Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love and Estate Planning Are In the Air

HeartsWith Valentine's Day on the horizon, many people are heading to the stores to get last minute cards, carnations, and candy for their significant others. While these gifts are nice, there are other nice gifts that people can give to show that they care about someone. For example, take these gifts into consideration:

  1. A person might want to involve their significant other in their financial planning because it would allow that person and his or her significant to plan for their possible future together.
  2. This could also be said for daily money management although not for the same reasons. First, this is important because it could prevent the couple from resenting each other. According to Forbes, "if you're scrimping and sacrificing, while you feel like your partner is splurging, it can also lead to resentment and tensions in the relationship." Meeting with your partner and discussing the family's finances could lead to agreement and understanding with your significant other.
  3. Not only should a couple communicate with each other about their finances, if one person handles the finances alone, they might want to consider teaching his or her significant other about personal finances while he or she still can. It is an unpleasant thought to have on Valentine's Day, but what if the person that handles the finances were to pass away? If this involves you, would your spouse or significant other be able to handle the finances if you were gone?
  4. On that subject, a person might want to ensure that his or her significant is taken care of if something were to happen to that person. A person might want to consider ensuring that he or she has an adequate amount of insurance, and that his or her estate planning documents are up to date. 
  5. Finally, the best way for a person to show that he or she cares is to have all of his or her financial documents organized and easy to find. While a filing cabinet will do, technology has advanced to the point that a person can store documents in one convenient place online. One such website is Mint.com
See Erik Carter, 5 Non-Romantic But Vital Things To Do This Valentine's Day, Forbes, Feb. 13, 2013. 

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

February 14, 2013 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Wishing you and your special someone a very Happy Valentine's Day,

Gerry

February 14, 2013 in About This Blog | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Case: In Re Paschall

Unknown-2In in re Paschall, the Waco Court of Appeals considered a mandamus challenge to a trial court's order that that an estate executor had to produce a copy of testamentary trust documents to those contesting the underlying will.  The executor argued that the contestants did not have standing since they were not parties interested in the estate or trust. The court of appeals held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion because the contestants did show at least some evidence that they were parties interested in the estate. 

See Trial Court Did Not Abuse Its Discretion in Ordering Production of Trust Documents, Texas Probate Litigation, Feb. 13, 2013. 

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

February 13, 2013 in New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Forbes Updates Their Guide to Estate Planning

Images-1Forbes recently updated their list of helpful estate planning articles to help readers keep up with the latest information on estate, tax and retirement planning.  Please click here to see the updated list of articles to guide you through estate planning post-fiscal cliff. 

See Janet Novack, The Forbes Guide to Estate Planning: 2013 Edition, Forbes, Feb. 3, 2013. 

February 13, 2013 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Norwegian Dies in Phuket and Leaves His Assets to Elderly and Children

UnknownOn Saturday, a Norwegian died of asthma and left behind a will that distributed his assets, worth more than 100 million baht are to be donated to foundation for the elderly and children in Phuket to show his gratitude to Thailand. 

A housekeeper returned from cleaning up houses in the Banjama Housing Estate and found Frank Robert. Frank Robert arrived in Phuket over 10 years ago and bought 21 houses in Banjama Housing Estate to rent foreign tourists.  Police went to examine the body and found no traces of injury to the body. Before he died, Frank Robert had told the housekeeper that he had a will kept in the safe in the house.

See Norwegian Gifts Phuket Needy, Bangkok Post, Feb. 10, 2013.  

February 13, 2013 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Turn a Profit From Succession Planning

CashI previously discussed the importance of succession planning for small businesses. According to Accounting Today, succession planning may also be positive for CPAs. The article suggests if CPAs consider the following options, they could turn a profit from the recent increase in succession planning.

  •  Evaluate product and service lines
  •  Cashflow management
  •  Use recurring models 
  •  Add an annual valuation statement 
  •  Develop a tax plan 
  •  Offer personal wealth consulting 

A CPA might help his client by separating and ranking what products and services the client is profiting from. This restructuring will help streamline products and services. CPAs can also show clients how to lower their working capital needs by creating a positive cash flow cycle. As a result, this increases the purchasing money the buyer has to buy the company. Using a recurring model is another way CPAs might profit from succession planning. Recurring models are ongoing services that people are willing to pay more for. This increases the value of your client's firm. A CPA might consider encouraging clients to add a valuation statement to their annual progress report. This can help them understand the factors that determine value. CPAs might want to consider offering to develop a tax plan that allows clients who have sold their business to maximize their after-tax proceeds. Last, CPAs can offer to manage a clients personal wealth created from the sale of his business. 

See John Warrillow, Six Ways to Profit from the Succession Planning Boom, Accounting Today, Feb. 12, 2013.

February 13, 2013 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Family Financial Fight

MoneyHere we have a a common occurrence. We have an aging mother and her three daughters. Two of her daughters are married but have no children. One has a teenage son and is divorced. The divorcee and her son have lived with the mother in her condo for sometime but has not contributed financially to the household. As it stands now, if their mother were to pass away all three daughters would take equally from their mother. Now, the mother has entered an assisted-living facility. The daughter that was living with her is still residing at the condo, and has finally started to pay the bills at home.

One of the other daughters is afraid that the daughter that lives at home is pressuring their mother to pay for her nephew's college education. The other daughter is worried because she thinks that her nephew will not be able to complete a four-year college education program and that her mother will squander this money. She thinks that her mother should hold making any gift until her nephew can mature a bit. The conflict also arises from the fact that one daughter feels that it is wrong for her sister to ask for a separate slice of the money especially because that sister has been irresponsible and has already asked a great deal from their mother. As usual, this family could probably benefit from the advice of a good estate planning attorney. The attorney would likely be able to determine how best to provide the grandson with money to college but ensure that he is responsible with his money. A trust with an independent trustee might be the best solution for the grandson in this case.

In this case, some would argue that "it's quite audacious for the sister to push her ailing mother to pay" especially because she could probably pay for her own son's education with her share. Some would also argue that it is important for other potential heirs to voice their concerns if they believe that one potential heir is taking advantage of an aging parent. Unfortunately though, it is important for everyone to remember that the money ultimately belongs to the parent and they will decide how they will spend that money.

See Michelle Singletary, Who's Right In This Family's Financial Fight?, Washington Post, Feb. 9, 2013.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention. 

February 13, 2013 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Belated-Birthday to President Abraham Lincoln

Abraham LincolnA Happy Belated-Birthday to the great emancipator and the President who led us through one of the greatest crisis that this nation has faced, the American Civil War. As you already know, President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre. What you may not know was that Lincoln died intestate. This is a brief summary of what happened to his estate after his death. 

It was his son Robert who took it upon himself to ask Justice David Davis, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, to become the administrator of his father's estate. Upon his arrival, Robert and Mary Todd Lincoln "wrote a letter to the Judge of the Sangamon County Court, in Illinois, and asked that he appoint Davis as the administrator of Lincoln's Estate." In his initial report, Davis valued the estate at about $85,000. This may not seem like much but his estate would be worth millions of dollars by today's standards. At the time (as it is now) it would be strange to pass that much money without a will, especially for an attorney. The estate finally settled two years later and was valued at $110,296.80. This amount was divided into three equal shares among his widow and his two surviving sons. Mary Todd declined an additional cash allowance that she was entitled to as the surviving spouse. As for Justice Davis, he was never compensated for his work and did not seek reimbursement for his administrative duties, which he handled largely on his own. This is strange because it was customary to at least hire an attorney to take of the administrative duties.

See Danielle & Andrew Mayoras, Are You Better Prepared Than Abraham Lincoln Was?, Forbes, Dec. 4, 2012. 

February 13, 2013 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Digital Assets Bill Passes House In Virginia

WillsAs I have previously discussed, the State of Virginia brought legislation to the House floor that would provide the personal representative access to a deceased minor's online accounts following their deaths. More specifically, the law "[p]rovides that the personal representative of a deceased minor has the power to assume the deceased minor's terms of service agreement with an internet service provider, communications service provider, or other online account service provider for the purposes of consenting to and obtaining the disclosure of the minor's digital assets." Recently, the Virginia House of Representatives passed the bill with a vote of 96-0-4. 

See HB 1752 Personal Representatives; Internet Provider Shall Provide Access To Deceased Minor's Digital Assets, Virginia's Legislative Information System, Feb. 5, 2013.

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

February 13, 2013 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sir James Tillie's Remains Found in a Vault

Unknown-6Sir James Tillie left instructions that his body should be placed in an open windowed room in the mausoleum on the highest point of his land.  He wanted to be placed there upright in his favorite chair with food, drink, and a crate of books by his side.  He expected that he would be resurrected.

Family legends indicate that his servants faithfully obeyed the orders for two years, but they buried him when his rotting body became intolerable.  There were no records about where he was buried, but he was believed to be buried in one of the local churchyards. 

Archaeologists recently found human remains in a previously unknown vaulted chamber directly below the spot where Tillie sat for years. Since there really isn't any doubt about who the remains belong to, there are no plans to exhume the body or do any further DNA tests. 

See Maev Kennedy, Missing Cornish Lord Found in His Own Grave, The Guardian, Feb. 12, 2013. 

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Attorney at law, Florida Probate Attorney Wills and Estates Law Firm) for bringing this to my attention.

February 12, 2013 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)