Published: October 30, 2018

What will happen to your frequent flyer miles when you're gone? Will your spouse, partner, or someone else you care about be able to use and enjoy them? The airlines' rules are not always clear-cut on the matter. But with proper planning, you can make the most of their policies and help to ensure that your miles are passed on to someone you designate.

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Published: September 6, 2018

One of the many benefits of Saul Ewing's recent merger with Arnstein & Lehr, now Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, is that we now have offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida. Many people living in the Northern and Midwestern states have second homes in Florida or have become full-time Florida residents, and they often need additional or different estate planning assistance.

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Published: December 4, 2017

After much wrangling and dealmaking, both houses of Congress have passed bills making substantial changes to federal tax law. Although it's not entirely certain, it seems likely that there will shortly be agreement on a tax bill to become law next year. The Senate bill doubles the exemption from federal estate tax, while the House bill goes further and eventually repeals the federal estate tax. So many fewer people (or no) people will pay the federal estate tax in the future.

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Published: November 30, 2017

It now seems more likely that a tax bill of some kind will be passed by Congress this year. One prominent DC tax lobbyist told me: "This is happening." Whether or not you agree with all of the provisions now being offered (still subject to revision on a daily basis), the dramatic changes in tax law that would occur under such a tax bill merit close study. Of particular interest are the changes in the federal estate and gift tax law.

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Published: June 26, 2017

One of the biggest missteps of clients is to create a trust without communicating its purpose with the adult beneficiaries. Without guidance from the client/grantor and his or advisors, beneficiaries sometimes become suspicious that they have been isolated from decisions. They may also suspect that the trust was formed for purposes that are not in their best interests. As a consequence, they may try to destroy long-term relationships with trustees, investment advisors and other beneficiaries. They may also try to destroy the trust.

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Published: January 29, 2017

As we enter the beginning of a new administration in Washington, many provisons of federal law are being considered for possible changes. At this point (January 28, 2017) it's not possible to say what will be changed and when, but it is important to be ready for change and to take advantage of opportunities it presents and avoid problems it creates. We will try to anticipate these changes as soon as we know enough to be helpful, but meanwhile consider these areas of possible change:

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Published: January 1, 2017

In the classic Hollywood movie All About Eve, Bette Davis offered that advice to party-goers, and they were well-advised to heed it. The same advice applies as we begin a new year and the start of a Congressional session that is very likely to bring dramatic changes to our tax system. Those who say they know what will happen in the next six months have either perfected time travel or are not paying attention. Presidents generally begin their term of office planning to change everything, and if they are lucky they can bring about some incremental changes.

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Published: September 14, 2016

I've written before about the new proposed Treasury Regulations under Section 2704 of the Internal Revenue Code. The new regulations would limit the ability of owners of family businesses and other closely held business interests to transfer a portion of their ownership at a discount. These regulations would change asset transfer techniques that have been used for many years, and that have saved taxpayers many millions of dollars in federal estate taxes and state inheritance taxes.

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Published: August 4, 2016

Many books and articles talk about the ongoing transfer of business interests from one generation to the next within families. One of the most valuable techniques in that process is the ability to transfer business interests at discounted values, and by doing so to transfer more value within the existing gift and estate tax exemptions. Discounts of substantial amount have been based on the lack of marketability of closely held business interests and the fact that they generally represent only a minority interest in the business, and therefore do not permit control of the business.

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Published: March 11, 2016

Many people who have been successful in their life endeavors turn their attention to the well-being of the next generation or two in their families. They have sufficient wealth for their own needs, but would like to do what they can to make life better for children and grandchildren. It is important to think of estate planning as a multi-generational project. This means more than wills for the parents. It's a process that includes how retirement plan and IRA assets and other employment-related benefits will pass among members of the succeeding generations.

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