Month: May 2010

Legalese v. Plain English

Question: What do you get when you cross the Godfather with a lawyer? Answer: An offer you can’t understand. The nature of our legal system, which is often referred to as a “common law” system, is that it depends heavily on precedent. That means that the outcome in a current case is determined by reference… Read More

Inheriting a Roth IRA

An inherited Roth IRA is truly a “gift that keeps on giving.” It is an exceptional estate planning tool. When deciding whether or not to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, most people (or their advisors) “run the numbers.” The cost and benefits of a Roth conversion is compared to the status quo… Read More

What Does a Surviving Spouse Inherit?

The question of what a surviving spouse inherits from a deceased spouse is a complicated one. The answer is the typical lawyer’s response, “It depends.” Some scenarios can help to illustrate the issues. To keep the examples simple, I am going to assume that the husband dies before the wife – forgive me, all you… Read More

New Carry-Over Basis Rules for 2010

You probably heard that there is no federal estate tax in 2010 (at least so far). But did you hear about carry-over basis? The “basis” of a piece of property is generally the purchase price of that property and is used to calculate taxable gain (or loss) when property is sold. The basis may be… Read More

Estate Planning Lessons from "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

“Big Daddy… What is it that makes him so big? His big heart, his big belly, or his big money?” – Brick Pollitt, character in the play Last week my husband and I saw Tennessee Williams’ play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Fulton Theatre. The theme of truth vs. mendacity runs through… Read More