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​Post-Death Planning to Maximize Utilization of Exemption and Effect Dispositive Intent

New clients contacted us about updating their estate plan—they were elderly, and the husband had been diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. The couple did not have any children, so under their estate-planning documents, they were leaving their assets, after a life estate for the survivor of them, to their respective extended families. At the time of the initial meeting, substantially all their assets were owned jointly; then, approximately a week after the initial conference, and before any planning was implemented, the husband committed suicide. The team discussed with the wife her right to disclaim some of the joint assets, in order to utilize a portion of her husband's applicable exclusion and also to cause a portion of their assets to pass ultimately to her husband’s family under his documents. We prepared different scenarios, illustrating the ultimate tax payable and ultimate distributions to family members if the wife disclaimed portions or all of her husband's interest in their joint property. The widow then chose to disclaim, and the husband's desires to benefit his family were accomplished.