At the time, we were discussing the implications of the looming fiscal cliff that we seemed destined to be going over. However, the fiscal cliff was averted, and so I wanted to catch up with Kim and see what she’s working on now and what issues and concerns she’s discussing with her clients.
We also touch on her firm’s new focus on women and estate planning.
Click the flash player below to listen to my recent conversation with Kim.
Russ: Hey, this is Russ Thornton with Wealthcare For Women.com. I know a lot of you have been hearing and reading about this fiscal cliff in a lot of the likely changes that we’re going to see with regard to taxes and other legislation. Naturally, I’m sure you’re wondering how this may or may not impact your situation or things that you might consider doing between now and the end of the year.
I’m really excited to have Kim Hoipkemier on the phone with us. Kim is a attorney with a local firm, Hoffman & Associates. Kim, hey, how you doing?
Kim: Hey, Russ. Good to talk to you.
Russ: Yeah, you too. Why don’t you take just a minute and introduce yourself, tell a little bit about who you are and the kind of work you’re doing?
Kim: Sure, not a problem. Well first, thanks for having on. My name is Kim Hoipkemier, I’m attorney here at Hoffman & Associates in Sandy Springs. We specialize in estate planning, and specifically high end estate planning. Our firm’s a boutique firm, we’ve got a number of attorney CPAs on staff to cover both the legal side of things, as well as the tax consequence side of extensive estate planning.
We’ve been quite busy towards the end of this year with this so called fiscal cliff and addressing all of our clients needs of these tax laws changing.
Russ: With that in mind, why don’t we jump right in? We’re looking at the end of the year fast approaching, four or five weeks left. I know there are some things that are time sensitive that, for people that are in certain situations or certain circumstances, they may want to consider or look into.
Let’s say that a woman has an estate or a net worth of five million dollars or more, what are some things that you would recommend that these women consider or maybe look into between now and the end of the year?
Kim: Okay, that’s a great question. Five million dollars is a key number right now. We’re in an unprecedented situation where the estate tax exclusion, gift tax exclusion is five point one two million dollars for every individual in the Untied States. By that I mean, pass away and leave an estate worth five point one two million dollars and not pay any estate taxes or you can give away five point one two million dollars without paying any gift taxes. Gift side of that is what’s really important for clients with these high net worth estates, more than five million.
First question is you always need to look at your particular situation and make sure that you have assets on which to live, and that you have extra assets that you’d like to give away. Using this gift tax exemption that we have this year, gift away some of these assets you don’t need, to a trust for your descendants, for their beneficiaries, to a charity, and thereby reducing the total value of your estate.
Because eventually, you’re going to pay estate taxes on it. I don’t think anybody thinks we’re going to see estate tax, gift taxes as high as they are, exclusions as high as they are right now. The more we can do to reduce the value of your estate now, by using some advanced gifting techniques, setting up trusts and that kind of thing, will benefit you and your heirs down the road.
First you look at your particular estate plan, make sure that you’ve got the basic documents in place, your last will and testament, your powers of attorney. Then get with your financial advisor and make sure you have enough assets with, beyond which to live, and see what’s extra in there, what we can gift away for the benefit of some other family member.
A lot of people are doing this with real estate, into an LLC and the transfer LLC interest into a trust. All of these we can take advantage of freezing and discounting techniques, just moving those assets from you estate while you still get the beneficial enjoyment of that real estate and all those interests and yields.
Really interesting techniques that are available, and they really are only available right now, to the extent that that five million dollars for every individual out there, that they can give away.
Russ: With 2013 fast approaching, I’m assuming a lot of these advanced planning techniques are time sensitive, things that people need to address while, between now and year end, while we know what the exclusions are, where there’s some uncertainty once we get into the new year. Or, if there is any certainty, it looks like these exclusions are going to be reduced.
Kim: Absolutely. Basically if congress does not act, the fiscal cliff, these exclusions will sunset and they will go back to pre-Bush tax cuts values, I believe. The gift tax exemption will be a million dollars and the estate tax exemption. We won’t have that flexibility with that high exclusion amounts to make these gifts and for estate accordingly, after the first of the year. Of course congress could act, but that’s anybody’s guessing game, what they may do.
Russ: For our listeners out there’d, certainly there’ll be some that have estates greater than five million dollars, but let’s say there’s a widow or perhaps a woman that’s gone through a divorce. She’s got what she certainly considers to be a significant amount of money, regardless of what the dollar amount is. Let’s say it’s less than five million dollars. Are there any recommendations or suggestions that you have for those women between now and year end? Or looking farther down the road?
Kim: For people with less than five million, somewhere between the one million and five million dollar mark, aggressive gifting at year end may not be the best situation. We don’t want to leave you in a situation where you don’t have the assets you need for the rest of your life. I’m not saying that you couldn’t take a loan or something from a trust we set up.
They really need to take a good look at the assets they have, make sure they’ve got an estate plan in place that fits their needs. A really, a strong well written will, powers of attorney. As far as these aggressive gifting techniques, they’re really going to benefit those with the higher end net worth.
Russ: Okay. I think that makes sense. Regardless if someone’s net wroth or their balance sheet or the size of their estate, they certainly need to send some time and effort making sure that they’ve planned for and provided for themselves before they start giving money away to take advantage of the current tax structure and things like that.
Russ: I completely get what you’re saying there, and I think that makes a lot of sense. Did you, again, just for folks that are hearing you for the first time, Kim, could you just share a little bit more about your role within your practice there at Hoffman & Associates? Maybe some work that you do, or how you’ve had some success working with women and addressing their estate planning needs?
Kim: Sure. Like I said, Hoffman & Associates is a boutique law firm in Sandy Springs. I focus on the estate planning side of our firm. We’ve got a corporate side in it, as well as a tax.
As far as the estate planning side, Mike Hoffman and I work together a lot, meet with clients. Go through their individual situations. The starting point, the most basic of estate planning is to have the three basic legal documents in place. That’s the last will and testament, health care power of attorney, and advanced health care directive, and a general power of attorney. That’s always step one for us, to make sure that if something happens to you the very next day, that you’ve taken care of, that your heirs and your descendants are taken care of. We try to make our plans so that you’re paying the least amount of estate tax as possible.
With women in particular, they need to take a look at some of the other techniques that may or may not be available to them, being unmarried. You often hear about the marital deduction, but that wouldn’t be available to a single woman. There are other planning techniques they could use, to keep their estate taxes lower, to make sure that everything is protected, asset protection, that kind of thing, down the road. Answer the question?
Russ: Okay, yeah I think that gives me and our listeners a better idea of the role you can play in helping a woman best structure her own estate plan.
Kim: Sure. A lot of this depends on the specific client. We take pride in the fact that we spend a lot of time, one-on-one with the client and try to really get to know you, the client, and their situation. Client contact is key.
Russ: I can actually speak from experience, having worked with Kim and Mike and Joe and some of the other professionals over at Hoffman & Associates. I share some clients with them to this day and I’ve had nothing but a great experience working with them. I would definitely encourage anyone listening to this to reach out to me or reach out to Kim and see if they can help you wither update or review what you’re doing in terms of your estate planning.
With that in mind, Kim, why don’t tell the folks the best way they can get in touch with you or with Hoffman & Associates if they do want to reach out and learn a little bit more?
Kim: Absolutely. Again, we’re in Sandy Springs, right off of Lake Forest and Hammond Drive. You can give us a call at 404-255-7400, or feel free to just shoot me an email, it’s Kim@Hoffmanandassoc.net. We’ll post that information on the web site, it’s Hoffmanestatelaw.com.
Russ: Right and Hoffman is H-O-F-F-M-A-N. Definitely check out heir web site and give Kim a call or give me a call and I’ll be glad to get you connected with Kim.
Kim, before we wrap up the call today, anything else you wanted to make sure that we highlight or that we touch on?
Kim: I don’t think so, I really appreciate the opportunity to talk with you, Russ. I hope we can reach out to some clients and get everybody the help they need.
Russ: Yeah, well this was fun. I’m glad we could do it, too. Hopefully we’ll h ave some opportunities to do some more of these in the future to share some more updates and timely information with folks.
Again, I’m Russ Thornton, Wealthcare For Women.com. Today my guest was Kim Hoipkemier from Hoffman & Associates. Thanks for tuning in and we will catch you next time.
If you’re interested in learning more about estate planning techniques you might consider for your situation, or if you’re a divorcee or widow and need some estate planning help from professionals that are sensitive to the unique needs of women, please contact me or reach out to Kim directly. We’d love to hear from you.
Learn more about our Estate Planning services.