The most significant change to the U.S. tax code in 30 years was approved by Congress and signed by the President just in time for Christmas 2017. Many of the provisions became effective January 1, 2018, only a few days after being enacted.
SO, WHAT DOES IT CHANGE?
Corporate and Pass Through Entity Income Tax: Permanent
Corporate Tax Rates are reduced from 35% to 21%.
Business Income from Pass Through Entities: provides for a 20% deduction for individuals and trust and estates on domestic qualified business income from pass-through entities.
Effectively reduces the top tax rate for those eligible to 29.6% (from 37%)
Wages paid to owners and certain income from specified services business (i.e. attorney and accounting firms) are excluded from the deduction.
On October 16, 2017, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled favorably on a Personal Representative’s access to a deceased user’s online accounts and digital property (Ajeman v. Yahoo). This is the first reported case with respect to access to digital assets by a fiduciary.
The conundrum: Email are part of a deceased user’s estate. But a personal representative (aka executor) can’t read them without violating Federal privacy or anti-hacking law. The Ajeman case is the first to permit access and will empower fiduciaries throughout the U.S.
After more than 30 years of concentrating my legal practice in real estate matters, below is a brief listing of common mistakes I repeatedly see. Read below and find out how a few quick fixes can save you time, money and headaches.
Deeds Without Estate Status:
You want to add dad, mom or a sibling to your Florida property, so you get a Quit Claim Deed from an out-of-state lawyer, an office supply store or online, fill it out and mail it in to be recorded. Three years later they die, and when you go to sell the property you discover that in order to clear their interest, you need to file an ancillary administration in Florida. An easy fix could have saved you $3,000 and a few months of time. You eventually close and share the proceeds with their heirs, however this can be avoided by using the proper language on the deed. If you want the property to go to everyone’s heirs, do nothing, but if you want to be sure that the property goes to the surviving grantees, simply add, “joint tenants with full rights of survivorship, and not as tenants in common” after the grantee’s name. Upon their death, the title goes to the remaining grantee without probate.
If you own a second home/condominium in Florida and are a resident of another state, you can avoid two probates by simply deeding your second Florida property to yourself for life with a remainder to your chosen heirs. Then, when you die, no probate is necessary. You can even keep full control of your property by adding Ladybird Powers to your Life Estate Deed, which means you can sell or mortgage your property without your remainderman’s (person who inherts property) consent. Continue reading →
Upon the death of a loved one, sometimes you might need to deal with some legal processes that involve paperwork and court appearances called probate. This can include proving a will is valid, taking inventory of a person’s property, having property appraised, paying debts or taxes, and distributing the estate. As you can imagine this is the last thing anyone wants to go through when mourning a loved one. Many clients are concerned about leaving all this work for their survivors and often ask how they can avoid probate upon their death. Continue reading →
I often find myself meeting with clients whose children were born with a developmental disability such as Autism, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Fragile X Syndrome. The parents have come to me to assist them in the preparation of a special needs trust for their child. Often these trusts take the form of testamentary trusts (that is, a trust which does not come into existence until after the death of the surviving parent). Continue reading →