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Why Everyone Over Age 18 Should Have a Power of Attorney

Web Admin - Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Barrington power of attorney lawyerA power of attorney is one of the most basic, and yet most important, legal protections that every adult should have. A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives another person the authority to act in your place when you cannot be physically present yourself or if you become incapacitated. There are two types of POA, for property and for healthcare. A power of attorney for property authorizes a designated person to handle your financial affairs, while a power of attorney for healthcare empowers your named representative to make medical decisions on your behalf. 

When Is the Right Time to Create a Power of Attorney?


Imagine that you are struck tomorrow by a catastrophic accident or sudden incapacitating illness. If you are married, your spouse should have access to your financial resources to pay for your medical care and the right to make medical decisions on your behalf. But consider what would happen if you are not married or if your spouse is incapacitated at the same time you are. Do you think your immediate family members would agree on who should take charge of your financial affairs and make medical decisions for you? Having a POA in place will head off disputes that could cause long-term rifts in a family.

Young adults often assume that their parents will be able to step in and handle everything in such an event. However, once you turn 18, your parents do not necessarily have the legal authority to access your medical records and bank accounts and to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf. 

Similarly, adults with aging parents may assume they can step in at any time and take over their parents’ affairs. However, why leave it to chance? Do you really want siblings fighting over who is going to take charge? Instead, encourage your aging relatives to sign powers of attorney while they are still competent to make that choice. The POA can be a first step toward creating a comprehensive will and estate plan.

What Does a Power of Attorney for Property Do?


You can create a very limited power of attorney document for a specific situation, such as authorizing your lawyer to handle a real estate closing for you when you cannot be present in person. More commonly, the purpose is much broader. A power of attorney document will specify a list of decisions that your designated representative can make on your behalf, such as selling your home; trading stocks, bonds, and other investments; collecting Social Security and other retirement benefits on your behalf; paying bills from your checking account; managing a trust account; and filing your tax returns.

What Does a Power of Attorney for Healthcare Do?


When you prepare a POA for healthcare, you can specify the powers that your designated representative will have and when those powers will take effect. The medical topics covered in a healthcare POA may include:

- Whether your POA will have full access to your medical records.

- Whether you want extraordinary measures taken to keep you alive as long as possible or instead wish to prioritize quality of life over length of life.

- In what type of circumstances you want life-sustaining treatment to be administered or withheld, or whether you would only like pain-relieving medication to be administered.

- Whether you want to be an organ donor upon your death.

- How you want your mortal remains handled upon your death, e.g., burial or cremation.


Consult a Schaumburg Power of Attorney Lawyer


An attorney can serve as a neutral third party when you need to convince an elderly relative to sign powers of attorney while they are still competent, particularly if you are assisting them with moving out of their home and into some type of assisted living facility. If you need a POA for yourself but are not sure what powers you want to grant your designated representative and when you want those powers to take effect, an experienced Palatine estate planning attorney can explain your options. Call Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC at 847-934-6000 to set up a free initial consultation.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2113&ChapterID=60
https://www.isba.org/ibj/2015/04/estateplannersadoptandadaptnewhcpoa

Why Top 15% Income Households Need to Start Estate Planning Now

Web Admin - Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Schaumburg estate planning lawyer wealth protectionYou do not have to be Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk to need an estate plan. You do not even need to be earning $1.4 million a year, which is the average annual income of the top 1% of Illinois households. However, if you are fortunate enough to be in the top 15%, you will likely amass enough assets to need an estate plan. For perspective, a 2017 household income over $140,000 per year puts you in the top 15% of U.S. households; over $170K puts you in the top 10%, over $225K in the top 5%, and over $431K in the top 1%. If you fall into these ranges, here are three reasons why you should start an estate plan: 

1. You may think it is too early to be worrying about an estate plan. It is not. 


If you belong to the Baby Boomer generation, you are now age 54 to 72. Gen Xers are age 39 to 53. You may be in great health today, but you cannot predict what will happen tomorrow. You do not want to leave your family in chaos, trying to figure out what to do in the event of a sudden illness or death. Peace of mind is a gift you give yourself and them when you make the time to create an estate plan.

2. You may think your estate is not big enough to require “planning.” It may be bigger than you realize.


Have you totaled up your assets lately? Your home, vehicles, whole life insurance, retirement accounts, other investments, and personal property may add up to more than you realize. You may think that you will use up your entire retirement savings during your lifetime, but many people will not. If you have invested wisely, you may be able to live off the earnings and hardly touch the principal. Also, your primary home, vacation home, or other assets (artwork, jewelry, gold coins) may appreciate in value more than you expect. With an estate plan, you can make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

3. You may think that a simple will that divides your estate equally among your children is enough. But have you allowed for the unexpected?


An experienced estate planner will point out the types of unexpected events that can occur and the important contingencies that you should cover in your plan, such as: 

- What if one of your heirs becomes disabled or cannot be trusted with money due to an addiction? You may want to place your money in a trust with scheduled distributions, with a trustee who has the authority to distribute more or less money if circumstances warrant.

- What if someone does not want the asset you want to give them? For example, you may want to make sure your lake cottage stays in the family, with each child owning an equal share. But what if one of them moves far away or cannot afford the maintenance costs? Also, when it passes to the next generation, what happens if one child has three offspring and another has just one? Is it fair for one grandchild to have a 50% say in future decisions while the other three grandchildren split the remaining 50%? An experienced estate attorney will anticipate and know how to solve for such problems. 

- What if you outlive your presumed heirs? Do you have siblings or other relatives you would like to provide for?

- What if your final estate is likely to be substantially larger than you think your heirs need? Are there any charitable causes you would like to support, perhaps only if your final estate exceeds a certain amount?

Consult a Kenilworth Estate Planning Lawyer


These are just three of the reasons that an income earner who is in the top 15% should be starting their estate plan now. For more information, contact the experienced Inverness estate planning attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. We will help you develop a savvy estate plan that will provide emotional and financial security for you and your family. Contact us at 847-934-6000.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.



Sources:
https://dqydj.com/united-states-household-income-brackets-percentiles/
https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/baby-boomers/articles/2018-07-05/6-common-myths-about-estate-planning
https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C032-S014-10-surprisingly-common-estate-planning-mistakes.html

Two Important Benefits Provided By a Living Trust

Web Admin - Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Arlington Heights trust lawyerThe thought of planning for what should happen after one’s death is often too morbid for many people to want to consider. However, doing so is incredibly important, since you want to be sure that your wishes will be followed correctly and that your heirs will be able to receive the assets you plan to pass on to them with minimal complications. While you may think that the estate planning process begins and ends with the creation of a last will and testament, another tool that can be very powerful is a living trust. 

Trusts allow you to protect certain assets, placing them in the control of a trustee and passing them to your beneficiaries once certain requirements are met. With a living trust, you can serve as the trustee while you are still living and mentally competent, giving you control over your assets and allowing you to revoke or change the terms of the trust to meet your and your family’s needs. There are a number of benefits to using a living trust, but two of the primary advantages are:

1. Avoiding Probate

When a person dies, the executor of their estate will enter their will into probate court, which is a process that can be lengthy and expensive as the court reviews the will and approves the paying of debts and taxes and the passing of assets to beneficiaries. The will is entered into public court records, meaning that the family’s personal business is available to be viewed by anyone who wants to examine the court documents. 

A trust, on the other hand, does not have to go through the probate process. This will allow assets to be passed to beneficiaries much more quickly and with fewer complications, and it will also ensure that the details about the estate are kept private.

2. Planning for Illness or Incapacitation

In many cases, when a person becomes ill or incapacitated or is no longer able to manage their own affairs, a friend or family member is named as their legal guardian. Guardianship will often not only give a guardian control of a person’s health and personal care, but also their financial affairs. This type of situation is not ideal, but a living trust can help you avoid losing control of your finances by addressing how things should be handled if you are incapacitated. 

Your trust can specify what conditions should exist for you to be declared incapacitated or mentally incompetent, and it can name a successor trustee who will manage the trust in this situation. The trustee can ensure that you have the financial resources you need to provide for your own care, while preserving your assets to pass on to your beneficiaries after your death.

Contact a Palatine Estate Planning Attorney

If you want to know more about how to use a living trust to protect your assets and pass them to your heirs, the attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can answer your questions and work with you to create a comprehensive estate plan. Contact a Schaumburg living trust lawyer today at 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized consultation.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.



Sources:
https://www.thebalance.com/the-benefits-of-a-revocable-living-trust-vs-a-will-3505405
https://www.thebalance.com/pros-and-cons-of-revocable-living-trusts-3505384

How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Affects Estate Tax

Web Admin - Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Barrington estate planning lawyer estate taxThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 represents the largest reform to the United States tax code in the past 30 years, and its changes will be felt in nearly every aspect of people’s lives for many years to come. While tax attorneys and financial advisors are still working to determine how this bill will affect individuals and businesses, one area in which the act’s changes are clear is that of estate tax. For people with significant assets, it is important to understand how these changes will affect their estate plan.

Estate Tax Exemptions

The federal estate tax applies to the assets which are transferred to someone’s heirs after their death. However, everyone is entitled to an exemption, and only the value of the estate above this exemption is subject to estate taxes. Prior to the passage of the tax reform bill, this exemption was $5 million, plus an inflation adjustment which varied from year to year (for 2018, the inflation adjustment was $600,000, allowing an estate to claim a total exemption of $5.6 million). 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubled the amount of the exemption, meaning that for an individual who dies in 2018, their estate can claim an exemption of $11.2 million. In addition, spouses are able to use a portability election to claim any unused portion of their spouse’s exemption. This means that married couples will effectively have a $22.4 million estate tax exemption.

Notably, this increased estate tax exemption is scheduled to sunset in 2025. People with significant assets can take advantage of this exemption before it ends and minimize their potential estate taxes by transferring their assets to their heirs prior to their death. As of 2018, gifts of up to $15,000 from an individual or $30,000 from a married couple can be given to individuals each year without being subject to federal gift taxes. A person’s lifetime estate tax exemption of $11.2 million can be applied to gifts above this threshold. 

Contact a Schaumburg Estate Planning Attorney

The increased estate tax exemption is just one small aspect of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and there are a wide variety of other provisions that will affect people’s finances and their plans for distributing their assets to their heirs after their death. If you have any questions about how the tax reform bill will affect your estate plan, the skilled attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you understand the changes to the law and the steps you should take to provide for your family’s financial security after you are gone. Contact our Inverness estate planning lawyers today at 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized consultation.


About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.



Sources:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2017/12/21/final-tax-bill-includes-huge-estate-tax-win-for-the-rich-the-22-4-million-exemption/#7325a3cc1d54
https://www.fool.com/retirement/2017/10/29/the-2018-estate-tax-and-why-it-may-not-matter.aspx

Why You Need an Estate Plan Even If You Do Not Have Children

Web Admin - Thursday, January 11, 2018
Palatine estate planning lawyerFinancial advisors and attorneys often tell their clients that estate planning is an essential part of anyone’s financial plan, ensuring that their assets are correctly distributed to their heirs after their death. But how does this apply to people who do not have any children? If you are not concerned with providing for your descendants after you are gone, you may not feel that an estate plan is necessary. However, it is still important to have a plan in place that will protect your assets both before and after your death.

Creating a Will

When someone dies intestate (without a last will and testament in place), their assets will be distributed according to Illinois’ intestate succession laws. If someone has no descendants, their entire estate will go to their spouse. If they do not have a spouse, the estate will be divided among their parents and siblings, or among their closest surviving relatives. If no relatives can be located, the estate will go to the State of Illinois.

Even if you do not have children, you will likely want to have some say in who will inherit your property after you die. Creating a valid last will and testament will ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, whether you plan to leave them to your spouse, family members, friends, or charitable organizations.

Another benefit of a will is that it names an executor who will handle the distribution of your property to your heirs. Without a will in place, a probate court will appoint an administrator of your estate, and extensive court proceedings may be necessary to resolve any disputes over the distribution of your assets. Creating a will that clarifies your intentions and names a person you trust to oversee your estate will ensure that your wishes are carried out correctly.

Holding Assets in a Living Trust

Another benefit that estate planning can provide is ensuring that you will have the financial resources you need as you near the end of your life. A living trust is a good way to protect your assets, giving you control over them while also specifying who will handle them and how they should be used to care for you if you should ever become incapacitated or disabled, as well as how they should be distributed after your death.

One of the key benefits of a trust is that it simplifies the distribution of property after your death, since assets held in a trust are not subject to probate. In addition, while the contents of a will are part of the public record, a trust is confidential, providing privacy to both you and your heirs.

Contact a Rolling Meadows Estate Planning Attorney

If you want to know more about the benefits that estate planning can provide to you and your loved ones, the attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you understand the benefits of a will or trust and work with you to draft the documents that give you and your family the financial security you need. Contact our Palatine estate planning lawyers today at 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized consultation.


About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.



Sources:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2104&ChapterID=60&SeqStart=3700000&SeqEnd=5000000
https://www.aarp.org/money/estate-planning/info-09-2010/ten_things_you_should_know_about_living_trusts.html

Tax Advantaged Retirement Accounts: New Fiduciary Duties Imposed for Financial Advisors and Brokers

Web Admin - Monday, July 18, 2016

Illinois estate planning attorneysIn an era where individuals are increasingly being forced to handle their own retirement savings and financial future, it is important that financial advisors provide sound investment advice, and to not take advantage of hardworking individuals. In order to help protect America’s workers, the Department of Labor has imposed new rules that require advisors and brokers managing retirement accounts to put their clients’ interests first, which is a much stricter approach to retirement saving than in the past. These new rules are collectively referred to as the Conflict of Interest Rule-Investment Advice.  

You would hope that the people you trust when it comes to making investments in your retirement accounts would be honest and would represent your best interests. However, this was not always the case before the imposition of the new rule. Advisors sometime have a conflict of interest when it comes to giving financial advice, especially in situations where the advice is a one-time occurrence, such as when a baby boomer rolls over their ERISA plan investments into an individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k).  

The new Department of Labor rules are intended to help protect IRA and 401(k) retirement account holders from brokers’ and advisors’ potential conflicts of interest. The new rules impose a fiduciary duty on advisors and brokers that handle retirement accounts so that the client’s interest takes precedence. These new rules can be confusing, if you have questions, you can contact one of the experienced lawyers at our office for help. 

The New Impartial Conduct Standard  

Prior to the new fiduciary rules, advisors and brokers were only required to make recommendations for products that were merely suitable for the client, even when the recommendation was not necessarily the client’s best option. Under the new rules, the definition of fiduciary investment advice was changed by amending 29 CFR 2510.3-21. So now if advisors or brokers make financial recommendations to clients in exchange for a fee for tax-advantaged retirement accounts, then they are obligated to comply with the new impartial conduct standard, which governs their fiduciary duty to their clients.  

There are a number of exceptions to the rule. For instance, a brokerage firm that provides educational information to its clients about a specific product or investment, would not qualify as a recommendation for the purpose of this rule. The new rule became effective as of June 7, 2016, and is applicable as of April 10, 2017.  

If you are interested in learning more about the new rules imposed by the Department of Labor, or would like assistance in understand which investments and advisor are covered by the rules please feel free to contact one of our experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys today. Our law firm serves the communities of Crystal Lake, Palatine, Inverness, Schaumburg, Long Grove, Kenilworth, Riverwoods, Des Plaines, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and Arlington Heights. Call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


Source: 
https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/29/2510.3-21








2016 Changes to the Illinois Power of Attorney Act

Web Admin - Monday, March 14, 2016

Illinois Power of Attorney Act, Illinois Estate Planning Attorneys The Illinois Power of Attorney Act saw a handful of small, but important changes as of January 1, 2016. These changes help make the health care power of attorney short form easier to use, and gives principals (i.e., the person who executes the power of attorney) more control over what their agents can have access to during their life and after. If you are interested in preparing and executing a health care power of attorney, you can contact an estate planning lawyer today for professional assistance throughout each step of the process. 

What Changes Have Occurred to the Health Care POA Form?

Several significant changes to the Illinois Power of Attorney Act concerning health care power of attorneys include:

- The Option to Allow an Agent Access to the Principal’s Medical Records. The health care power of attorney short form has been updated and now includes a checkbox option that indicates that an agent is authorized, as of the date of the execution of the form, to have access to the medical records of the principal. Access to the principal’s medical records allows the agent to make well informed decisions about the principal’s health care.

- Decisional Capacity Has Been Defined. The changes to the Act and the power of attorney short form adopts the definition of “decisional capacity” from the Illinois Health Care Surrogate Act. “Decisional capacity” is the ability to understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of a decision that is being made concerning medical treatment or choosing to forego life-sustaining care and having the ability to reach and communicate an informed decision on the matter as determined by the attending physician. The change to the Illinois Power of Attorney Act places the attending physician into a position to make judgement calls regarding whether a principal has decisional capacity. 

- The Agent Can Pursue Applications for Government Benefits After the Death of the Principal. When a health care agent files for government benefits on behalf of the principal, but the principal dies and no administrator or executor was appointed for the principal’s estate, under the changes to the Illinois Power of Attorney Act, the health care agent can continue to pursue those government benefit applications. As a general rule, a power of attorney terminates with the death of the principal. However, the changes in the Power of Attorney Act now allow for this government benefits application exception. 

- Who Can Be a Witness for a Health Care Power of Attorney Has Been Updated. When a principal signs a power of attorney, another individual must also sign the power of attorney as a witness to the principal’s signature. The Illinois Power of Attorney Act is very specific as to which licensed professionals are not permitted to be a witness, which excludes the principal’s attending physician, physician assistant, advanced practice nurse, podiatric physician, dentist, optometrist, or mental health service provider. “Mental health service provider” has been changed to “psychologist,” as of January 1. 

If you would like assistance preparing and executing a health care power of attorney, or have any other estate planning needs, please feel free to contact one of our experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC serves the communities of Crystal Lake, Palatine, Des Plaines, Inverness, Palatine, Schaumburg Riverwoods, Kenilworth, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and Arlington Heights. Call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member of our team.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.




Source: 

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2111&ChapterID=60


Tax Considerations for 2016

Web Admin - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

tax considerations for 2016, Illinois Estate Planning AttorneyAs we head into 2016, there are various tax issues of which to be aware and are related to estate planning and real estate debt. These issues include an extension of an existing law, as well as new requirements for 2016.   

Consistent Basis Reporting  

Estate tax is a tax levied when a person transfers property upon his or her death. It is calculated by using the fair market value of everything the deceased person owns or has an interest in. The total value is called the “Gross Estate.” Certain deductions may be taken from the Gross Estate to arrive at the person’s “Taxable Estate.” Finally, the value of lifetime taxable gifts is added to the Taxable Estate and the tax is computed. Most estates do not require the filing of an estate tax return. However, for 2016, a filing is required for estates that have combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts that exceed $5,450,000.   

Under §6035 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), the executor of an estate who is required to file an estate tax return must provide to anyone who acquires an interest in the property of the decedent’s gross estate a statement that identifies the value of each interest in such property as reported on the estate tax return. This statement must also be filed with the IRS.   

The basis of certain property acquired from a decedent cannot exceed the value of the property as determined for federal estate tax purposes. If the value has not been determined, pursuant to the IRC, the basis ceiling is set at the value of the property as reported on the statement made under §6035. These new requirements are intended to help with ensuring there is consistent basis reporting between estates and beneficiaries receiving property from decedents. The statement required under §6035 is made on Form 8971, which must be filed at the earlier of either 30 days after the estate tax return under §6018 must be filed or 30 days after the estate tax return is actually filed.   

Real Estate Forgiveness   

Ordinarily, gross income includes income realized when a person with debt discharges that indebtedness. However, a provision under the Tax Relief Extension Act has been extended to 2016 by amending IRC §108. This provision allows individuals to exclude from gross income discharges of qualified principal residence debt. Qualified principal residence debt is acquisition debt incurred in connection with a taxpayer’s principal residence. This is typically indebtedness related to the purchase, construction, or substantial improvement of a principal residence where the debt is secured by the residence. It may also include refinancing indebtedness. 

This exclusion was extended because it is believed that people restructuring acquisition debt on their home, or who are losing their home due to foreclosure probably, do not have sufficient cash to pay taxes on the discharged debt in the event it were considered income. Additionally, the extension was considered necessary for individuals who entered into a discharge agreement while the exclusion was allowed, but that had not completed the discharge yet. By extending the exclusion into 2016, those agreements can still enjoy the advantage of exclusion. For more information related to any of these issues, please speak with an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney today. Our firm serves the communities of Inverness, Palatine, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Long Grove, Kenilworth, Barrington, South Barrington, Riverwoods, and Mount Prospect.  

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


Sources: 

http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title26-section6035&num=0&edition=prelim 

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title26/html/USCODE-2011-title26-subtitleA-chap1-subchapB-partIII-sec108.htm


VA Benefits and the Transfer of Assets to an Irrevocable Trust

Web Admin - Friday, November 27, 2015

VA benefits and irrevocable trust, Illinois employment lawThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides our nation’s veterans with important benefits after they have been discharged from service. In order to qualify for those benefits, veterans must meet certain requirements. For some veterans, it may be necessary to transfer assets into an irrevocable trust to lower his or her net worth. 

Qualifying for Pension 

The Veterans Pension benefit is a tax-free, monetary benefit for low-income veterans. In order to qualify, the following requirements must be met: 

1. Veteran must be 65 years of age or older or permanently and totally disabled;

2. He or he must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable;

3. He or she must have served, which generally involves a minimum period of active duty service, one day of which was during wartime;

4. Net worth must not be considered too substantial; and

5. Countable family income must be below the yearly limit as set by law. 

Veterans who are concerned about their level of net worth may consider forming an irrevocable trust. By creating an irrevocable trust, net worth can be reduced in order to qualify for the Veterans Pension. The VA does not assess a penalty for transferring assets as long as that transfer occurs prior to filing a claim or notifying the VA of an intent to file a claim. The determination of net worth is subjective—the VA has discretion in determining whether a veteran’s assets are too large to qualify for the Veterans Pension. 

An irrevocable trust can be used to hold assets that are provided by a veteran in order to reduce net worth. Importantly, a veteran claiming benefits (as well as his or her spouse) cannot be an income or principal beneficiary of the trust established in order to obtain VA benefits. This is because the VA requires that the rights to property and income from that property be actually relinquished to be considered a reduction of net worth. 

A second issue relates to whether to form the trust as a grantor trust or a non-grantor trust. The VA compares income reported to it with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) income records through a process called Income Verification Match (IVM). Due to the nature of a grantor trust, there may be a discrepancy between income reported to the VA and income that appears with IRS filings. 

Under a grantor trust, all items within the trust are taxed to the grantor on his or her personal income tax return. Ordinarily, the grantor is the person who funds the trust, which, in this case, is the veteran claiming benefits. The VA may assume that the tax reported on the veteran’s tax return is based on income of the veteran, which may lead to lower (or complete denial of) benefits. Therefore, a non-grantor trust, in which the trust is responsible for any tax, is likely more desirable, in an attempt to avoid this potential issue. 

Forming a Trust 

If you would like more information on the formation of a trust, reach out to a skilled Illinois estate planning attorney today. Our firm proudly helps individuals in the communities of Inverness, Schaumburg, Palatine, Arlington Heights, Kenilworth, Long Grove, Riverwoods, Barrington, South Barrington, and Mount Prospect. We look forward to hearing from you. 

About the Author:

Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.



Source:
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'Tis the Season... for Gift Taxes

Web Admin - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Illinois gift tax, Arlington Heights estate planning attorneyOnce again, it is that time of year, the time when families get together to exchange gifts, and spend quality time together. During this season, people do not ordinarily consider their taxes. After all, the middle of winter is almost as far away from April 15th as someone can get. Nevertheless, the gifts people give during this time of year can have a long-term impact on their tax situation thanks to the gift tax. Gift giving during a person's life is often a good way for someone to avoid estate taxes, so careful planning around this time of year can leave someone's family in a much better financial position.

What Gift Givers Should Know

Gift givers are the ones most on the hook for understanding the tax law when dealing with gifts. The most important thing for gift givers to understand is the fact that they are working under two separate but related gift giving limits. The first limit is known as the annual gift tax exclusion. This is the amount per year that any gift giver may give to any single person. The IRS has set that exclusion at $14,000 for both 2014 and 2015. If a person goes over that limit, then he or she must file a gift tax return. However, this does not necessarily mean that he or she must pay any taxes on the gift.

Filing a gift tax return triggers the second limit that gift givers are working under, the lifetime exemption. The lifetime exemption is the total amount of money that gift givers are allowed to give away over their yearly exemption before they start to owe taxes. The current lifetime exemption is $5.34 million. This means that if a person gives away $20,000 to a single person in a single year, then he or she must subtract $6,000 from his or her lifetime exemption. This is especially important because the lifetime exemption never resets and applies to estate taxes as well. For example, if a person gives away enough during his or her lifetime that he or she has used up $2.34 million of his or her lifetime exemption, then only the first $3 million of his or her estate's distributions are tax free. The rest may be subject to a tax rate of up to 40 percent.

What Receivers Should Know

Gift receivers have a much simpler set of rules to work under. Ordinarily, the gift giver pays the gift tax, and the receiver does not have to worry. If the person giving the gift does not pay the tax, then the IRS may come after the receiver, but usually people giving money in excess of the annual exclusion can also cover the gift tax. Additionally, people receiving five or six figure sums from foreign sources may also have to report that.

Tax day may come but once a year, but tax planning is a year round problem. If you have questions about how best to manage your estate, contact an Arlington Heights estate planning attorney today. The law firm of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC serves clients in many northwest suburbs including Palatine, Schaumburg, Barrington, Inverness, Mount Prospect, Long Grove, Kenilworth, Riverwood, and South Barrington.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


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