Important Estate Planning Changes for 2015


Estate planning attorneys say that one of the primary reasons people seek assistance with planning their estates is to protect their assets from unnecessary taxes. If you're concerned about maximizing your assets, here are a few important updates for 2015 that you should be aware of.

  • The current estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) exclusion amounts are $5.34 million. For 2015, these exclusion amounts will increase to $5.43 million. However, the maximum rate for estate, gift, and GST taxes in excess of the exclusion amounts will remain at the current level of 40%.
  • The annual gift tax exclusion will remain at $14,000 per recipient for 2015. However, the limitation on gifts made to spouses who are not United States citizens will increase from $145,000 to $147,000 in 2015.
  • A trust with undistributed annual earnings of more than $12,300 will be required to pay a 3.8% Medicare surtax. This tax may be avoided or reduced by distributing such income directly to beneficiaries who are below the current individual net investment income threshold amounts of $200,000 for single filers, $250,000 for married couples filing jointly, and $125,000 for married individuals filing separately.

2014 also saw several cases that could have an impact on your estate planning. In Estate of Elkins, the Fifth Circuit significantly increased the valuation discounts allowed for a decedent's fractional interests in art and rejected the IRS’s contention that no discounts were applicable. In Clark v. Remeker, the US Supreme Court found that funds in an inherited IRA are subject to the claims of creditors.

How Can We Help?

Since laws that affect estate planning can change on a yearly basis, it's important to periodically reevaluate your estate plan to make sure you are fully protected. An estate plan that hasn't been touched in decades may offer little or no protection when it is needed. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you evaluate your options and create an estate plan that best addresses your unique needs. If you are in need of legal representation relating to an estate planning issue, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at