Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, May 21, 2018

How the Non-Wealthy Can Organize Their "Big Book"

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-21/9e7a33bd-f564-4a71-a87d-9922db4215d3.pngIn many aspects, the very wealthy may have an easier path. Their portfolios, investments, and other important documents are handled by others in a family office. But for the average American, the method for organizing everything they need to pass on their assets appropriately may be up to debate. Many people may have an actual binder or "book" that comprises lists of their material belongings, bank accounts, and other vital information in to one efficient location.

Jamie Cox of Richmond-based Harris Financial Group concludes that, "Making sure you are organized is the most fundamental principle of financial planning.”

What should go in to the "big book?" It's more than wills, funeral arrangements, and power of attorneys. Passwords for email accounts, insurance policies, auto loan agreements, and much more should be included to make the transfer of your estate as smooth as possible.

Cox also suggests that using an online vault such as the Emoney software, which is owned by Fidelity Investments. "[A]ll the information is consolidated, the account numbers and holdings are up to date. If you change accounts or advisers or banks, you just reconnect to the new institution and all the information flows in. You have history.”

See Thomas Heath, Let's Talk About the Big Book: Everything Your Family Need to Know When You Die, Washington Post, May 18, 2018.

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

May 21, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Not So Simple Estate Planning Considerations After 2017 Tax "Simplification"

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-20/a482af22-dcf9-48f3-ad84-1aae27624a2e.pngAfter the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December of 2017, the majority of the public's focus has been on the changes to personal and business income tax. There has not been a lot of media attention or awareness on the legislation's modifications to how people should approach their estate planning.

The estate and gift tax exemption and the generation-skipping transfer tax exemption were both increased  to $11,180,000 per person. Therefore, during lifetime and at death, a married couple may now transfer a combined $22,360,000 to family and friends without any gift tax or estate tax. However, this increase only lasts until December 31, 2025.

Most individuals and couples believe that due to the change, there is less of a need for them to seek the advice of an estate planner. But with the magic that is the American government, Congress and the President have the ability to reverse the exemptions to 2017 amounts at any time, and with several elections in the time frame before the end of 2025, that possibility of fluctuation is all too real. In general, it is vital that anyone with an estate plan that has seen no alterations in 3 years speak to their estate planning attorney as soon as possible.

See Megan L.W. Jerabek, Not So Simple Estate Planning Considerations After 2017 Tax "Simplifications," National Tax Review, May 17, 2018.

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

May 20, 2018 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Nothing Is Off-the-Rack In Upcoming Sales Of Prince's Glittery Collection

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-19/d94eb58c-2b6f-4ff9-9df5-47159a1726d3.pngFamed musician and entertainer Prince passed away two years without a will, leaving all of his assets and massive estate in probate hell. He was known for ecclectic to bright stage (and off-stage!) attire, and many of the pieces that fans would recognize will be up for auction soon. Designers and jewelers that were contracted to equip the Entertainer in glitter and diamonds have commented that the majority of the items were custom made. “He never wore ready-made clothing,” says Prince scholar Karen Turman.

See Jason Teasuro, Nothing Is Off-the-Rack In Upcoming Sales Of Prince's Glittery Collection, Private Wealth, May 18, 2018.

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

May 19, 2018 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 18, 2018

Ten Planning Lessons From Barbara Bush

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-18/019c0ec4-fe12-4c4a-af02-3856fe5fb170.pngMatriarch Barbara Bush left this life the same way that she lived, with dignity and class. Her end-of-life planning was ample enough to provide clear instructions to direct those around her. Here are 10 takeaways for clients based on what we know about vigilant end-of-life plans:

  • Understand Probate
    • Probate can be timely, expensive, and anything that occurs in probate is public knowledge.   
  • Plan for Contingencies
    • Always have a backup plan in estate documents, such as for when a trustee passes away before the estate author.
  • Sentimental Value is Real
    • Some personal items may mean more to a family member than their monetary value suggests.
  • Define Palliative Care
    • This type of medical assistance is specified for those with serious illness and focuses on comfort.
  • Leave an Account Roadmap
    • Attempt to consolidate unused accounts and list all of them in your estate plan.
  • Remember Taxes
    • Though the federal estate tax exemption has been doubled, soon many states may possess a much lower exemption.
  • Beneficiary Planning
    • Verify that every type of planning tool - 401k, IRA, insurance policy - has a documented and valid beneficiary.
  • Revisit the Plan
    • Life happens, and when it does, confirm that your estate documents are still in line with your wishes.
  • Respect the Experts
    • Sometimes the "fill-in-the-blank" wills can lead the best planner astray. Do not discount an expert's advice.
  • Everyone Can Plan
    • You do not have to be rich to need a comprehensive estate plan nor to establish your legacy how you see fit.

See Caroline Feeney, Ten Planning Lessons From Barbara Bush, Wealth Management, May 17, 2018.

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

May 18, 2018 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE on Estate Administration Procedures: Why Each Step is Important

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-18/83c53e29-8440-49f1-8f25-964c0cfcfd2e.pngThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Administration Procedures: Why Each Step is Important, on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at the Richmond Marriott in Richmond, Virginia. A description of the event is provided below:

Program Description

Properly Administer Your Client's Estate

Do you have a solid understanding of proper procedures surrounding estate administration? Do you feel confident that you can overcome the wide array of challenges you may face while working with each estate's unique requirements? Join us and gain a comprehensive understanding of the estate planning process so you can easily organize and manage your responsibilities. Register today!

  • Weigh the pros and cons of informal administration and learn how it can be advantageously used.
  • Make the entire process as efficient as possible when working with the personal representative.
  • Determine the survivors' immediate needs - and ensure they're met.
  • Know your options: take a look at alternative methods to closing the estate.
  • Competently file federal and state estate tax returns and know exactly what is required.
  • Learn how to handle the most common issues in probate litigation.

Who Should Attend

This basic level seminar will provide fundamental estate administration topics for:

  • Attorneys
  • Accountants
  • Paralegals
  • Trust Officers
  • Estate Planners
  • Tax Professionals
  • Financial Planners

Course Content

  1. Foundations of Estate Administration Defined
  2. Preparing to Begin the Administration Process
  3. Considerations for Collecting the Assets, Preparing the Inventory and Handling Claims Against the Estate
  4. Being Thorough to Close the Estate Without a Hitch
  5. Understanding Tax Procedures to Avoid Problems Later
  6. Ethical Challenges in Estate Administration
  7. Common Issues To Be Prepared for in Litigation and Probate

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 7.00 *

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 8.00

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.70

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 8.00 *

Professional Achievement in Continuing Education – PACE: 8.00

* denotes specialty credits

May 18, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

CLE on Estate Planning: Top 7 Tools to Know

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-15/59352528-c961-4778-8949-2d8f5a709df4.pngThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Planning: Top 7 Tools to Know, which will take place on Monday, August 27, 2018 at the Embassy Suites Syracuse in East Syracuse, New York. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Strategically Use the Top Estate Planning Tools

The estate planning process is often charged with emotion and filled with legal confusion for clients. Attorneys not only need in-depth familiarity with the top estate planning tools, but also need to know how to strategically use them to their best effect if they want to build their reputations as go-to practitioners. In this comprehensive overview of top estate planning tools, our experienced faculty will go over how to strategically use wills, trusts, advanced directives and more. No matter if you are new to the estate planning arena or are an experienced practitioner in need of a refresher, you are sure to take away valuable techniques you can use to provide maximum benefit to your clients - register today!

  • Create wills that prevent future conflict and confusion.
  • Ensure you are using the right trust structure when setting up revocable living trusts.
  • Structure intentionally defective grantor trusts to avoid critical problems.
  • Make sense of IRS rules regarding retirement benefit planning.
  • Take advantage of portability, step-up basis and other essential tax minimization tactics.
  • Preserve access to public benefits when creating special needs trusts.
  • Make sure healthcare wishes are clearly stated in advance medical directives.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level seminar offers an overview of the best practices in estate planning and will benefit:

  • Attorneys
  • Financial Planners
  • Accountants and CPAs
  • Trust Officers
  • Paralegals

Course Content

  1. Will Strategies to Prevent Conflict and Confusion
  2. Revocable Living Trust Tactics
  3. Grantor Trust Structuring Tips: Tax Savings and Problem Avoidance
  4. Retirement Benefit Planning Techniques
  5. Tax Minimization Tactics: Portability, Step-Up Basis and More
  6. Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) and ABLE Account Strategies
  7. Advance Directive Tips: Making Healthcare Wishes Explicit
  8. Ethical Considerations

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education

Credit Hrs State
CLE 6.50 -  CT*
CLE 8.00 -  NJ*
CLE 8.00 -  NY*
CLE 6.50 -  PA*

Continuing Professional Education for Accountants – CPE for Accountants: 8.00

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 8.00

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.70

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 8.00 *

Professional Achievement in Continuing Education – PACE: 8.00

* denotes specialty credits

May 15, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 14, 2018

CLE on The Probate Process From Start to Finish

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-14/e07e2881-db7f-49a4-a5e8-467c8c6939b7.pngThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, The Probate Process from Start to Finish, which will take place Monday, May 21, 2018 at the Holiday Inn Norfolk Airport in Norfolk, Virginia. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Your Fundamental Guide to Probate

So your client wants you to handle a probate case - do you know where to start? Do you know the proper procedures to use, as well as the law? At this seminar, our experienced faculty will give you detailed, step-by-step information to confidently and ably navigate the system. Gain the confidence you need to reach a favorable outcome for your client when litigating in estate administration. Enroll today!

  • Get a step-by-step walkthrough of a probate case complete with practice tips from seasoned practitioners.
  • Implement a complete estate timetable in order to know what needs to be done - and when.
  • Effectively guide the executor and the administrator through their various duties.
  • Avoid problems arising from creditors' claims and insolvency with our powerful strategies.
  • Know the secrets to confidently handling a spouse's elective share.
  • Forestall disagreements between beneficiaries: adhere to the guidelines of precedence in case of intestacy.
  • Follow thorough closing procedures so accounting is complete before distribution takes place.

Who Should Attend

This basic level seminar will provide those who have limited probate experience with tips on successfully handling a probate case. This comprehensive seminar will benefit:

  • Attorneys
  • Paralegals
  • Accountants
  • Tax preparers
  • Trust officers
  • Financial planners
  • Estate planners

Course Content

  1. Taking the First Step: Opening Estate Administration
  2. Understanding the Role of the Personal Representative in Probate
  3. Managing the Inventory
  4. Administering the Estate Effectively
  5. Maintaining an Ethical Balance in Probate Practice
  6. Determining if Spouse's Elective Share is a Reasonable Option
  7. Uncovering the Laws of Intestacy and How They May Apply
  8. Putting the Case to Rest: Closing the Estate

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 7.00 *

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 8.00

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.70

National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. – NALA: 6.50 *

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 8.00 *

National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. – NFPA

Professional Achievement in Continuing Education – PACE: 8.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

May 14, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 11, 2018

CLE on Estate Planning for Farmers and Ranchers

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-11/b5b54598-a99a-4f58-91e5-561af7292eed.pngThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Planning for Farmers and Ranchers, which will take place on Monday, May 21, 2018 at Holiday Inn Toledo South - Perrysburg in Perrysburg, Ohio. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

How to Protect Farm Assets and Transfer Them to Heirs

Estate planning for farms and ranches requires specialized knowledge and tools to ensure the best client representation. This legal course will give you the knowledge to preserve the farms and other assets your clients have worked their entire lives to acquire and build. Explore the challenges and opportunities unique to estate planning for farmers to help make good sense of difficult legal and financial policies. Learn what you need to know about wills, trusts, government programs, and other key elements. Help your clients take care of their estate planning needs and their family's future - register today!

  • Take full advantage of government farm programs and valuation discounts.
  • Explore the deciding factors in choosing the right business entity when planning ownership transfer.
  • Employ all available tools for transferring assets and preserving wealth.
  • Tackle harvest yield predictions and other unique factors of farm asset valuation.
  • Recognize when giving away the farm is the wisest financial decision and how to do it properly.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level seminar is designed for:

  • Attorneys
  • Estate and Financial Planners
  • Accountants and CPAs
  • Tax Preparers
  • Trust Officers
  • Paralegals

Course Content

  1. Medicaid (Long-Term) Planning for Farmers and Ranchers
  2. Planning for a Full or Partial Outright Sale or Gift
  3. Business Structure Choice and Conversion - Including Sample Documents
  4. Agricultural Use Valuation
  5. Planning for a Gradual Transfer Within the Family
  6. Transfers Upon Death: Key Estate Administration Concerns

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 6.00

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 7.00

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 7.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

May 11, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

CLE on The Ultimate Guide to Probate

 

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-11/0b15a434-a445-4398-a3dc-c568a3219b0c.pngThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, The Ultimate Guide to Probate, which will take place on Monday, June 11, 2018 at the Midtown Austin Holiday Inn in Austin, Texas. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Your Comprehensive Probate Guide - With an Eye on the Assets

Probate practice is becoming an increasingly marketable skill due to the aging population and clients' reliance on competent attorneys and other professionals who can smoothly guide them through the procedures. In this seminar, our esteemed faculty will provide you with not only an understanding of the step-by-step probate process, but also with a hard-won knowledge for managing issues regarding executors, creditor claims, inventory/accounting, beneficiary distributions and closing the estate. Enhance your practice - register today!

  • Navigate the probate process with ease in our practical, step-by-step walkthrough.
  • Accurately identify, value, prepare and distribute probate assets.
  • Pick up best practices for handling creditor notices and claims.
  • Find out how to deal with non-cooperative executors, beneficiary disputes, assets in the possession of others and other sticky issues.
  • Gain tips for navigating through tax forms so you can make strategic, money-saving decisions quickly.
  • Learn how to successfully balance the final account and close the estate.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level probate program is for:

  • Attorneys
  • Accountants
  • Enrolled Agents
  • Paralegals
  • Trust Officers
  • Financial Planners
  • Tax Managers/Consultants
  • Auditors/Treasurers
  • Tax Preparers

Course Content 

  1. The Probate Process Explained
  2. Distinguishing Between Probate and Non-Probate Assets
  3. Inventory and Satisfying Creditor Claims
  4. Maintaining the Estate and Preparing Assets for Distribution
  5. Tax Deadlines and Preparing, Coordinating and Filing Returns
  6. Beneficiary Distributions, Final Account and Closing of the Estate
  7. Ethical Practice Considerations and Concerns in Probate

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 6.75 *

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 8.00

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.70

National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. – NALA: 6.60 *

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 8.00 *

National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. – NFPA

Professional Achievement in Continuing Education – PACE: 8.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

May 10, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Alan Thicke's Widow, Tanya, Wants His Sons to Hand over Her Inheritance Already

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-09/f9bcbeab-fbae-4ced-8c5f-6752215379d3.pngAlan Thicke’s widow, Tanya Thicke, is accusing Alan’s sons of recklessly spending their father’s money while squandering away her promised inheritance. Thicke’s sons, Brennan and Robin, are co-trustees of their deceased father’s estate. They are allegedly refusing to divulge information to Tanya as to how they are managing the underlying assets and are possibly robbing her of what she is owed. According to court documents, Brennan and Robin were astonished when Tanya arranged for a monument to be placed at Alan’s burial site. They retaliated by refusing to reimburse the expenses, which Tanya believes she is entitled to receive. In juxtaposition, Robin was reimbursed after throwing an after-funeral bash that cost in excess of $100,000. Adam Streisand, Tanya’s lawyer, believes that the “fact that Tanya still hasn’t received her inheritance is unconscionable.” He also says that she is willing to go to court to handle the issues.

See Alan Thicke's Widow, Tanya, Wants His Sons to Hand over Her Inheritance Already, TMZ, May 9, 2018.

May 9, 2018 in Death Event Planning, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Television, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)