Proposed New Laws


There are some proposed new rules and laws which would affect estate planning.  First, let’s review the current estate tax law.  The estate tax is a federal tax.  At this time there is no Hawaii estate tax or inheritance tax.  As a result of the 2001 tax act, the current estate tax law is very strange.  A person can die in 2009 with up to $3,500,000 of assets without any estate tax.  For amounts over $3,500,000, the estate tax rate is 45%.  In 2010 there is no estate read more

Be Careful When You Give Assets Away

Whenever you give away assets, there are laws in three different areas to consider:

1) gift taxes; 2) Medicaid rules for nursing home costs; and 3) capital gains taxes.

Many people think you can give only $10,000 tax-free to each individual.  Actually, the amount is now $13,000 a year.  This is called the “annual exclusion” from the gift tax.  This year you can give $13,000 to any number of persons without even reporting it to the IRS.

What most people don’t realize is that, read more

Asset Protection in Uncertain Times Part Two: Beyond FDIC Insurance

The economic news continues to get worse and worse.  First, here is a brief summary of some of the advice I offered in last month’s Estate Planning Insights.  Make sure that your savings accounts, checking accounts and certificates of deposit are in FDIC insured banks or NCUA insured credit unions.  Keep the amount of money at each bank or credit union within the insured limits of $250,000 up through December 31, 2009 and $100,000 thereafter.  Money market funds are not insured by FDIC read more

Asset Protection in Uncertain Times: FDIC Insurance

Nearly every day now, newspapers and televisions are blasting us with information about how bad the economy is. We are in the worst economic crisis since the great depression of the 1930’s. In the midst of this financial crisis, what can you do to protect your own assets?

To start with, make sure your savings are secure. Banks have been failing and others will fail. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (called “FDIC”) was created in 1933 after thousands of banks failed in read more

2009 Hawaii Elder Law And Estate Planning Update

How much in assets can a husband and wife have and still qualify for Medicaid to pay nursing home costs for one of them? Effective January 1, 2009, a husband and wife together can have $111,560 in assets and still have Medicaid pay for the nursing home costs for one of them. (The amount in 2008 is $106,400.) This $111,560 is in addition to the following exempt assets, which the government will not count: necessities such as clothing, furniture and appliances; read more