Law Office of Robin Gorenberg
Estate Planning Newsletter

Attorney Robin Gorenberg quoted in New York Times article: 


I was recently interviewed for an article that appeared in the New York Times Retirement Section on how to choose the executor of your estate.  Read it here.  






The new MA Homestead Law    

A new Homestead law in MA goes into effect March 16, that (a) allows an automatic homestead of $125,000 without recording a Homestead ($500,000 of protection can only be obtained from recording), (b) allows the Homestead protection for property owned in Trust, and (c) clarifies that refinancing does not invalidate prior Homesteads.  Read more here.   


For those of you who considered re-titling your property into a Trust (for estate planning purposes such as probate avoidance or reducing estate taxes), but opted NOT to because of the loss of the Homestead protection, you can now transfer your home into Trust AND benefit from the Homestead. 


Basic Estate Planning Guidance: 

Estate Planning is not just about taxes.    


On January 26, 2011, Forbes published How To Write Your First Estate Plan. The article is a good overview of the basic decisions and documents you should think about as part of your estate planning.  


State Estate Taxes:   
Estate Planning is not just about taxes, but they DO play a role, particularly STATE estate taxes. 

See "Estate Taxes - The Worst Places to Die".  Even though the federal estate tax cutoff is now $5 million (only for 2 years), state estate taxes can be substantial.  MA still has only a $1 million cutoff, and it is just a "threshold" (estates over $1 million are taxed on the entire estate - up to 16%).  Click here to view my prior newsletters for an overview of the MA estate tax and how it may effect you.

"Pet Trusts" in Massachusetts:   

On January 7, 2011, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law "An Act Relative to Trusts for the Care of Animals," which will take effect on April 7, 2011. Click here to read the article at 

Federal Estate Tax "Portability":
the good and the bad

The new Federal estate tax law now gives spouses "portability" - essentially any unused portion of the 1st spouse's $5 million estate tax credit gets added to the survivor's credit, allowing a married couple to pass up to $10 million free of estate tax (also applied towards lifetime gifts).  This is great for married couples, but it's not so cut and dry.  Read
here and here for the pros and cons of "portability". 


IMPORTANT - Portability requires the filing of an estate tax return:  In order to benefit from portability, it must be "elected" at the 1st spouse's death, which requires an estate tax return (even if the estate is not taxable).  Therefore, even for couples with less than $1 million, an estate tax return should be filed upon the 1st spouse's death to preserve the additional estate tax credit.  Even if the surviving spouse doesn't expect his/her estate to exceed $5 million, the federal estate tax is scheduled to go back to only $1 million in 2013, and the portability may prove very useful when that happens.

Message from Attorney
Robin Gorenberg

Feel free to view my prior Newsletters for more detailed information about the federal and MA estate tax, as well as information about basic estate planning documents, such as Wills, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies.   




Robin Gorenberg, Esq.

(617) 731-9924 


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