Many business owners form several types of business entities to hold their assets and operate different aspects of their businesses. A common strategy is to form limited liability companies to hold real estate. The operating entity, such as a manufacturing entity, pays monthly rent to the real estate LLC and this can work to keep liability of the operating entity separate from the real estate LLC. Some LLCs are formed to hold other assets, such as personal property that is leased to the operating entity. Also, LLCs are commonly used to manage family-owned assets and facilitate transfers among family members. LLCs are not required to have the formalities of meetings, minutes, and notices which are required for corporations. However, for an LLC to maintain its liability protections and protect itself from IRS attacks, it is prudent to exercise some formalities to evidence that the LLC is maintained as a separate entity and is not the alter ego of its owner(s). We advise many of our Cottage Law clients and business owners and families who use LLCs to hold and manage assets that they should treat the LLC as a business by following the pointers below.
Going, Going, Gone!
U.S. taxpayers are experiencing a “perfect storm” of opportunity to make tax-free transfers (gifts) of assets such as family businesses, real estate and other wealth from one generation to the next. The gift tax was first enacted in 1932 by the federal government. Over the coming months, we all have what may be the best opportunity since 1932 to gift family assets without a gift tax now and to avoid significant estate taxes later.
Two notable exceptions to the gift tax
Some people are not aware that giving away assets to their children or other individuals may create a taxable event. The “gift tax” referenced above applies to anything of value transferred by one individual to another. There are two notable exceptions to the gift tax. One is an “annual exclusion” which is an exception that allows individuals to gift up to $13,000.00 per year per person without any gift tax consequences. A second exception is an overall gift tax exemption which historically has been limited to $1M during an individual’s lifetime.
Every day my in box fills with information from many sources. Some is from mainstream media, trade journals, special reports and various reviews and findings from the legal and wealth advisory community. Often, while reading an article or report, many people come to mind that I think might also share an interest in the information.
For example, earlier this year I read through a Special Survey Report published by WealthCounsel and Trusts & Estates magazine. I read it again this week. Even though the survey was directed to estate planning attorneys about emerging industry trends within our profession, there were some items that were of interest to me because they addressed those of us who are moving in 2011 from the “Baby Boomer” and “Generation Jones” generations to being “Golden Boomers”.
As we counsel clients during the preparation of their estate plans, one concern is usually very evident – parents are worried that their children will squander the funds and assets that they worked very hard to accumulate. This concern can be addressed in many ways, but usually, parents request specific provisions in their estate planning documents that control an heir’s access to distributions based upon age, accomplishments, and certain life choices. Therefore, the assets are distributed largely because a specific milestone has been reached. The thoughtful nature of the distribution planning, however, leaves a primary problem unaddressed – preparing the heirs for wealth transition from one generation to the next.
Studies conducted by various institutes demonstrate that many estate plans that have been completed and then updated carefully and competently throughout the years, successfully address the issues relevant to the parents’ wishes. The attention to detail, however, cannot necessarily fill the gap of the heirs’ lack of direction and instruction that results in chaotic estate administration, family disharmony, and relationships that remain broken forever.
It doesn’t matter what time of day you arrive, everything always looks the same. Granted, the trees are taller and wildflowers seem to be growing everywhere. But your family cottage is the same to you today as it’s always been.
Cubby holes filled with trinkets and treasures
While waving hello to neighboring friends you realize every family cottage and summer home is as different as the memories gathered by families every summer. Each cottage has a special cubby hole filled with trinkets and treasures from sandy beaches and hiking adventures through surrounding woods. Weathered hinges guarantee screen doors will squeak open and slam shut right on cue announcing that this is summer. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of racing down to the lake and assuming every summer will be just like the last.
The Practical Effect of Michigan Supreme Court’s Decision in the case of Klooster v City of Charlevoix
The Supreme Court’s decision in the Klooster case provides that certain types of joint ownership of real estate in Michigan can prevent property taxes increasing at the time of a joint owner’s death. While the decision is generally favorable to the taxpayer, there are various rules and contingencies that must be satisfied in order to achieve property tax savings.
We are pleased to announce that for the second consecutive year, Dan A. Penning was named a FIVE STAR wealth advisor for 2011 by HOUR Detroit Magazine. The magazine contracted an independent market research company to administer a research process to identify a select group of wealth managers who were exceptional in both their ability and commitment to overall client satisfaction.
More than 102,500 high net worth individuals and 4,200 financial services professionals were asked to evaluate wealth managers including financial planners, investment advisors, estate attorneys and accountants in the Detroit community. The final list was reviewed by a blue ribbon panel of financial services industry professionals. Less than 7% of the wealth managers in the Detroit area, including attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors, were selected.
Dan A. Penning has been invited as a featured speaker to present on the topic of estate and gift tax issues concerning cottage succession planning at the ICLE 51st Annual Probate & Estate Planning Conference for Michigan attorneys. Penning will join two other speakers addressing cottage law succession planning issues during the three-day conference featuring a variety of topics for Michigan attorneys seeking continuing legal education. The conference will be held at the Grand Traverse Resort, in Acme, Michigan on May 19-21, 2011 and a second presentation will be held at The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan on June 17-18, 2011.
New Year – New (Extended) Tax Laws
The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010. (The “Act”)
After great speculation and debate, Congress has now passed and President Obama has signed a tax package which gives individuals and businesses some predictability for the next two years through December 31, 2012. The Act extends the Bush-era tax cuts, provides estate tax relief, an “AMT” patch, a reduction in employee paid payroll taxes and provides businesses with new incentives to make capital investments by extending depreciation and tax credits.
Virtually any newscast or newspaper continues to talk about the “tax increases” that will become effective January 1, 2011. While the general concept is widely reported there seems to be little attention being given to the specific taxes that will increase if no action is taken by the lame duck congress by the end of the year. The following information is not being offered as any political objection or endorsement but rather just factual information that I wanted to share with everyone for the express purpose of understanding the increases and encouraging everyone to consult with their tax consultants and legal counsel to determine whether any planning before the end of the year makes sense for you.
Please note the following three phases of taxes will roll out
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