Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back

Navigating Estate Planning Issues

Written by: Christina L. Krakoff & Christopher R. Paul & William V.A. Zorn

3/24/2020

We face unprecedented times as the world confronts COVID-19 (Coronavirus). With the incredible speed at which things are changing around us, it appears the disruption in our daily lives will continue for the foreseeable future.  Here at McLane Middleton, we are committed to keeping you informed with the resources you need to navigate estate planning issues during this time.

Estate Document Planning Drafting and Signing

Many of our clients have taken this pandemic as an opportunity to step back and give renewed thought to their estate plans. Our attorneys are completing ongoing estate planning projects and are ready to address new estate planning matters and implement changes to existing documents.  With appropriate protections and procedures in place, document signing in New Hampshire can be done remotely or in person.  Many such documents are valid without formality of witnesses or notaries. We are ready to guide you through these requirements.

Advanced Planning Opportunities in a Market Downturn

With the downturn in financial markets and historically low applicable federal interest rates, there is now an opportunity for advanced tax planning, such as:

  • Gifting:  Gifting assets low in value today can be advantageous if the assets recover and exceed their value in the future. With the current estate/gift/GST exemption at $11.58M per person, now may be a good time to use up some of the exemption before it is set to decrease on January 1, 2026 (or earlier, depending on federal elections). 
  • GRATs:  For a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust, the grantor transfers assets to an irrevocable trust and receives an annuity payment each year for the term of the trust. The goal is to “zero out” the annuity, so that the entire investment and the imputed interest is paid out by the end of the term. Once the term ends, the balance is passed to the remainder beneficiaries free of gift tax. The lower the imputed interest rate, the less growth is needed to pass the “hurdle” of the initial investment, to be able to transfer a balance to the remainder beneficiaries. The IRS rate for April is 1.2%. 
  • CLATs:  Charitable Lead Annuity Trusts are very similar to GRATs, except the annuity payment is made to a charity during the term of the trust. At the end of the term, the balance is transferred to non-charitable beneficiaries free of gift tax. This strategy also takes advantage of the lower IRS rate to determine the annuity value.
  • Loans at low interest rates:  With much lower applicable Federal Interest Rates, there is an opportunity to make low-interest loans to family members or trusts, or to refinance existing loans that have higher interest rates.

We hope that you and your family are healthy and safe during this difficult time. Although our offices are currently closed, most of our attorneys and staff are working remotely full time to continue to provide excellent legal services to you.

Integrity and trust

At McLane Middleton we establish and maintain long-standing relationships with our clients to help us better achieve their unique goals over time. This approach to building trust requires that our esteemed lawyers and professionals use their broad, in-depth knowledge and work together with integrity to ascertain sound resolutions to legal matters for their clients.

Strength in numbers

McLane Middleton is made up of more than 105 attorneys who represent a broad range of clients throughout the region, delivering customized solutions. As a firm we are recognized as having the highest legal ability rating. The firm is rated Preeminent by Martindale Hubbell and is recognized as one of the nation's leading law firms in Chambers USA. Our attorneys are distinguished leaders in their respective practice areas.

Meet Our People

Commitment and collaboration

McLane Middleton's versatile group of attorneys and paralegals become trusted authorities on each case through collaboration. We work with our clients to learn their individual needs first and foremost and, together, we develop comprehensive solutions to their specific legal matters. This approach helps us exceed our clients' expectations efficiently and effectively, client by client, case by case.

Practice Areas

A history of excellence

McLane Middleton was established in 1919 in New Hampshire, and has five offices across two states. However, deep historical roots don't allow you to become innate. Our firm is organized, technological, and knowledgeable. Our history means we are recognized. But our reputation is built on the highest quality of service and experience in very specific areas of law.

The Firm

Intelligence paired with action

Our team continuously seeks opportunities to enhance their professional development and put key learnings to action. The pursuit of further insight guides us to volunteer service opportunities, speaking engagements, and teaching roles. Our lawyers are sought after thought leaders across their industries, and recipients of leadership awards throughout the region.