Ron Adams of the law firm of Hoopes, Adams & Alexander, presented a program on estate planning. He was introduced by Kurt Rohrs.Ron noted the estate tax and gift tax are in a state of flux in Arizona. Currently there is a $5 million exemption that is on the fiscal cliff which could go away at the end of the year, but more likely will be reduced to $1 million.

He talked about the gift tax and the $13,000 annual exclusion per individual without having to pay a gift tax. What you give using a gift tax exemption is reduced from your estate tax exemption.He urged us to look at beneficiary designations. They should be updated every three to five years. He gave examples of situations which worked out poorly.

Ron discussed probate in Arizona, noting differences with other states. Resolving probate issues usually takes 9-16 months, but could take longer with complications.He urged us to consider a Living Trust. “It’s a good way to get assets to go to whom you want them to go in the right way,” he said. When you create a trust, you decide how it’s going to work, what happens during your lifetime, when you become incapacitated, when you die and when your spouse dies.