Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Unrestricted Bequests

Will restrictionsRecently, the University of New Hampshire inherited nearly $4 million from a quiet librarian, and the university decided to spend $1 million of the inheritance on a new football scoreboard. Most saw this use of the money as unfit because the librarian’s passion was literature. The university defended its choice by saying that the funds were given to it without restriction. Indeed, most wills make bequests with no restrictions; in fact, most courts do not favor conditions because some of the time they are unenforceable. The danger of not having restrictions is that there is no guarantee the funds will be used in the way the testator intended. On the other hand, a trust will ensure that inheritances are distributed in a way the creator intended. 

See Ettinger Law Firm, The Danger of Unrestricted Bequests and Gifts, New York Estate Planning Attorney Blog, October 11, 2016. 

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


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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Section 6166 Lien Causes Executor to Miss Out on Fees

Estate tax lien1In United States v. Spoor, an executor was granted a special estate tax lien as part of a § 6166 election that defers payment of federal estate taxes. At the time of the grant, the executor had only been paid part of his executor fees, and the IRS is allowed to demand a lien before allowing the Section 6166 election. Eventually, the property fell below the amount still due to the IRS, forcing the executor to assert his claim that he could use the liened property as funding for his unpaid fees. On appeal, the executor argued that his executor fees should have priority, otherwise making it difficult to obtain serving executors. Subsequently, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the lien has priority. The moral of this case is that executors should make pay arrangements of estate administrative expenses, especially when making a § 6166 election. 

See Charles Rubin, Executor Loses Out on Fees Due to Section 6166 Lien, Rubin on Tax, October 16, 2016. 

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


October 18, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Exploring Charitable Lead Trusts

CLT1A charitable lead trust (CLT) can help balance your transfer of wealth and charitable goals while minimizing taxes. A CLT is an irrevocable trust that is established during the donor’s lifetime or at death, providing a stream of income to charities over a term, the lifetime of certain persons, or both. After the term, the remaining assets pass to non-charitable beneficiaries. Another benefit includes the availability of an estate tax charitable deduction to the donor’s estate for that amount passing to charity. Ultimately, the use of a CLT should be explored by charitably inclined donors.  

See Jaclyn S. O’Leary, Nonprofit Newsletter Fall 2016 – It’s Time to Explore a Charitable Lead Trust – A Charitable Planning Technique Used by Jackie O., Day Pitney LLP, Fall 2016. 

Special thanks to Jay Stapleton (Account Director/Public Relations, Quinn & Hary Marketing) for bringing this article to my attention.


October 13, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

NFL Players and the Importance of Estate Planning

NFLConcussions in professional sports is an occupational hazard and a very real problem. The NFL estimates that each player has approximately a 30% chance of contracting Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. This fact puts focus on the potential for incapacitation and its effects. Accordingly, as for NFL players and the like, it is important to have your estate plan in place. You should find an estate planning lawyer who has experience with clients that suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Additionally, you should consider appointing an independent third party as an executor, which will alleviate any potential family problems. You should also draft a provision in your documents that requires a medical evaluation to be done when there is any change to the documents. Lastly, determine your wishes, so that they can be carried out in the manner you intended. 

See Kansas & Missouri Estate Planning Blog, What Can NFL Players Teach Clients About Dementia?, Wealth Management, October 10, 2016. 

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


October 11, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

CLE on Annual Building Blocks of Wills, Estates, and Probate

CLEThe State Bar of Texas is holding a CLE entitled, 18th Annual Building Blocks of Wills, Estates and Probate Course, which will take place on January 20, 2017, via webcast from 8:55 AM – 4:45 PM. Provided below is a description of the event:

An outstanding group of estate planning and probate professionals has been carefully selected to bring you the latest case law, evolving trends and issues, and recent developments.

Topics highlights include:

  • Basic Estate Planning
  • Elder Law Planning and Issue Spotting
  • Tools for Efficiently Developing Your Estate and Trusts Practice
  • Probate Procedures and Alternatives
  • Administering the Estate

If you can't watch the live webcast on January 20th, video replays will occur in various cities in February and March, and the seminar will be archived later as an online class available on demand.

Register for one of the Video Replays:

  • Dallas - February 17, 2017
  • Cityplace Events


  • Fort Worth - February 24, 2017
  • Norris Conference Center
  • Houston - March 3, 2017
  • Crowne Plaza River Oaks Hotel


  • San Antonio - March 3, 2017
  • Norris Conference Center

REPTL Section members save up to $50! ($25 of it provided by REPTL)

Attorneys licensed 5 years or less attend for half off!


October 6, 2016 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, September 30, 2016

How to Best Incorporate Religion into Estate Planning

ReligionEstate planners combine several aspects when working with clients, and showing sensitivity to a client’s religious concerns should be incorporated when necessary. When selecting fiduciaries, clients who seek to implement religious values into their choice often will not find the individual who best fits the fiduciary criteria. A viable solution might be to recommend an institutional co-fiduciary that will be able to fulfill those duties. Additionally, many religious clients will want to make distributions and give to charity based on their religious beliefs; it is important to understand the values that are tied to these instances of giving. The Article further discusses several other religious considerations and how they are implemented into estate planning.  

See Martin M. Shenkman, Religion and Estate Planning, Wealth Management, September 27, 2016. 

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


September 30, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

New Rev. Proc. Allows QTIP Election with Portability Election

Qtip elecitonThe 2010 amendment of IRC § 2010(c) allowed an estate executor to make a portability election; therefore, influencing the decision to make a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) election. A QTIP election reduces the decedent’s taxable estate, further maximizing the amount of unused exclusion available for the decedent’s surviving spouse. Accordingly, the executor electing portability of the decedent’s unused applicable exclusion amount may wish to make a QTIP election, regardless of whether the QTIP election reduces the estate tax liability to zero.  

Rev. Proc. 2001-38, 2001-24 I.R.B. 1335 details a procedure for which the IRS will disregard and nullify federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax for purposes of a QTIP election made when the election was unnecessary to reduce the estate tax liability to zero. With the use of portability elections, the ability to void and nullify QTIP elections in Rev. Proc. 2001-38 may bring questions over the ability of the decedent’s estate to make an unnecessary QTIP election for the sake of maximizing the available unused exclusion amount. Subsequently, this revenue procedure modifies and supersedes Rev. Proc. 2001-38. It confirms the IRS procedures for disregarding a QTIP election, but excludes those estates that made a portability election in accordance with § 2010(c). 

See 26 CFR 601.201: Rulings and Determination Letters; Rev. Proc. 2016-49.


September 29, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

How an ILIT Can Help Preserve Your Assets

ILITAn irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) can help provide liquidity to pay estate taxes, safeguarding your assets for your family. When you set up an ILIT, the trust is a holding vehicle for life insurance that removes the policy death proceeds from your estate when you pass. These trust held assets are immune from probate and estate taxes, making them a valuable estate-planning tool. There are some important considerations to keep in mind when deciding to create an ILIT. 

First, you must clearly define your wishes as to how the trust assets will be distributed at death. Next, it is important to remember that the trust increases your liquidity without having to add other assets, like stocks and investment property, allowing you to maintain control over those assets while the ILIT builds value. Finally, you should put forth diligent consideration on who will be the trustee for your ILIT because they must have the willingness and ability to carry out the terms you set forth. 

See 3 Considerations for an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, Forbes, September 19, 2016. 

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


September 29, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Article on Writing a Definitive Pet Trust

Pet trust beyerRachel Hirschfeld recently published an Article entitled, The Perfect Pet Trust: Saving Your Dog from the Unexpected, 9 Alb. Gov’t L. Rev. 107 (2016). Provided below is a summary of the Article:

This article is about pet trusts, the legal documents that secure an animal's uninterrupted care. The goal is to guide the reader through the process of writing a definitive pet trust, and to highlight the potential mistakes and pitfalls that could invalidate these documents.

What is a pet trust? A pet trust allows an individual, the Pet Owner, to name a Pet Guardian and, if they wish, to leave funds providing for the continued maintenance of animals, in the event that the Pet Owner is unable to.

The American Pet Products Association (“APPA”) estimates that about sixty-two percent of U.S. households have pets, and an astounding $60.59 million dollars will be spent on pets in the United States in 2015. This is three times the amount of money that was spent on pets approximately twenty years ago.

Clearly, times have changed and attitudes are evolving. An ever growing number of Americans consider their pets as more than just animals. According to The Harris Poll, there is a tendency for people to elevate their pets to the status equivalent to that of a family member. Just look at any Pet Owner's smartphone and you will see photos of their pets, along with other family members.

Because people are passionate about their pets, providing uninterrupted care for them is often a concern. When something happens to a Pet Owner, such as an accident, illness, or death, a pet trust becomes especially critical.

Sadly, if there is no legal document or binding plan in place, the court may make decisions for what it terms the abandoned animal.

September 20, 2016 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Critics Outrage Over Spending of Thrifty Librarian's Bequest

Robert morinRecently, a librarian, Robert Morin, bequeathed his $4 million estate to his alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, but critics are now unsatisfied with the way the university has chosen to spend the cash. A large portion—$1 million to be exact—will go toward a new scoreboard at the football stadium; a use that the school says represents Morin’s love for football in the last fifteen months of his life. Others, however, see this spending at odds with the frugal librarian’s life while the library only receives a tenth of that sum.

See Ben Guarino, University to Buy Football Scoreboard with Thrifty Librarian’s Money, Outraging Critics, Independent, September 16, 2016.

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

September 19, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)