Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Jersey Aid in Dying Bill

LawAs I have previously discussed, the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act is currently being considered in New Jersey. The bill was passed by the state Assembly in November, and is currently before the Senate. Last week, Dan Diaz, husband of Brittany Maynard who ended her life three months ago under Oregon's Death With Dignity Law, spoke with legislators in New Jersey to advocate passage of the Aid in Dying bill. On a radio show segment called Ask the Governor, Governor Chris Christie expressed concerns regarding the bill, but did not definitely state what action he plans to take if the bill reaches his desk.

See Michael Symons, Christie Wary of 'Aid in Dying' for Terminally Ill, Asbury Park Press, Jan. 18, 2015.

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

January 21, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

State of the Union: Obama Proposals Call for Tax Increases

Obama

In tonight’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama will call on the new Republican-led Congress to raise taxes on investments and inherited property as well as create or expand a range of tax breaks for middle-income families.

The President’s new initiatives include tripling the child-care tax credit, creating a new credit for families in which both spouses work, and consolidating and expanding education tax breaks.  The administration also plans to make retirement savings programs available to more people by requiring employers to enroll workers in an individual retirement account if they have not already done so. 

The plan would make sweeping changes to the tax bills of wealthier taxpayers by raising the taxes they pay in investments.  The top capital gains rate would rise to 28 percent form 23.8 percent.  Furthermore, the plan proposes to tax capital gains at death rather than allow them to pass income tax free to heirs as under current law.  This implementation would eliminate arguable the biggest loophole in the tax code for wealthy households since postponing realization of capital gains until death may allow a taxpayer to avoid millions of dollars in taxes on substantially appreciated assets.

While it seems unlikely Congress will approve the President’s proposals, they will surely provoke heated discussion. 

See Carol E. Lee, Colleen McCain Nelson, and John D. McKinnon, Obama to Propose Tax Hikes on Investments, Inherited Property, Market Watch, Jan. 18, 2015.

See also Len Burman, President Obama Targets the ‘Angel of Death’ Capital Gains Tax Looophole, Forbes, Jan. 18, 2015.

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

January 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rich Expected to Get Richer

BagA large world-wide wealth transfer is expected over the next 30 years according to a recent report released last week by Wealth-X and NFP Family Wealth Transfer. The expected $16 trillion dollars to pass to the next generation in the next three decades, and $6 trillion in the U.S., is expected to create newly ultra-rich individuals, with proper planning, suggests the report. The report's authors warn that since over half of the world's ultra rich are self-made, it is important that they also pass down the values and work ethic to their children that got them to where they are. The report also warns that proper estate planning is a must as up to half of the next generation's inheritance could go to inheritance taxes.

See PW Staff, Rich Families Set to Transfer $16 Trillion, Financial Advisor, Jan. 16, 2015.

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

January 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Article on Insuring Same-Sex Partners

Brian Balduzzi

Brian Balduzzi (Wilchins Cosentino & Friend LLP) recently published an article entitled, Insuring Equitable Lives: Why All States Should Amend Their Insurable Interest Laws to Provide Equal Protection for Same-Sex Partners, 23 B.U. Pub. Int. L.J. 219-243 (2014).  Provided below is a portion of the article’s introduction:

In the United States, over six hundred thousand same-sex couples cohabitate - a number which may be statistically underreported, despite increasing public support for marriage between same-sex partners. As of May 2014, seventeen states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex partners to marry. Additionally, at least three other states allow full domestic partnerships or civil unions between same-sex partners, at least one state offers limited domestic partnerships between same-sex partners, and at least one state recognizes out-of-state marriages between same-sex partners. Plaintiffs and supporting organizations continue to bring cases on behalf of same-sex partners in state and federal courts throughout the country. Despite these advances for equal marriage rights, thirty-one states still ban same-sex marriage by statute or constitutional amendment.

January 19, 2015 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

MLK Remembered In Spite of Lawsuits

Martin Luther King

Today is the 47th observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday; however, decades after King’s assassination, the heirs of the Georgia pastor who preached justice and peace are fighting over whether to sell his traveling Bible and Nobel medal to a private buyer. 

The family’s bickering was on public display last week when members appeared in court for the ongoing battle to force one of King’s daughters to relinquish control of the Bible and the medal.  The daughter has accused her brothers of trying to sell the bible and medal to a private buyer to raise money for the King estate, which supposedly suffers without a reliable revenue stream.  A judge in Fulton County Superior Court heard the case Tuesday, but did not rule and said the matter could go to trial next month. 

Although the legal battles between King’s heirs have no impact on their father’s legacy, their well-publicized disputes have been a turnoff for donors looking to support their work and the work of others who are associated with the Kings.  As far as the King legacy’s accessibility, historians say it has never been a better time to study the icon.  “King’s ideas are more freely available today than they’ve ever been—certainly more than there ever was during his lifetime.  None of that would have been possible without the estate.”

See Aaron Morrison, MLK Day 2015: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Message Thrives In Spite Of Legacy-Carrying Heirs’ Legal Battles, International Business Times, Jan. 18, 2015.

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

January 19, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Geraldine Hemmerling, RIP

CandleI am saddened to report the recent death of Geraldine Hemmerling, whose many leadership and service roles with The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel made her a respected colleague and friend to many in the estate planning field. Geraldine  was the first female ACTEC president in 1989-1990, and also served as a member of the Nominating Committee and ACTEC Foundation Board of Directors. She will be greatly missed.

January 18, 2015 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Supreme Court Agrees to Decide On Gay Marriage

Supreme court gay marriage

On Friday the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether all 50 states must allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. 

Largely as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s failure to act in October, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage has since grown to 36, and more than 70 percent of Americans live in places where gay couples can marry. 

The Court said it would hear two and a half hours of argument in the last week of April.  The first 90 minutes will be appropriated to the question of whether the Constitution requires states “to license a marriage between two people of the same sex.”  The last hour will address whether states must “recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.” 

Many observers believe the Court will establish a nationwide constitutional right to same sex-marriage.  However, the Court often navigates with caution in this area. 

See Adam Liptak, Supreme Court to Decide Whether Gays Nationwide Can Marry, The New York Times, Jan. 16, 2015.

January 17, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Billionaire Accused of Fraud

Charles johnson

Although Charles B. Johnson has been acclaimed for numerous accomplishments, the 82-year-old man stands accused of helping defraud the heir of the earliest investors in Franklin Resources out of $150 million. 

This accusation is at the center of a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in San Francisco federal court by Anthony P. Miele III of Manhattan, whose father left him Franklin stock worth $16,000 after his death.  Mr. Miele contends he did not know about the existence of the shares, which are now worth $130 million. 

The lawsuit accuses Mr. Johnson of breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, fraudulent concealment and negligent prevention of assistance.  According to the complaint, Mr. Miele first learned of the stock by happenstance. 

Mr. Johnson, who stopped working at Franklin Resources in June 2013 after 56 years, said that he was unaware of the lawsuit but thought that the “Mieles are one a fishing expedition for their own negligence.”  He said the only involvement with the stock described in the complain came years ago when he notified Mieles just before New Jersey was going to take over control of the trust.

See William D. Cohan, Mutual Fund Billionaire Accused of Fraud in Suit, The New York Times, Jan. 14, 2015.

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

January 16, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Huge Worldwide Wealth Transfer Coming

BagAccording to a recently published report, the world's ultra-rich, those with worth at or over $30 million, are expected to pass $16 trillion through inheritance to their younger family members over the next 30 years. The Wealth-X and NFP Family Wealth Transfers Report also estimates that charitable donations will make up $300 billion of wealth transferred over that time. The report frames the huge wealth transfer as a beneficial event to the global economy as it will spread out the current concentration of wealth being held by a small percentage of the world's population, and will encourage the younger generation to invest their inheritance.

See Andrew Soergel, World's Super Wealthy to Transfer $16 Trillion in Inheritance Over Next 30 Years, US News, Jan. 14, 2015.

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

January 16, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Accused Murderer May Inherit Trust Fund

JailThomas Gilbert Jr. is facing murder charges for allegedly shooting his father early this year over a dispute involving Gilbert Jr.'s monthly allowance being reduced by his millionaire father, Thomas Gilbert Sr. The trust fund is estimated to include $1.6 million in funds and Gilbert Sr.'s will named Gilbert Jr. along with his sister and mother as beneficiaries. While a guilty verdict may prevent Gilbert Jr. from receiving the funds, he may still inherit through a successful insanity plea and the estate may still be petitioned to pay his legal defense fees.

See, Son Accused of Killing Hedge Fund Founder Dad Stands to Inherit Part of $1.6M Estate, Fox News, Jan. 15, 2015.

Special thanks to Kristen Vander-Plas (Candidate for Doctor of Jurisprudence 2016, Texas Tech University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

January 15, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)