Year-End Tax Planning Strategies for Individuals and Businesses

Tax Planning is critical at the end of the year. Here are some ideas to contemplate, along with the tried and true year-end tax savings techniques.

Individual Tax Strategies:

1) Game – The Standard Deduction

Put Your Plan in Order. Part 5: Trust Planning - Should You Appoint an Independent Trustee?

Like most attorneys, I was taught Estate Planning either by direct tutoring from my partners or by the traditions of those attorneys teaching seminars and speaking in related educational-type programs. The answer to the question of who should serve as a successor trustee in a trust for the individuals forming the trust (trust makers) is almost always an afterthought – it defaults to the kids, of course.

Put Your Plan in Order. Part 4: Fund Your Living Trust. Strategies for Individuals with Trusts.

The Importance of “Trust Funding

One of the significant benefits of utilizing a living trust as part of one’s estate plan is to avoid the necessity of a surviving spouse or heirs from having to probate your assets with a probate court after your death. However, this benefit is not achieved by simply drafting and signing a living trust. The title to assets actually has to be transferred from an individual and/or their spouse to the trust during their lifetime in order to achieve the goal of avoiding probate.

Put Your Plan in Order. Part 2: Updated Planning for Clients with Married Separate Trusts

Sometimes I’m asked if I’m concerned that changes to federal estate tax law will result in there being less work for me to do in my practice. I reply that I’m not concerned and that the changes to the federal estate tax law just mean that I’ll be dismantling all the planning during the second half of my career that I spent the first half of my career creating for clients.

Put Your Plan in Order. Part 1: Are Your Beneficiary Designations Current?

This week’s article, “Are Your Beneficiary Designations Current?” is the first in a series of four articles discussing key information on estate planning matters. The following articles will also be included in this series:

                Part 2: Updated Planning for Clients with Married Separate Trusts

Kick Off Your Charitable Giving Season: Tax Benefits of Incorporating Charitable Giving Into Your Tax and Estate Planning

Now that Halloween has come and gone and the end of the year is on the horizon, the time is here to plan your short- and long-term strategies for charitable giving.

Depending on who you listen to, the overall economy is still sluggish; however, many individuals still realized significant stock market gains based on bullish market conditions during the course of 2013. Individuals who have enjoyed success in the market this year have realized gains that will increase their gross income, triggering higher taxes.

Dan’s Perspective: It’s a “New Day” for Estate planning, Or Is It? Recent Developments in Federal Estate Tax Law Have Dramatically Changed Estate Planning

In December 2012, Congress made temporary increases on the estate and gift tax credits permanent and adopted further benefits for taxpayers. Those credits resulted in individuals being able to give away during their lifetime, or transfer at death, approximately $5 million in assets to beneficiaries ($10 million for married couples).

The Joint Ownership Exception to the Transfer of Ownership Under Michigan Property Tax Law

A common concern among parents wishing to transfer ownership of cottages and other legacy-type residences to their children is the "uncapping" of real estate taxes that occurs upon transfer of ownership. The general rule is that as long as someone owns real estate, the "taxable value" of the real estate remains "capped" and increases only incrementally against a statutory capped amount on an annual basis.

New Michigan Law Expands Exemptions from Uncapping Property Tax Values for Transfers Between Parents and Children

The Michigan legislature recently added an exemption to the definition of "Transfer of Ownership" under the uncapping provisions of the General Property Tax Act. The new law provides that beginning December 31, 2013, transfers of residential real property from a transferor to a transferee who is related by blood or affinity to the first degree are not "transfers of ownership" and do not "uncap" the taxable value of the property provided that the use of the property does not change following the transfer. (MCL 211.77(a)(7)(s))

Think twice before leaning on a legal self-help site

While they have their uses, there are problems with relying on legal self-help websites in place of expert advice, writes Peter I. Minton, founder and president of Minton Law Group. These sites aren't able to provide specific advice about your company and they won't be able to point out ongoing legal problems, he explains. And many people who try to save money by avoiding lawyers often face difficulties later.