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February 2014 Archives

Citizenship and the estate planning process

It might not even occur to most people during the estate planning process to mention to an attorney that you or a spouse is not a U.S. citizen. Particularly for those with legal permanent residency who have been living in the country for a long time, citizenship can easily be an afterthought. However, it is a very important issue that should be a part of the estate planning process as it can have a major impact on estate taxes. The main impact that citizenship status has is whether or not a spouse may utilize the unlimited marital gift tax exemption, allowing a spouse to pass along all of their assets to the other without taxation. This is only available to U.S. citizens, so people who are married to a legal permanent resident or someone with a different immigration status should take note of this.

Finding a way to be fair when it comes to passing along heirlooms

In older generations it has been tradition to leave family heirlooms to the first born child in a family. This tradition dates back to the Anglo Saxon and British roots of our America’s laws. In fact, in Great Briton today there are still some assets that must be passed down this way, such as nobility titles. However, in the modern day United States most families do things differently and estate laws do not dictate the order or preference by age amongst children. As a result, families are left to determine what is fair in their own circumstance and divide up what can be limited resources or special family heirlooms among several worthy recipients.

Estate planning lessons hidden beneath the headlines

For most Pennsylvania readers a first encounter with estate planning comes when an older member of the family passes away. For many, this means children or teens will learn about a will or a trust when a grandparent or great grandparent passes away. However, this experience might not leave us with a lot of detail about what estate planning really is and how it will apply to our own lives. It can be useful, then, to look at real estate plans that make the news to find out more about the process and learn some important dos and don’ts.

Actor's estate leaves everything to daughter

The 15-year-old daughter of the late actor Paul Walker will receive the entirety of her father’s large estate, reports say. The actor passed away last year as a result of a car accident in which the car caught fire. The 40-year-old actor had been the star of a franchise of racing movies that had earned him significant sums and helped pay for the $10 million home he passes on to his daughter. Many of those films remain popular and one more is set for release, indicating that the estate may continue to grow over the coming years.

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