Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Panama Papers Scandal Has Trust Companies Reviewing Their Client Lists

PanamaAfter the Panama Papers scandal, trust companies are scrutinizing their client lists in order to identify any tax cheats who could drag them into an evasion lawsuit. Companies were setting up offshore trusts to reduce exposure to new proposed regulations targeting tax evasion enablers. The government has authorized new measures to reduce this avoidance by fining advisors and accountants facilitating the evasion. Advisors will be required to send letters to clients who have been provided offshore services within the past three years. 

See Vanessa Houlder, Trusts Comb Client Lists for Tax Cheats, Financial Times, August 18, 2016.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Proposed Regulations Will Keep Wealthy Americans from Lowering Estate Taxes

IRSThe IRS will implement new rules likely limiting techniques used by rich individuals to lower their estate and gift taxes. These new regulations apply to valuation discounts, which allow people with assets greater than the current $5.45 million exemption to lower the value of their assets subject to gift and estate taxes. Asset owners of this type typically put their assets into a holding company that is not traded, giving shares of the company to family or charity. Subsequently, the assets’ value drops due to dispersed control of the company. The proposed regulations will allow the IRS to ignore these discounts.

See Laura Saunders, The Controversial Way Wealthy Americans Are Lowering Their Estate Taxes, Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2016.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

UK Inheritance Tax Will Affect the Non-Doms

Non-domNew Treasury guidelines will require that residential property be subjected to inheritance tax even if the property is owned offshore. These guidelines add pressure to wealthy UK residents who are domiciled elsewhere; it forces them to consider the benefits of remaining in the UK. The rules will take effect on April 6, 2017 and subject non-domiciled residents to inheritance tax on their residential property. However, the guidelines will allow non-domiciled individuals a grace period until April 2018 to separate their assets.

See Hugo Greenhalgh, UK Inheritance Tax Move to Hit Non-Doms, Financial Times, August 20, 2016.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Daughter" of Billionaire to Inherit $8.5 Million

KerkorianKirk Kerkorian, founder of MGM Resorts International, died last year, and now his daughter will receive $8.5 million under his will. His 18-year-old daughter was submerged into a messy paternity battle; her mother, who was married to Kerkorian for 28 days, claimed that Kerkorian was her biological father. However, it was later discovered that another man was actually the biological father. After having raised her for most of her childhood, Kerkorian decided to provide for her with a will bequest.

 See Harvey Day, Daughter of Casino Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian Whose Mother Faked a DNA Test Showing He Was Her Real Father in Messy Paternity Battle Will Get $8.5m from His Will, Daily Mail, August 23, 2016.

August 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Article on Advance Directives in Arizona

Advance directiveWendy Metcalf Anderson recently published an Article entitled, A Good Death: Increasing the Adoption and Effectiveness of Advance Directives in Arizona, 8 Ariz. Summit L. Rev. 447 (2016). Provided below is a summary of the Article:

Advance planning for an end-of-life situation can be an effective way to ensure that we live our final days on our own terms. Advance directives, in various formats, outline the patient's desired treatment options, expressed when he is competent to make such decisions, and would be effective in the event that he loses the capacity to adequately communicate or participate in decisions regarding his own care. Dying patients who have discussed their end-of-life wishes with their physician are more likely to choose fewer life-sustaining treatments and more likely to spend their final days in hospice, rather than a hospital, than those who have not engaged in this type of conversation.

Americans, however, generally do not die in a way they would like. Overall, patients and their families have expressed the desire for quality of life and to avoid artificially prolonging their dying process. While the majority of Americans would prefer to die at home or at hospice with less aggressive care, studies have shown that seventy-five percent die in a hospital or nursing home, with nearly twenty percent of them in the intensive care unit. As a result, chronically ill and dying Americans are receiving medical care far in excess of what they and their families want. Yet fewer than twenty-five percent of Americans have executed advance directive documents that clearly specify their wishes.

This paper will discuss various advance directives currently in use and the landmark legal cases that created national awareness and debate over the last 40 years. Additionally, this paper will consider the current state of legislation regarding advance directives nationally and in Arizona and will explore the reasons that the laws inadequately serve to better encourage the use and effectiveness of these documents. As its primary purpose, this paper will propose several statutory changes designed to increase the rate of adoption of advance directives in Arizona and improve the availability of such documents when they are needed most - when a patient is physically or mentally incapable of communicating their end-of-life wishes.

August 22, 2016 in Articles, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Professor Dies After Man Believes He Is a Will Beneficiary

GreedyThe body of a Penn State Professor has been found in a quarry after he was lured there and pushed off a cliff by another man. On Friday, police charged the man with murder and conducted a subsequent interview. In the interview, the man told police that his motive resided with his belief that he was a designated beneficiary of a recent will that the Professor had executed.

 See Missing Professor Pushed to His Death at Quarry, Cops Say, Fox News, August 19, 2016.

August 22, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Resolving Personal Jurisdiction Matters in Florida

JurisdictionA Florida court will typically analyze two questions when resolving issues of personal jurisdiction—whether personal jurisdiction exists over the non-resident defendant under the state long-arm statute, and whether that exercise of jurisdiction violates the Fourteenth Amendment. In Abromats v. Abromats, a Florida court engaged in this analysis, considering a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court determined that it had in rem jurisdiction because it was the trust’s principal place of administration and the trustee had not provided notice otherwise. Also, the court concluded that it had jurisdiction over the defendant, using the analysis above. The conferred jurisdiction of the trust’s principal place of administration satisfied Florida’s long-arm statute.

See Brian Spiro, Pleading Florida’s Long-Arm Statute in Federal Trust Dispute, Florida Probate Lawyers, August 19, 2016.

August 22, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Philippe Dauman Resigns Ending Redstone's Viacom War

Redstone4The war for control of Viacom Inc. has finally ended with the resignation of Chief Executive Philippe Dauman and the instillation of new members on the board. The previous board met on Thursday night and unanimously approved a deal that would end the feud between Redstone and Dauman. Ultimately, they approved a $72 million settlement agreement and elected Thomas Dooley as CEO. Viacom hopes the transition will be smooth and strengthen its position as an industry leader. Next month, the board will consider a succession plan and determine whether to keep Dooley in the top spot. Additionally, Dauman will have the opportunity to present his plan of selling as much as 49% of Paramount Pictures. This proposal, however, must win the unanimous approval of Viacom’s new board. 

See Meg James, The Redstones’ War with Viacom Ends: Philippe Dauman Resigns, Tom Dooley Elected New CEO, Los Angeles Times, August 20, 2016.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 22, 2016 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Cemetery with Unidentified Bodies Causes Chaos

CemeteryA cemetery owner was given ten years of probation for stacking multiple caskets in single graves, which left behind disorganized burial records and unkempt graves with missing markers. The cemetery was closed and placed under receivership. Upon the closing, there were extensive efforts to identify the bodies buried, but some cases amounted to the “best guess approach.” Accordingly, the judge overseeing the case has agreed to wind down the state’s oversight of the cemetery. Laws regulating cemeteries are lax and inconsistent, increasing the possibility of reoccurrence.

See Cemetery Mess, Unidentified Bodies Stump Tennessee Officials, Fox News, August 18, 2016.

August 21, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Reformation of the Anti-Lapse Doctrine

Will-makingRichard F. Storrow recently published an Article entitled, Wills and Survival, 34(3) Quinnipiac L. Rev. (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This Article examines the rule of lapse in wills law, discusses how efforts to reform the damage it does has led to the doctrine of anti-lapse, and advocates an alternative approach. In contrast to the requirement of survivorship of beneficiaries in wills law, I argue that testators do not have in mind survival when their wills make no such indication. I propose that we allow the provisions of a beneficiary’s probated will to control the disposition of a bequest where the beneficiary has predeceased the testator by one year or less. This rule would carry out the probable intentions of the "wills-minded" testator and is preferable to the predominant anti-lapse approach that typically favors a narrow set of the testator’s heirs.

August 21, 2016 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)