Thomas H. Sullivan
Attorney at Law
How to Help Your Loved Ones Avoid Probate
Posted on: June 22nd, 2020
Today, many people are using a revocable living trust instead of a will or joint ownership as the foundation of their estate plan. When properly prepared, a living trust avoids the public, costly and time-consuming court processes of conservatorship or guardianship (due to incapacity) or probate (after death). Still, many people make a big mistake that sends their accounts and property and loved ones right into the court system: They fail to fund their trust....
3 Simple Ways to Avoid Probate Costs
Posted on: June 17th, 2020
The bad news: When a deceased person’s estate (all of their money and property) has to go through probate (the court-supervised process of distributing a deceased person’s money and property), it can be subject to a variety of costs stemming from attorneys, executors, appraisers, accountants, courts, and state law. Depending on the probate's complexity, fees can run into tens of thousands of dollars. The good news: Many of these probate costs can be reduced by avoiding probate. It’s really that simple....
Setting Your Trustee Up for Success
Posted on: June 8th, 2020
For many people, a revocable living trust is a valuable tool to ensure that their finances are well managed during periods of incapacity and that their loved ones are financially secure upon their passing. However, signing the trust agreement doesn’t end the estate planning process: To work properly, the trust needs to be funded....
How to Handle Savings Bonds in Estate Planning
Posted on: June 3rd, 2020
A savings bond is defined as “a debt security issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help pay for the U.S. government’s borrowing needs.” In effect, when you buy a savings bond, you are loaning the U.S. government money which is repaid with interest after a fixed period of time....
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....
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....