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1. How do I know if my estate will be subject to estate taxes?

That is a great question because there has been a great deal of discussion in the media recently about the federal estate tax. For starters, it is important to understand that the federal estate tax is based upon a percentage of your estate, which is comprised of all the assets you own less certain deductions, including charitable donations and what is known as the applicable exclusion amount.

In 2001, Congress passed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA), which provided that the applicable exclusion rate increased annually up to $3.5 Million dollars in 2009. EGTRRA expired in 2010, which meant no federal estate tax in 2010. Accordingly, we entered 2010 with much speculation of whether Congress would allow this so-called "sunset provision” of EGTRRA to occur.

It wasn’t until December 17, 2010 that the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the "2010 Tax Relief Act”) was signed into law. This ended nearly a year of speculation of what would happen to the federal estate tax. The new law, which amends EGTRRA, provides that the applicable exclusion amount is $5 Million dollars in 2011 and 2012. However, in 2013, neither EGTRRA nor the 2010 Tax Relief Act will apply. Without action by Congress, the applicable exclusion amount will revert back to $1 Million dollars. So, we are again left to speculate about whether Congress will allow this to happen.

We recommend that everyone should have their estate plan regularly reviewed by an experienced estate planning attorney. If your estate plan hasn’t been reviewed recently, you or your family may face unintended consequences due to these changes in the federal estate tax. Additionally, the 2010 Tax Relief Act may offer some additional opportunities for advanced planning related to gift tax and generation skipping transfer taxes.

2. What portion of my estate is taxable?

Your taxable estate is made up of the total value of your assets minus liabilities and deductions such as funeral expenses, debts, bequests to charities and the value of the assets passed on to your spouse. Taxes imposed on the taxable part of your estate are paid out of the estate itself before distribution to heirs.

3. Is it true that if I leave my assets to my spouse there won't be any estate taxes?

This is a tricky question. The federal government lets married individuals give an unlimited amount of assets by gift or bequest to his or her spouse without federal gift or estate taxes being imposed. This is known as the unlimited marital deduction, and in effect it lets married couples delay the payment of estate taxes when one spouse passes away. However, upon the death of the surviving spouse, all assets in the estate in excess of the applicable exclusion amount will be included in the survivor’s taxable estate. Also, unlimited marital deductions apply only to surviving spouses who are U.S. citizens.

4. If my estate exceeds the applicable exclusion amount, do I automatically have to pay the full amount of estate taxes?

A number of tools exist to minimize estate taxes. Some of the more commonly used are Credit Shelter Trusts, Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs) Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, and Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs). An experienced, competent estate planning attorney can use these tools and more to help protect against your estate paying too much in death taxes.

Upcoming Events

6/15/14: Special Needs Planning Workshop

Special Needs Planning Workshop

Category: Events
Date: 6/15/2014

In this workshop you will learn the critical information needed to plan effectively for your special needs child. 

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In this workshop you will learn the critical information needed to plan effectively for your special needs child. 

2/5/15: Truth About Long Term Care

Truth About Long Term Care

Category: Events
Date: 2/5/2015

Brighton Community Education

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Brighton Community Education

2/10/15: Truth About Estate Planners

Truth About Estate Planners

Category: Events
Date: 2/10/2015

Brighton Community Education

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Brighton Community Education

2/26/15: Client Educational Event

Client Educational Event

Category: Events
Date: 2/26/2015

Highland Library

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3/3/15: Truth About Estate Planning

Truth About Estate Planning

Category: Events
Date: 3/3/2015

Milford Library

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3/12/15: Truth About Estate Planning

Truth About Estate Planning

Category: Events
Date: 3/12/2015

3/18/15: Client Educational Event - Estate Administration

Client Educational Event - Estate Administration

Category: Events
Date: 3/18/2015

Novi Library

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Novi Library

3/24/15: Truth About Estate Planning

Truth About Estate Planning

Category: Events
Date: 3/24/2015

Highland Library

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4/21/15: Truth About Long Term Care

Truth About Long Term Care

Category: Events
Date: 4/21/2015

4/28/15: Medicaid and You: Long Term Care Basics

Medicaid and You: Long Term Care Basics

Category: Events
Date: 4/28/2015
Time: 7PM - 8:45PM
Commerce Township Library more

(7PM - 8:45PM)

Commerce Township Library

5/12/15: Special Needs Planning

Special Needs Planning

Category: Events
Date: 5/12/2015

2/11/16: Truth About Estate Planning

Truth About Estate Planning

Category: Events
Date: 2/11/2016
Highland Library more

Highland Library

2/15/16: Client Educational Event - Successor Trustee

Client Educational Event - Successor Trustee

Category: Events
Date: 2/15/2016
Brighton District Library more

Brighton District Library

4/15/16: Huron Valley Sinai Hospital Fair - Healthcare Directives

Huron Valley Sinai Hospital Fair - Healthcare Directives

Category: Events
Date: 4/15/2016
Huron Valley Sinai Hospital more

Huron Valley Sinai Hospital

5/18/16: Protecting Your Investments

Protecting Your Investments

Category: Events
Date: 5/18/2016
Novi Library more

Novi Library

6/2/16: Truth About Long Term Care

Truth About Long Term Care

Category: Events
Date: 6/2/2016
Novi Library more

Novi Library

9/21/16: Understanding Annuities

Understanding Annuities

Category: Events
Date: 9/21/2016
Milford Library more

Milford Library

10/20/16: WXW Annual Forum

WXW Annual Forum

Category: Events
Date: 10/20/2016
Washtenaw Community College more

Washtenaw Community College

1/12/17: Client Educational Event - Successor Trustee

Client Educational Event - Successor Trustee

Category: Events
Date: 1/12/2017
Milford Library (6:00 pm-8:00 pm) more

Milford Library (6:00 pm-8:00 pm)

1/18/17: Smart Women, Smart Legal and Financial Choices

Smart Women, Smart Legal and Financial Choices

Category: Events
Date: 1/18/2017
Brighton Community Education (6:00 pm-8:00 pm) more

Brighton Community Education (6:00 pm-8:00 pm)

4/22/17: Community Wellness Expo

Community Wellness Expo

Category: Events
Date: 4/22/2017
Lakeland High School (10:00 am-2:00 pm) more

Lakeland High School (10:00 am-2:00 pm)

4/25/17: But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

Category: Events
Date: 4/25/2017
Independence Village of White Lake (2:30 pm-3:30 pm) more

Independence Village of White Lake (2:30 pm-3:30 pm)

5/11/17: But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

Category: Events
Date: 5/11/2017
Walled Lake Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm) more

Walled Lake Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm)

5/16/17: But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

Category: Events
Date: 5/16/2017
Brighton Community Education Center (6:15 pm-8:00 pm) more

Brighton Community Education Center (6:15 pm-8:00 pm)

5/23/17: Understanding Hospice and Funeral Planning

Understanding Hospice and Funeral Planning

Category: Events
Date: 5/23/2017
Highland Library (6:00 pm-8:00 pm) more

Highland Library (6:00 pm-8:00 pm)

5/25/17: I Don't Even Know Where to Start! A Survival Guide for Successor Trustees, Agents, and Executors

I Don't Even Know Where to Start! A Survival Guide for Successor Trustees, Agents, and Executors

Category: Events
Date: 5/25/2017

Brighton Community Education Center (6:15 pm-8:00 pm)

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Brighton Community Education Center (6:15 pm-8:00 pm)

6/1/17: Who's the Boss? Planning for Disability, Aging and Death

Who's the Boss? Planning for Disability, Aging and Death

Category: Events
Date: 6/1/2017
Hartland Community Ed (6:30 pm-8:00 pm) CANCELLED more

Hartland Community Ed (6:30 pm-8:00 pm) CANCELLED

6/6/17: Who's the Boss? Planning for Disability, Aging and Death

Who's the Boss? Planning for Disability, Aging and Death

Category: Events
Date: 6/6/2017
Brighton Community Education Center (6:15 pm-8:00 pm) CANCELLED more

Brighton Community Education Center (6:15 pm-8:00 pm) CANCELLED

6/8/17: I Don't Even Know Where to Start! A Survival Guide for Successor Trustees, Agents, and Executors

I Don't Even Know Where to Start! A Survival Guide for Successor Trustees, Agents, and Executors

Category: Events
Date: 6/8/2017

Independence Village of White Lake (6:30 pm-7:30 pm) - CANCELLED

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Independence Village of White Lake (6:30 pm-7:30 pm) - CANCELLED

6/20/17: Who's the Boss? Planning for Disability, Aging and Death

Who's the Boss? Planning for Disability, Aging and Death

Category: Events
Date: 6/20/2017
Walled Lake Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm) CANCELLED more

Walled Lake Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm) CANCELLED

7/11/17: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You – Medicaid Myths and Misinformation

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You – Medicaid Myths and Misinformation

Category: Events
Date: 7/11/2017
Walled Lake Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm) CANCELLED more

Walled Lake Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm) CANCELLED

7/14/17: Summer Picnic!

Summer Picnic!

Category: Events
Date: 7/14/2017
Huron Valley Law Center (2:00 pm-7:00 pm) more

Huron Valley Law Center (2:00 pm-7:00 pm)

7/20/17: I Don't Even Know Where to Start! A Survival Guide for Successor Trustees, Agents, and Executors

I Don't Even Know Where to Start! A Survival Guide for Successor Trustees, Agents, and Executors

Category: Events
Date: 7/20/2017

Salem-South Lyon District Library (7:00 pm-8:30 pm)

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Salem-South Lyon District Library (7:00 pm-8:30 pm)

7/25/17: Plan Your Estate or the State Will!

Plan Your Estate or the State Will!

Category: Events
Date: 7/25/2017
Brighton Community Education Center (6:15 pm-8:00 pm) more

Brighton Community Education Center (6:15 pm-8:00 pm)

8/10/17: Who's Minding the Store?

Who's Minding the Store?

Category: Events
Date: 8/10/2017
Brighton Community Education Center (6:15 pm-8:00 pm) more

Brighton Community Education Center (6:15 pm-8:00 pm)

8/15/17: Who's Minding the Store?

Who's Minding the Store?

Category: Events
Date: 8/15/2017
Salem-South Lyon District Library (7:00 pm-8:30 pm) CANCELLED more

Salem-South Lyon District Library (7:00 pm-8:30 pm) CANCELLED

8/29/17: Who's the Boss? Planning for Disability, Aging and Death

Who's the Boss? Planning for Disability, Aging and Death

Category: Events
Date: 8/29/2017
Salem-South Lyon District Library (7:00 pm-8:30 pm) more

Salem-South Lyon District Library (7:00 pm-8:30 pm)

9/9/17: But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

Category: Events
Date: 9/9/2017
Lyon Township Public Library (1:00 pm-2:30 pm) more

Lyon Township Public Library (1:00 pm-2:30 pm)

9/12/17: But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

Category: Events
Date: 9/12/2017
Salem-South Lyon District Library (7:00 pm-8:30 pm) more

Salem-South Lyon District Library (7:00 pm-8:30 pm)

9/19/17: Who's the Boss? Planning for Disability, Aging and Death

Who's the Boss? Planning for Disability, Aging and Death

Category: Events
Date: 9/19/2017
Independence Village of White Lake (6:30 pm-7:30 pm) CANCELLED more

Independence Village of White Lake (6:30 pm-7:30 pm) CANCELLED

10/4/17: But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

But Mom Promised! Why Good Families Go Bad

Category: Events
Date: 10/4/2017
Brighton Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm) more

Brighton Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm)

10/26/17: I Don't Even Know Where to Start! A Survival Guide for Successor Trustees, Agents, and Executors

I Don't Even Know Where to Start! A Survival Guide for Successor Trustees, Agents, and Executors

Category: Events
Date: 10/26/2017

Brighton Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm)

more

Brighton Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm)

11/1/17: I Don't Even Know Where to Start! A Survival Guide for Successor Trustees, Agents, and Executors

I Don't Even Know Where to Start! A Survival Guide for Successor Trustees, Agents, and Executors

Category: Events
Date: 11/1/2017

Independence Village of White Lake (6:00 pm-7:15 pm)

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Independence Village of White Lake (6:00 pm-7:15 pm)

11/9/17: Plan Your Estate or the State Will!

Plan Your Estate or the State Will!

Category: Events
Date: 11/9/2017
Brighton Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm) more

Brighton Community Education Center (6:00 pm-7:30 pm)

12/8/17: Annual Holiday Party!

Annual Holiday Party!

Category: Events
Date: 12/8/2017
Huron Valley Law Center (2:00 pm-7:00 pm) more

Huron Valley Law Center (2:00 pm-7:00 pm)

2/13/18: Treat Yourself to Some Peace of Mind this Valentine's Day!

Treat Yourself to Some Peace of Mind this Valentine's Day!

Category: Events
Date: 2/13/2018
Milford Public Library (6:00 pm-8:00 pm) more

Milford Public Library (6:00 pm-8:00 pm)

Huron Valley Law Center, PLC
2850 S. Milford Road
Highland, Michigan 48357
Phone: 248.685.8743
Email: info@huronvalleylaw.com
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