Online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Practice Areas

Mr. Miller has many years of experience in designing and implementing a comprehensive variety of Trusts, Wills, and other estate planning documents, as well as settling estates in the most expedient and appropriate method. Further, he counsels and assists clients on becoming eligible for VA benefits and Medi-Cal.

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VA Pension/Aid & Attendance/Medi-Cal

Mr. Miller has been active in the area of VA Pension and Medi-Cal for well over a decade. He uses various specialized types of Trusts as well as non-trust strategies to gain eligibility for his clients and save the family money.

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Probate & Estate Administration

Mr. Miller has been settling estates (both simple and complex) for well over 40 years. The starting point is always to create a strategy to settle the estate in the most efficient manner possible with a minimum of taxes. Often times the strategy created allows the family to bypass Probate Court proceedings.

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I Pay Less Than 15% and You Can Too!

By merv,

  Filed under: Blog, Estate Planning

The calls for more Romney tax returns may be based in a lot of motives: playing politics, distraction, a desire to force the Republican nominee to live up to his father’s ideals.  Whatever the case may be, it certainly is not purely making an argument about the state of the tax structure, because enough can be gleaned from Gov. Romney’s returns with the ones available.  With the Republican National Convention underway, a look at the former Massachusetts governor’s returns reveals some interesting tax-planning strategies.

Capital Gains:  As part of the Bush-era tax cuts, qualified dividends and long-term capital gains have been taxed at a rate of 0-15%.  However, if nothing happens by the end of the year, when the tax cuts expire as part of the fiscal cliff, the rates on long-term capital gains will be 10-20%.  Depending on your income tax rate, and the appreciation in your stock (how much it’s worth over how much you paid), you may want to sell some highly appreciated stock before the end of the year in order to take advantage of lowered tax rates.  You should talk to your tax advisor about your specific situation.

Charity: For high income individuals, charitable contributions can be a way to reduce income.  However, nonprofit organizations and private foundations can be organized to transfer assets toward a charitable cause you support.  The Romneys donated $2,983,974 to charity in 2010.  Of that amount, over $1.5 million was donated to the Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon church).  Another $1,458,807 in stock was given to the “Tyler Foundation,” which is the Romneys’ private foundation, not to be confused with the other Boston-based Tyler Foundation.   Although setting up your own charity is not worthwhile for everyone, for those who make large charitable contributions and require substantial estate tax planning, it may be an effective strategy to remove assets from your estate, save on current income tax, and leave a legacy.

Gifting, Irrevocable Trusts, and Other Entities: When planning to avoid estate taxes in particular, or lower a family’s overall income tax obligation, gifting to your heirs during life can be effective to remove relatively small amounts from your estate.  Each donor can gift $13,000 per year to each donee.  This means a mother and father can give $52,000 to their daughter and her husband each year.  No gift tax return is required for such gifts.  Additionally, business entities and irrevocable trusts can receive assets over time, sometimes at discounted values, and allow you to retain a substantial amount of control.  The Romney tax returns reveal a number of “flow-through” entities on their return, although it is impossible to know the purposes and other partners.

Although the Romneys use a combination of all the above strategies, you don’t need a $100 million estate to find a use for them.  Additionally, each strategy has non-tax reasons for its use.  Seeking the advice of a qualified estate planning attorney in consultation with your income tax advisor can help you create an effective plan, especially if you act before the end of this year.  Or, if all else fails, run for President!

Estate Planning: The Price of Organization, Rewards, Gifts, and Wondrous Tax Things… FREE REPORT: This complimentary report, focused on Estate Planning, is comprised of many of Mr. Miller’s articles from his long running column for the largest regional newspaper in San Diego County. This report will guide you through the questions surrounding getting your estate planning in order.

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About Living Trusts

About Living Trusts is hosted by the Law Offices of Merwyn J. Miller, as your online resource center to help you explore these key issues, and others, regarding your estate.

Merwyn J. Miller, J.D.

  • Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
  • Co-Author of legal text book and of “Don’t Go Broke in a Nursing Home
  • Teacher of law courses at public and private colleges
  • Continuing Education Instructor for attorneys
  • Columnist for largest regional newspaper in San Diego County and professional journals for 15 years, Contributing author to the book “In Your Service: The Veteran’s Friend”
  • Masters Degree in Financial Services - Estate Planning

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