The importance of estate planning is too often realized after the death of a family member. Even in Palm Beach, Florida, there are many cases of heirs getting the surprise of their lives and wishing they had persuaded their loved one to look into proper estate planning before it became too late.
People may chuckle whenever they read a headline about a multibillionaire deciding to leave their entire estate to their beloved dog or cat. But the truth is, trust planning for pets is becoming more and more common; particularly in Florida, where there is a significant elder population that enjoys the companionship that a pet can provide.
Recently, the Internal Revenue Service has begun cracking down on gifts among family members that have not been reported. People who live in Florida and elsewhere are required to report such gifts on a Form 709. This form is known as a United States Gift Tax Return. It must be filed for transfers of property valuing more than $13,000, in spite of the current law that states that the lifetime gift tax exemption limit is $5 million.
Estate tax planning is important for Florida residents, but it is also just as important for persons who own U.S. assets but are not U.S. citizens. The rules concerning non-resident asset taxation can be complicated, and they may only get more complicated over the next few years. Under current law, not only can the federal government levy estate taxes on property, but some states may also demand a probate tax at the time of death on property owned by non-residents. One way to possibly get around the state probate tax is by owning property through a revocable trust.