Protect yourself and your family.
Understand how the elements of your estate planning fit together.
Residential real estate is often the most valuable asset to consider during estate planning,
and estate settlement. We handle residential real estate conveyances and closings. To make an appointment call: (413) 567-5600.
An Estate Plan That Protects Your Digital Assets
A Massachusetts Probate Court must decide whether the federal Stored Communications Act allows family members to access their loved one's Yahoo! email account.
The family has been fighting with Yahoo! since 2007.
The Supreme Judicial Court looked at the case and decided on May 7, 2013 that the federal law will be interpreted by the Probate Court judge who is handling the decedent's estate. Read the full case.
Your online financial accounts and your accounts with Facebook, E-bay and other companies are valuable and important. Include provisions for digital assets in your Will and Power of Attorney documents, and take steps to make it possible for your Personal Representatives to access your online accounts. We make these provisions and steps part of your estate plan.
Probate of Estates
For estate estate settlement services that keep you in control of the probate process, and for answers to questions from the decedent's heirs and family members, call for an appointment: 567-5600.
National Health Care Income Tax Increases Begin in 2013
Beginning in 2013, medical expenses can be deducted only after they exceed 10% of adjusted gross income (the 7.5% floor still applies to people over 65 until 2016)
There is also a Medicare Earnings Tax on earnings above $200,000 (unmarried filers) ($250,000 for married filing joint and $125,000 for married filing separate filers). The rate rises .9% from the existing rate to 2.35%.
Individuals and Trusts and Estates will be hit with an investment income surtax of 3.8% applied to the lesser of 1) a person's investment income, or 2) the amount that their investment income exceeds a threshold. The threshold are: $200,000 of Adjusted Gross Income for unmarried filers or head of household, $250,000 AGI for married filing jointly, $125,000 AGI for married filing separately, and $12,000 AGI for trusts and estates.
Investors could use Roth IRAs (which do not give off taxable income), installment sales (which spread out taxable income), contributions to charitable remainder trusts (which act to defer taxable income), or take steps to reduce their net investment income.
Flexible medical spending accounts can no longer be used for nonprescription medications, and nonmedical withdraws from health savings accounts will be taxed at 20% (up from 10%), and the maximum contribution to a pre-tax healthcare flexible spending account will be reduced to $2,500
People who don't comply with the coverage mandate will be fined from $0 to $4,500.
Estate Tax Planning for 2013
Estates valued under $5 million are safe from federal estate and gift taxation. Here is how the January, 2013 tax legislation affects estates and gifts:
• Lifetime Federal Estate Tax Exemption. The 2013 tax law permanently installs a unified federal estate and gift tax exemption of $5 million that will be adjusted annually for inflation. The maximum estate tax rate will be 40 percent. The exemption amount was $5.12 million in 2012, and after being adjusted for inflation the amount will be approximately $5.25 million.
• Federal Estate Tax Exemption Portability. The law also makes permanent the right to leave your unused federal estate and gift tax exemption to your surviving spouse.
Marital Trusts Can Save Couples from the Massachusetts Estate Tax. Most estates are safe from the Federal Estate Tax, but Massachusetts will still be taxing any estate worth more than $1 million. Couples can benefit from planning to use both of their $1 million exemption amounts.
What Happens Without a Will?
If a parent neglects to write a Will, and leaves a spouse and children, state law requires that children receive part of the estate. This is a problem, especially if your estate includes a small business.
More problems arise if money passes directly to a child, rather than a trust that can protect their inheritance:
This video series tells more about who manages your estate if you don't leave a will, and how the Massachusetts Probate Code will affect your children and grandchildren if there are no documents to guide the settlement of your estate.