With Christmas right around the corner, many of you are pulling out your pencil and paper, so that you can make your Christmas list to deliver to Santa Claus. Instead of asking for the same old diamonds, power tools, red bow-wrapped Lexus, and other trivial gifts, it would be a good idea for you to add the following "Estate Preservation Gifts" so that Santa's elves can start working on them right away.
- "Santa, please let me keep my estate tax exemption." In the old days, your estate got walloped with a 55% tax on everything you owned that exceeded $600,000. For 2013, the exemption is $5 million. Most people tell me that they think the governement will reduce this exemption in the future, resulting in the IRS tapping into your estate when you die to the tune of about 50%.
- "Santa, tell the government to stay out of my estate." Tell Rudolph he needs to have a few extra stops this year. Rudolph needs to guide his sleigh to the White House, the halls of Congress, to the governor's residence, the state legislature, the probate courthouse and to our local municipalities and drop Santa off to have a chat with these folks. If Santa does his job, the governmental entities will keep their hands to themselves and allow us to keep what we've worked for - for ourselves and and our families and loved ones.
- "Santa, don't extend the look-back period." Congress and the President - over the years - have kept making harder for you to qualify for Long Term Care Medicaid by extending the time perod they can "look-back" to see if you re-titled your assets. It was 2 years, then 2.5, then 3, now it's 5 years. What's next? Seven or ten years? Santa, please don't make it any more difficult than it already is to protect everthing I've worked for from long term care expenses.
- "Santa, don't make it any more complicated." As I write this Christmas list, I must note that in my 20+ years of helping families, I've worked - literally - with a number of ROCKET SCIENTISTS - that don't understand the basic tax rules, trust rules, probate rules, Medicaid Manual, Last Will formalities, and other mind-boggling rules and regulations. It may be too much to ask Santa to simplify all of this, but it would be nice if Santa could at least keep all of this from getting any more complicated.
"Santa, please give me someone that can help me and my family!" If you've been a good boy or girt, I'd bet Santa can deliver a professional, courteous, competent, trusting, and knowledgable attorney to you that can work with you and your family to deliver the latest and greatest legal strategies - in a simple and easy to understand format - so that you can have the peace of mind that you and your family are protected from future foreseen and unforeseen events.