Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, July 16, 2018

CLE on 30 Steps to Perfect Probate

The National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, 30 Steps to Perfect Probate, on Thursday, October 11, 2018 - Friday, October 12, 2018, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Jacksonville Baymeadows in Jacksonville, Florida. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Gain Valuable Strategies for Every Step of the Probate Process

Are you confident you're taking advantage of every strategic opportunity the probate process has to offer? Experienced faculty will share their insights into maximizing the benefits of each step at this essential program. With a special focus on strategic decision-making to minimize tax burdens, speed up the process and alleviate conflict; this guide to probate is just what you need to take your practice to the next level. Register today!

  • Spend two full days learning how to strategically navigate the probate process.
  • Shore up your knowledge with a tactical guide to probate inventory - and leave no stone unturned.
  • Get tips from the pros on how to tackle creditor claims and troubleshoot debt repayment.
  • Minimize tax burdens for both the decedent and the beneficiaries with a full guide to timely and prudent tax planning and reporting.
  • Maximize the use of exceptions when handling Medicaid estate recovery.
  • Hone your final disbursements skills to prevent disputes and re-openings.
  • Use probate litigation to its fullest advantage.

Who Should Attend

This two-day, intermediate level seminar is designed for:

  • Attorneys
  • Accountants/CPAs
  • Trust Officers/Administrators/Managers
  • Tax Professionals

Course Content

  1. Probate Process Overview and First Steps
  2. Executor Strategies
  3. Will Admission Techniques
  4. Inventory, Appraisement and Management Tactics
  5. Creditor Claims: Tips From the Pros
  6. Medicaid Estate Recovery Insights
  7. Insolvent Estate Tips and Tricks
  8. Tax Minimization Tactics
  9. Final Accounting Secrets
  10. Distributions: Insights From the Pros
  11. Estate Closing Strategies
  12. Legal Ethics
  13. Probate Litigation Tactics

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 14.50 *

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 1.20

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 14.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

July 16, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Intestate Succession, Professional Responsibility, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Highest Court of Germany Rules Parents Allowed Access to Deceased Daughter's Account

German flagThe parents of a 15-year-old girl that was killed by an underground train in 2012 have earned a landmark victory in Germany's highest court, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH). The parents asked social media giant Facebook for access to their daughter's account and messages to determine if her death was an accident or a suicide, but was denied citing that the German constitution, or Basic Law, entitles a person to data privacy even after their death.

The court agreed with the lower-level court ruling that that Facebook data is legally equivalent to private correspondence covered by Germany's inheritance law and that it was part of the parents' inheritance.

Facebook only allows relatives of a deceased user to either convert their page into a "memorial" site or entirely delete the page.

The legal questions surrounding a person's "digital legacy" have previously arisen in the United States, where Apple refused a law enforcement request to unlock an iPhone of a mass shooter in San Bernardino, California.

See Facebook: Court Rules Parents Have Rights to Dead Daughter's Account, DW.com, July 12, 2018.

Special thanks to Victor Salas (Evening Reference Librarian, Louis L. Biro Law Library, John Marshall Law School) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 16, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

3 Principles for a Successful Family Legacy

LegacyThe next few decades will see the largest transfer of wealth between generations that has yet to occur in this country and in the world. Estate planning has become a less taboo subject among high net worth families as the prospect of extending their own legacy has become more prevalent and important. Those that adhere to the following three core legacy planning strategies have more success when transitioning wealth between generations.

  • Integrate planning
    • Your legacy is as much about providing financially for future generations as it is about how you wish to be remembered, and communicating with your advisors as well as your family will help you develop a detailed wealth plan that aligns with your legacy goals.
  • Evolve a healthy family wealth culture
    • A shared set of attitudes, values, goals and behaviors that characterize you as a family to many is more valuable and important than money in and of itself. Consider the elements that define your family’s culture, and keep them in mind as you designate goals for your wealth.
  • Develop the rising generation
    • Younger generations may have difficulty distinguishing between wealth and money, and their attitudes toward each may be apparent. Be a beacon and a role model, revealing to them how thoughtful spending, investing and charitable giving contribute to a sense of purpose.

See Catherine Schnaubelt, 3 Principles for a Successful Family Legacy, Forbes, July 13, 2018.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.) for bringing this article to my attention.


July 16, 2018 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Helpful Guide to Locating an Advisor-Friendly Trust Company

Advisor_BookThis book, 2018 America's Most Advisor-Friendly Trust Companies 7th Edition: The Winners List: Details On Their Technology, Custodians, Fees, In-House Experts, Advisor Support and More, provides detailed information on trust companies which the authors believe are better at working with advisors.

With over 5,000 trust companies in the United States, this guide may assist both advisors and private investors in narrowing their search for the company which will best serve their needs.

In addition, the book provides useful information on how trusts operate and why they may make an effective part of a person's estate plan.

This publication is available on Amazon.com in Kindle format.

July 16, 2018 in Books, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Article on Discretionary Trusts: An Update

TrusteesRichard C. Ausness recently published an Article entitled, Discretionary Trusts: An Update, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

In the past, settlors tended to limit a trustee’s discretion by setting forth a specific formula for the distribution of trust assets. Nowadays, however, settlors often prefer to vest more discretion in their trustees. This is partly due to the fact that beneficiaries tend to live longer and, therefore, trusts inevitably last longer, thereby requiring trustees to respond to changing conditions. In addition, settlors often believe that vesting increased discretion on the part of trustees will discourage beneficiaries from bringing expensive and disruptive challenges to their decisions.

Nevertheless, the trend toward increased discretion is not without its problems. First of all, there is a need to balance the wishes of the settlor against the duty of the courts to oversee the conduct of trustees and other fiduciaries. In addition, it is also necessary for courts to balance the wishes of the settlor with the right of the beneficiaries to receive fair and impartial treatment. Finally, it is necessary to determine when, if ever, creditors should be able to reach a beneficiary’s interest in a discretionary trust. The article begins with a description of the various linguistic formulas that settlors have typically used to describe the scope of a trustee’s discretion. It concludes that no language, however broad, can completely shield a trustee from judicial scrutiny. It then examines some of standards courts invoke when they purport to review the exercise of discretion by trustees. These standards be classified as subjective, objective or a combination of both.

The article also examines the ability of trust beneficiaries to challenge a trustee’s exercise of discretion. In addition, the article discusses the rights of creditors and concludes that discretionary and support trusts are treated like spendthrift trusts. This means that providers of necessary goods and services, as well as spouse, ex-spouses and minor children, can often reach a beneficiary’s interest in a trust. Finally, the article suggests some improvements in certain problem areas and advises drafters to be more specific about what a trustee can and cannot do when exercising discretion.

July 15, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Two Men Claiming to be Charles Manson's Sons Eliminated From Fight Over Estate

MansonTwo men that publicly claimed to be the offspring of late infamous mass-murderer Charles Manson have been eliminated from the battle of the Manson estate by a Los Angeles judge due to lack of proof. One man asserted that he was the product of an orgy that Manson was a party to and later given up for adoption, while the other man's mother was a member of the Manson Family.

The fight over Charles Manson's memorabilia, image, and publishing rights is now between two men left standing: Michael Channels, a memorabilia collector and pen pal who claims Manson named him as the sole beneficiary of all his rights and possessions in 2017 and Jason Freeman, a legitimate and acknowledged grandson of the cult leader whose father, Charles Manson Jr., killed himself in 1993.

There is no estimate on the current value of Charles Manson's estate. Manson's body is also being fought over as it lays unclaimed in a Los Angeles morgue under a false name.

See Jennifer Smith, Purported Sons of Charles Manson Fight Estate, Daily Mail, July 13, 2018.

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

July 15, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Unlike Some Feared, TCJA Did Not Block a Trust's Ability to Deduct Expenses Incurred Due to Property Being Held in Trust

TrustThe passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) eliminated the ability of individuals to claim miscellaneous itemized deductions beginning with their 2018 income tax returns. Many professionals and clients worried that these deductions included those from property held in trust. IRC §67(g) provides that, "Notwithstanding subsection (a), no miscellaneous itemized deduction shall be allowed for any taxable year beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026."

Notice 2018-61 clarified how the rule of miscellaneous itemized deductions, defined at at IRC §67(b) as any “itemized deduction” other than those listed from §67(b)(1)-(12), would impact trusts and estates. The notice also explains that certain types of deductions are not miscellaneous itemized deductions to the trust or estate and thus not barred as a deduction.

The trust will also be able to claim a deduction for itemized deductions that are not miscellaneous itemized deductions.  As the Notice points out: "For example, section 691(c) deductions (relating to the deduction for estate tax on income in respect of the decedent), which are identified in section 67(b)(7), remain unaffected by the enactment of section 67(g))."

See Ed Zollars, TCJA Did Not Block a Trust's Ability to Deduct Expenses Incurred Due to Property Being Held in Trust, Current Federal Tax Developments, July 13, 2018.

Special thanks to Mark J. Bade (CPA, GCMA, St. Louis, Missouri) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 14, 2018 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Where There's a Will, There's a Way: The US Will Registry Offers a Technology Solution to the Lost Will Problem

PrinceStacey Jerome-Miller recently published an Article entitled, Where There's a Will, There's a Way: The US Will Registry Offers a Technology Solution to the Lost Will Problem, Probate & Property Magazine, Vol. 32, No. 4, July/August 2018. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The death of the musical artist Prince shocked the country, but what was more shocking was the news that, although his estate is worth approximately $300 million, no will declaring the distribution of his assets can be found.

One can only guess why Prince did not leave a will. Was a will outside the scope of his religious beliefs? Did his attorneys advise him to plan for the event of his death, and he simply ignored their advice? Maybe he had not gotten around to estate planning, or perhaps he drafted a will but neglected to tell his family its location. It seems incredible to believe that such a large estate could be left unprotected. Whatever the reasoning, one cannot help but wonder what will happen to Prince's millions now. The Petition for Formal Appointment of Special Administrator, filed by Prince's sister Tyka Nelson, in the Carver County District Court on April 26, 2016, states, "I do not know of the existence of a will and have no reason to believe that the decedent executed testamentary documents in any form." A large part of Prince's estate will be needlessly wasted on legal fees, and Prince's family will be tied up in court trying to sort it ,all out. In fact, as of May 14, 2018, over 1,900 documents have been filed in the case.

July 14, 2018 in Articles, Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, New Cases, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Podcast: 9100 Relief: Jumping Through the Hoops When You Learn You have an “Oops!

ACTEC_FoundationHere is the latest ACTEC Trust and Estate Tax podcast--the topic is 9100 Relief: Jumping Through the Hoops When You Learn You have an “Oops!”

9100 Relief for missed or mishandled tax elections is broader, more frequently needed, and thus a lot more useful than many estate planners might realize. ACTEC Fellows Ron Aucutt of Tysons Corner, Virginia and Beth Shapiro Kaufman of Washington, DC educate us on this podcast.

July 14, 2018 in Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Protecting Your Pets: How to Make Financial Provisions in a Will or Trust

GarfieldIn our modern society pets are no longer simply considered an animal - they are members of a family, providing emotional support and comfort. Laws have not evolved to the point to see pets as not property, though, so certain steps but be taken to provide for your furry loved one after your passage.

Just as children with their growing list of sports, scholastic activities, and college tuition, pets can be quite expensive. According to a Harris Poll survey, Americans spend an average of nearly $1,500 on essentials such as food, grooming, boarding and trips to the veterinarian’s office for their pets each year. Horses are the most expensive at roughly $13,000 a year.

Here, National Head of Trusts and Estates, Gerry Joyce, answers commonly asked questions such as:

  • Should I Use a Will or a Trust to Protect My Pet after I’m Gone?
  • Could I Simply Leave Money to a Trustworthy Friend?
  • Why Is the Trust Document so Important?
  • How Long Can a Pet Trust Continue?
  • How Much Money Can I Leave to Care for My Pet?
  • What Are the Most Unusual Trust Provisions You Have Seen?

See Protecting Your Pets: How to Make Financial Provisions in a Will or Trust, Fiduciary Trust International, June 19, 2018.

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

July 13, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)