Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions for 2018

Whether there will still be an estate tax in 2018, and what is will look like, is  much in the news this week, as the House of Representatives released its Tax Reform Proposal.

Meanwhile, based on the laws that are still in effect today, the Internal Revenue Service has announced that the Unified Gift and Estate Tax exemption for someone who passes way in 2018 will be $5.6M.

This means that the value of lifetime gifts made by an individual during her lifetime, plus the value of her estate at the time of her death in 2018, must exceed $5.6M before her estate is liable for any federal estate tax.

If the person who dies in 2018 is married, then she can “port” the unused part of her exemption to her spouse, as long as the necessary forms are filed in a timely manner.  This means that the value of lifetime gifts plus the value of the estate of both spouses must exceed $11.2M (assuming the second spouse also dies in 2018) before any estate tax would be due.

The value of gifts that a person can make without having to report them is also increasing in 2018, up from $14,000, to $15,000 per individual and per recipient.  While larger gifts must be reported on an IRS Form 709 (and are therefore counted toward the the Unified Exemption described above),  gifts up to this threshold do not need to be reported.  This means that a married couple can give up to $30,000 to a specific recipient, and if they are making that gift to another married couple (such as a child and his spouse), they can give up to $60,000, without any documenation or reporting requirements.

Stay tuned to find out what will happen to these exemption amounts, or gift and estate tax in general, but this is what we know today!

Veterans May Be at Higher Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

A group called Veterans Against Alzheimers recently released a report indicating that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and even brain injuries that appear to be relatively minor when they occur are linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.   A diagnosis of dementia is twice as likely for veterans who suffer from PTSD as for those who do not, and it appears to be almost four times as likely than for individuals with no military service.

Based on this research, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars are considering legislation that would increase VA medical care options for veterans with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. In the meantime, the Veterans Health Administration needs to start with developing the expertise to diagnose these individuals, even if they are then directed to non-VA healthcare providers for treatment.

As the connection between brain trauma and Alzheimer’s Disease becomes more clear, and increasing numbers of veterans are diagnosed with these conditions, the VA will also face a significant increase in claims for service-connected disability compensation as these veterans age.

Social Security Announces Cost-of-Living Increases for 2018

The Social Security Administration has announced that SSI, SSDI and Social Security Retirement benefits will increase by 2% for 2018.  This is the largest increase since 2012. Last year's increase was less than 1%, and some years had no … [Continue reading]

When Can you Expect Your VA Benefits?

The Veterans Benefits Administration recently sent a reminder about when recipients can expect to recieve their VA cash benefits, including disability compensation, pension, survivor's benefits and education benefits. These benefits are deposited … [Continue reading]

Court Approves Class for Lawsuit About Medicare Observation Status

Last month, in the case of Alexander v. Price, 3:11-CV-1703 (MPS), the US District Court in Connecticut certified a class of Medicare beneficiaries who suffered financial loss because they had been hospitalized under "Observation Status" at some time … [Continue reading]

Use Your Smartphone to Document Your Advance Directives

Earlier this summer, I published a post (probably not for the first time!) about the importance of documenting your wishes for end-of-life care.  Currently, only about 30% of adults over age 50 have done so. As reported n the May-June issue of … [Continue reading]

Another Wake-up Call to Document End of Life Care Decisions

A couple of weeks ago, our extended family came together to celebrate my mother's 95th birthday.  My mother has always loved a party, so even though she suffers from several chronic conditions, and then had a pretty serious health scare 2 weeks … [Continue reading]

Hospitals Must Keep Patients Informed About Observation Status

I've written before about making sure you have been "admitted" when you have been in the hospital for a night or two. Medicare recipients who have been evaluated in the hospital, received care and perhaps even stayed overnight may have been … [Continue reading]

VA Acknowledges Presumption of Illness from Camp Lejeune Water Exposure

In the early 1980s, chemicals that are used in dry cleaning and metal  degreasing, along with benzene and vinyl chloride, were discovered in the water supply system at Camp Jejeune and MCAS New River.  The contaminated wells were finally shut down in … [Continue reading]

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Reconfirms Guidelines for Skilled Care

In a previous post, I have described the 2014 settlement in the case of  Jimmo v. Sebelius, in which the Court confirmed that Medicare is obligated to pay for physical, occupational and/or speech therapy that is necessary to keep a medicare … [Continue reading]

Whose In Charge When You are in the Hospital?

My 94 year old mother was just released from the hospital following a 13-day stay, precipitated by a serious infection. First, the good news - the infection has cleared and she is back home,  thinner (not a good thing) and more easily fatiged, but … [Continue reading]

A New Kind of Employment Discrimination?

More and more employees are finding that they need to take time away from their jobs to care for their elderly loved ones.  It may be for a short time around a medical crisis, or they may need to provide ongoing care services to someone who is unable … [Continue reading]

Keeping Track of Your Pension

Although more and more employers are switching from defined benefit plans to IRA's and  401(k)s, many Baby Boomers did spend part of their careers at companies that offered a pension as part of the compensation package.    Now that they are getting … [Continue reading]

Help for Financial Caregivers

A couple of weeks ago,  my post described some holiday gifts and services that can help relieve stress for physical caregivers. Those of us who are charged with assisting our loved ones with their finances may find that responsibility stressful as … [Continue reading]