Prevent Estate and Inheritance Issues

Learn how to protect yourself from IRS Scammers!One of the local estate planning attorneys was telling me about a recent case he was involved in. In this case, it was a new widow. She and her husband lived in South Carolina and her husband, "Jim," passed away two weeks ago. This was the second marriage for each of them and unfortunately, neither had a Last Will or other estate planning documents. But they did own a house, which was deeded to both of them. The loan, however, was just in his name. The Widow's question was about whether she could continue to pay the mortgage without any problems.

Whether or not the bank lets the Widow continue with the mortgage may be the least of her problems. Here's the big one: in South Carolina, when husband and wife own a house together, THERE IS NO AUTOMATIC TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP TO THE SURVIVOR. In North Carolina, when husband and wife are on the deed, automatic survivorship is presumed. It is called "tenancy by the entireties." This is clearly not so in South Carolina.

So the Widow now owns her one-half of the house, and part of Jim's one-half, ALONG WITH HIS CHILDREN (whether his with her or otherwise). In this case, the children were from prior marriages. And any judgments against these children may also have attached to their share of her home. Even if the children are willing to deed their share to the Widow, judgments can be a problem.

Fortunately, if the children are willing, there is at least one technique a good estate administration attorney can employ that might salvage this situation for the Widow. But the legal fees for this extra work will probably be much greater than what a properly drafted Last Will would have cost. And the emotional strain of losing your husband and, potentially, your home, seems like the last straw. So the moral of the story: GET YOUR ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS DONE!

A final Labor Department rule expanding overtime eligibility probably won't come until late next year, Solicitor of Labor Patricia Smith revealed at a panel discussion. The department has proposed raising the salary limit for overtime eligibility to $50,400, from $23,660. The rule had been expected to go into effect late in 2015 or early in 2016. The longer time frame is due to the complexity of the rule and the volume of comments the department has received. We will keep you posted!

Many taxpayers believe they can gift money or property and there will be no tax issues associated with doing so - after all, it's a gift. But the truth is, there can be major tax consequences so I'm taking a few mintues to make sure each of you are aware of the potentital pitfalls.

Annual exclusion - The exclusion amount is periodically adjusted for inflation. For 2015 the annual gift exclusion is $14,000 per recipient. Thus, an individual can give up to $14,000 to as many recipients as he or she would like without creating a requirement to file a gift tax return. The $14,000 applies to each individual giver, so each spouse of a married couple can give $14,000, for a total per couple of $28,000 to any one person.

If you are a veteran and are totally and permanently disabled from a service connected disability, you may qualify for real and/or personal property tax exemptions. A veteran's surviving spouse may also qualify for an exemption.

For forms to apply, please view our Resources Page. For further information, please call us at (864) 297-7742 or contact us online! To all of our veterans, thank you for your service!

Whether you think of our connected world as a benefit or as a time waster, there's no escaping the complex red tape associated with providing access to our digital assets after we pass away. What lives online is neither easy to access nor is it clear cut as to who can get to it. So here are some things to think about when it comes to your digital world: