Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

CLE on Advanced Estate Planning Techniques

CLE ImageThe ALI-CLE is sponsoring a CLE that will be displayed as a course, live video webcast, or as webcast segments entitled, Advanced Estate Planning Techniques, Thursday-Friday, February 14-15, 2013. Provided below is description of the course:

Why You Should Attend?

The current rate and exemption of the federal estate tax are scheduled to change significantly in 2013 – unless Congress and the administration act during the lame duck session. If you want the best early education on the state-of-affairs after year-end, you need to attend this program!

This annual, accredited course from ALI CLE, taught by experienced trust and estate practitioners and educators from around the country, features carefully selected, sophisticated topics that focus on the latest developments in the federal estate tax while providing the information and tools you need to better serve your clients. With a smaller classroom environment, those who attend Advanced Estate Planning Techniques in person will have many opportunities to get their pressing questions answered by the faculty and to network with like-minded colleagues.

What You Will Learn?

With or without major changes in the federal estate tax law at year-end or some time in the near term, many changes are affecting the practice of estate planners.

Attend this continuing legal education program to learn:

  • How LLCs are sometimes overused and misused as an asset protection device
  • The income tax consequences upon termination of grantor trust status
  • Legal limitations on permissible conditions
  • Sophisticated uses for the previously taxed property credit
  • When and how to use trust protectors
  • How to adapt your practice to the needs of a changing client base
  • The importance of inter vivos credit shelter planning if portability disappears

November 3, 2012 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Janet Jackson Demands Retraction From Vanity Fair

Michael JacksonMs. Janet Jackson has demanded that Vanity Fair retract a story that it published online. The article claimed that Janet purposefully delayed Michael Jackson's burial because the estate had not reimbursed the expenses that she incurred paying for Michael Jackson's funeral. Janet's attorney, Blair G. Brown, rebutted stating that the allegations made against her were simply not true. Ms. Brown alleged that Janet paid for the funeral without any thoughts of being reimbursed. Her attorney did state that while Janet did not seek reimbursement, the estate nonetheless did compensate her for a few private expenses that she incurred in this process. 

Janet and her attorneys further claim that these allegations were defamatory because they have damaged her reputation. Janet claimed that the information that the article used was based upon a book that Vanity Fair published earlier in the year entitled, Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson. The information from that book was also used in several articles published by a number of news sources. Because of the expansive coverage, Janet and her attorneys claim that the statements have damaged her reputation. Vanity Fair has chosen not to recant its statement and stands by the information that it provided. 

See Natalie Finn, Janet Jackson Demands Retraction From Vanity Fair Over Michael Jackson Burial Story, E!, Oct. 9, 2012. 

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

November 3, 2012 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Experts State That Gay Couples Should File Protective Tax Claims In Response to Windsor

Gay MarriageAs I have previously discussed, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution. Married gay couples might want to take advantage of the current legal situation surrounding DOMA. At this moment, experts state that gay married couples might want to consider "filing a protective refund claim with the Internal Revenue Service." This applies more to couples who are legally married in the few states that allow gay marriage, but could also apply to those couples who are in domestic unions. It is important to note that this is only a precaution in case the United States Supreme Court rules that DOMA is unconstitutional. The act of filing of protective refund claim protects a taxpayer's right to claim a refund from the Internal Revenue Service. This is especially important because there is only a three year statute of limitation on trying to claim a refund from the Internal Revenue Service.

See Debra Cassens Weiss, Married Gay Couples Should File Protective Tax Claims in Case DOMA Is Overturned, Experts Say, ABAJournal, Nov. 2, 2012.

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

November 2, 2012 in Current Events, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CLE on the Gift and GST Tax Exemption

CLE ImageThe ALI-CLE is sponsoring a telephone seminar/audio website with The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) entitled, Using Gift and GST Tax Exemptions Before Year-Endon Monday, November 19, 2012 from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. EST. Provided below is description of the event:

Why You Should Attend?

This informative telephone seminar / audio webcast will give you an overview of the current gift and GST tax exemptionsand potential planning opportunities for clients who wish to make tax-free gifts before year-end.

What You Will Learn?

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (aka TRA 2010) created significant but temporary reductions in estate and gift taxes. The exclusion amount of $5,000,000 plus lower tax rates have created opportunities for individuals to transfer wealth and save thousands, or even millions of dollars in taxes—but only through December 31, 2012—absent further legislation.

Experienced practitioners Marya P. Robben, Partner, Lindquist & Vennum PLLP, Minneapolis, and Adam K. Sherman, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Chicago, look at the status of gift and GST tax exemptions—and give a practical review of ways your client might use the increased exemptions and lower tax rates to transfer wealth while minimizing tax liabilities.

This program is a replay of a previously presented program. Questions may be submitted during the program and will be answered by email within 48 hours of the program ending. This program was originally presented on August 16, 2012.

Who Should Attend?

Trust and Estate Counsel, Wealth Managers and other legal professionals who could benefit from an overview of Gift and GST tax exemptions should attend this accredited continuing legal education program from ALI CLE.

November 2, 2012 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Italian Writes Will That Bequeaths 2 Million Euros To Her Dog

DogA 84-year-old Italian woman, whose name was not given, wrote a will that bequeathed 2 million euros to her dog Kikko. The woman does have children and several grandchildren, but decided that her dog should inherit all her property, which include "two apartments, several land estates and also bank accounts." The women made her decision following the death of her husband.

The process of making this type of bequest was difficult because domestic animals cannot inherit property under the law in Italy. To create this will, the woman had to speak with more than one lawyer about attesting a document like the one she was preparing. In end, if a person desires to make a bequest like this in Italy, that person might want to consider actually setting up the will that appoints an executor that "will be obliged to ensure a worthy life-long existence of a domestic animal after receiving the right of access to all bequeathed values." In this case, the women appointed her attorney to be the executor.

See Old Italian Lady Bequeaths $2.5 Mln to Her Beloved Dog, RIA Novosti, Oct. 21, 2012.

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

November 2, 2012 in Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Women Who Lived With Corpse Pleads Guilty To Related Offenses

Court FightA Michigan woman, Linda Chase, reportedly lived with the corpse of Charles Zigler. His corpse was located within the living room of her house. Following this discovery and indictment of a few related charges, Chase has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of fraud. In exchange, the State has agreed to dismiss the forgery charge against her. These charges came about because Chase cashed several checks that belonged to Zigler in the amount of $28,000. Reportedly, Zigler died from natural causes in 2010. Chase is expected to receive probation, which pleased her defense attorney Jerry Engle. Engle stated that this was best outcome for Chase because it affords her the opportunity to receive treatment for her mental illnesses, which is something that she actually needs. 

See Woman Who lived With Corpse in Chair Pleads Guilty, Fox 28, Oct. 2012. 

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

November 2, 2012 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bank Freezes Jimmy Savile Estate

Images-3NatWest, a British Bank, has frozen the estate of television host Jimmy Savile due to claims for damages arising from accusations of sexual abuse, including misconduct on premises where Mr. Savile pursued charitable projects and the British Broadcasting Corporation premises. Over 300 people, mostly women, have told officers that they were abused as under-age individuals.  His television shows and his charitable work at three hospitals brought him into contact with young people regularly. 

Mr. Savile died at age 84 last year and sexual abuse claims have arisen, the distribution of his estate has been put on hold.  The Financial Times published details of Mr. Savile's will, which bequeated his wealth to 26 beneficiaries.  Most of his wealth is to be held in a charitable trust that is established in his name.

See Alan Cowell, Jimmy Savile Estate Frozen By Bank, NY Times, Nov. 1, 2012.  

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

November 1, 2012 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

IRS Withdraws Appeal in Wandry

IRS 2As I have previously discussed, a tax court upheld the use of formula value clauses in estate planning in Wandry v. Comm'r. Specifically, the tax court stated that "the use of a simplified formula gift clause (that is, one that did not involve disclaimer or charitable elements) as a method of avoiding an inadvertent tax gift by an IRS upwards revaluation of the value of gifted property" was appropriate. The Government appealed the decision to 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, but before the court could render a judgment, the government withdrew their appeal. At this time, there is no indication as to why the Government decided to withdraw their case.

See Charles Rubin, Wandry Appeal Withdrawn, rubinontax, Oct. 23, 2012.

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

November 1, 2012 in Gift Tax, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Estate Planning Lessons Learned, Part 2

George S. McGovernFormer Presidential Candidate and Senator George S. McGovern recently passed away at the age of 90. Like most people in his generation, McGovern understood the principle of saving money and building himself out of poverty.If a person is going to save for retirement, it is important to note that most of the expenses that people incur in life occur at the end of a person's life. Thus, it is important for a person to create a plan and prepare not only for life's expenses that are likely to occur but also so that a person can comfortably enjoy his or her retirement. Clients might want to consider planning how they will preserve their assets, and how they would like to take care of their family following their death. Clients make want to consider drafting either a will or revocable trust, a durable power of attorney, and an advance directive. They might also want to consider planning for long-term care, which can be a large expense. For people like Senator McGovern who serve our country, there are certain benefits that a veteran might be able to use. These benefits could also become part of that person's estate plan. 

Senator McGovern's later work "to help solve the world hunger issues that he himself experienced" can show us that a person might want to consider leaving a legacy of kindness, charity, and good works in addition to a financial legacy. 

See Evan Guthrie Law Firm, Estate Planning: Lessons Learned From George McGovern, JD Supra, Oct. 21, 2012.

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

November 1, 2012 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Romney's Use of the CRUT Tax Shelter

Mitt RomneyThe Bloomberg Press discovered that presidential candidate Mitt Romney uses a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) as a tax shelter. This trust arrangement greatly favors Romney, considering that he receives the same tax-exempt status that the church has when it receives capital gains on the sale of assets for a profit. This favors Romney because he is guaranteed a payout from the trust's liquid assets before the chartiable organization. In this relationship, the church only receives the remainder of the trust, which is will likely be little if anything.

Some estate planning lawyers have stated that this is common and noted that one of the main benefits of using a CRUT is that it allows the funder to "rent" the church's favorable tax status. One attorney stated that it was a common practice to structure the trust to give as little as possible to the charity while maximizing the amount that the funder would receive. CRUTs work like an annuity providing a stream of payments to the funder of the trust. When the funder of the CRUT passes away, then the charity beneficiary receives the remainder. Congress sought to change this principle by requiring at least 10% of the initial amount that the funder placed within the trust to go to the listed charity. Romney's trust, however, does not have to follow these rules because he made his trust before Congress changed the rule. In other words, his trust was grandfathered so that it is still legal regardless of the fact that his trust does not meet the requirements. 

The author here believes that Mitt Romney's use of the CRUT is indicative of his entire attitude towards taxes. She argues that Mitt Romney will likely use any mechanism that he can to reduce to his taxes, even though his vast wealth is an indirect result of our favorable infrastructure, which is supported by the American taxpayer. In addition, the author argues that this is will provide some explanation as to why Romney has refused to release his tax returns in the past.

See Linda M. Beale, Romney's CRUT Tax Shelter, ataxingmatter, Oct. 30, 2012.

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

November 1, 2012 in Current Events, Income Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)