Category: Finance / Taxes

What is a Spendthrift Trust

The laws of most states, including Pennsylvania, provide for the creation of “spendthrift trusts”.  A spendthrift trust is, as its name suggests, a type of trust in which the trust assets are immune from creditors of the beneficiaries of the trust.  Generally, such a trust… Continue reading

Charitable Remainder Trusts

The Charitable Remainder Trust has become an increasingly popular vehicle for charitably minded individuals who are not quite ready to make outright gifts to charity.  These trusts essentially provide for a long-term stream of payments to the donor or other designated party, while at the… Continue reading

Federal Estate Taxes

For those of you who resisted jumping off the fiscal cliff the news in the estate planning area is mixed but mostly pretty good.  While the rate of tax on federally taxable estates has been raised, most of the uncertainty that we have been living… Continue reading

HAMP and the Mortgage Crisis

In the five years or so prior to 2008 there was a party of unprecedented magnitude.  Invited to the affair were mortgage brokers, banks, title companies, appraisers, real estate brokers, and, oh yes, the homeowners.  Exactly what launched the process will be for social historians… Continue reading

Family Farms Now Exempt from Inheritance Tax

In June 30, 2012, Governor Corbett signed into law legislation that would exempt family farms from Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax.  Farm estates are often large, and they are usually “illiquid” (i.e., the typical family farmer is “land rich” and “cash poor”).  As a consequence, the inevitable… Continue reading

Change in Transfer Tax Law on Transfers of Partnership Interests

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania imposes a 1% transfer tax on transfers of real estate.  In most counties other than Philadelphia, the local governments generally charge a matching 1% transfer tax.  The City of Philadelphia charges a 3% transfer tax in addition to the 1% payable… Continue reading

Where to Invest Your Money?

It’s no joke – there are few investment choices in today’s economy that offer any significant return without taking on significant risks.  As an example, interest rates on 5-year  certificates of deposit are below 2%.  Interest on your checking account?  Forget it.  The stock market… Continue reading

New Annual Property Tax Appeal Deadline

  Over the past few years, the number of appeals by property owners from their real estate assessments has increased significantly as a result of the decline in values in the real estate market.  Property owners who wish to file appeals from their assessments are… Continue reading

Marital Deduction and Non-Citizen Spouses

One of the most important tools used in federal estate taxing planning is the estate tax marital deduction.  This deduction normally provides for an unlimited deduction for any transfers made to the surviving spouse. Unfortunately, this deduction is not automatically available when the surviving spouse… Continue reading

Philadelphia Tax Assessment Appeals -10-1-11 Deadline

In February, the ex-judge, from Luzern County, Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr., 61, was found guilty on twelve counts of racketeering, conspiracy, fraud and filing false tax returns in connection with his part in the “Cash for Kids” scheme that shocked Pennsylvania’s legal community.   On August… Continue reading