MEDIA/PRESS

Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS

Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS
Scott T. Ditman, a tax partner and Chair, Personal Wealth Services at Berdon LLP, advises high net worth individuals and family/owner-managed business clients on building, preserving, and transferring wealth, estate and income tax issues, and succession and financial planning.
Find me on:

Recent Posts

T&E TALK: Art Donations in Estate Planning — Consider these Three Tips

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Apr 15, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Charitable giving is a key part of estate planning for many people. If you have a collection of valuable art and are charitably minded, consider donating one or more pieces to receive tax deductions. Generally, it’s advantageous to donate appreciated property to avoid capital gains taxes. Because the top federal capital gains rate for art and other “collectibles” is 28%, donating art is particularly effective.

Considerations Before Donating

Here are three tips to keep in mind:

  1. Get an Appraisal. Given the subjective nature of art valuation and the potential for abuse, the IRS scrutinizes charitable donations and other transactions involving valuable artwork. Most art donations require a “qualified appraisal” by a “qualified appraiser.” IRS rules contain detailed requirements about the qualifications an appraiser must possess and the contents of an appraisal.
Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Unlock the Benefits of your Revocable Trust

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Apr 8, 2019 7:00:00 AM

If your estate plan includes a revocable trust — also known as a “living” trust — it’s critical to ensure that the trust is properly funded. Revocable trusts offer significant benefits, including asset management (in the event you become incapacitated) and probate avoidance. But these benefits aren’t available if you don’t fund the trust.

Funding the Trust

Funding a living trust is a simple matter of transferring ownership of assets to the trust or, in some cases, designating the trust as beneficiary. Assets you should consider transferring include real estate, bank accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks and other investments, partnership and business interests, vehicles, and personal property (such as furniture and collectibles).

Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Life Insurance can be a Powerful Estate Planning Tool for Nontaxable Estates

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Apr 1, 2019 7:00:00 AM

For years, life insurance has played a critical role in estate planning, providing a source of liquidity to pay estate taxes and other expenses. Today, the gift and estate tax exemption has climbed to $11.4 million, so estate taxes are no longer a concern for the vast majority of families. But even for nontaxable estates, life insurance continues to offer estate planning benefits.

Replacing Income and Wealth

Life insurance can protect your family by replacing your lost income. It can also be used to replace wealth in a variety of contexts. For example, suppose you own highly appreciated real estate or other assets and wish to dispose of them without generating current capital gains tax liability. One option is to contribute the assets to a charitable remainder trust (CRT).

Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Create a “Road Map” to Guide Those Executing Your Estate Plan

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Mar 25, 2019 7:00:00 AM

No matter how much effort you’ve invested in designing your estate plan, your will, trusts, and other official documents may not be enough. Consider creating a “road map” — an informal letter or other document that guides your family in understanding and executing your plan and ensuring that your wishes are carried out.

Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Moving a Trust over State Lines can offer Tax Savings and Other Benefits

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Mar 18, 2019 9:58:10 AM

Residents of states with high income taxes sometimes relocate to a state with a more favorable tax climate. A similar strategy can be available for trusts. If a trust is subject to high state income taxes, you may be able to change its residence — or “situs” — to a state with low or no income taxes.

What Can a “Trust-Friendly” State Offer?

Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: It’s Not Unusual to include your Pet in your Estate Plan

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Mar 11, 2019 7:00:00 AM

An unexpected outcome of the recent death of designer Karl Lagerfeld is that the topic of estate planning for pets has been highlighted. Lagerfeld’s beloved cat, Choupette, played a major role in his brand. The feline was the subject of a coffee table book and has a large Instagram following. Before his death, Lagerfeld publicly expressed his wishes to have his ashes, and those of his cat if she had died before him, to be scattered with those of his mother’s. It’s unknown if Lagerfeld accounted for his beloved Choupette in his estate plan, but one vehicle he could have used to do so is a pet trust.

Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Have you Properly Substantiated Your 2018 Charitable Gifts?

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Mar 4, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Donating to charity is a key estate planning strategy for many people. It reduces the size of your taxable estate and it can help you leave a lasting legacy with organizations you care about.

The benefit of making such gifts during life rather than at death is that you may be eligible for an income tax deduction. Qualifying for a charitable deduction is, in some respects, a matter of form over substance. The IRS could disallow a deduction, even if it’s otherwise legitimate, if you fail to follow the substantiation requirements to the letter.

If you’ve made charitable donations in 2018, it’s wise to review the substantiation rules as you file your 2018 tax return. Here’s a quick summary of the rules:

Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Important Facts about Filing Gift and Estate Tax Returns

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Feb 25, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Have you made substantial gifts of wealth to family members? Or are you the executor of the estate of a loved one who died recently? If so, you need to know whether you must file a gift or estate tax return.

Filing a Gift Tax Return

Generally, a federal gift tax return (Form 709) is required if you make gifts to or for someone during the year (with certain exceptions, such as gifts to U.S. citizen spouses) that exceed the annual gift tax exclusion ($15,000 for 2018 and 2019); there’s a separate exclusion for gifts to a noncitizen spouse ($152,000 for 2018 and $155,000 for 2019).

Also, if you make gifts of future interests in trust, even if they’re less than the annual exclusion amount, a gift tax return is required. Finally, if you split gifts with your spouse, regardless of amount, you must file a gift tax return.

The return is due by April 15 of the year after you make the gift, so the deadline for 2018 gifts is coming up soon. But the deadline can be extended to October 15.

Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Building an “On-Off Switch” into Your Estate Plan

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Feb 18, 2019 7:00:00 AM

An effective estate planning strategy for you is likely the one that will produce the greatest tax savings for your family. Unfortunately, there can be tension between strategies that save estate tax and ones that save income tax. This is especially true now that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nearly doubled the gift and estate tax exemption — but only temporarily. Through 2025, income tax might be a greater concern, but, after that, estate taxes might be a bigger issue.

Fortunately, it’s possible to build an “on-off switch” into your estate plan.

Why the Conflict?

Generally, the best way to minimize estate taxes is to remove assets from your estate as early as possible (through outright gifts or gifts in trust) so that all future appreciation in value escapes estate tax. But these lifetime gifts can increase income taxes for the recipients of appreciated assets. That’s because assets you transfer by gift retain your tax basis, potentially resulting in a significant capital gains tax bill should your beneficiaries sell them.

Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

T&E TALK: Sudden Impact: What if Your Spouse Dies Unexpectedly

Posted by Scott T. Ditman, CPA/PFS on Feb 11, 2019 7:00:00 AM

What if the unthinkable happens and your spouse dies unexpectedly? Would you be prepared to cope emotionally and financially? As the surviving spouse, you’ll face some important tasks and challenges.

First Steps First

This is by no means complete, but the following are areas that will need to be addressed:

Death Certificates. One of the first things to do is obtain death certificates, which you’ll need to provide for various dealings with financial institutions and others. While it may be difficult to estimate how many death certificates will ultimately be requested of you, you’ll probably want to start with at least a dozen.

Notifications. You must get the word out to other interested parties, including your spouse’s employer, if applicable; credit card companies; life insurance companies; retirement plan and IRA administrators; the state motor vehicle agency; the state office for inheritance tax, if applicable; and your attorney.

Read More

Topics: T&E TALK

About Berdon Blogs

Our experts examine the latest trends, economics, business conditions and industry issues to provide timely information you need to maximize your tax advantages and meet your financial goals.

SALT TALK: Hear an insider’s perspective on the business issues, legislative updates in state and local tax, and tax aspects behind today’s headlines.

T&E TALK: Gain insights into how changes in tax laws, shifts in the financial markets, and regulatory concerns will impact assets and affect preserving and transferring wealth.

TAX TALK: Get an all-inclusive perspective on regulatory changes, industry issues, and trends from our team of multidisciplinary tax professionals – many of whom also hold J.D. and LL.M degrees.

Subscribe to Berdon Blogs

Recent Posts