Jim Spink Featured on WCAX

Sheehey attorney Jim Spink was recently invited by WCAX to film a segment entitled “A Look at How Mediation Works.”

Jim is one of Vermont’s leading alternative dispute resolution specialists.  Jim has conducted more than 3,000 mediations over the course of 25+ years. He is a member of the National Association of Distinguished Neutrals and was the recipient of Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year” for ADR – Burlington, Vermont in 2011 and 2013. He is also recognized by Super Lawyers New England for ADR.

To view the segment click here.

Recent Changes in Federal and Vermont Tax Law & the Impacts on Estate Planning

By Mark E. Melendy

The year 2018 has been one of significant change in estate planning law, beginning with the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (the “Federal Tax Law”) which took effect on January 1, 2018 and Vermont’s new Will and Probate Law (the “Vermont Law”) which became effective July 1, 2018.  Both of these laws involve major changes and will affect how we advise you on your tax and estate planning.

Federal Tax Law

The Federal Tax Law dramatically increases the estate tax exemption amount through 2025.  The new exemption is $11.18 million per person.  With such a high exemption, the number of estates subject to estate tax will drop significantly.  That is very good news for taxpayers whose estates would have been subject to a lower estate tax exemption under the previous law.

Increased Federal Estate Tax Exemption and Stepped-Up Basis for Income Taxation

With the high estate tax exemption reducing estate tax exposure and with assets subject to estate tax receiving the date of death step-up in income tax basis, whether or not an estate tax is paid, estate planning to lessen estate taxes may not be the optimum tax plan under the Federal Tax Law.  This reality means it is important to review one’s estate plan with this new tax structure in mind.  Additionally, an important note is that gifted assets do not receive any income tax basis step-up.

Change to Personal Income Tax Deductions

There is also good news for most taxpayers on the income tax front, although the state and local tax deduction limits included in the Federal Tax Law will actually result in an income tax increase for some taxpayers.   The Federal Tax Law now limits the personal income tax deduction for state and local taxes to $10,000 per person/couple. While many people will adjust to this new reality, an opportunity exists which may allow individuals and couples to capture multiple $10,000 deductions by conveying their real estate to multiple irrevocable trusts or other appropriate entities.

Tax Savings Opportunities for Business Owners

Business activities may also be structured to take advantage of the new 20% pass thru entity deduction.  This deduction is not available to C corporations, but C corporations have the benefit under the Federal Tax Law of the much lower corporate tax of 21% instead of 35%.

Annual Gift Exclusion Increase

One additional benefit that 2018 brought, due to the inflation indexing, was an increase in the annual exclusion amount from $14,000 to $15,000.  The annual exclusion amount is the amount that an individual may give to any number of individuals in a calendar year without incurring gift taxes or even having to file a gift tax return.

Vermont Will and Probate Law

While the Vermont estate tax exemption amount of $2.75 million per taxpayer remained unchanged in the recent legislative session, a major re-write of Vermont law regarding Wills and probate administration was enacted and became effective July 1, 2018. The more notable changes are presented below.

One major change is that Vermont will now allow self-proving Wills. “Self-proving” means an affidavit signed by the witnesses is added at the end of the Will. Under previous law, the probate court would only allow a Will if either all of the decedent’s heirs at law consented to the allowance of the Will, or a hearing was held with the witnesses giving testimony to confirm the Will was properly signed.  Under the new law, the courts will allow Wills without a hearing if they are executed with the new self‑proving affidavit. This means a more streamlined process for the allowance of Wills. The benefit of self-proving Wills cannot be overstated for ease and efficiency of Will allowance, and we therefore recommend the execution of new Wills to incorporate this new benefit.

The Vermont Law also allows an executor to move forward with the sale of the estate’s assets in a more streamlined manner, if the Will specifically allows for such sales. Finally, estate administration can be significantly less burdensome if the probate estate involves no real estate, highlighting the benefit of re-titling assets, particularly real estate, in a manner to avoid probate.

Do the beneficial changes in these new laws eliminate your need for comprehensive estate planning?

There are many issues to be addressed in the estate planning process, beyond tax planning, including naming your choice of guardian, executor and trustee, avoiding probate, providing for the specific needs of your family, the complexities of second marriages and blended families, and supporting your favorite charities. So the need for a comprehensive estate plan has definitely not been eliminated – the ground rules have just shifted.

In such dynamic times, the estate planning department at Sheehey is ready to help in reviewing your current estate plan in light of these significant changes. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment to discuss how the new laws impact you, please contact us at (802) 864-9891.

 

Disclaimer

While the information contained herein is intended to be accurate, it is, nonetheless, presented with the understanding that it does not constitute legal advice or professional assistance in any manner, but rather is offered to guide the discussion.  An independent investigation of the current law must always be undertaken before recommending any action or inaction on the basis of these materials.

Sheehey Sponsors Comedy Night for Recovery

Sheehey Furlong & Behm is proud to sponsor the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County’s 2nd annual Comedy Night for Recovery & Silent Auction.  This year’s event will take place Thursday, June 14th at Main Street Landing’s Black Box Theater located at 60 Lake Street in Burlington, showtime is 7:00 pm.

The Turning Point Center of Chittenden County provides a safe and drug-free space for those on the path to recovery.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.turningpointcentervt.org.

Sheehey Furlong and Behm Pitches for a Purpose with Lund

On May 12, 2018, Sheehey fielded a team for Lund’s first annual Pitchin’ for a Purpose Cornhole tournament at the Burlington International Airport.  The team included Sheehey attorneys Debra Bouffard and Kevin Lumpkin, as well as Jamie Martell, operations manager, Amanda Schrader, legal administrative assistant and Donna Sims, paralegal.  The firm was a bronze sponsor of the event.

In total, more than 60 teams and 200 players competed over the course of the day, and Lund raised over $85,000 dollars to support its mission of helping children to thrive and breaking cycles of poverty, addiction, and abuse.

Mark Melendy to Speak at NH & VT Council of Charitable Gift Planner’s Conference and Annual Meeting

Sheehey attorney Mark Melendy will lead a breakout session entitled “Estate Planning and Charitable Giving  After the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” at the NH & VT Council of Charitable Gift Planner’s conference and annual meeting on June 21st at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vermont.

The New Hampshire & Vermont Council of Charitable Gift Planners provides professional development and networking opportunities to nonprofit professionals and professional advisors across New Hampshire and Vermont. The theme of this year’s conference is Charitable Giving: Present and Future, for more information and to register click here.

Mark is a principal of Sheehey Furlong & Behm and splits his time between the firm’s Burlington and Woodstock, Vermont offices.  He has over 30 years of experience practicing law and focuses largely on corporate law, business succession planning, estates and trusts and tax planning.

Sheehey Welcomes New Paralegal

Sheehey Furlong & Behm is pleased to announce that Lane Waples has joined the firm as a paralegal.

Lane graduated from Boston College in May of 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Prior to joining the firm Lane worked for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. Throughout college Lane spent his summers working as an intern at the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office and as a legal assistant at Bassil & Budreau, a law firm in Boston, Massachusetts.

Lane will work primarily with the firm’s litigation team.

Mark Melendy Attends 52nd Annual Heckerling Institute of Estate Planning

Mark Melendy, Sheehey Furlong & Behm Estate Planning Department Chair, is attending the 52nd Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning held in Orlando, Florida from January 22 – 26, 2018.

The Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning is the leading and largest conference for estate planning professionals in the United States and provides unparalleled educational and professional development opportunities for estate planners. The program covers topics of timely interest and practical guidance to plan effectively in the current uncertain and unpredictable legal and economic environment. Leading national estate planning experts will explore today’s most important tax and non‑tax planning issues, including the planning implications of recently enacted and anticipated legislation.

Sheehey Announces Three New Principals and Directors of the Firm

The firm is pleased to announce that Kevin A. Lumpkin, Owen J. McClain and Heather E. Ross have become Principals and Directors of the firm effective January 1, 2018.

Kevin Lumpkin joined the firm in November 2013. Kevin’s practice is focused primarily on civil litigation, serving both businesses and individuals.  Prior to joining Sheehey, Kevin served as a law clerk for the Vermont Superior Courts in Bennington, Addison, and Chittenden Counties.  In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Super Lawyers magazine named Kevin to its list of Rising Stars in New England.  Additionally, Kevin received the Vermont Bar Association’s Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award in 2016 for his work providing indigent litigants with legal representation.  He serves on the board of the Young Lawyers Division of the Vermont Bar Association.  Kevin is a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School.

Owen McClain joined the firm in September 2014. Owen practices both civil and administrative litigation. He provides counsel regarding construction contracts, energy projects, utility tariffs, transmission and distribution issues, and a variety of other matters affecting some of Vermont’s largest contractors, developers and regulated utilities. Prior to joining the firm, Owen served as a law clerk in Vermont Superior Court. Owen graduated magna cum laude from Vermont Law School.

Heather Ross joined the firm in December 2016 after fourteen years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont. She has extensive experience in complex civil and criminal litigation, as well as investigations. During her time at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she prosecuted a variety of fraud cases, multi-state drug trafficking cases, and human trafficking cases. She began her career clerking for the Honorable William K. Sessions III, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Vermont and spent six years in civil practice before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Heather currently serves on the Boards of KidSafe Collaborative, the Federal Bar Association, Vermont Chapter, and the Chittenden County Bar Association.

 

 

Owen McClain Sleeps Out For Charity With Vermont Gas Systems

On Saturday, December 2nd, Sheehey attorney Owen McClain joined a team of fundraisers from Vermont Gas Systems to sleep out by the Otter Creek Falls in Middlebury to raise money and awareness for homelessness. Together, they raised over $13,000 to benefit John Graham Housing & Services, an Addison County non-profit organization dedicated to providing food, shelter, and housing to the homeless. The low temperature on Saturday night was 28° Fahrenheit.

This is the second consecutive year that Owen has participated in the sleep-out with a team from Vermont Gas. This year, Vermont Gas was recognized as the “Top Team” for the fundraiser and Owen was recognized as the “Top Fundraiser.”

4 Sheehey Attorneys to Present at Trust and Estate Planning Seminar

 

4 Sheehey attorneys to present at upcoming Trust and Estate Planning seminar in South Burlington, Vermont on December 4th  and December 5thMark Melendy, Daphne Moritz, Leigh Phillips and Walter McCarthy will each speak at the seminar on a range of trust and estate planning topics including:  fiduciary relationships, revocable trust planning, business succession planning and ethical considerations for estate planning professionals.  The presentation is being provided by the National Business Institute, Inc. and will be hosted at the Holiday Inn, 1068 Williston Road, South Burlington, VT.  For more information about the seminar, including registration details and credit information, please visit the National Business Institute’s website by clicking on the following link  

 

Sheehey Furlong & Behm