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Inheritance and estate taxes remain a key part of estate planning

Planning for inheritance and estate taxes is essential to ensure that your loved ones and beneficiaries receive the maximum amount of your assets when you pass away. Estate planning relies on careful knowledge of both tax implications and existing laws that can affect the value of an inheritance. Those looking to preserve assets for their heirs should strive to understand how current and upcoming changes to laws may affect the value of their estates.

Our readers in Michigan may be interested in a recent article that outlines how laws have changed with regard to estate taxes over the years. The estate tax was originally put into place in 1916, and the Rockefeller estate was taxed at a rate of 70 percent after America's first billionaire died in 1937.

Estate taxes have changed significantly since then, with varying rates and exemption guidelines. Changes made under former President George W. Bush slowly reduced the rate, and a change in 2010 eliminated the so-called death tax for a short period. Recent negotiations in Congress have led to a 2013 rate of 40 percent on estates worth over $5 million.

The tax code has been in considerable flux over the last year, and more changes may be in store. Understanding how these changes can affect your estate planning is a major step toward ensuring financial stability for your heirs and beneficiaries.

Source: The New York Times, "Inheritance and Estate Taxes," Ruby Washington, Jan. 2, 2013

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