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Estate Tax

Status of Federal Estate Tax

  • From 2006-2008, estates valued at up to $2 million have been excluded.
  • That amount increased to $3.5 million in 2009.
  • The estate tax was repelled in 2010.
  • In 2011, the tax is scheduled to re-appear for estates valued at more than $1 million.

Proper estate planning can be critical to minimizing your exposure to estate taxes and to ensuring that plans for dividing your estate among beneficiaries properly takes into account the impact of taxes, probate court costs and other estate settlement expenses.

The Southern California estate tax attorneys at Howard Law have the legal and financial experience and resources to help minimize your exposure to estate taxes and other expenses, while ensuring that your estate is administered in accordance with your wishes, and for the maximum benefit of your intended beneficiaries. Our comprehensive approach to the practice of law - which includes thriving practices in estate planning, business litigation, and even personal injury, immigration and criminal law - ensures that you will have access to the legal experience and resources for virtually any situation that may arise during the administration of your estate.

As of 2010, the estate tax is inactive, after several years in which estates valued at up to $3.5 million have been exempt. However, the tax is scheduled to resume in 2011on estates valued at more than $1 million. With the fiscal condition of the United States, and increasing concern over growing budget deficits, it is a virtual certainty that estates will face heavy taxation going forward. The choices are few: Die in 2010 or get serious about estate planning. Historically, estates have been heavily taxed, often requiring roughly half their value to settle the estate. For estates valued at between $10,000 and $20,000 the rate has been $1,800 plus 20 percent (or an effective tax rate of 30-40 percent); Prior to 2007, amounts over $2 million have been subject to a rate of up to 55 percent.

At Howard Law, our experienced staff will work across departments and across all areas of the law to develop and execute a comprehensive estate plan, using all of the legal and financial tools at out disposal, including a Living Trust (which can collect and control your assets during your lifetime), a comprehensive Will, gift planning, charitable giving, business structures, and life insurance and retirement account planning.

The starting point for determining estate tax is the "gross estate." However, your "taxable estate" may often exceed this figure and includes assets such as life insurance policies and the value of certain property or assets transferred prior to death. Unfortunately, many people fail to plan and execute a proper estate plan and think by giving a bunch of assets away they will lower the value of their estate. Often, this only creates headaches and tax exposure for all involved. At other times, the value of life insurance or other assets is not taken into account. The result can be an estate valued at far less than its taxable value, requiring a virtual liquidation of all assets just to satisfy the tax burden. Often, this can result in the loss or sale of a family business, farm or other enterprise, because care and planning was insufficient to prepare the estate to meet its tax burden. At Howard Law, we believe families seeking to protect a lifetime of hard work deserve access to high-quality legal advice and estate planning representation. Call us today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your estate planning needs in Los Angeles and the surrounding area, including Santa Ana, Riverside and Anaheim.

CALIFORNIA ESTATE TAX PLANNING - Call (800) 872-5925 - Howard Law