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Bay Area Estates and Tax Law Blog

A 21st century consideration: cryptocurrency and estate planning

Cryptocurrency these days is more than the mere concept of a few futurists that it was just a few short years ago. The realm of this alternative-to-cash universe is now solidly entrenched and growing, and at least a bit more understood in the general public than it used to be.

A finance writer for one national publication notes that cryptocurrency – readers might reasonably flash on Bitcoin, which is certainly the most well-known of all digital currency offerings – now needs to be better comprehended by another audience as well.

Some considerations relevant to estate planning, trust creation

“Who’d want to chance it?”

That is the question posed to readers in a recent New York Times article addressing estate planning challenges and opportunities. The Times’ specific focus is on the uncertainty – and, pointedly, acrimony – that can arise among siblings after mom and dad are gone and it turns out that the estate they left invites disagreement among heirs.

Foes of offshore-account tax law dismayed by SCOTUS ruling

Legions of taxpayers and estate holders in California and across the country have dreaded for years the acronym FATCA and what it stands for. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act enacted as federal law by Congress in 2010 has long been viewed as a near limitless power often wielded by the IRS in selective and unfair ways.

As noted in a recent national media piece on FATCA and its involvement in the courts, the legislation’s goal has been “to target the undeclared offshore accounts of Americans.” Revenue officials have consistently contended that FATCA’s reach is actually quite narrow, being focused solely on tax evaders. Special agents and law enforcers say that investigatory probes have always been aimed only at individuals and business entities that seek to avoid legal tax duties by hiding money outside the United States in offshore tax havens.

Famed novelist Harper Lee's estate under a microscope

Just about any third party with even casual knowledge of Harper Lee and her life can readily see why the famed American author's estate is now commanding considerable interest following her death two years ago.

For starters, Lee's personal biography was centrally marked by a reclusive nature that reveled in privacy rather than disclosure. By all accounts, Lee chose to live her life in a sheltered and financially sparse manner. She never married or had any children, and is survived by only a niece and three nephews.

Estate issues can usually be prevented

Many different things go through a person's mind when they are trying to devise an estate plan. These things include who is going to get what and how they want to make the transfers.

There are a lot of things that go into an estate plan that can discourage family members and heirs from fighting when a person passes away. In fact, preventing fights over the estate is a primary focus of estate planning. Here are some tips for minimizing the chance of an estate battle, and some points that matter if a dispute does happen:

Can I amend a trust, and is doing so a simple matter?

It is no surprise that individuals, couples and families in California and nationally find a compelling utility in trusts from an estate-planning perspective. They are impressively flexible legal tools that can be creatively tailored to promote diverse goals. We note on our website at the Law Offices of Connie Yi that, because of that, they "can be an integral piece of estate planning."

An immediate point to note concerning trusts is that there are many types, which can be crafted to promote specific goals and interests. Representative trust vehicles include these:

Long-time IRS overseas compliance program rapidly ticking down

Americans residing abroad or living domestically with overseas financial holdings have been a collectively peeved bunch for years in their dealings with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Legions of them have been notably put out -- and rendered fearful -- by agency exactions concerning their overseas financial holdings.

The cumulative stress is added to for many every time they confront any combination of these three tax-linked acronyms: FBAR, FATCA and OVDP.

When an estate has no assets or is underwater

It is an optimal case for estate administrators and heirs, of course, when a wealth creator passes while leaving behind significant assets that are well protected and in a smartly crafted estate plan. That ideal scenario allows for inheritances and a related passage of property precisely in keeping with a drafter's wishes.

It is not always the case, though, for such a scenario to flow when the time comes to settle an estate. In many instances, assets are in short supply. Sometimes there is nothing on the plus side at all, with only accumulated debt on display.

Why do families hesitate to act concerning special needs trusts?

In response to today's above-posed headline query, the answers are many.

Some parents or other loving caregivers feel stymied in their efforts to make long-term plans for children with special needs owing to what a recent media focus on the matter terms "interpersonal conflicts." That is, they begin to argue or disagree every time they broach a topic that they deem hyper-sensitive. An appreciable percent of respondents in a university-linked national survey stated that the topic was too "emotionally loaded" to even bring up.

Changing a will not enough to avoid probate in California

When you consider how many people with significant estates die each year in California without a will, you may think you are well ahead of the curve just by having a will in place. In the grand scheme of things, this is true. You certainly are better off having a will than no will at all, but it is not enough to make your wishes known in a will if the underlying assets you name require additional documentation.

One of the most common problem areas for property owners who hope to avoid probate in California involves placing real property into a trust. It is not enough to list the property under the ownership of a trust in your will, you must also use a deed to transfer the property officially.

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