Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, April 24, 2014

CLE on Skills Training for Estate Planners

CLEThe ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law is presenting a CLE entitled, 2014 Skills Training for Estate Planners.  The Fundamentals course is on July 14-18, 2014, while the Advanced Topics course is on July 16-18, 2014.  Provided below is a description of this event:

The annual Skills Training for Estate Planners CLE program is for attorneys who practice, or plan to practice, estate planning law. This popular program has two courses of study:

The Fundamentals course is perfect for young or transitioning lawyers new to the practice and provides them with a strong educational experience focused on the “how to” of estate planning.

The Advanced Topics course focuses on current areas of interest and importance to experienced estate planning lawyers and is an excellent opportunity to further expand their knowledge and skills.

This institute-type program provides a comprehensive CLE experience with coordinated sessions that build upon one another. The sessions are led by an outstanding faculty consisting of experts in all aspects of estate planning and include time to speak with the presenters. It’s held annually at New York Law School in the Tribeca neighborhood of downtown Manhattan.


April 24, 2014 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CLE on In-Depth Estate Planning

CLEThe American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education (ALI CLE) and the University of Wisconsin Law School are cosponsoring a CLE entitled, Estate Planning in Depth, on Sunday-Friday, June 22-27, 2014.  Provided below is why you should attend this event:

An intensive, interactive classroom experience complemented by opportunities to learn informally after-hours from expert faculty and from fellow registrants at various events including evenings at the Student Union and a picnic supper

  • A relaxed campus environment that helps make learning fun, plus an affordable housing and meal package that keeps costs low
  • Comprehensive study materials — typically 1,000 pages or more – that are among ALI CLE’s best
  • Half-day Sunday primer that brings less-experienced practitioners up to speed
  • Engaging registrants - last year 28 states - and an expert faculty from across the country who shares ideas with one another over the course of five days.

April 23, 2014 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cohabiting Couples Start More Family Feuds


As a growing number of people choose to cohabit but not get married, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of family rifts over inheritances.

In Britain, married people are now the minority and about half of children are born outside of marriage.  When a partner dies without making a new will, this can create quite the headache for the surviving partner as well as the attorneys involved. 

The law firm Irwin Mitchell reported its Will, Trust and Estate Dispute team saw a 25% increase in cases linked to cohabiting couples in the last two years.

See John Bingham, No Will? No Way This Ends Happily – Why More Families Feud Over Wills, The Telegraph, Apr. 19, 2014.

April 22, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Walmart Legal Services May Be Coming to a Store Near You


Axess Law is the newest innovation in discount retailing. Founded by two Toronto lawyers, Axess Law provides time-pressed shoppers with fast, affordable legal services at their local Walmart.

The first office opened in Markham, Ontario, and is open seven days a week until 8:00 p.m.  Two more have opened in the area since with one more scheduled to open next month.

Notary services, wills, real estate law, and powers of attorney are performed on-site while traffic tickets, family law, and personal injury are referred to other firms.  Axess offices offer simple wills for $99 and notarized documents for $25, plus $19 for each additional document. 

See Francine Kopun, Walmart Shoppers Can Now Get $99 Wills, Toronto Star, Apr. 21, 2014. 

Special thanks to David J. Herzig (Associate Professor of Law, Valparaiso University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention. 

April 22, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What is Your Life Expectancy? A New Guide to Financial Planning


One month after Britain announced the overhaul of its private pension rules that allows retirees to choose a lump-sum payment rather than buying an annuity, retirees could now be issued guidance on how long they are likely to live. 

Pensions Minister Steve Webb, explains, “Gender, age and perhaps asking one or two basic questions, like whether you’ve smoked or not, should be enough to determine how long, on average someone is likely to live.”  Webb further stated that having an idea of life expectancy would assist retirees holding private pensions to manage their finances more efficiently.  The objective is to help people make the right decisions.  “Estimates of life expectancy have long been included in calculating annuities, but as retirees are given greater liberties in how and when to spend their pensions savings, they ought to be made more aware of it." 

See Katrin Benhold, How Near Is the End? Britain May Tell Retirees, The New York Times, Apr. 17, 2014. 

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

April 22, 2014 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 21, 2014

8 Essential Estate Planning Documents


Before you are gone, it is important to have your estate planning documents in order to make life easier for those you leave behind.  Below is a list of eight documents you need right now:

  1. Last Will and Testament. A will allows you to decide what will happen with your possessions after you are gone.  Without a will, your assets will go through probate, which can be expensive and time consuming.  Be sure to update your will as changes in your life occur such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, or purchases of real estate.
  2. Revocable Living Trust. A revocable trust is another tool to pass assets to heirs while avoiding probate.  Your trust can be used to distribute your property now, or after death.  It may also provide tax savings if you have substantial wealth. 
  3. Designate Beneficiaries. Beneficiary designations are imperative and take precedence over instructions in a will.  Update beneficiaries as your life changes.
  4. Power of Attorney. Elect someone to act on your behalf, financially and legally, in case you cannot make decisions. 
  5. Durable Health Care Power of Attorney. A health care power of attorney enables someone to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated.  Drafting a living will also lets you say what type of care you prefer, if you are unable to communicate. 
  6. Digital Assets.  Decide what to do with your digital information, such as your computer hard drive, online accounts, and photo collections when you are gone. 
  7. Letter of Intent. For important personal or financial information that does not belong in your will, write a letter to convey your wishes for what you hope to be done.  This might include instructions about how you want your funeral performed.
  8. List of Documents. Make certain your family knows where to find everything you have prepared.  Create a list of documents where each is stored. 

See Marilyn Lewis, Estate-Planning Documents You Need Right Now, Money Talks News, Apr. 18, 2014. 

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

April 21, 2014 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Article on ATRA and the Heckerling Institute


The changes wrought by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 were at the forefront of the 47th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, a week-long conference for estate planning advisors.  For a summary of the speakers’ remarks on several important estate planning topics, read Estate Planning After ATRA: A Summary of the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning by Martyn S. Babitz, J.D. (Hawthorn PNC). 

The four central points discussed at the Heckerling Institute about ATRA include:

  • Sense of permanence in federal transfer tax 
  • Role of income tax planning   
  • Portability as a planning consideration; and
  • Timing of significant gifts

April 20, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 18, 2014

CLE on Representing Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries


The American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education (ALI CLE) is presenting a CLE entitled, Representing Estate and Trust Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries, on Thursday-Friday, July 24-25, 2014.  Here’s why you should attend:

Join nationally-recognized experts in their exploration of developments in the estate and trust world. Our faculty is comprised of fiduciaries’ counsel as well as beneficiaries’ counsel, all of whom will examine the pertinent issues with a focus on their divergent interests.

In two-full days, you will have the opportunity to network with fellow colleagues and learn what you need to know in today’s market. This course is designed for the attorney, fiduciary officer, estate and trust administration, and accounting professional alike, offering more than 13 hours of CLE instruction, including one hour of ethics, and up to 16 CPE credits in taxation.

April 18, 2014 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article on Taxes and Estate Planning


Barry Cushman (Notre Dame Law School) recently published an article entitled, Tax Recognition, St. Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 58, p. 825, 2014.  Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

This article was prepared for the St. Louis University Law Journal’s “Teaching Trusts & Estates” issue. Many law students take a course in Trusts & Estates, but comparatively few enroll in a class devoted to the federal wealth transfer taxes. For most law students, the Trusts & Estates course provides the only opportunity for exposure to some of the basic features of the estate tax, the gift tax, the generation-skipping transfer tax, and some related features of the income tax. The coverage demands of the typical Trusts & Estates course do not allow for intensive discussion of these issues, but there are numerous opportunities to introduce relevant tax considerations while teaching the substantive law of wills and trusts. Using the Dukeminier & Sitkoff casebook as an example, this article explores the opportunities for interstitial recognition of the tax issues often lying just beneath the surface of private law disputes. Seizing the opportunities that these cases present to introduce some basic tax concepts and planning strategies can alert students to simple methods of tax savings and help them to avoid costly potential estate planning errors.

April 18, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Teaching, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ten Estate Planning Tips

WillMany people believe that an estate plan centers on tax planning. As a result, people do not feel the need to have one. The problem is an estate plan involves much more than tax issues, and for most folks the non-tax items are more significant than tax planning. Below are a few guidelines and tips that Bob Carlson, from Investing Daily suggests should apply to every estate plan.

  1. Have an estate plan.
  2. Know where all of your assets are.
  3. Estimate the debts to be paid out of your estate and plan how you want the debts handled.
  4. Choose reliable executors and trustees.
  5. Anticipate potential conflicts and try to minimize or resolve them.
  6. Keep in mind an estate plan is a balancing act between your family’s needs and your goals so it might not be perfect. 
  7. Be flexible.
  8. Talk to your family about your wishes.
  9. Do not distribute copies of your will it might make a will contest more likely. 
  10. Update your will.

See Bob Carlson, 10 Basic Rules of Every Estate Plan, Investing Daily, Apr. 17, 2014.

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

April 18, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)