.com. www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for personal wealth management solutions through wills and revocable trusts. www.Medi-CalHelp.com is a comprehensive online resource for long term nursing home care for the middle class. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand.

Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln is offering a March 4, 2011 seminar on Medi-Cal for Long Term Care and how to access this benefit without spending everything

Elderly hands holding adult handsAntelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln is offering a complimentary seminar on the Myths about Medi-Cal program and how those myths can affect long-term care planning.

“Long-term care planning is an intricate process,” said Kevin Von Tungeln, partner at Thompson Von Tungeln. “Compliance with Medi-Cal is akin to a chess games with draconian penalties if you make a mistake. That is why consumers need to be informed about Medi-Cal and have expert legal counsel guiding them through the process.”

The recent changes to Medi-Cal, the California Medicaid program, center on the ability to give away assets such as a home or financial instruments, and changes regarding annuities. Many individuals have established planning strategies to give away assets that will need adjusting.

“Anyone living today has a greater than 50 percent chance of needing long-term care when he or she reaches age 65,” said Von Tungeln. “At least 70 percent of persons over 65 will require long-term care at some point in their lives. Being knowledgeable about the new rules and planning accordingly can save you, your spouse and your heirs a great deal of trouble in the future.”

The seminar is on Thursday, March 4, 2011 at the Hellenic Center in Lancaster – 43404 30th Street West (30th St West and Ave K-4) Lancaster, CA 93536. Registration is requested due to limited seating. To register for the complimentary seminar, call 661.945.5868

About Kevin Von Tungeln

With more than 20 years’ legal experience, Kevin L. Von Tungeln serves Thompson Von Tungeln in the areas of estate planning, probate, trusts, wills, trust administration, conservatorships, guardianships and elder law. He is certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialists as a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning. Get to know more about Kevin’s approach to estate planning by viewing his informational videos at: www.youtube.com/user/EstateLawyers. Kevin can also be found at LinkedIn by going to: (www.linkedin.com/in/kevinvontungeln)

About Thompson Von Tungeln

Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln (TVT) offers Medi-Cal and VA Pension benefit planning planning and administration for the middle class. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve these clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand. For more information, contact TVT at 661-945-5868 or visit their websites at www.Medi-CalHelp.com and www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com.

Trusts and Estates Blog