We Practice Law for Your Peace of Mind

Free 20-minute private consultation for Elder Law Day on Monday, May 13th

Author: Linda Grear

April 24th, 2013

May is National Elder Law month!  Throughout the month of May, please check our website for informative articles on Estate Planning and Elder Law topics.

HoganWillig will be hosting an Elder Law Day on Monday, May 13, 2013 at our Amherst, NY location (2410 North Forest Road, Suite 301).  We are offering FREE 20-minute private consultations with one of our attorneys for review of basic estate planning documents and elder law issues.  These FREE consultations will be by appointment only.  Appointment slots will fill-up quickly, so, please call for an appointment today:  (716) 636-7600.

Same-Sex Marriage Law Creates New Concerns for Estate Planning

Author: Hogan Willig

July 20th, 2011

On Friday, June 24th, New York became the largest state to legalize same-sex marriage. The law will take effect on July 25th, granting marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. While the legislation is a major milestone in the national gay rights movement, it may be financially problematic for couples who decide to tie the knot.

Although same-sex marriage is now recognized by five states and the District of Columbia, it is not acknowledged by the federal government. As a result, couples do not enjoy certain advantages offered through federal law, including the ability to share retirement benefits, file a joint tax return, protect each other’s assets from estate taxes, and benefit from federal tax breaks. While most state-based rights such as hospital visitation, emergency medical treatment, and health insurance and pension benefits will extend to same-sex couples, the discrepancy between state and federal law creates difficulties in other areas.

No Deal Likely on Federal Estate Tax Extension

Author: Hogan Willig

December 22nd, 2009


While the House recently passed a bill to reinstate the estate tax in 2010, last week the Senate rejected a measure to temporarily extend it.

As we previously announced, the House of Representatives voted to permanently extend the present 45% estate tax rate, and the $3.5 million (per person) exclusion from estate taxes.

However, arguments over the tax rate and the exclusion amount developed in the Senate. Democrats in general were ready to approve the House version, while some Republicans preferred a lower tax rate of 35% and a higher exclusion of $5 million. Therefore, as a result of a deficit of 60 supporting votes, the Senate did not pass an estate tax extension.

If the Senate adjourns without getting an extension before January 1st, Congressional leaders have said they plan to enact a retroactive fix early next year. Generally, when a law is passed, it becomes effective on the date of passage. However, this law would be an exception. In order to avoid a complete repeal of the estate tax in 2010, this law is expected to contain a provision making it retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010.

Even when setting aside the issue of the constitutionality of a retroactive tax, the possibility of imposing an estate tax retroactively would create administrative and planning headaches for financial planners, accountants, lawyers and heirs of estates.

However, given that there are not 60 votes yet in the Senate to support a temporary extension of the estate tax, it is not clear whether there will be a sufficient number of votes next year either. We will certainly keep you up to date as this matter develops. However, in the meantime, you should keep in mind that the current legislation and 2010 repeal does not mean that there won’t be any tax consequences for those who inherit assets or receive gifts.

The good news is, if Congress doesn’t act, there will be no federal estate taxes for 2010. Businesses, stocks, and other assets can be passed on to heirs without being hit with tax rates as high as 45%.

The bad news is that there are still state estate taxes to consider. Further, there will be only a limited step-up in basis. Under current federal estate tax laws, the assets of the deceased get a step-up in basis to the fair market value at date of death (or 6 months later). The benefits to the step up in basis are realized when heirs sell assets with little to no capital gains tax consequences. In 2010, if the estate tax is repealed, the step-up in basis is limited to $1.3 million for the overall estate, plus $3 million for assets transferred to a surviving spouse. According to a Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, it is estimated that losing the step up in basis would affect a projected 71,000 estates in 2010.

Additionally, there will also be changes in gift tax rates, which are 45 percent in 2009 but will be reduced to 35 percent if estate taxes lapse in 2010. Finally, and most importantly, if Congress doesn’t take any action at all, in 2011, the former law regarding estate tax levels is reinstated, meaning that all estates over $1 million will be taxed, with federal tax rates up to 55%.

Again, we will certainly keep you up to date on these issues as we move forward into the New Year. However, you should also consider the various other benefits to estate planning beyond the strategy to minimize or eliminate estate tax. Other issues such as asset protection, dysfunctional family situations, disabled beneficiaries, disposition of retirements assets and business succession issues can be just as important, if not more so, than the traditional transfer tax issues.

Please feel free to contact our office if you would like to discuss these matters in further detail.

Medicaid: Overview and Impact of New Regulations

Author: Hogan Willig

May 5th, 2009

Uncertainty in life is a certainty. Our lives are in a constant state of flux, which requires planning in order to be in a position to address the unforeseen. Estate Planning and Asset Protection applies to almost everyone, regardless of age. As a person ages, they may be concerned about planning for the cost of their care while continuing to maintain their lifestyle, and about transferring their wealth to their children with minimal tax consequences.

Once a person has accumulated savings and wealth, a fundamental financial planning priority is to protect assets from creditors. Most people are concerned that they may

Get Your Ducks in a Row

Author: Linda Grear

March 16th, 2009


Given the current state of the world economy and recent local events, many of our clients have expressed a desire get their financial and household business matters in order. There are three basic estate planning documents that all individuals should consider when planning and organizing a life plan strategy, although the specific content of those documents will differ by personal circumstances.


We Practice Law for Your Peace of Mind