Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

Estate Planning for Your Move to a New State

Moving to a new stateIf you plan on moving to a new state, then you need to consider the new state’s rules governing your estate planning documents and taxes. Before moving to a new state, you should meet with your estate planning attorney to change your wills and trusts according to the new state’s laws. Also, it is important to review the roles of fiduciaries in that particular state because of specific executor requirements.

Furthermore, when moving to a new state, there are also tax implications you must review, and some states have significant variations. For tax purposes, you must be able to prove you abandoned your previous domicile and adopted the new domicile. This is important because, if not, you may still be liable for your old domicile’s income taxes or unexpected estate taxes.

See Day Pitney Estate Planning Update, Estate Planning Update July 2016 – Moving to a New State?, Day Pitney LLP, July 14, 2016.

Special thanks to Jay Stapleton (Quinn & Hary Marketing) for bringing this Article to my attention.

July 22, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Steps to Defending a Will Contest

Will contestA will contest commences when the executor is served with a Verified Complaint, seeking to invalidate the will. Assuming the contest was filed within the statute of limitations, the executor needs to first contact the drafting attorney, who will provide beneficial information on the will’s validity and become an essential witness. Next, the executor will need to file a response to the complaint. After doing so, it will be essential to find any witnesses who can attest to the validity of the testator’s will and any documents relating to asset distribution. Preparing for a will contest can be daunting, but it is the executor’s fiduciary duty to defend the will.

See Stark & Stark, Defending a Will Contest, National Law Review, July 15, 2016.

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

July 18, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Estate Planning for the Horse Owner

Horse estate planningWe all love our pets, and horses are one of many that you must plan for in your estate. To make sure that all of your equine interests are handled, there are several considerations you must understand.

It is important as an animal owner that you leave your horse to a responsible person who will make the right decisions, and you can also set up a pet trust for the monetary care of your horse. If you want to sell your horses, you can arrange for a private sale or a dispersal sale, increasing your estate’s assets. With horses, comes lots of land, so it is also important that you detail exactly what you want your land to be used for. Putting all of your decisions into writing will be the next step, and two equine law attorneys suggest a revocable trust, allowing for more flexibility.

See Erica Larson, Estate Planning Tips for Horse Owners, Horse, July 12, 2016.

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

July 14, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Alicia Corning Clark's $17.5 Million Estate Searches for Possible JFK Love Child

JFKThe administrator of Alicia Corning Clark’s $17.5 million estate filed a Freedom of Information Act request to determine if Clark had President John F. Kennedy’s love child. This request comes at the fiduciary requirement that the administrator find all unknown heirs to be represented in future court proceedings. Several years of speculation over Clark’s relationship with President Kennedy has generated many theories about their relationship and possible love child. One story says that Clark tried to blackmail the Kennedys for money after her relationship with the President was set to be ousted to the public. As the search continues, Clark’s estate garners much attention and currently remains in a legal battle.

See James Fanelli, Lawyers for Socialite’s $17.5M Estate on Hunt for Possible JFK Love Child, dna info, July 11, 2016.

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

July 14, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Avoiding Common Executor Mistakes

Estate executorBeing an estate executor is no easy task, so there are several common mistakes that you should avoid. First, you must understand your responsibilities before diving headfirst because your services often come with legal liability. Also, it is always good to get help from professionals; they work for the benefit of the estate. Next, do not try to rush the process; executor duties can take several months, so it is best to stick with a timeline you feel comfortable with. And with those services, organization is key. Additionally, you should keep in regular contact with the beneficiaries, so that no miscommunications arise. Ultimately, you must follow the court’s instructions and abide by all executor rules and regulations. At the end of the process, you will have learned many things that will benefit you in planning for your future estate.

See Patrick O’Brien, 7 Common Mistakes Executors Make, Executor.org.

July 13, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Timely Creditor Claims & the Relation Back Doctrine

Timely creditor claimIn Florida, filing a timely creditor claim can create litigation issues. These claims must be filed in the probate proceeding within two years after death. If a personal representative publishes a notice in the local newspaper, the creditors have three months to file a claim.

In Richard v. Richard, a notice to creditors was published one day before appointing the two personal representatives. The trial court ruled that the published notice was not valid, and therefore, the creditor claim was not late. The appellate court, however, reversed and relied on the “relation back” doctrine to ratify the sequence of events. The court concluded that the powers of a personal representative relate back in time to give the acts prior to the appointment the same effect as those after the appointment.

See Jeffrey Skatoff, Relation Back Doctrine Validates Notice to Creditor Published Prior to Appointment, Florida Probate Lawyers, July 10, 2016.

July 12, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Effect of Boilerplate Language on Estate Documents

Prenuptial agreementMost lawyers use standard “boilerplate” language in many of the agreements that they draft. This saves them time from re-drafting a new form for each individual situation. Oftentimes, this language is the controlling factor in many disputes over agreements, which can be seen in Northern Trust v. Shaw. In this case, a surviving spouse sought $500,000 from her deceased husband’s estate under a prenuptial agreement. After the trial court awarded her this sum, the court of appeals took a hard look at the marital agreement to determine if this amount had already been awarded to her through an IRA distribution. The court eventually concluded that the surviving spouse was not to receive any portion of her claim because according to the agreement this would have been double dipping. The litigation in this case most likely could have been prevented with better drafting because assumption would have it that this was not the intention of either party.

See Jeffrey Skatoff, Marital Agreement Interpreted to Deny Spouse Additional Inheritance, Florida Probate Lawyers, July 10, 2016.

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

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Article on Judicial Developments in Texas Estate Law

Estateplanning lawGerry W. Beyer recently published an Article entitled, What Hath the Courts Wrought to the Texas Estate Planner?, (June 24, 2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This article discusses recent judicial developments relating to the Texas law of intestacy, wills, estate administration, trusts, and other estate planning matters. The discussion of each case concludes with a moral, i.e., the important lesson to be learned from the case. By recognizing situations that have led to time consuming and costly litigation in the past, estate planners can reduce the likelihood of the same situations arising with their clients.

July 10, 2016 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Article on Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets

Digital-assetsSasha A. Klein & Mark R. Parthemer recently published an Article entitled, Who Will Delete the Digital You?: Understanding Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets, 30 Prob. & Prop. (No. 4) (July/August 2016). Provided below is a summary of the Article:

Our everyday lives are ruled by digital assets. They have largely replaced tangible ones, changing the way we interact and conduct business. Now, documents are stored in the cloud, photographs are uploaded to web sites, music is downloaded from web sites, conversations are text messages, and stacks of letters are e-mail folders. Living digital is unavoidable!

Today, fiduciaries face a world in which such assets and information, which used to appear in tangible form­—letters, tax returns, bank statements, as well as music, art, and literature­—now exist only in digital form. And, this digital content is not on servers owned or controlled by the decedent. From social media to banking, password-protected sites are used to perform daily affairs for business and pleasure alike, with a reliance on the promise of secure access. But what happens when that promise of security bars access when one dies or becomes incapacitated? Understand the developing legal environment to plan for fiduciary access to digital assets. We must be able to control our digital life and afterlife.

July 9, 2016 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What to Consider Before Naming an Executor in Your Estate Plan

Estate executorBefore naming an executor in your estate plan, there are many aspects you must address before making your final decision. First, it is important to understand that an executor has extensive legal obligations. They must weed through the legal process to gather your belongings, protect them, value them, distribute them, and wrap up your estate. Also, consider that the named executor will need to work closely with your family, so communication is key. It is wise for your executor to talk to each beneficiary before the distribution of assets and hold regular meetings to provide updates.

See Kansas & Missouri Estate Planning Blog, What Should My Clients Consider Before Selecting an Executor?, Wealth Management, June 28, 2016.

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

July 6, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)