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Don’t Let Your Uncle Marry His Attorney – True Scary Halloween Story

As I told you a few posts ago, last week I was in San Diego with 400 of my closest attorney friends for the annual Southern California Tax and Estate Planning Forum. One of the best speakers was Ellen McKissock, a trust litigator from San Jose. She told a very scary story about a real life case she successfully litigated. Her case is worthy of our scary Halloween edition post. Dateline: Bay…

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Don’t Use a Bypass Trust

My last post was really long. Here is the quick summary. The American Taxpayer Relief Act raised the estate and gift tax exemption amount to $5,250,000, indexed for inflation. Most or you will now not have to pay estate taxes, so you won't need a mandatory bypass trust in your living trust. Better to leave your assets to your spouse in a QTIP trust or outright. That way you will save your family…

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Estate Tax Not An Issue Anymore – It’s About Income Tax

I spent the last four days in San Diego (I know, tough assignment) at the annual Southern California Tax and Estate Planning Forum - a gathering of about 400 attorneys learning from the top estate planning experts in the country. The main topic this year was how the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which became law on January 1, 2013, has completely changed the focus of estate planning. We Used to Focus on…

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Don’t Let Your Dad Marry Your Sister

I'm at the Southern California Tax and Estate Planning Conference in San Diego. Attorney Ellen McKissick spoke on Marriage: The Latest Tool for Elder Abuse. The basic scenario is someone who knows or is caring for an elderly person talks that person into marriage so she can claim half of his estate when he dies. Apparently this is occurring more and more frequently. A dramatic example is former California State Senator Ralph…

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Scalability is Out – Purposely Small is In

This is the era of fragmentation, micro-markets, niche demographics. Twenty, even ten, years ago, tiny markets had to springboard to big markets or die. Today is different. A business that caters to a tiny niche market can survive, and even thrive, without lunging to a venture capitalist or an angel investor. Microbusinesses are an end to themselves. They don't have to, and in most cases, shouldn't try to grow bigger and scale.…

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Estate and Gift Tax – Non Resident Aliens and U.S. Citizens Living Abroad

Last week, a few clients asked me about the tax consequences of their parents making gifts to them. One client's parents are nonresident aliens and the other client's parents are U.S. citizens living abroad. Here is a general outline of the estate and gift tax issues. The U.S. Estate and Gift Tax is different for U.S. persons than it is for nonresident aliens. U.S. Estate and Gift Tax on U.S. Persons What…

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Fail Your Way to Success

Delbert's creator, Scott Adams, is interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about his new book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. [iframe id="http://live.wsj.com/public/page/embed-551BECFD_E8FC_4DE6_A1C1_5DE285F5D269.html" mode="normal" align="center"] His article in the WSJ, excerpted from the book is fantastic - one of best the perspectives on choosing your career and work that I've ever read. It is consistent with a point I make frequently, don't follow best practices, do what works…

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You Need an Estate Plan – Yes, You Do

Many people think they don’t need an estate plan if they don’t have a large estate. They are wrong. There are four main reasons you need an estate plan. 1. To determine who gets your stuff when you pass away. 2. To name the people you want to raise your kids if you can't. 3. To nominate one or more person to take care of your finances if you can’t, and 4.…

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