Just In Time For Tax Season

Simpson Law, PA.

Thanks for the fast turnaround; our very nice trip to Russia was made better knowing all this was taken care of with your professional expertise…we will keep you in mind in the future…and when we know someone else is looking for estate planning help.

--Steve, Silver Spring, Maryland

Thanks so much for everything…I gave your business card to 3 co-workers… I gave you the highest recommendation!

--Elizabeth, Fairfax, Virginia

Thanks again for your help and patience while we dragged our feet.

--Debbie,Potomac, Maryland

Getting a will written, designating a power of attorney - these are all tasks that I knew must be done - but I had been putting them on the back burner. Suzanne made the process simple, quick and painless. Everything was done professionally and in a timely manner. It brings me peace of mind to know that all this is taken care of!

--Nancy, President and Founder, Moms, Inc.

Thanks again for being so thorough…stay in touch.

--Donna, Reston, Virginia

I really appreciated all you did to make this so simple and speedy. You have done a great job incorporating all our various issues. I hope to have opportunities to send other clients your way.

--Caitlin, Laurel, Maryland

Suzanne handled the preparation and filing of all the estate documents for me, my husband, and our daughter. This included our wills, general powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney, and others. Her explanations were always clear and thorough. Suzanne also found a possible problem in the wording on the deed to our house--- and recommended a simple solution. We are so happy to now have everything in good order. Working with Suzanne was a personal and professional pleasure!


Thanks for letting us bring the children!

--Jennifer, Boyds, Maryland

Thanks for making it so easy and coming to our house both times!

--Don, Olney, Maryland

Suzanne is honest and knowledgeable about estate law. She will guide you to what best fits your needs and your financial situation. She is also very family oriented and that means a lot to me.

-- Linda

Thanks a lot for your help!

--Jan, Fairfax, Virginia

Thanks for everything!

--Cindy, Olney, Maryland

I am a lawyer as well, but my family went to Suzanne several years ago to prepare our wills and related estate documents, and we were extremely pleased with her services. From my professional perspective, she is very intelligent and stays up-to-date on the current laws, and on a more personal note, she is a very warm and caring person.


I’m telling my friends about you!

--Suzanne, Olney, Maryland

Thanks for making it easy!

--Paula, Rockville, Maryland

We worked with Suzanne to develop an advanced directive and will. It was a pleasure working with her -- she was helpful, very well-informed, thoughtful, and understanding of our needs. She was able to lead us through the process with clear instructions and had obviously done her homework before we arrived so that the process was efficient, with minimal back and forth. She has developed a very specific approach to writing advanced directives that reduces ambiguity and provides tremendous reassurance that our wishes will be fulfilled. She dispelled some misconceptions we had about wills and trusts in a respectful, courteous and patient manner, without ever making us feel awkward or uncomfortable. We absolutely trust her judgment and her recommendations which are provided with a commendable balance of professionalism and warmth.


I've been a client of Suzanne's for almost a decade and, with flexibility and compassion, she has worked with me to adapt my plan to meet my expectations. I trust her advice and highly recommend her services.


I had a unique opportunity to observe Suzanne's interactions with a diverse group of colleagues over a year of her participation in Leadership Montgomery and based on that I choose her to prepare my estate plan and to advise me about the process. She is a good listener who is well-respected by her peers for her thoughtful insights and assessments. I decided to retain her to prepare my own estate plan and felt she handled my case with competence and integrity, making the process very comfortable and easy for me.


Suzanne prepared our wills and other estate documents after our child was born. She helped us think through the consequences of the decisions we made, including making sure we had contacted our choices for guardians. We really appreciated her flat-fee based billing too. We knew exactly how much to budget for her service. As a great bonus, with her quarterly newsletter, we get regular updates on relevant legal issues. We have recommended Suzanne many times in the past and will continue to do so. She's a great go-to person.


Suzanne Simpson is the best lawyer I have ever met. She helped me in a most difficult probate case made extremely complex by incompetence of involved parties. She handled the case with efficiency, integrity, know-how and compassion making the best out of a very complicated situation. Due to her knowledge and efficiency my case was resolved in a positive manner. I have not enough words in my vocabulary to express my trust and respect for her ability to successfully finalize a case which other lawyers had deemed to difficult to handle. Kudos for Suzanne Simpson, Esq.!!


Ms. Simpson was our attorney helping us form a will and all the related documents that are important when you have a child -- and even when you don't. What can I say? She has it in all areas. First and foremost, she is an honest person and I always feel she is focused on giving us the best advice. She is highly knowledgeable and continues to go to seminars and keep up with the latest changes in the law -- of which there are many! Her service is impeccable: prompt, calling back ASAP, polite. And in all the while I have known her, she has never made any reference to any client. So I know my own info will be kept private. And her compassion is true, something you need and want when dealing with life and death issues.


Suzanne was easy to work with and very knowledgeable. She explained advantages and disadvantages of optional language and was very helpful in developing our wills, health directives and powers of attorney.

--Wills client

My husband and I were referred by our financial advisor to Simpson Law and from the first phone call to Suzanne Simpson we were handled in a professional manner-she clearly explained all of our options, the laws involved, we made our decisions and within the time frame that we requested. High Marks---we plan on recommending Simpson Law to all of our business partners, family and friends as well.

--Mary Joe

She does what it takes to get the job done. Suzanne is caring and compassionate which is helpful during the estate planning process which can be very emotional in some cases. She is a pleasure to work with and her fees are very reasonable, unlike many other attorneys.


Read more testimonials

Just in time for tax season! What are the various taxes that may affect an estate? Here's a very brief overview of two of the taxes that could affect you. Make sure you talk to a lawyer or accountant prior to taking any action based on your thoughts from reading this general summary.

Estate Tax

The estate tax is a tax on transferrable property at a person's time of death. It involves accounting for all items owned by the deceased or which the deceased has interests in at the time of death. Such property might consist of insurance, trusts, cash and securities, business interests, annuities, real estate, and other assets. Once all items have been accounted for, the fair market value is determined and used to calculate the Gross Estate, which is then applied as estate tax if appropriate.

In general, only wealthy estates have an estate tax applied. Smaller estates don't have enough in assets to trigger a tax. The exemption level in 2015 was $5.43 million per person. Anything less than that is not likely to be applied the estate tax. In 2016, an individual could leave up to $5.45 million to certain beneficiaries and not pay an estate tax; a married couple could leave up to $10.9 million1 .

However, for Maryland, the exemption level is lower. For Maryland and individual may pass $2 million to certain beneficiaries and the estate will not incur an estate tax. Careful planning is vital for married couples whose joint assets are greater than $2 million. Unlike the federal estate tax exemption, the decedent's exemption may not be doubled up to the survivor.

Gift Taxes

A gift tax applies to the transfer of property between individuals while receiving nothing or less than full value in return. The giver does not have to declare or intend for the transfer to be a gift; the tax will apply regardless.

The most common item transferred as a gift is money, but the tax can apply to the transfer of any kind of property. Selling something at less than its full value may also trigger the gift tax, as well as making an interest-free or reduced-interest loan.

There is a certain threshold that must be reached before the gift tax applies. A person could make a gift equaling the annual exclusion limit to any one person or recipient before the tax is applied. As of January 1, 2013, the annual exclusion limit is $14,000. This means that you could make a gift to more than one person, but the amount to each person could not exceed the current limit of $14,000.

Inheritance Tax

In Maryland, inheritance tax will be assessed for any bequests or any inheritance of ten percent may be assessed upon the value passed unless the person or entity receiving the bequest or inheritance is exempt from the tax. For example, exemptions are allowed for spouses, children, siblings, and lineal descendants of the deceased. Exemptions also apply to certain non profit entities such as religious institutions and charities.

Personal Representatives and Executors (Estate administrators)

An estate administrator has certain duties to care for a deceased person's finances or the estate during tax time. The administrator may need to file an estate tax return if the estate has transferred assets to heirs or beneficiaries which exceed the annual limits. Typically, only large estates have the estate tax applied and need to file the return.

Income tax returns may also be a consideration for an administrator. A tax identification number would be required for this return. Income tax returns come into play for an estate if the estate's assets generation more than $600 in annual income. An administrator may also need to file income tax returns for the decedent, not just for the decedent's estate. This return would only be needed for the year of death or for any previous years during which an income tax return wasn't filed if the decedent's income met or exceeded the income requirements.

Talk to a lawyer or accountant to find out how these taxes affect you and your estate. You can also go to https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Estate-and-Gift-Taxes for more information from the IRS.

1Ebeling, Ashlea. "IRS Announces 2016 Estate And Gift Tax Limits: The $10.9 Million Tax Break." October 22, 2015. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2015/10/22/irs-announces-2016-estate-and-gift-tax-limits-the-10-9-million-tax-break/#5bb172c66a7c.