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IRS Issues Private Letter Ruling Re: Retirement Account Beneficiaries

April 1, 2016

A part of estate planning that is sometimes overlooked is the naming of beneficiaries for retirement accounts. What may seem like a trivial exercise can have damaging impact if neglected. Be sure to name beneficiaries of your retirement accounts. And be sure to name contingent beneficiaries in case your primary beneficiary dies before you.

In Private Letter Ruling 201612001 (released March 18, 2016), the IRS was asked to provide an opinion on the following situation: Husband died owning an IRA account. His spouse survived him. The primary named beneficiary (not the spouse) died before Husband. There was no contingent beneficiary named. As a result the Husband’s estate became the beneficiary of the retirement account. The Surviving Spouse then requested the IRS’s opinion on whether she could treat the IRA account as her own, thus potentially delaying the payment of income taxes on the account. In this case, the IRS stated that because the Surviving Spouse was both the executor and the sole heir of the estate, she could treat the IRA account as her own.

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Filed under: Legal Posts, Retirement Planning

Posted By: Christopher Miller

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Year 2016 Estate and Gift Tax Exemption Amounts Announced By the IRS

December 23, 2015

Since it is the giving season, let’s talk estate and gift taxes! The IRS recently announced the new estate and annual gift tax exclusion amounts for 2016. In 2016 the estate tax exclusion amount will be increased to $5.45 million per individual estate, which means a married couple can shield up to $10.9 million from estate taxes. The annual gift tax exclusion amount remains at $14,000.00 per donor per individual recipient.

These amounts had originally been set at $5 million and $13,000.00 respectively, by The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 enacted on December 17, 2010, since indexed to inflation by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 enacted on January 2, 2012.

If you anticipate that your estate (including life insurance, retirement benefits, and inheritances you might receive from others) may be above $5.45 million individually, or above $10.9 million as a married couple, you should consider a thorough estate planning review. There are often ways to help reduce or even eliminate estate and gift tax liability through careful estate planning.

You can see the IRS announcement here.

Filed under: Estate Administration, Estate Planning, Legal Posts

Posted By: Christopher Miller

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