Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Plan Ahead To Avoid Family Heirloom Disputes

HeirloomDisputes over family heirlooms that have both monetary and sentimental value can create tension and divide families.  It is a good idea for a person creating a will to plan ahead about who they will be inheriting the heirlooms.  Clients should be advised to discuss these issues with friends and family ahead of time.  Talk with loved ones about what heirlooms they would like to inherit so that future confusion and conflicts can be avoided. 

See Ray and Dana Brandon, Heirloom Jewelry and Your Heirs, The daily News, May 28, 2015. 

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Without An Estate Plan Property Might Go To State

RyanI have previously discussed how an unknown descendent of Lizzie Ryan could be eligible to inherit a $788,000 estate.  If an heir is not found in thirty years then the estate will go to the British Crown.  In the United States, if an heir is not found then the property often escheats to the State government after a certain amount of time.  If a person does not want their property to go to the state it is important to have an estate plan. 

See Idaho Estate Planning, Leaving Your Estate To The State?, Wealth Management, May 27, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

May 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Audrey Hepburn’s Two Sons Each Claim Belongings

Audrey hepburnAudrey Hepburn’s two sons are currently disputing over ownership of her personal belongings.  The two brothers are feuding over a storage unit “filled with posters, photos, costumes, awards and other memorabilia.”  The “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” star, who passed away more than 22 years ago, never decreed who would take possession of these items.  The two brothers are most likely going to let a judge divide up the property. 

See Derrick Bryson Taylor, Audrey Hepburn’s kids still fighting over her stuff, New York Post, May 27, 2015.  

May 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)

Claim B.B. King Murdered Ploy By Children To Take More Under Will Says Lawyer

NN KingThe lawyer for the late B.B. King recently stated that the claims of Mr. King being murdered by poison are likely ploys to take more from the singers estate. While there was a power of attorney transfer shortly before the death of Mr. King, it was not with the intent to deprive the children of the inheritance that was originally provided for them. Most of the money in the estate has been set aside in a trust that will provide for the education expenses of the beneficiaries but nothing more.

See Nancy Dillon, EXCLUSIVE: B.B. King's kids may be making 'ridiculous' claims he was poisoned because he only left them $5,000 each in his will, lawyer says, The Daily News, May 27, 2015.

 Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How To Prepare Client For Death Of Spouse

Wedding RingsThe hardest part of estate planning is when a client faces the imminent death of a spouse and needs help to prepare for the event. To smooth over the transition, get an early start and let the client work out all the details with the spouse so that a full understanding of the assets, obligations, and last wishes of the passing party are fully understood. Another tip is to make sure all bank accounts have the names of both spouses since that would speed up the transfer of control after death. Ultimately, it is better to have clients thinking about the future problems and issues so that they may be avoided and save much stress down the line.

See Miriam Rozen, Helping Clients Prepare for the Loss of a Spouse, Financial Planning, May 27, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

May 28, 2015 in Death Event Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

When Portability Is The Right Estate Planning Technique To Use

WillsEvery estate is unique and, based on the circumstances, must use the right planning technique to carry out the needs and wishes of the client. Portability is one of those techniques and is best applied to households worth between $5.6 and $10.8 million. One spouse is able to, essentially, take the entire estate with a stepped up basis and little or no estate tax. However, little or no control is left to the original creator which means  the remaining spouse must be trustworthy that they will carry out the wishes of the testator.

See Donald J Korn, Estate Planning: When Portability Won't Be Enough, Financial Planning, May 26, 2015.

May 28, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article On Digital Assets and Fiduciaries

ComputerNaomi Cahn (George Washington School of Law), Christina L Kunz (William Mitchell College  of Law), and Suzanne Brown Walsh (Martha Cullina LLP) recently published an article entitled, Digital Assets and Fiduciaries, GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-18. Provided below is an excerpt from the article:

This chapter addresses the appropriate treatment of a person's digital life when the account holder can no longer manage it. As the Internet becomes an increasingly important presence in our daily lives, the law has a significant role to play in determining the management of digital assets upon the account holder's incapacity or death. In the past, people put hard copies of photos in albums, listened to record albums, and paid bills with a stamped envelope. Today, most people use the Internet to store photos, listen to music, and pay bills. Yet few people have considered how to dispose of their digital assets.

This chapter explores the legal issues for trusts, estates, conservatorships, and powers of attorney. It addresses the importance of fiduciaries being able to manage an account holder's digital assets, and the obstacles under federal and state law to a fiduciary assuming that role. Finally, it shows how the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act provides a solution to ensure effectuation of the account holder's intent.

May 28, 2015 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Five Scams That Target Senior Citizens

DementiaScam artists often prey on vulnerable senior citizens.  These are five common scams that are often used to take advantage of elderly individuals:

  1. Reverse Mortgage Scams.  This involves fraudsters pretending to be government agencies offering homeowners lower tax burdens in exchange for hundreds in fees.
  2. Funeral Scams.  Some scam artists will research local obituaries and then show up to the funeral claiming to be an unpaid creditor of the deceased. 
  3. Investment Scams. Senior citizens are often frequently target by investment scams.  One of the most famous examples of this was the Bernie Madoff pyramid scheme.
  4. Internet Scams. Elderly individuals who lack experience with the internet can often be targeted with email viruses to steal personal financial information. 
  5. Medicare and Health Insurance Scams.  One of the most common types of scams involves fraudsters posing as Medicare or health insurance company representatives to trick seniors into revealing personal information about themselves.  These scam artists then use that information to bill Medicare or the health insurance company and escape with the money.   

See J. Wesley Harned, Elder Abuse – Five common scams aimed at seniors, DelCotto Law Group PLLC, Lexology, May 21, 2015.

May 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Modern Estate Planning Basis Plays Important Role

ScaleThe American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 raised the federal estate tax exemption to $5 million for each individual.  This amount is adjusted to inflation which means an individual can transfer up to $5,430,000 before being effected by the estate tax.  The change to estate tax law has shifted the focus of many estate planners from “estate tax” planning to “basis” planning.

“Basis” is an income tax concept which the IRS uses to calculate the tax a person owes after selling an asset.  Individuals and couples should consider the fair market value of their assets before deciding on whether to give the asset away as a gift or transfer it at death.   Estate Planners should be prudent about considering basis in order to reduce the income tax liability that a client will face.

See Virginia Carter & Zachary Lamb, Ward and Smith, P.A. Modern estate planning – It’s all about that basis, May 27, 2015.

May 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

B.B. King’s Children Face Long Complex Legal Battle

Old bb kingI have previously discussed the dispute over the estate of B.B. King.  The late blues is currently survived by 11 living biological and adopted children.  King’s children are currently in a high profile dispute with LaVerne Toney, the Musicians former business agent who currently has power of attorney over King’s estate.  The children of B.B. King have a long legal battle ahead of them, this dispute is far from over.

See Justin Wm. Moyer, B.B. King: 15 children and potentially a big legal mess, The Washington Post, May 22, 2015.

May 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)