Written by: Bradley R. Coppedge, Esq. Prelude/Spoiler Alert: Two of my earlier blogs 12-18 months ago mentioned the ‘tie in’ between marital trusts and the exemption amount. The point of both of those, and this article, is that if your Will contains a credit shelter trust (a/k/a “bypass” trust), and/or a marital trust, and is more than a couple or three years old, you should review it. And if its more than 5 years old (ie, prior to ‘portability’ which was enacted at the end of 2012), it is even more imperative that you seek a review. Failure to do so can have some truly unintended, and perhaps very disappointing, or even disastrous, consequences for you and your spouse and loved ones! Let’s start with a quick review of what we would refer to as “traditional” estate planning for a couple, which went largely unchanged in general approach throughout the…       Read More

By: Bradley R. Coppedge, Esq. Let’s start with a brief trust primer. Virtually all trusts can be identified as one of two types. A Revocable Trust, or an Irrevocable Trust. Each is exactly what it sounds like. A Revocable Trust may be revoked or terminated after its creation, generally by the person who created it. Conversely, an Irrevocable Trust may generally not be revoked after its creation. (You may hear other terms ascribed to trusts, for example, an Inter-vivos Trust, which simply means it was created by someone during the creator’s life, or a Testamentary Trust, which was created by someone under his or her Last Will and Testament. But even each of those will either be revocable or irrevocable.) What we will discuss is this article is a Life Insurance Trust– what they are, their general purposes, benefits and their tax structure. Most commonly they are irrevocable and are…       Read More

by: Bradley R. Coppedge, Esq. You’ve heard it said that for many people, their house is their largest or most important investment. But for small business owners, his or her business may well take the place of the house as the most important investment. So when it comes to estate planning, what is the best course for the business owner? Gift it to children? Sell or gift it to employees? Sell it to a third party buyer? Just close up shop at death? There are 3 primary ways to transition a business as the owner considers or plans for retirement: 1) no “transition”–shut it down and liquidate assets 2) sell the business to employees or unrelated 3rd party 3) sale, gift or combination of the two to children or related parties. In considering an actual transition short of ‘shutting down the business’, four key issues need to be on the…       Read More

by Bradley R. Coppedge, Esq. So, do you have a desire to gift or bequeath money to your favorite charitable organization, but are concerned that either (i) you will need the income generated by the property during your retirement or (ii) you will need the assets to from part of a bequest to your spouse or children.  Is this an irreconcilable dilemma? Good news!  There are several “tried and true” methods by which you can often accomplish both, through the use of a Charitable Remainder Trust (“CRT”) or Charitable Lead Trust (“CLT”); and to make it even more appealing, you will be entitled to an income or estate tax charitable deduction.  Further, with CRTs, you can often accomplish your retirement income goals better than you could without the CRT, while still providing a significant benefit to the charitable organizations of your choice. This summary will focus only on CRTs, and…       Read More

Written by: Bradley R. Coppedge, Esq. A prenuptial agreement, also known as an antenuptial agreement, is a written agreement or contract between parties prior to entering into a marriage. The underlying purpose is to define the rights that each spouse has in the income, property or assets of the other at various times, particularly: during the term of the marriage, in the event of the dissolution of the marriage, or upon the death of either party. If an agreement is entered into after marriage, it is termed a post-nuptial agreement. It is not just a domestic planning tool, not just an estate planning tool, and not just an asset protection tool. It is in fact all three. Pre- or Post- nuptial agreements generally limit the rights of one spouse in property and income of the other. The reason this is important is this: generally, income earned and property acquired during a…       Read More

By: Bradley R. Coppedge, Esq. When you hear the term “trust,” or hear someone talking about setting up a trust, or having a trust, or being a trust beneficiary, what thought comes to mind? That the person must be wealthy, right? While trusts are often a common tool in estate planning for the wealthy, they are much more common, and much more practical and useful, than you might ever think for the average person. This brief article will describe 7 common situations where trusts are frequently and regularly used by those who do not fall in to the category of “wealthy.” These trusts can be either inter-vivos trusts, which are created and funded while you are still alive for the benefit of someone else, or testamentary trusts, which are created through your Last Will and Testament and only come in to being upon your death. 1. Trusts for Special Needs…       Read More

Written by: Bradley R. Coppedge, Esq. Do you ever wonder:  Will my loved ones carry out my wishes regarding burial or cremation?  And if you have that concern, is there any way to ensure that your final wishes are carried out?  Think about it, there is probably a provision in your Will or your Advance Directive for Healthcare that states what you prefer.  But let’s be realistic, by the time your Will is pulled out after your death, you’ve already been buried or cremated!  The question is, can you absolutely control which happens to you after your death? Most often, a decedent’s burial or cremation transpire without a problem.  But not infrequently, issues do arise.  For example, questions may include: Who has the priority right to make the determination as between burial and cremation?  What happens if family members disagree about burial or cremation plans?  Does the spouse automatically have…       Read More

by: Bradley R. Coppedge, Esq. Any “basic” estate plan will (or should!) include a Last Will and Testament, along with a Power of Attorney, and an Advance Directive for Healthcare.  Let’s look briefly at these latter two ancillary documents, which allow you to designate who makes decisions for you if you become unable to act or speak for yourself. A. Financial Power of Attorney A Power of Attorney, also known as a Financial Power of Attorney, General Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney, is an instrument by which you authorize another person or persons to act on your behalf. This person is known as your “agent” or your “attorney in fact.” This document allows your agent to make financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated, without the need to have the Probate Court appoint a guardian or conservator, which is a time-consuming and expensive process. A…       Read More

By: Bradley R. Coppedge, esq. “Basis” is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary (6th ed.) as “The value assigned to an asset for the purpose of determining gain (or loss) on the sale or transfer or in determining value in the hands of a donee”. Stated in layman’s terms, your basis in an asset is the threshold for determining if any tax is due when the asset is subsequently sold. The terms we will review to understand basis are Cost-Basis, Adjusted Basis, Carry-Over Basis and Stepped-Up Basis. A person’s basis in an asset is initially his “cost-basis” in a purchased asset, i.e., the amount that was paid for an asset. Assuming there has been no depreciation claimed on tax returns (which would reduce basis), nor any significant capital improvements to the asset (which would increase basis), a person’s cost basis will remain as the basis until the asset is sold. (On…       Read More