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Law Offices of Ronald W. Rutz
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November 16, 1998: Estate Taxes; Notary Commission Expiration

Q: You know I did not vote this year because I got sick and tired of all those glib slogans being thrown around especially the one "Death to Death Taxes." I can't even imagine anyone gullible enough to be influenced by it.

A: Estate and inheritance taxes are extremely emotional topics with many people, such as farmers and ranchers. In fact, several groups and organizations seem to almost chant that particular phrase as a communal mantra.

But for almost all of us, there is no problem or the problem can be easily eliminated. An individual can stage his or her own "American Revolution." By spending a few hundred dollars and investing a couple of hours of time, tax problems can be cast overboard into the tax "Boston Harbor." Unlike almost any other tax out there, Congress has given us the tools to cause the complete death to our own Death Taxes.

No one has a federal or Colorado estate tax problem if his or her taxable estate is under $650,000 (1999). A married couple can pass on at least $1,300,000 (1999) tax free by doing nothing more than having a tax Will. In about six years, that figure will approach $2,000,000. Additionally, there are other deductions and exemptions currently available that would increase the $1,300,000 even more without additional planning or documents.

For the fortunate ones whose estate is above $2,000,000, after doing tax Wills, this "good" problem of having tax exposure can normally be totally eliminated, but more than just having tax Wills would need to be done.

But planning is the key. The couple who could pass on at least $1,300,000 tax free with tax Wills can have their combined estate shrink by at least $275,000 in actual taxes paid (state and federal) with no tax Wills. Yet I have met with couples who feel keeping a quarter of a million in the family is not worth the few hundred dollars it would cost. Thus, their families end up financing the "American Revolution." So take the two shots that will be heard back in Washington vote and do your tax Wills.

Q: I noticed that your notary commission expires September 21, 2000. Does that mean we need to have the documents re-notarized after that date?

A: Notary commissions do not last forever. They need to be renewed periodically by statute. As long as the document was executed and notarized prior to a notary's expiration date, then the notarization will be valid thereafter.

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