Estate Planning Update

August, 2015

  1. 2015 Annual Gift Tax Exemption:  remains at $14,000 per donor, per done.
  2. 2015 Gift and Estate Tax Exemption:  rose to $5,430,000 per donor, inflation adjusted.
  3. Marital Deduction for Transfers to U.S. Spouse:  unlimited.
  4. 2015 Generation Skipping Tax Exemption:  $5,430,000 per donor, inflation adjusted.
  5. Top rate for Federal Estate, Gift and Generation Skipping Taxes: 40%.
  6. Federal Legislation:  the President continues to keep the iron warm by keeping estate tax reform in his budget proposals.  He prefers to drop the exemption to $3,500,000 and increase the top rate to 45%.  However, I doubt these changes are coming in the near future.  Income tax reform, however, may be a topic of discussion or action as people start paying the net investment income tax. This tax enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, imposes a 3.8% tax on “net investment income”, defined as dividends, capital gains, interest, rents and royalties.
  7. State Legislation:  there are few notable items from the 2015 legislative session.  Therefore, we continue to suggest reviewing revocable trusts prepared prior to 2007.  If you have not looked at your plan since 2007, please contact me to schedule a review.
  8. Planning Issues to Review:  (i) is my named successor trustee appropriate under the circumstances?  (ii) is the A/B or bypass trust structure still appropriate if my assets are less than the Estate Tax Exemption?  (iii) who should I name as the beneficiary of my Individual Retirement Account and/or 401k? (iv) what can I do now to ease the transition upon my death or disability? (v) have I communicated in writing my desires for funeral/memorial services and burial or cremation? For other topics and issues please see my blog at
  9. Planning Opportunities:  asset valuations and interest rates at historically low levels continue to make loans, gifts in trust, grantor retained annuity trusts, charitable lead trusts and sales with deferred payments extremely attractive.  Last year my firm amended or terminated more irrevocable trusts than we created, so let me know if you want to clean house and amend or kill an old trust.
  10. Quinn News:  in August we are moving office locations to give us room to expand and earlier this year the Arizona Attorney magazine published my article “3 Months – Estate Planning Before Emergencies Strike.” You can see the article online at and select the February issue.