The Downside of an Inheritance – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

As many as 1.7 million American households inherit assets every year. However, almost seventy-five percent of those heirs lose their inheritance within a few years. More than a third see no change or even a decline in their economic standing, says Canyon News in the article “Three Setbacks Associated With Receiving An Inheritance.”

Receiving an inheritance should be a positive event, but that’s often not the case. What goes wrong?

Family battles. A survey of lawyers, trust officers, and accountants conducted by TD Wealth found that at 44 percent, family conflicts are the biggest cause for inheritance setbacks. Conflicts often arise when individuals die without a properly executed estate plan. Without a will, asset distributions are left to the law of the state and the probate court.

However, there are also times when even the best of plans are created and problems occur. This can happen when there are issues with trustees. Trusts are commonly used estate planning tools, a legal device that includes directions on how and when assets are to be distributed to beneficiaries. Many people use them to shield assets from estate taxes, which is all well and good. However, if a trustee is named who is adverse to the interests of the family members, or not capable of properly managing the trust, lengthy and expensive estate battles can occur. Filing a claim against an adversarial trustee can lead to divisions among beneficiaries and take a bite out of the inheritance.

Poor tax planning. Depending upon the inheritance and the beneficiaries, there could be tax consequences including:

  • Estate Taxes. This is the tax applied to the value of a decedent’s assets, properties and financial accounts. The federal estate tax exemption as of this writing is very high—$11.4 million per individual—but there are also state estate taxes. Although the executor of the estate and not the beneficiary is typically responsible for the estate taxes, it may also impact the beneficiaries.
  • Inheritance Taxes. Some states have inheritance taxes, which are based upon the kinship between the decedent and the heir, their state of residence and the value of the inheritance. These are paid by the beneficiary and not the estate. Six states collect inheritance taxes: Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Spouses do not pay inheritance taxes when their spouse’s die. Beneficiaries who are not related to decedents will usually pay higher inheritance taxes.
  • Capital Gains Tax. In certain circumstances, heirs pay capital gains taxes. Recipients may be subject to capital gains taxes, if they make a profit selling the assets that they inherited. For instance, if someone inherits $300,000 in stocks and the beneficiary sells them a few years later for $500,000, the beneficiary may have to pay capital gains taxes on the $200,000 profit.

Impacts on Government Benefits. If an heir is receiving government benefits like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Social Security (SSS) or Medicaid, receiving an inheritance could make them ineligible for the government benefit. These programs are generally needs-based and recipients are bound to strict income and asset levels. An estate planning attorney will usually plan for this with the use of a Special Needs Trust, where the trust inherits the assets, which can then be used by the heir without losing their eligibility. A trustee is in charge of the assets and their distributions.

An estate planning attorney can work with the entire family by planning for the transfer of wealth and helping educate the family so that the efforts of a lifetime of work are not lost in a few years’ time.

Reference: Canyon News (October 15, 2019) “Three Setbacks Associated With Receiving An Inheritance”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

Do My Heirs Need to Pay an Inheritance Tax? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

U.S. News & World Report explains in its article, “What Is Inheritance Tax?” that estate taxes and inheritance taxes are often mentioned as if they’re the same thing. However, they’re really very different in concept and practice.

Remember that not every estate is required to pay estate taxes, and not every heir will pay inheritance tax. Let’s discuss how to determine whether these taxes impact you.

Inheritance can be taxable to heirs. However, this is based upon the state in which the deceased lived and the heirs’ relationship to the benefactor.

Inheritance tax is a state tax on a portion of the value of a deceased person’s estate that’s paid by the inheritor of the estate. There’s no federal inheritance tax. Currently, there are only six states that impose an inheritance tax, according to the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. The states that have an inheritance tax are Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Inheritance tax laws and exemption amounts are different in each of these six states. In Pennsylvania, there’s no inheritance tax charged to a surviving spouse, a son or daughter age 21 or younger and certain charitable and exempt organizations. Otherwise, the Keystone State’s inheritance tax is charged on a tiered system. Direct descendants and lineal heirs pay 4.5%, siblings pay 12% and other heirs pay a cool 15%.

Inheritance tax is determined by the state in which the deceased lived. Estate taxes are deducted from the deceased’s estate after death and aren’t the responsibility of the heirs. Some states also charge their own estate taxes on assets more than a certain value. The states that charge their own estate tax are Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C.

Decreasing estate taxes are the responsibility of the deceased prior to his or her death. They should work with an estate planning attorney to map out strategies that can lessen or eliminate estate taxes for certain assets.

Remember that inheritance taxes are state taxes. They are imposed by only six states and are the responsibility of the heirs of the estate, even if they live in another state. In contrast, estate taxes are federal and state taxes. The federal estate tax is a 40% tax on assets more than $11.4 million for 2019 ($22.8 million for married couples). This is charged, regardless of where you live. Some states have additional estate taxes with their own thresholds.

Inheritance taxes are paid by the heirs and estate taxes are paid by the estate. An estate planning attorney can help to find ways to reduce taxes and transfer money efficiently.

Reference: U.S. News & World Report (October 8, 2019) “What Is Inheritance Tax?”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

Why Should I Pair my Business Succession and Estate Planning? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

A successful business exit plan can accomplish three important objectives for a business owner: (i) financial security because the business sale or transfer provides income that the owner and owner’s family will need after the owner’s exit; (ii) the right person where the business owner names his or her successor; and (iii) income-tax minimization.

Likewise, a successful estate plan achieves three important personal goals: (i) financial security for the decedent’s heirs; (ii) the decedent (not the state) chooses who receives his or her estate assets; and (iii) estate-tax minimization.

Business owners will realize that the two processes have the same goals. Therefore, they can leverage their time and money and develop their exit plans into the design of their estate plans. The Phoenix Business Journal’s recent article “Which comes first for Arizona business owners: estate planning or exit planning?” explains that considering exit and estate planning together, lets a business owner ask questions to bring their entire picture into focus. Here are some questions to consider:

  1. If a business owner doesn’t leave her business on the planned business exit date, how will she provide her family with the same income stream they would’ve enjoyed if she had?
  2. How can a business owner be certain that her business retains its previously determined value?
  3. Regardless of whether an owner’s exit plan involves transferring part of the business to her children, does her estate plan reflect and implement her wishes, if she doesn’t survive?
  4. If an owner dies before leaving the business, can she be certain that her family will still get the full value of the business?

Another goal of the exit planning process is to protect assets from creditors during an owner’s lifetime and to minimize tax consequences upon a transfer of ownership.

Because planning exits from both business and life are based on the same premises, it can be relatively easy to develop a consistent outcome. There isn’t only one correct answer to the “estate or exit planning” question. A business owner must act on both fronts since a failure to act in either case creates ongoing issues for owners and for their businesses and families.

Reference: Phoenix Business Journal (October 8, 2019) “Which comes first for Arizona business owners: estate planning or exit planning?”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

What’s the Best Way to Gift an Interest in My Business? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

A couple who owned a small family business was thinking about giving interests in the business to their married son over time. However, they were worried about the “what if” scenario of a possible divorce in his future. If their son divorced, they didn’t want to be in business with his ex-wife.

Forbes’s recent article, “What Family Businesses Need To Know About Gifting Business Interests,” explains that prior to the couple transferring some of their business to their son, they asked their attorney to draft a shareholder agreement with restrictions on to who the stock can be transferred in the future. The parents’ goal was to keep the stock from being transferred as part of a potential divorce. In our scenario, the parents want their daughter-in-law to sign a consent agreeing that she would be bound by the shareholder agreement and that the stock would never be transferred to her. If their son and his wife later divorced, she’d be bound by the agreement and the stock would remain with the son.

While the parents’ plan sounds like a great idea, it is in theory. However, the reality is that there’s a good chance of a far different and less desirable result. Let’s examine three ways this type of agreement could become a big headache.

  • Creating a big, icky issue. Ask yourself if you really want to ask your daughter-in-law (or son-in-law) to sign this? This may open a big can of worms in your family. If she didn’t think there was any value in the business, she may feel differently when she reads the agreement. Thanksgiving dinner may end up in a food fight!
  • Is it legal? Ask your attorney to analyze how effective the agreement would be under the laws that apply to the agreement and in the state where the couple may divorce.
  • How much protection does it offer? In many states, the agreement wouldn’t remove the stock as a marital asset. Even if the stock stays on the husband’s side of the balance sheet, its value would still be subject to division, and the wife could get other marital assets to balance things out.

An alternative might be the use of a marital agreement, like a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement. The family business may be better protected with the son having an agreement that states that the stock is outside the marital estate and not subject to division in the event of divorce. Of course, the parents can’t force their son to enter into the agreement, but they can stop the gifting spigot if he doesn’t.

Speak with your attorney and look at all your options to find the strategies that will work best for your business and your family.

Reference: Forbes (October 9, 2019) “What Family Businesses Need To Know About Gifting Business Interests”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

What Do I Do With an Inherited IRA? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

When a family member dies and you discover you’re the beneficiary of a retirement account, you’ll need to eventually make decisions about how to handle the money in the IRA that you will be inheriting.

Forbes’ recent article, “What You Need To Know About Inheriting An IRA,” says that being proactive and making informed decisions can help you reach your personal financial goals much more quickly and efficiently. However, the wrong choices may result in you forfeiting a big chunk of your inheritance to taxes and perhaps IRS penalties.

Assets transferred to a beneficiary aren’t required to go through probate. This includes retirement accounts like a 401(k), IRA, SEP-IRA and a Cash Balance Pension Plan. Here is some information on what you need to know, if you find yourself inheriting a beneficiary IRA.

Inheriting an IRA from a Spouse. The surviving spouse has three options when inheriting an IRA. You can simply withdraw the money, but you’ll pay significant taxes. The other options are more practical. You can remain as the beneficiary of the existing IRA or move the assets to a retirement account in your name. Most people just move the money into an IRA in their own name. If you’re planning on using the money now, leave it in a beneficiary IRA. You must comply with the same rules as children, siblings or other named beneficiaries, when making a withdrawal from the account. You can avoid the 10% penalty, but not taxation of withdrawals.

Inheriting an IRA from a Non-Spouse. You won’t be able to transfer this money into your own retirement account in your name alone. To keep the tax benefits of the account, you will need to create an Inherited IRA For Benefit of (FBO) your name. Then you can transfer assets from the original account to your beneficiary IRA. You won’t be able to make new contributions to an Inherited IRA. Regardless of your age, you’ll need to begin taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from the new account by December 31st of the year following the original owner’s death.

The Three Distribution Options for a Non-Spouse Inherited IRA. Inherited IRAs come with a few options for distributions. You can take a lump-sum distribution. You’ll owe taxes on the entire amount, but there won’t be a 10% penalty. Next, you can take distributions from an Inherited IRA with the five-year distribution method, which will help you avoid RMDs each year on your Inherited IRA. However, you’ll need to have removed all of the money from the Inherited IRA by the end of five years.

For most people, the most tax-efficient option is to set up minimum withdrawals based on your own life expectancy. If the original owner was older than you, your required withdrawals would be based on the IRS Single Life Expectancy Table for Inherited IRAs. Going with this option, lets you take a lump sum later or withdraw all the money over five years if you want to in the future. Most of us want to enjoy tax deferral within the inherited IRA for as long as permitted under IRS rules. Spouses who inherit IRAs also have an advantage when it comes to required minimum distributions on beneficiary IRAs: they can base the RMD on their own age or their deceased spouse’s age.

When an Inherited IRA has Multiple Beneficiaries. If this is the case, each person must create his or her own inherited IRA account. The RMDs will be unique for each new account based on that beneficiary’s age. The big exception is when the assets haven’t been separated by the December 31st deadline. In that case, the RMDs will be based on the oldest beneficiaries’ age and will be based on this until the funds are eventually distributed into each beneficiary’s own accounts.

Inherited Roth IRAs. A Roth IRA isn’t subject to required minimum distributions for the original account owner. When a surviving spouse inherits a ROTH IRA, he or she doesn’t have to take RMDs, assuming they retitle the account or transfer the funds into an existing Roth in their own name. However, the rules are not the same for non-spouse beneficiaries who inherit a Roth. They must take distributions from the Roth IRA they inherit using one of the three methods described above (a lump sum, The Five-Year Rule, or life expectancy). If the money has been in the Roth for at least five years, withdrawal from the inherited ROTH IRA will be tax-free. This is why inheriting money in a Roth is better than the same amount in an inherited Traditional IRA or 401(k).

Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney about an Inherited IRA. The rules can be confusing, and the penalties can be costly.

Reference: Forbes (September 19, 2019) “What You Need To Know About Inheriting An IRA”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

How to Prevent The Top Six Retirement Planning Mistakes – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their retirement, is not realizing what they don’t know, says the Chicago Sun-Times in the article “The 6 biggest retirement mistakes—and how you can avoid them.” By misunderstanding how Social Security works, underestimating life expectancies or failing to plan for big expenses, like long-term care or taxes, people put themselves and their families in financial binds.

These are not the people who make an effort to educate themselves. They are sure they know what’s what—until they realize they don’t. Most people don’t seek out objective advice before they retire. They wing it, hoping things will work out. Often, they don’t.

Retirement is complicated. Here are the top six most common mistakes:

Expecting to die young. If you die young, you have fewer worries about retirement funds. Live a long life and you could easily outlive your retirement savings. One smart move is to wait to collect Social Security as long as possible. Each year you put it off from age 62 to 70, increases your benefit by 7-8 percent.

Ignoring your spouse’s needs. One of you will die first. When that happens, one of your Social Security checks goes away. The survivor will need to get by on only one check. This is why it is vital to maximize the survivor benefit by having the higher earner delay filing for Social Security as long as possible.  Married people who receive a pension, should consider a “joint and survivor” option that lets payments continue for both lives.

Bringing debt into retirement If you’re rich, debt may not be a big deal. You have plenty of income to make payments. Your investments may be earning more than you are paying in interest payments. However, if you are not rich, are you pulling too much from your savings to pay down the debt? This would increase the chances you’ll run out of money. If you take big withdrawals from retirement accounts, it could push you into a higher tax bracket and increase your Medicare premium. Try to get rid of your debt before retiring. However, be careful about tapping retirement accounts to pay off big debts, like a home mortgage.

Neglecting to plan for long-term care. Someone turning 65 today has a 70 percent chance of needing help with daily living tasks, like bathing, eating or dressing. Family and friends may be willing to help, but about half will need long-term care at a cost of $250,000 a year or more. Long-term care insurance is the most obvious solution. However, if you didn’t purchase it when you were healthy, you may need to earmark certain investments, or consider tapping your home equity to pay for this cost.

Thinking you’ll just keep working. About half of retirees report leaving the workforce earlier than they had planned. Most retire because they lose their jobs and cannot find a replacement job or can’t find one at the same income level as their previous job. Others retire because of ill health or the need to stop working to care for a loved one. Working longer can help you make up for not saving enough, but don’t count on it.

Putting off retirement too long. Consider time, health and energy as finite resources. Spend the time and money to speak with professionals, including an estate planning attorney and a financial advisor to determine when you can retire, prepare an estate plan and enjoy retirement.

Reference: Chicago Sun-Times (September 23, 2019) “The 6 biggest retirement mistakes—and how you can avoid them.”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

Will the IRS Say It’s a Gift, If I Sell My House to my Son at a Great Price? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

If a parent sells his home to his adult child at half the appraised price, this would be considered a gift, says nj.com in the article “I’m selling my home to my son at a discount. Is it considered a gift?”

The amount of the gift would be the excess of the value subtracted from the amount paid. In this example, if the bank-appraised value of the property is $700,000, and the parent is selling it for $340,000, the $360,000 will be treated as the amount of the gift.

The gift must be reported to the IRS on IRS Form 709 by April of the following year. However, there’s probably no gift tax due.

The gift tax is a tax on the transfer of property by one person to another while receiving nothing, or less than full value, in return. The tax applies whether the donor intends the transfer to be a gift or not.

In this case, because the value is a gift under the available federal annual gift exclusion, when applied, that relieves the son of taxes on the gift. The federal basic exclusion amount will be applicable.

An individual can gift $15,000, adjusted for cost of living over time, to a person each year without reporting the gift. However, if the gift to a single person is more than $15,000, then the IRS Form 709 must be filed to report the gift.

When reporting the gift, the value of the gift is applied against the available federal basic exclusion amount of the donor (the person making the gift). Only if the gift value is more than the available federal basic exclusion amount is there a tax that’s due.

The current federal basic exclusion amount is $11.4 million per person.

Reference: nj.com (September 17, 2019) “I’m selling my home to my son at a discount. Is it considered a gift?”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

How Do I Find a Great Estate Planning Attorney? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

Taking care of these important planning tasks will limit the potential for family fighting and possible legal battles in the event you become incapacitated, as well as after your death. An estate planning attorney can help you avoid mistakes and missteps and assist you in adjusting your plans as your individual situation and the laws change.

Next Avenue’s recent article “How to Find a Good Estate Planner” offers a few tips for finding one:

Go with a Specialist. Not every lawyer specializes in estate planning, so look for one whose primary focus is estate and trust law in your area. After you’ve found a few possibilities, ask him or her for references. Speak to those clients to get a feel for what it will be like to work with this attorney, as well as the quality of his or her work.

Ask About Experience.  Ask about the attorney’s trusts-and-estates experience. Be sure your attorney can handle your situation, whether it is a complex business estate or a small businesses and family situation. If you have an aging parent, work with an elder law attorney.

Be Clear on Prices. The cost of your estate plan will depend on the complexity of your needs, your location and your attorney’s experience level. When interviewing potential candidates, ask them what they’d charge you and how you’d be charged. Some estate planning attorneys charge a flat fee. If you meet with a flat-fee attorney, ask exactly what the cost includes and ask if it’s based on a set number of visits or just a certain time period. You should also see which documents are covered by the fee and whether the fee includes the cost of any future updates. There are some estate-planning attorneys who charge by the hour.

It’s an Ongoing Relationship. See if you’re comfortable with the person you choose because you’ll be sharing personal details of your life and concerns with them.

Reference: Next Avenue (September 10, 2019) “How to Find a Good Estate Planner”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

Do You Have to Relocate For Retirement? – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

Whether to relocate for retirement is a difficult question for some people and a snap to answer for others. Relocating in retirement, says The Motley Fool in the article “4 Reasons to Relocate in Retirement,” can make for a far more relaxed, financially easier lifestyle.

Take a look at these four reasons and see how they line up with your current and future living situation.

It’s Expensive to Live Where You Are. If you live in a city like New York, San Francisco, Chicago or Los Angeles, you know about the high cost of living. Food, gas, and housing are just more expensive. While living in an expensive city usually means your paycheck is also high, once you stop working, that higher cost may no longer be affordable. If you can’t live without the amenities of a big city, consider a neighborhood nearby where you can easily access the world-class museums, theater, medical care, etc., but costs are a little lower.

Local and state taxes are high. People who live in high tax states know who they are. Taxes take an even bigger bite out of your budget at retirement. You will have income from Social Security and retirement savings or maybe a part-time job or a business. However, the less taxes you have to pay, the more money you’ll keep.

Property taxes can be a problem, even if you enter retirement with a paid-off mortgage. When you are on a fixed income, high property taxes are a problem. Moving somewhere with lower property taxes could help your fixed income stretch further.

You live in a state that taxes your Social Security benefits. Most states do not tax Social Security benefits, but there are 13 that do. The good news is that some of them offer exemptions for low-income to middle-income households, so you may be able to avoid these taxes. Some also offer a far lower cost of living than others, so that should be only one factor in your decision. Here are the states:

Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.

You live in a place where you must have a car. The annual cost of car ownership is estimated at $8,849 on average, according to AAA. If you live in a walkable city, or one with good public transportation, you could save a fair amount of money. Living somewhere walkable will also keep you moving as you age, which is a good thing. At some point, there comes a time when it is necessary to hand over the keys. Losing your independence because there is no public transportation, is a difficult transition.

The idea of packing up and moving from a community where you have friends and family is not an easy one. However, the idea of having more money to enjoy your retirement years may make it worthwhile. Take your time considering how you’ll manage where you are and what you could do in a less expensive location.

Reference: The Motley Fool (Sep. 1, 2019) “4 Reasons to Relocate in Retirement”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jane Frankel Sims

410-828-7775

Contact: Frank Campbell

410-263-1667

Sims & Campbell Estates and Trusts

Frankel Sims Law and Holden & Campbell
Merge to Form Sims & Campbell

Firm will offer comprehensive Trusts & Estates services through offices in Towson and Annapolis

TOWSON, Md. (April 26,2019)  Frankel Sims Law and Holden & Campbell have jointly announced the merger of their firms to create a boutique Trusts & Estates law firm providing comprehensive services in the fields of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Trust Administration and Charitable Giving. The combined firm will be named Sims & Campbell and have offices in Towson, Md. and Annapolis, Md.  Jane Frankel Sims and Frank Campbell will lead and hold equal ownership stakes in the firm.

Sims & Campbell will have 9 attorneys and 15 legal professionals that handle every facet of estate and wealth transfer planning, including wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, estate and gift tax advice, and charitable giving strategies.  The firm will focus solely on Trusts & Estates but will serve a wide range of clients, from young families with modest resources to ultra-high net worth individuals.  This allows clients to remain with the firm as their level of wealth and the complexity of related estate and tax implications change over time. 

“By joining forces, we have expanded our footprint to conveniently serve clients in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia” said Jane Frankel Sims.  We are seeing some of the greatest wealth transfer in our country’s history, and we want to continue to be on the leading edge of helping our clients maintain and enhance their family’s wealth.  In addition, we aim to serve our clients for years to come, and the new firm structure will allow Sims & Campbell to thrive even after Frank and I have retired.”    

“Jane and I have always admired each other’s firms and recognized the need to provide even greater depth and breadth of focused expertise to help families amass and protect their wealth from generation to generation,” said Frank Campbell.  “Now we have even greater capabilities to make a real difference for our clients.” 

The Sims & Campbell Towson office is located at 500 York Road, on the corner of York Road and Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of Towson.  The Annapolis office is currently located at 716 Melvin Avenue, and is moving to 181 Truman Parkway in August, 2019.  For more information, visit www.simscampbell.law.