Thomas H. Sullivan
Attorney at Law
Administering a Hoarder's Estate
Posted on: May 23rd, 2020
Hoarding is more than just being a bit messy (or buying a six-month supply of toilet paper): It is actually a mental disorder causing some people to have difficulty discarding items, regardless of their value, and to experience severe distress even at the thought of it. If you have been named as the personal representative of a relative’s estate and discover that the deceased person’s home is packed, floor to ceiling, with collections, clothing, old mail, books, and papers, what should you do?...
State Estate and Inheritance Taxes
Posted on: May 17th, 2020
The federal gift and estate tax exclusion is currently very high—$11.58 million for an individual and $23.16 million for a married couple in 2020. As a result, only very wealthy people currently need to be concerned that their estates will be taxable at the federal level, at least until 2026, when the increased exclusion amount is scheduled to return to the $5 million (adjusted for inflation) exclusion in place before the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. But even if you are not among those who currently need to plan to avoid federal estate tax liability, some states have their own estate tax and a few have an inheritance tax (there is no federal inheritance tax). Only one state—Maryland—has both an estate and inheritance tax. State exclusion amounts are typically much lower than the federal estate tax exclusion, so it is important to make sure that your estate planning takes this potential tax liability into account....
Special Estate Planning Considerations for Art and Other Collections
Posted on: May 15th, 2020
Many people have collections about which they are quite passionate: The collections may be very valuable, for example, art collections, coins, stamps, or designer handbags, or they may have more sentimental than monetary value, such as political bumper stickers, postcards, or rocks. Regardless of its dollar value, if you have a collection, it should be included in your estate plan. You should make arrangements in advance to ensure that the collection is handled in the way you want, and if it is worth a lot of money, that its value is maximized. The following are a few steps you should take to ensure your wishes for your collection are followed:...
Caught in the Undertow
Posted on: May 12th, 2020
Many people love to spend part of their summer vacation at the beach, enjoying the ocean and sunshine. But there may be unseen dangers that are crucial for beachgoers to keep in mind: For example, the undertow is a current of water, often quite powerful, below the surface, that is moving away from shore when waves are approaching it. It can easily knock a smaller person off balance and could be dangerous for those who are not strong swimmers. As a result, it is very important to take steps to protect family members from this danger. Likewise, there are a number of dangers associated with failing to put a well-thought-out estate plan in place that could make your family members feel as though they are drowning if you were to pass away....
Caring For Yourself with the Right Estate Planning Prescription
Posted on: May 6th, 2020
To all front-line and “essential” workers: Thank you for all of your hard work—day in and day out (and often evenings, nights, and weekends). You tirelessly give of yourself to care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Whether you are caring for them in a hospital, therapy room, or patient’s home, you are there to protect and help the patient gain a better tomorrow....
Unclaimed Property - What is it, Where to find it, and Its Impact on Estate Planning and Administration
Posted on: April 29th, 2020
For most of us, every penny counts, so it is almost inconceivable that we could have lost track of any money or property. Regardless of how careful we are with our finances, it is possible for utility deposits, credit balances, unused gift certificates, banks accounts, and many more types of property or money to accidentally be forgotten or abandoned. In fact, across the country, there are billions of dollars in unclaimed property being held by the state and federal government. Fortunately, it is often possible to locate this property and obtain it. It is equally important for estate administrators or family members to look for unclaimed property when a loved one dies to be sure that all of his or her property is included in the estate and goes to the intended beneficiaries....