Blog – “Altman Speaks”

Delaware – The First State to Re-Enact Estate Tax


In response to a budget crisis, the Delaware Legislature and Governor reinstated into Law the Delaware Estate Tax for people dying on or after July 1, 2009.  This new tax will be tied to the federal state death tax as it existed in January 2001 and applies to estates of $3.5 million or more.  After […]

Guardianship: Lessons to Be Learned from the Jackson Case


Now that the untimely death of Michael Jackson is turning into a custody battle brewing between the Jackson Family, the biological Mother of his children and possibly the Nanny, I believe it is important opportunity to mention how essential it is that parents name guardians for their children in the event of incapacity or death. […]

Michael Jackson’s Estate…What a Mess.


Charitable gift annuities allow donors to make a tax-deductible contribution and, in exchange, receive regular payments for the rest of their lives.  Ideally, about half the initial gift remains with the charity when the donor dies. For donors 65 or older, gift annuities might seem like a smart option because they can yield between 5.3% […]

Where Estate and Income Taxes Meet – Don’t Pay More Than Necessary!


A financial advisor contacted me recently regarding one of her clients.  A widow died in 2006, leaving her estate to her daughter.  Her estate included US Savings bonds of $350,000, of which $280,000 was interest which she had never paid tax on.  The daughter had the bonds changed to her name, thereby deferring the income […]

Federal Estate Tax May Remain at 2009 Levels


I have heard that members of a House and Senate negotiating committee have worked out a compromise on estate tax reform.  While details are still not know, it appears that the estate tax would be kept permanently at the 2009 levels.  This means that individuals could exempt $3.5-million from Federal estate taxes and a couple, […]

Planning for Pets: Maryland Authorizes Statutory Pet Trusts


Great news and information for anyone interested in including their pets into their estate plan!  This April, Governor O’Malley signed into law HB 149, which will allow statutory pet trusts in the State of Maryland.  Key Components of HB 149 (These provisions apply only to pet trusts created on or after October 1, 2009.) The animal […]

Important Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents


I recently gave the Wall Street Journal my take on the most important questions you should ask you aging parents.  Here’s the list: Have you named someone to make medical decisions for you (and to obtain medical information)? Have you named someone to make financial decisions for you? Do you have a list of your […]

When is a Beneficiary Entitled to an Accounting?


In most trusts, there are current beneficiaries and future beneficiaries.  A current beneficiary is someone who is currently entitled to receive, either mandatory or discretionary, distributions of income or principal.  A future beneficiary is only entitled to distributions of trust income or principal upon the death of the current beneficiary or beneficiaries.  The law in […]

A Word of Caution When it Comes to Gifting 529 Plans


A client came to me recently with a very unfortunate story.  Her Great Uncle, Bud, from NY, a single man with no children, had passed away a few months prior and, as is too often the case, he hadn’t properly updated his will before he died.  Like many, he procrastinated.  This unfortunate mistake resulted in […]