Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Michael Jackson’s Estate Has Grossed More Than $2 Billion Since His Death

Michael jacksonMichael Jackson’s estate was nearly bankrupt around the time he passed away, but since the pop king’s death his estate has grossed more than $2 billion.  Much of that growth came about because of the success of the movie This Is It, album sales, and the Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil.  If they choose to liquidate his estate then each of Michael Jackson’s three children could inherit $100 million.  According to this article the pop legends children seem to be doing well, with the oldest child having recently graduated from high school. 

See Heidi Parker, Michael Jackson’s estate ‘has made $2 billion since his death’ it was revealed on the six year anniversary of his passing at age 50, Daily Mail, June 25, 2015.

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

July 6, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Staying Ahead Of Alzheimer’s Disease

AlzheimersAlzheimer’s is a terrible disease that impacts the lives of millions of people.  Many people who have a genetic disposition to getting Alzheimer’s are making major changes to their lifestyles in order to try to stay ahead of the disease.  This article discusses some of the things people are doing to cope with Alzheimer’s and to try to live a productive and wholesome life.  It examines many of the changes people are making on things like diet, exercise, and mental health.  Research is being conducted on this disease and better treatments are being developed each year.  Alzheimer’s is still a horrific destructive disease, but there is hope that as more knowledge is gained then improved treatments will come about. 

See Fredrick Kunkle, Alzheimer’s spurs the fearful to change their lives to delay it, The Washington Post, July 4, 2015.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret for bringing this article to my attention. 

July 5, 2015 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

5 Signs A Person Might Need To Change Retirement Plans

Retirement2People often neglect to plan ahead on retirement and often make the mistake of winging it when selecting a retirement plan.  There are five signs that a person should look for to determine if they might have chosen the wrong retirement plan:

  1. A person should not pay more than 1% in fees. According to this column people should research the name of their retirement funds and examine the fee section. 
  2. The investor has randomly selected mutual funds.  Blindly selecting a collection of mutual funds for the sake of diversifying the portfolio can be a risky move.  It might be a better idea to choose a target retirement fund.
  3. Avoid overlooking index funds.   Index funds give people the ability to own a diverse collection of stocks from different sectors at a reduced cost. 
  4. Don’t let everything sit in a money market fund.  Certain events like the 2008 financial collapse might scare some people away from investing in the stock market, but the money will not grow as much if a person only invests in U.S. Treasury bills.
  5. People should make sure they are saving enough for retirement.  If a person is only contributing about 5% of their income towards their retirement then that could be a problem.  A recent college graduate should be putting at least 13% of their income into retirement savings.

See Alvin Carlos, 5 Signs You Have The Wrong Retirement Plan, Credit.com, July 3, 2015.

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

July 5, 2015 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

IRS Considering New Rules On Family Partnerships And LLCs

Tax regsThe U.S. Treasury Department is thinking about implementing new regulations that would raise the value of taxable assets that taxpayers transfer into family partnerships and LLCs.  It is common for wealthy families to obtain valuable tax discounts by making such transfers.  Speculators expect the changes, which will have major ramifications, to be made in September.  This column does a good job explaining how these asset transfers into family partnerships and LLCs work.  Financial planners are going to have to stay ahead of the proposed regulatory changes if they want to properly serve the interests of their clients.

See Robert Milburn, IRS Considers New Tax on Wealthy Families, Barron’s, June 30, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention. 

July 4, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Benefits Of Unitrusts

CalculationA unitrust can be a good solution for reconciling difficult competing financial interests and goals.  It is important to understand that there are two types of beneficiaries, income and remainder beneficiaries, who both have competing goals when it comes to most Trusts.  Setting up a unitrust can help avoid this conflict between the two types of beneficiaries.  Instead of splitting the income from the principle, a unitrust distributes assets to beneficiaries based off a percentage of trusts total fair market value (FMV).  This column lists out a number of issues that a person should consider before investing in a unitrust.  This unique investment strategy can be appropriate for the right people, so it is a good idea to speak with a professional advisor. 

See Martin M. Shenkman, Unitrusts To the Rescue, Wealth Management, July 1, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention. 

July 4, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE On Settlements, Compromises and Ethical Issues in Estate Litigation

CLEThe American Bar Association is presenting a paralegal CLE entitled, Settlements, Compromises and Ethical Issues in Estate Litigation, Thursday, July 16, 2015, 12:00-1:30pm Central, online.  Here is why you should attend:

Attendees of the Paralegal eLearning Program will learn substantive legal and ethics issues – as well as best practices – from leading industry professionals with in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience in Trust & Estate Law.  The program will offer ten 60-minute eLearning sessions, and attendees can register for the entire series or individual sessions.

July 4, 2015 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Top Concerns Of Ultra-High Net Worth Families

Estate planningThe “U.S. Trust 2015 Insights on Wealth and Worth” survey has gained insight on some of the top concerns of ultra-high net worth (UHNW) families.  These concerns range from personal physical and emotional health, to also having a desire to give back to society through charitable giving.  One of the main things that UHNW families worry about is whether their children will manage the inheritance left to them in a responsible manner.  There are financial techniques like setting up trusts that UHNW families can use to help provide guidance to future beneficiaries. 

See Maureen Nevin Duffy, Kids A Top Worry Of Rich Families, Survey Says, Private Wealth, June 23, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention. 

July 3, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Portion Of Millionaires Have No Estate Plan

SavingsMore than a third of millionaires have not consulted with a financial planner to set up an estate plan.  Procrastination is a problem that has an effect on people in all income groups.  Recent changes in tax policies have created a sense of “estate planning fatigue” with some wealthy families.  Not having an estate plan can result in “complete chaos” as loved ones who are left behind fight over the estate.  It is a good idea for wealthy individuals to consult with a professional estate planner so that they can be prepared for the future.

See Alex Padalka, One-Third of Millionaires Have No Estate Plan, Financial Advisor IQ, July 2, 2015.

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

July 3, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

There Are Three Retirement Loopholes That Are Probably Going Away

Home mortgagePeople use a number of tricks and tips to grow retirement benefits and bypass certain taxes.  As these tricks or “loopholes” become more common the government may end up cracking down on some of them.  Here are three retirement loopholes that the government may get rid of in the near future:

  1. Back-door Roth IRA Conversions.  President Obama has made a 2016 budget proposal that effectively calls for eliminating the back-door Roth IRA Conversions.  Gridlock in congress may keep this estate planning technique in place for the indefinite future, though there is a push to get rid of it.
  2. The Stretch IRA.  People who inherit an IRA have the option of taking distributions over their lifetimes, providing decades of tax free income.  There are a growing number of lawmakers who would like to get rid of the “stretch” and require non-spouse beneficiaries to withdraw the IRA money within five years.
  3. Aggressive Social Security Strategies.  The Obama budget has also proposed doing away with some of the “aggressive” social security techniques like “file and suspend” or “claim now, claim more later.”

See Liz Weston, Three retirement loopholes seen likely to close, Reuters, June 29, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention. 

July 3, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Issues Final Regulations On The Portability Of Unused Exclusion Amounts

IrsPortability lets a surviving spouse carry over any portion of the deceased spouse’s unused exclusion (DSUE) to shield more assets from estate taxes.  It is a new provision that has been confusing lawyers, CPA’s, and their clients since it was brought into existence on Jan. 1, 2011. There are some people who miss out on these benefits by failing to elect for portability, some critics have called for a more simplified process.  The new rules will permit some people to elect for these exclusions even if they are past the 15-month extended estate tax filing period so long as their estate falls below the exclusion amount ($5.43 million in 2015). The IRS is adopting a stricter approach for larger estates by only granting a portability election if they file at the time of the first spouse’s death. 

See Ashlea Ebeling, IRS To Allow Do-Overs For Some Estates, Forbes, July 2, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention. 

July 3, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)