Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Boozy Lunch Leads To Lost Corpse In Germany

BeerWhile making a road trip to Poland from Italy it is natural to want to stop for a bit to unwind from the journey and take a little break. But one man decided he needed something extra and decided to have a drink or two to celebrate making it to his halfway mark in Germany. But before he could get in his, presumably, hard earned break he had to park his vehicle which just happened to a hearse complete with a corpse and coffin. Problem was he ended up forgetting where he parked the vehicle which lead to a day long search before the car as found about two miles from where the man claimed to have left the hearse. Police suspect that the man's apparent embrace of the phrase "it's five o'clock somewhere" when he had his meal contributed to the memory lapse. But, in any case, all ended well although there might be some doubts about the driver's future employment.

See, Undertaker loses hearse, body during boozy lunch, Fox News, May 11, 2016

May 12, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Inmate Claims To Be Son of Prince

GeneticsThe death of legendary musician Prince shocked the world and set off a scramble to find his various heirs due to the lack of a will. Until now, it has been assumed by many that he was survived by no relations closer than his full blooded sister and cluster of half-siblings which is the same tack that a Minnesota court took when it stated all possible heirs had been contacted. However, a man is claiming to be the son of Prince from a relation the signer had with the man's mother before he shot to stardom. The man is currently being held in federal prison over gun charges and when reached by the media his family declined to issue any comment about the claim. However, despite the Minnesota court announcing that all heirs were located, it ordered the preservation of a DNA sample that can be used to test any familial claims. But, at this time, no test has been done to confirm or deny the man's claim.

See Sara Sidner, Prince estate: Colorado inmate says he is singer's son, sole heir, CNN, May 1, 2016.

May 12, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

United States Cracking Down On Using LLCs To Disguise Foreign Beneficial Owners

CharityThe United States is attempting to crack down on the use of LLCs to disguise foreign beneficial owners.  “The United States Department of Treasury issued proposed regulations that, if promulgated, would impose new disclosure obligations on domestic disregarded entities wholly owned by foreign persons (i.e., single-member limited liability companies).”  Entities that are affected by the new regulations will be required to report the identity of the beneficial owner to the IRS every year.  The purpose of the new regulation will be to strengthen civil and criminal tax enforcement and to assist other nations in obtaining information about their own taxpayers.  “Under the proposed regulations, any domestic disregarded entity owned by a foreign person would be subject to the provisions of Section 6038A of the Internal Revenue Code, which currently imposes annual reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements on certain foreign owned US corporations.”

See Kathy Keneally, Ellis L. Reemer, Michael A. Silva, Frank L. Jackson, Michael J. Scarduzio, and Ryan J. Coyle, US targets the use of LLCs to disguise foreign beneficial owners, DLA Piper, May 10, 2016.

May 11, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

House Bill Would Authorize Charitable Life-Income IRA Rollovers

CongressA bill has been introduced in the house that will impact a certain kind of IRA rollover.  “A life-income charitable individual retirement account rollover bill (HR5171) (The Legacy IRA Act) has just been introduced this morning by House Ways and Means Committee members Peter Roskam (R-IL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Pat Tiberi (R-OH).”  This article discusses the current law as it has functioned since the PATH Act of 2015 and the type of changing being proposed in the House of Representatives.  “The expansion in the Legacy IRA bill authorizes tax-free IRA rollovers for gifts that benefit charities and provide taxable retirement income—charitable life-income plans—for the donors.”  The details of the changes that are being proposed are explained in this column. 

See Conrad Teitell, House Bill to Authorize Charitable Life-Income IRA Rollovers, Wealth Management, May 6, 2016.

May 11, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Continuing Legal Battle Over Madoff Sons’ Estates

Bernie madoffThere is an ongoing legal battle involving the estates of Bernie Madoff’s two sons.  “Mark and Andrew Madoff died without resolving a 2009 lawsuit accusing them of squandering $150 million of investors’ money, and recent settlement talks with the estates have hit dead ends.”  This article discusses the efforts to recover some of the money that was taken from thousands of people who were victims of Bernie Madoffs pyramid schemes.  “Picard is going after millions of dollars that were left to the brothers’ beneficiaries, as well as a multimillion-dollar apartment on 74th Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and a home in Greenwich, Connecticut.”  The goal of the people launching this legal battle is to deprive beneficiaries of the ability to benefit from Mr. Madoff’s fraud.

See Erik Larson, Madoff Sons’ Fight Over Cash Endures Long After Their Deaths, Bloomberg, May 9, 2016.

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

May 11, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Minnesota Legislature Considering PRINCE Act

Prince 5Less than three weeks after the state’s most famous musician passed away Minnesota legislatures are rushing to pass legislation that will protect Prince’s name, voice, and likeness.  “A law firm working for court-appointed Prince estate administrator Bremer Trust reported on Monday that although courts have suggested Minnesota limits use of people's name and likeness, it is not embedded in state law.”  The death of Prince has spurred action on this legislation, but the bill will apply to other Minnesotans, alive or dead.  “The legislation is called Personal Rights In Names Can Endure Act, or PRINCE Act.”  There are currently seventeen states that have a similar right of publicity which extends after death.  Lawmakers in Minnesota would like to pass this legislation to protect the legacy of a musician who was very important to the State. 

See Don Davis, PRINCE Act appears in Minn. Legislature, ABC, May 10, 2016.

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

May 10, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Outdated Social Security Rules Affecting Seniors’ Retirement Income

Social SecurityToday, 90% of seniors rely on Social Security to provide them with expenses for their retirement. There is a big concern, however, that not enough people are entering the workforce to cover the new payroll tax revenue.

The biggest issue concerning the system for the past 33 years is the taxation of Social Security benefits based on income thresholds. In 1983, Congress passed an amendment allowing Social Security benefits to be taxed up to 50% for those with an annual income of more than $25,000. This amendment was relative at the time but has since lost reasonableness due to unchanged tax income thresholds.

One way seniors can solve this problem and be proactive in their retirement planning is by having a withdrawal plan. This plan allows seniors to strategize how they will receive their distributions ahead of time, which could avoid bumping them into the higher tax bracket and ultimately save them money.

See Sean Williams, This 33-Year-Old Social Security Rule Is Wreaking Havoc on Seniors’ Retirement Income, The Motley Fool, May 8, 2016.

May 10, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Twist As Benson Seeks To Transfer Team Shares

BensonA new twist emerged in the court case involving the transfer of shares of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans from a trust created for the benefits of the daughter and grandchildren of embattled billionaire Tom Benson. Lawyers opposing the transfer have asked the federal judge overseeing the case to block the transfer since the NFL and NBA have yet to approve the transfer of the shares. However, lawyers for Benson fought back claiming that the terms of the trust allowed for the removable of the shares in the teams and said the motion was without merit. The issue in the case revolves around the exchange of promissory notes backed by the teams themselves in exchange for the non-voting shares held by the trust. The elder Benson seeks to leave ownership to his current wife which upends previous succession plans involving Benson's daughter and grandchildren. No word on when a ruling will be issued on the motion t dismiss.

See Katherine Sayre, Saints, Pelicans owner Tom Benson's ownership swap needs NFL, NBA approval, New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 9, 2016.

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

May 10, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Judge Dismisses Sumner Redstone Competency Lawsuit

Sumner redstoneI have previously discussed the competency suit involving Sumner Redstone who is the head of Viacom. Today a Los Angeles Judge tentatively dismissed the mental competency lawsuit that was brought by Mr. Redstone’s former long-time companion Manuela Herzer. In his ruling Judge David J. Cowan said that "[H]ere there is no good cause for further judicial involvement where the Cour has now heard directly from Redstone that he has lost trust in Herzer, does not want her in his life and instead wants his daughter Sahri to look after him if necessary,"…” "[T]he court has no business interfering with his prerogatives." Today’s decision might bring this legal battle over Sumner Redstone’s mental competency to a close.

See Sumner Redstone Judge Tentatively Dismisses Competency Lawsuit, NBC, May 9, 2016.

May 9, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Music, Television, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beneficial Ownership Legislation Proposed By U.S. Treasury

Treasury departmentThis article discusses new measures that the Treasury Department is taking to crack down on illegal financial activity. “The US Treasury Department has announced a customer due diligence (CDD) final rule, proposed beneficial ownership legislation, and proposed regulations related to foreign-owned, single-member limited liability companies (LLCs), in an effort to target tax evasion, money laundering, and other illicit financial activities.” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is also encouraging Congress to take further legislative action. “The CDD final rule adds a new requirement that financial institutions – including banks, brokers, or dealers in securities, mutual funds, futures commission merchants, and introducing brokers in commodities – collect and verify the personal information of the beneficial owners who own, control, and profit from companies when those companies open accounts.” This article discusses some of the other changes that the Treasury Department is announcing.

See Mike Godfrey, US Treasury Drafts Beneficial Ownership Legislation, Tax-News, May 9, 2016.

May 9, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)