09 February 2018
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The following changes in the new Tax Law signed by the President in December of 2017, make it advisable for you to now review your personal estate plan and to make sure it is up to date:

  1. The Federal Estate Tax “Applicable Exclusion Amount” has increased to $10,980,000.00 (i.e., approximately $11,000,000.00) per individual in 2018. A married couple may shelter up to $22,000,000.00 from federal estate taxation. If your estate plan was drafted before 2010, it needs to be reviewed. You may have Trusts which become irrevocable at the first spouse’s death, and this may no longer be necessary for proper tax planning.
  2. In addition, if you are married the new tax law allows a surviving spouse to utilize the unused portion of a deceased spouse’s “Applicable Exclusion Amount” (i.e., any part of his or her $10,980,000.00) to offset taxes at the survivor’s death. This depends upon how your Trust is drafted and what is done at the first spouse’s death.
  3. Many provisions in your Durable Power Of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive should be reviewed. Please understand, a Durable Power Of Attorney only governs non-Trust assets and terminates at death. Likewise, it is important for you to review all of your IRA beneficiary designations, and to make sure you have designated both a Primary Beneficiary, as well as a Secondary Beneficiary. Failure to do so will cause such non-probate assets to go through probate.
  4. Internal Revenue Code Section 1014 (b)(6) allows a “double step up” in income tax cost basis at the death of the first spouse. However, this “step up” is dependent upon proper re-titling of all assets as community property instead of joint tenancy. Due to refinancing, many clients take homes out of their Trust and fail to retitle them back into the Trust. Therefore, a probate estate is created.
  5. You may establish within your Revocable Living Trust new “asset protection” Trusts for various beneficiaries. These Trusts will shelter a child’s inheritance from a divorce or other lawsuits.

Please understand, the primary purpose of this message is to alert you of the importance of keeping your estate plan in order. These issues apply to all US citizens irrespective of your net worth, or whether you are married, single, gay or straight. If you now believe a free, follow-up conference with me is desirable, please call my office to schedule an appointment. Likewise, I encourage you to visit my new website and review the above issues in more detail at:

Frank - post author

Mr. Parrish has offices located in Pleasant Hill, San Francisco, Menlo Park, San Jose, and Santa Rosa. Mr. Parrish in 2017 was awarded by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory an " AV Rating." Such rating signifies that his legal abilities and ethical conduct are of the very highest standards.

He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, The California Bar Association, The American Bar Association and the San Francisco Estate Planning Council.