Estate Planning Misconceptions


This week, we have selected five common estate planning misconceptions that we often hear from our clients. 

1. Gifting the house for $1 to my kids is always good idea

Gifting your house to your kids may save some inheritance tax dollars, but there will be no “step up in basis” if the kids try to sell the house after you pass on. To put it simply, there may be more taxes due than if you just left the house in your name. Additionally, once the kids own the house, you’re on the hook if they get into any sort of creditor or marriage trouble.

2. I only need a simple will, or no will at all

Every provision in your will is important. You want your will to be perfect, otherwise it could spell trouble for your family later on. You need to speak with an attorney about what type of estate planning tool you need.

3. I don’t need a will because all of my assets have beneficiaries on them

It always makes sense to have a will, regardless if anything will pass through the will. Inevitably, we find the will always disposes of some assets.

4. A power of attorney is just a form and is the same for everyone

Powers of attorney are subject to the most lawsuits because of this assumption. Your power of attorney needs to be carefully tailored so there aren’t too many powers.

5. I can’t gift more than $13,000 per year

As it stands now, you have a $5 Million lifetime gifting exemption through 2013. You can make the $13k gifts each year without paying taxes or filing gift tax returns. Anything over $13k is not taxed, but must be accounted for. Anything above $5 Million is taxed at 35%. For years, the lifetime exemption was $1 Million, so the $5 Million jump presents a great opportunity for wealthy individuals and families to make transfers.


Estate planning should be undertaken with a qualified estate planning attorney. Everyone needs to engage in estate planning to ensure they leave a legacy that’s free of conflict and confusion. For a complimentary estate planning consultation, please call our office at (215) 706-0200.

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Have a great week!