Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Panama Papers Scandal Has Trust Companies Reviewing Their Client Lists

PanamaAfter the Panama Papers scandal, trust companies are scrutinizing their client lists in order to identify any tax cheats who could drag them into an evasion lawsuit. Companies were setting up offshore trusts to reduce exposure to new proposed regulations targeting tax evasion enablers. The government has authorized new measures to reduce this avoidance by fining advisors and accountants facilitating the evasion. Advisors will be required to send letters to clients who have been provided offshore services within the past three years. 

See Vanessa Houlder, Trusts Comb Client Lists for Tax Cheats, Financial Times, August 18, 2016.

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

August 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Proposed Regulations Will Keep Wealthy Americans from Lowering Estate Taxes

IRSThe IRS will implement new rules likely limiting techniques used by rich individuals to lower their estate and gift taxes. These new regulations apply to valuation discounts, which allow people with assets greater than the current $5.45 million exemption to lower the value of their assets subject to gift and estate taxes. Asset owners of this type typically put their assets into a holding company that is not traded, giving shares of the company to family or charity. Subsequently, the assets’ value drops due to dispersed control of the company. The proposed regulations will allow the IRS to ignore these discounts.

See Laura Saunders, The Controversial Way Wealthy Americans Are Lowering Their Estate Taxes, Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2016.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

UK Inheritance Tax Will Affect the Non-Doms

Non-domNew Treasury guidelines will require that residential property be subjected to inheritance tax even if the property is owned offshore. These guidelines add pressure to wealthy UK residents who are domiciled elsewhere; it forces them to consider the benefits of remaining in the UK. The rules will take effect on April 6, 2017 and subject non-domiciled residents to inheritance tax on their residential property. However, the guidelines will allow non-domiciled individuals a grace period until April 2018 to separate their assets.

See Hugo Greenhalgh, UK Inheritance Tax Move to Hit Non-Doms, Financial Times, August 20, 2016.

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

August 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Daughter" of Billionaire to Inherit $8.5 Million

KerkorianKirk Kerkorian, founder of MGM Resorts International, died last year, and now his daughter will receive $8.5 million under his will. His 18-year-old daughter was submerged into a messy paternity battle; her mother, who was married to Kerkorian for 28 days, claimed that Kerkorian was her biological father. However, it was later discovered that another man was actually the biological father. After having raised her for most of her childhood, Kerkorian decided to provide for her with a will bequest.

 See Harvey Day, Daughter of Casino Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian Whose Mother Faked a DNA Test Showing He Was Her Real Father in Messy Paternity Battle Will Get $8.5m from His Will, Daily Mail, August 23, 2016.

August 23, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Professor Dies After Man Believes He Is a Will Beneficiary

GreedyThe body of a Penn State Professor has been found in a quarry after he was lured there and pushed off a cliff by another man. On Friday, police charged the man with murder and conducted a subsequent interview. In the interview, the man told police that his motive resided with his belief that he was a designated beneficiary of a recent will that the Professor had executed.

 See Missing Professor Pushed to His Death at Quarry, Cops Say, Fox News, August 19, 2016.

August 22, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Philippe Dauman Resigns Ending Redstone's Viacom War

Redstone4The war for control of Viacom Inc. has finally ended with the resignation of Chief Executive Philippe Dauman and the instillation of new members on the board. The previous board met on Thursday night and unanimously approved a deal that would end the feud between Redstone and Dauman. Ultimately, they approved a $72 million settlement agreement and elected Thomas Dooley as CEO. Viacom hopes the transition will be smooth and strengthen its position as an industry leader. Next month, the board will consider a succession plan and determine whether to keep Dooley in the top spot. Additionally, Dauman will have the opportunity to present his plan of selling as much as 49% of Paramount Pictures. This proposal, however, must win the unanimous approval of Viacom’s new board. 

See Meg James, The Redstones’ War with Viacom Ends: Philippe Dauman Resigns, Tom Dooley Elected New CEO, Los Angeles Times, August 20, 2016.

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

August 22, 2016 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Cemetery with Unidentified Bodies Causes Chaos

CemeteryA cemetery owner was given ten years of probation for stacking multiple caskets in single graves, which left behind disorganized burial records and unkempt graves with missing markers. The cemetery was closed and placed under receivership. Upon the closing, there were extensive efforts to identify the bodies buried, but some cases amounted to the “best guess approach.” Accordingly, the judge overseeing the case has agreed to wind down the state’s oversight of the cemetery. Laws regulating cemeteries are lax and inconsistent, increasing the possibility of reoccurrence.

See Cemetery Mess, Unidentified Bodies Stump Tennessee Officials, Fox News, August 18, 2016.

August 21, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Wildenstein Mansion Relisted for $100 Million

WildensteinIn 2014, the Wildensteins, a billionaire art dealing family, decided to sell their 21,000-square-foot townhouse in New York, acting as their art gallery. They agreed to sell the townhouse for $90 million to the Qatar government, which would give them some liquidity for dealing with their $500 million tax case in France. Qatar ended up pulling out of the deal one day before closing, citing violation of money laundering laws by the Wildensteins. After suit was filed, the Wildensteins claimed that Qatar reneged on the deal due to being uncomfortable over the publicity of the record-breaking sale price. The case was settled out of court in May 2016, and the townhouse was taken off the market. Now, the townhouse is back of the market listed for $100 million or a long-term lease. This property is one of several that the Wildensteins are trying to unload; however, they are not selling any artwork for their pending tax case.

See James Tarmy, Scandal-Plagued Wildenstein Mansion Back on Market for $100 Million, Bloomberg, August 17, 2016.

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

August 20, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Section 2704 Proposed Regulations on Transfer Tax

Transfer taxThe section 2704 new proposed regulations may be the most significant regulations in the transfer tax area in a long time, resulting in substantial restrictions on valuation discounts for transfers of interests in family entities. Please click here for a detailed analysis of the Section 2704 proposed regulations and planning implications. 

August 19, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Jersey Allows Disinheritance Based on Religion

Religion confli tA New Jersey appeals court in In re Estate of Kenneth E. Jameson recently held that the law does not bar an individual from disinheriting their child for religiously discriminatory reasons. The case centered on a will contest by a woman who was disinherited from her Catholic father’s will after dating and later marrying a Jewish man.

See Howard Friedman, New Jersey Appeals Court OKs Religiously Discriminatory Disinheritance, Religion Clause, August 15, 2016.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 18, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Religion, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)