Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

End of Life Plans Made Easy With LastingMatters Organizer

Organizer

End of life decisions are difficult conversations to have with family and friends, and thus, avoided by many people for fear of placing an undue burden on their loved ones. While children, attorneys, and financial advisors often ask, people still find it difficult to discuss medical and financial directives.  They simultaneously overlook significant issues frequently arising after death. 

Barbara Sedoric has crafted a innovative solution to help families decipher the important details when the unthinkable does occur.  The LastingMatters Organizer enables individuals to document and leave all-inclusive and easy-to-use instructions (in print or online) that can inform and guide their loved ones after death.  Topics covered range from funeral plans and obituaries, to online passwords and details concerning family traditions and genealogy. 

The Organizer is a tool that can help anyone, at any age, by diminishing the costs, time, and the stress of family pressures surrounding the grieving process. Conversely, the graphics, the pointed questions, and the Organizer’s thoroughness make it easy and intuitive for someone to complete.

Special thanks to Barbara Sedoric (LastingMatters President and Founder) for bringing this to my attention.

September 16, 2014 in Books, Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Book on Guardianship Alternatives in Texas

Guardianship alternativesA Road Map to Guardianship Alternatives, by Sarah Patel Pacheco provides forms and guidance for utilizing available alternatives to court-supervised guardianship in Texas. Provided below is a description of the book from Texas Bar Books.

Texas guardianship proceedings can be intrusive, burdensome and costly. Practitioners should be aware of the many alternatives to guardianship that are available to Texas residents. This guide provides an overview of those alternatives, including specific forms that can be used to avoid a court-supervised administration of affairs.

A Road Map to Guardianship Alternatives, previously published as Contingency Planning, is intended to support practitioners in every area by providing knowledgeable and cost-effective legal support to families making plans for financial and medical care. This useful handbook has been expanded and updated to reflect legislative changes that have occurred since the previous publication.

The book is organized to easily direct both general practitioners and seasoned estate planning attorneys through situations in which the time and expense of creating a guardianship is not in the best interest of the client. It alerts practitioners to events that may be anticipated, such as travel, planned surgery, and administering the assets of minors or the infirm.

A Road Map to Guardianship Alternatives Digital Product, containing the entire book as an internally hyperlinked, word-searchable PDF file and all forms in Wordformat, is included at no additional charge.

September 1, 2014 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

New Booklet: Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services

AICPA PFPThe American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has published the latest version of their Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services. Provided below is a description of this guide from AICPA.

The AICPA’s Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services (SSPFPS No. 1), was issued to provide authoritative guidance and establish enforceable standards for members practicing in PFP. SSPFPS No. 1 was issued in January 2014 and is effective beginning July 1, 2014.

CPAs are licensed and regulated by their state boards of accountancy. Additionally, all AICPA members are required to follow a rigorous Code of Professional Conduct which requires that they act with integrity, objectivity, due care, competence, fully disclose any conflicts of interest (and obtain client consent if a conflict exists), maintain client confidentiality, disclose to the client any commission or referral fees, and serve the public interest when providing financial services. The vast majority of state boards of accountancy have adopted the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct within their state accountancy laws or have created their own.

Over the past three decades, a growing number of CPAs have expanded into providing personal financial planning services to individuals and families. The Compliance Toolkit was designed to provide non-authoritative guidance via checklists, engagement letters, and more to aid in compliance with SSPFPS No.1. For an overview of the challenges facing practitioners and the tools available to provide CPAs with guidance in determining whether SSPFPS No. 1 compliance is required, listen to this podcast on Understanding and Applying the Statement on Standards in PFP Services.

August 31, 2014 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Tax Management Portfolio on Estate Planning

Tax PlanningThe third edition of the Tax Management Portfolio, Estate Planning, has been published by William P. Streng, Esq. (Vinson & Elkins Professor of Law, University of Houston Law Center). This Portfolio provides helpful guidance for estate planning professionals. Provided below is a description of the Portfolio from Bloomberg BNA.

Estate Planning is designed as an authoritative and practical working tool for attorneys, accountants, and others involved in estate planning practice. The basic estate, gift, and trust planning concepts are presented in a descriptive and conveniently accessible form. Written by William P. Streng, Esq., Vinson & Elkins Professor of Law, University of Houston Law Center, and Consultant, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, this Portfolio analyzes the development of an estate planning strategy; fundamentals of the federal transfer tax system and related federal income tax rules; lifetime donative asset transfers; gratuitous property transfers at death; generation-skipping transfers; special property transfer planning considerations (e.g., community property, life insurance, charitable transfers, closely held corporations); and post-mortem planning.

August 30, 2014 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Retirement Made Easy By 'Unretirement'

Retirement

In his new book entitled, Unretirement, Chris Farrell asserts that developing skills can help you earn income past traditional retirement age offers a better return on investment than any other financial instrument. 

Farrell defines “unretirement” as the financial impact of working longer.  If people can work into their 60s, they will make much more in the course of a year than they could from saving.  This changes the financial landscape, as people will no longer need to tap into their retirement nest egg during these years. 

The first place to being is by asking yourself what kind of work you want to be doing.  “Don’t romanticize any particular idea—research it.  Think about how you can take your existing skills and move into a different sector of the economy with those.” 

The notion of “unretirement” further suggests that you can wait to claim social security, which in turn creates a wealthier society, healing the economic crisis.

See Mark Miller, Why ‘Unretirement’ Might Be Your Best Retirement Strategy, Reuters, Aug. 28, 2014. 

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

August 29, 2014 in Books, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Book: Can You Trust Your Trust?

Trust Your Trust

ABA Publishing has released an innovative new book by Seymour Goldberg entitled, Can You Trust Your Trust?  This book is written in an accessible and practical manner, and is easily comprehensible.  It is an indispensable resource for anyone looking to use a trustee or is involved with trusts and estate planning.  Further details are provided below:

A trust is frequently seen as the alter ego of a will. Trusts are often worthwhile but can be nightmares if improperly administered. As a result of the revamping of state trust laws in many states, trustees often find themselves with more questions than they were ever prepared for, without easily discernible answers, such as:

  • Are there ever occasions where I shouldn’t provide for a long-term trust?
  • How do I know if I can trust my trust?
  • What should I look out for? 
  • What should I look for when selecting an institutional trustee to administer my trust?
  • What trustee liability issues should I be aware of?

All of these questions and more should be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not it makes sense for you to provide for trusts in your estate plans.

August 27, 2014 in Books, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Resource Guide: Money Smart for Older Adults

Money SmartThe Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have made available a resource guide entitled Money Smart for Older Adults. The guide provides information for financial planning and, avoiding and addressing elder financial exploitation. Provided below is the introduction to the guide:

With over 50 million Americans aged 62 and older1, Older Adults are prime targets for financial exploitation both by persons they know and trust and by strangers. Financial exploitation has been called “the crime of the 21st century” with one study suggesting that older Americans lost at least $2.9 billion to financial exploitation by a broad spectrum of perpetrators in 2010.2

A key factor in some cases of elder financial exploitation is mild cognitive impairment which can diminish an older adult’s ability to make sound financial decisions.

This epidemic is under the radar. The cases tend to be very complex and can be difficult to investigate and prosecute. Elders who lose their life savings usually have little or no opportunity to regain what they have lost. Elder financial abuse can result in the loss of the ability to live independently; decline in health; broken trust, and fractured families.

Awareness and prevention is the first step. Planning ahead for financial wellbeing and the possibility of diminished financial capacity is critical. Reporting and early intervention that results in loss prevention is imperative.

Money Smart for Older Adults is designed to provide you with information and tips to help prevent common frauds, scams and other types of elder financial exploitation in your community. Please share this information as appropriate.

August 25, 2014 in Books, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Resource Links | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

New Handbook on Prudent Practices for Investment Advisors

Handbook AdvisorsA revised edition of Prudent Practices for Investment Advisors has been published by fi360. This handbook walks investment professionals through a four-step process for advising clients on investment decisions. Here is a description of the handbook from the authors’ website:

The Prudent Practices for Investment Advisors are for professionals who are responsible for providing investment advice and/or managing investment decisions, including wealth managers, financial advisors, trust officers, financial consultants, investment consultants, financial planners, and fiduciary advisers.

. . . .

Each Practice has been substantiated by applicable legislation, regulation, and/or case law to ensure compliance. Full citations, as well as detailed Criteria, narrative discussion, practical application, and suggested procedures can be found in the Prudent Practices for Investment Advisors handbook . . . .

August 24, 2014 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

New Book on Trust Protectors

Trust ProtectorsAlexander A. Bove, Jr’s new book entitled, Trust Protectors: A Practice Manual with Forms is now available through Juris Publishing.  Provided below is a description of the book:

The trust protector is generally regarded as a relatively new position in trust law, and the key feature of the position is that the protector may be granted powers over the trust, which are generally superior to those of the trustee. This places the protector in a position where, by the exercise of his powers, he can cause the trust to adjust to unforeseen changes or new conditions without the need for court action or beneficiary approval. This work takes the firm position that, with only limited exception, the role of the protector is a fiduciary one, imposing on the protector a duty to act in the best interests of the purposes of the trust and the beneficiaries.

Unfortunately, a substantial segment of the legal community, as well as the legislative bodies of a number of international jurisdictions, have taken a position that the protector is not a fiduciary, or that he may be declared in the trust not to be a fiduciary, and that the power granted him under the trust may be declared to be personal powers, whether or not such is the case, and thus he would have no liability for his actions or inactions while serving as protector. This “attraction” of providing total exculpation of the protector has effectively engendered a quick acceptance of the position by the bulk of the legal community and even by the legislatures of a number of jurisdictions, though almost totally unsupported by relevant case law. As a result, we have been seeing trusts which incorporate the use of a protector having the power to make critical dispositive and administrative decisions, as well as extensive modifications to the trusts without being exposed to liability for negligence or bad decisions which result in damages.

This work will examine in detail the role of the protector of the trust, the relationship between the protector and the trustee, between the protector and the beneficiaries, and the protector’s responsibilities to the purposes of the trust. It will demonstrate with legal support that the role of the protector is not a new role, that, in fact, the protector is simply a new name for the decades-old position of trust “advisor,” and that the trust advisor is consistently regarded as a fiduciary in relevant treatises and has been repeatedly held to be a fiduciary in relevant cases. The discussion will also review and analyze the historical issues and professional commentary relevant to trust law and the role of protector, as well as case decisions in various international jurisdictions which have shed light on the issues and some of the positions taken in the statutes of a number of jurisdictions in the United States and across the world. All legal aspects of the role will be examined, including the rights of the protector, the protector’s relationship to the trustee, and the courts’ regard for and treatment of the position.

Further, the work will discuss in detail all of the practical considerations in using a protector, such as selection and special drafting considerations, the use of a protector in a foundation, and, in brief, the numerous tax issues that may apply. The conclusion will be that with only very limited exception, which will be explained, the protector is unquestionably a fiduciary, and just as a trustee, he should be held to fiduciary standards.

August 23, 2014 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Booklet Series on Managing Someone Else’s Money

CFPB_LogoThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released a series of informative guides entitled, Managing Someone Else’s Money. Here is a description of the series from the CFPB website:

Millions of Americans are managing money or property for a loved one who is unable to pay bills or make financial decisions. This can be very overwhelming. But, it’s also a great opportunity to help someone you care about, and protect them from scams and fraud.

We are releasing four easy-to-understand booklets to help financial caregivers. The Managing Someone Else’s Money guides are for agents under powers of attorney, court-appointed guardians, trustees, and government fiduciaries (Social Security representative payees and VA fiduciaries.)

The guides help you to be a financial caregiver in three ways:

  • They walk you through your duties.
  • They tell you how to watch out for scams and financial exploitation, and what to do if your loved one is a victim.
  • They tell you where you can go for help.

August 22, 2014 in Books, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Non-Probate Assets, Professional Responsibility, Resource Links, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)