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Thomas B Burton

Thomas Burton’s Answers

4 total

  • Does my mom need to update her Will to include a living trust for real estate valued at $900,000.

    2 properties - 1 in WI and the other, co-owner of a working farm in MN. Total value of her share $900,000. Currently has a Will (son and daughter 50/50) but no living trust. Will doing the above keep the property out of probate at time of death...

    Thomas’s Answer

    From what you are describing under the current arrangement, it looks like two probate actions would need to be taken at your mother's death. One probate case in Wisconsin for your mother's real property located there and a separate Minnesota probate case for your Mother's real property located there. As the other attorneys have suggested, if you are looking to avoid probate, you could transfer all of the above mentioned assets into a trust while she is living, and if done properly, avoid probate. Your mother's Will (assuming it is properly executed) will accomplish her intent of getting the property to you and your sibling, it may just cost more under the current method you described, due to needing two probate actions in two states. However, remember that a living trust also requires proper setup and maintenance in order to make sure it accomplishes your goal of avoiding probate. All property must be re-titled into the name of the trust to make sure there are no assets that would still need to go through probate at death. I recommend that your mother consult with an estate planning attorney in your area to discuss this situation as there are many factors that go into deciding the best course of action in each particular situation.

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  • Can your land lord deduct pass rent from your security deposit

    can your land lord deduct pass rent from your security deposit

    Thomas’s Answer

    I am assuming you are asking about whether a landlord can withhold from a security deposit for past rent due? It likely depends on whether you legally owe the rent. A landlord can withhold unpaid rent for which a tenant is legally responsible. See Wis. Stat. 704.28(1)(b). Under Wis. Stat. 704.29 a landlord has a duty to attempt to mitigate damages by re-renting the apartment if a tenant moves out early. I recommend checking out the WI Tenant Resource Center for more information on your situation, and also talking to a landlord/tenant attorney in your area if you think your security deposit is being wrongfully withheld. The WI Tenant Resource Center has a lot of helpful resources on their website.

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  • Are there tax benefits to contributing to the production of a movie?

    If I donate money to help produce an independent film are there any tax benefits to doing so? If so, is there any special way the donation should be made?

    Thomas’s Answer

    I agree with the previous two answers, that unless the film is made by a non-profit, registered with the IRS, you cannot deduct your contributions. You may be thinking of the tax benefits that Wisconsin offered in years past designed to bring filmmakers to the state, which was known as the Film Production Credit. Wisconsin offered this credit for a period of 6 years up until this latest two year budget, when the Film Production Credit was eliminated. Under several previous budgets, if you were are involved in making a film, for example if you are an owner of the film company, you could have applied for a film production credit from the WI Dept. of Tourism. If approved, you would then file this form with your Wisconsin tax return. http://www.revenue.wi.gov/forms/2013/ScheduleFP.pdf

    It looks like the film credit has been eliminated for the current two year state budget. It still would not apply to a donation to make a film, rather it would be a tax incentive designed to benefit the company, or person(s) making the film that was approved by the Dept. of Tourism. However, if you are thinking about making a film in the future in Wisconsin, it would be something to keep your eye on in case the Film Production Credit is brought back. See this article for some background on the WI Film Production Credit. http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2013/06/21/wisconsin-state-budget-eliminates-film.html?page=all

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  • I was married to my husband for seven days this year before he passed away. What will my tax filing status and liability be?

    The estate is well under Fed threshold for estate tax. WI has no estate tax. I was paid out his accrued vacation pay. No income taxes were withheld. Only Social Security and Medicare. Is that considered taxable personal income for me, or estate pr...

    Thomas’s Answer

    According to the Internal Revenue Service, Publication 17, "if your spouse died during the year, you are considered married for the whole year for filing status purposes." If you do not remarry, during the tax year, you can file a joint return for you and your deceases spouse according to the IRS.

    Publication 17 also includes more information relating how to file if you remarry during the same year. Here is a link to the information: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch02.html#en_US_2013_publink1000170746 This information is listed under the heading "Marital Status" and the sub-heading "Spouse died during the year." I would speak to a local probate attorney regarding your questions on distribution of the estate. Depending on the amounts involved, you may have to consider gift tax issues if you give 75% of your deceases spouse's estate to his children. You can gift up to $14,000 (known as the "annual exclusion) to any individual in 2014 without filing a gift tax return, or using a portion of your $5.34 million lifetime gift exclusion. The IRS has some FAQ's on the gift tax here. http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Frequently-Asked-Questions-on-Gift-Taxes Again, I would speak with a local probate attorney regarding the distribution of the estate and your proposed course of action before proceeding.

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