Articles Archive: Estate Planning, Probate & Trusts
Semmes offers articles, relative to different areas of law, for information-purposes only. Semmes assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or timeliness of any information provided herein. The articles and information may not apply to your unique situation, and are not intended to be used as a basis for any particular course of action or as a substitute for legal advice.
These days, a revocable inter vivos trust serves as the principal testimony instrument of many estate plans. The settlor of a trust of this sort retains nearly total control of the trust assets by retaining the unfettered power to amend the trust, and by implication also to revoke it. It matters not whether the trustee is the settlor or a third party. Thus, the beneficiaries of the trust possess but a tenuous contingent interest in the trust assets.
For most people, the federal estate tax is dead! If you die this year, 2009, your family and friends will not have to deal with the IRS's "Death Tax" unless you have more than $3,500,000 to leave to them. Only a handful of the U.S. citizens dying each year have taxable estates larger. Even wealthy people dying in 2010 will be excused from paying a federal estate tax unless Congress mixes and matches several pending proposals to make the current federal tax permanent. The conventional wisdom, which is far from infallible, has the U.S. estate tax being extended into 2010 and beyond with the proviso that estates with assets at the $3,500,000 to $5,000,000 level will not enter into the estate tax system. For the moment, we have $3,500,000 to work with until the end of 2009.
Advanced planning can ensure continued happy ownership of a valued family vacation home for the next generation.
What happens when a special pet loses its owner? That lingering question, and its potentially tragic ramifications, are leading more and more pet owners to plan for the care of their pets after their own death.