Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Your Mid-Year Estate Planning Checklist

BeachSummer can be a busy time with kids out of school and vacations in full swing, but it can also be a prime period to review your estate plan and see if there needs to be any adjustments. Below is a checklist that could assist to make sure you cover the essential points.

  • Review your existing Will and any trust agreements.
  • Consider whether your named fiduciaries are still appropriate.
  • Review your beneficiary designations.
  • Consider income tax planning.
  • Review existing insurance coverage (life, homeowners, umbrella, disability, long-term care, etc.).
  • Review your investments – and your investment advisors.
  • Review how your assets are titled.
  • Fund your trust(s)
  • Determine/confirm your estate tax domicile.
  • Get educated – meet with your estate planning attorney and financial professionals to discuss all of the above.

See Lisa P. Staron, July 11, 2018 - Trusts and Estates Group News: Your Mid-Year Estate Planning Checklist, Murtha Law, July 11, 2018.

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

July 17, 2018 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 16, 2018

CLE on 30 Steps to Perfect Probate

The National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, 30 Steps to Perfect Probate, on Thursday, October 11, 2018 - Friday, October 12, 2018, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Jacksonville Baymeadows in Jacksonville, Florida. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Gain Valuable Strategies for Every Step of the Probate Process

Are you confident you're taking advantage of every strategic opportunity the probate process has to offer? Experienced faculty will share their insights into maximizing the benefits of each step at this essential program. With a special focus on strategic decision-making to minimize tax burdens, speed up the process and alleviate conflict; this guide to probate is just what you need to take your practice to the next level. Register today!

  • Spend two full days learning how to strategically navigate the probate process.
  • Shore up your knowledge with a tactical guide to probate inventory - and leave no stone unturned.
  • Get tips from the pros on how to tackle creditor claims and troubleshoot debt repayment.
  • Minimize tax burdens for both the decedent and the beneficiaries with a full guide to timely and prudent tax planning and reporting.
  • Maximize the use of exceptions when handling Medicaid estate recovery.
  • Hone your final disbursements skills to prevent disputes and re-openings.
  • Use probate litigation to its fullest advantage.

Who Should Attend

This two-day, intermediate level seminar is designed for:

  • Attorneys
  • Accountants/CPAs
  • Trust Officers/Administrators/Managers
  • Tax Professionals

Course Content

  1. Probate Process Overview and First Steps
  2. Executor Strategies
  3. Will Admission Techniques
  4. Inventory, Appraisement and Management Tactics
  5. Creditor Claims: Tips From the Pros
  6. Medicaid Estate Recovery Insights
  7. Insolvent Estate Tips and Tricks
  8. Tax Minimization Tactics
  9. Final Accounting Secrets
  10. Distributions: Insights From the Pros
  11. Estate Closing Strategies
  12. Legal Ethics
  13. Probate Litigation Tactics

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 14.50 *

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 1.20

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 14.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

July 16, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Intestate Succession, Professional Responsibility, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Podcast: 9100 Relief: Jumping Through the Hoops When You Learn You have an “Oops!

ACTEC_FoundationHere is the latest ACTEC Trust and Estate Tax podcast--the topic is 9100 Relief: Jumping Through the Hoops When You Learn You have an “Oops!”

9100 Relief for missed or mishandled tax elections is broader, more frequently needed, and thus a lot more useful than many estate planners might realize. ACTEC Fellows Ron Aucutt of Tysons Corner, Virginia and Beth Shapiro Kaufman of Washington, DC educate us on this podcast.

July 14, 2018 in Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 13, 2018

CLE on Estate Planning 101

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Planning 101, on Wednesday, August 15, 2018, at the Hilton Garden Inn Albuquerque/Journal Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Provide Your Clients With the Full Spectrum of Wealth Planning Options

Estate planning practice is incredibly complex, varied and intricate. This primer breaks it down into key governing principles and fundamental planning approaches to give you everything you need to successfully deal with clients' asset planning. Understand what the tools are, when they're used, and how they affect clients' taxes and plans. Register today!

  • Understand the laws, key parties and basic plan elements involved in estate planning.
  • Explore the various types of wills and trusts and determine which is best to use in the client's specific circumstance.
  • Predict tax effects of each estate planning tool and coordinate them properly.
  • Help your clients make critical decisions regarding beneficiary designations and powers of attorney.
  • Examine life insurance and marital issues involved in estate planning.

Who Should Attend

This basic level estate planning primer is designed for:

  • Attorneys
  • Accountants and CPAs
  • Estate Planners
  • Trust Officers
  • Tax Advisers
  • Paralegals

Course Content

  1. What is Estate Planning?
  2. Key Parties in Estate Planning: Their Rights, Roles, and Responsibilities
  3. Basic Wills: Goals, Provisions and Execution
  4. Trusts: What They Are and How They're Used
  5. Tax Fundamentals
  6. Probate Basics
  7. Life Insurance in Estate Planning
  8. Beneficiary Designations, POAs and Other Estate Planning Documents
  9. Custody Arrangements, Pre-Nuptial Agreements and Other Family Issues in Estate Planning

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 6.60

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

* denotes specialty credits

July 13, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

How Tax Reform Could Fuel Life Settlement Industry

Tax actThe life settlement industry may have already been growing at a steady pace, but the Trump Administration's passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act gave it much appreciated momentum. Taxpayers could continue to shun life insurance policies due to the increase in the gift and estate tax exemption amount and opt to purchase life settlements instead.

But is the improved tax situation enough? "While the investing environment surrounding the life insurance market is looking ideal, it’s not yet clear if a better tax situation alone is sufficient to encourage long term growth in the life settlement industry." It is no longer a necessity for life insurance programs to be grouped together with a client's entire estate plans.

No market is entirely level for too long, and the truth of the matter is that Americans aren’t investing nearly enough in their retirement. A change of government in the near future could see new tax legislation introduced, altering or even removing the current master overhaul from President Trump.

See Gary Eastwood, How Tax Reform Could Fuel Life Settlement Industry, Accounting Web, June 13, 2018.

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

July 11, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, New Legislation, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 9, 2018

Article on Basis Step-Up Planning: A Double-Edged Sword

PandpGriffin H. Bridgers recently published an Article entitled, Basis Step-Up Planning: A Double-Edged Sword, Probate and Property Magazine, Vol. 32 No. 4, July/August 2018. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Estate tax planning has, for decades, revolved primarily around maximization of the estate and gift tax applicable exclusion amount, with tax reform also focusing primarily on increases to that amount. With the recent enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, P.L. 115-97, we have seen this exclusion increase from $675,000 per taxpayer in 2001 to $11.18 million per taxpayer in 2018. This has dramatically reduced the impact of the estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes. As a result, the focus of tax planning will likely continue to shift to income taxation. One of the biggest modern goals of tax planning now is maximizing the opportunity to obtain a step-up in income tax basis for family assets at least at the death of the client. The recent doubling of the estate tax applicable exclusion amount is certain to increase this type of planning.

While such transfer are driven by a desire to save income taxes, practitioners may neglect the state law implications of this type of planning, which we will refer to in the remainder of this article as "basis step-up planning." While the effects of such planning can differ from state to state, this article addresses some of the broad issues that should be considered before engaging in substantial basis step-up planning.

For purposes of this article, with respect to powers of appointment, reference is made primarily to the Uniform Powers of Appointment Act (UPAA), as published by the Uniform Law Commission in 2012. For purposes of analyzing powers of appointment, the following defined terms are derived from section 102 of the UPAA. The "donor" is the person creating a power of appointment, the "power holder" is the person in whom the power of appointment is created by a donor, "permissible appointee" means the person in whose favor the power of appointment may be exercised, and "appointive property" refers to the property over that the power of appointment may be exercised. A general power of appointment is generally defined in section 102 of the UPAA as being a power which can be exercised in favor of the power holder, the power holder's estate, a creditor of the power holder, or a creditor of the power holder's estate.

In addition, with respect to trusts, reference is made primarily to the Uniform Trade Code (UTC), as last amended by the Uniform Law Commission in 2010. Reference is also made to the Uniform Probate Code (UPC), as last amended by the Uniform Law Commission in 2010.

July 9, 2018 in Articles, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Article on Constituencies and Control in Statutory Drafting: Interviews with Government Tax Counsels

TaxShu- Yi Oei and Leigh Osofsky recently published an Article entitled, Constituencies and Control in Statutory Drafting: Interviews with Government Tax Counsels, Tax Law: Tax Law & Policy eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

Tax statutes have long been derided as convoluted and unreadable. But there is little existing research about drafting practices that helps us contextualize such critiques. In this Article, we conduct the first in-depth empirical examination of how tax law drafting and formulation decisions are made. We report findings from interviews with government counsels who participated in the tax legislative process over the past four decades. Our interviews revealed that tax legislation drafting decisions are both targeted to and controlled by experts. Most counsels did not consider statutory formulation or readability important, as long as substantive meaning was accurate. Many held this view because their intended audience was tax experts, regulation writers, and software companies, not ordinary taxpayers. When revising law, drafters prioritize preserving existing formulations so as to not upset settled expectations, even at the cost of increasing convolution. While Members, Member staff, and committee staff participate in high-level policy decisions, statutory formulation decisions are largely left to a small number of tax law specialists.

Our findings carry important implications for statutory interpretation, affirming prior research, but also calling into deeper question arguments for textualism and the validity of certain interpretive canons. Our findings also have important implications for the design of our tax system, illuminating the distributive tradeoffs inherent in drafting practices. Finally, our findings reveal a contrast between public expectations about the legislative process and how the process actually works, underscoring underexplored questions about what makes this process legitimate.

July 7, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 Affects Estate Taxes

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-07-05/6c5e3ae8-969c-49bf-89ce-a132c538c1fb.pngThe federal estate and gift tax exemption allows individuals a specified value of lifetime gifts and assets to pass to their beneficiaries -- estate tax-free. As of 2017, the federal exemption was $5,490,000. Under the new changes, the federal estate tax exemption has been temporarily doubled. As of January 1, 2018, the exemption is now $11,180,000. The increase only lasts until 2026 at which time the amount reverts back to 2017 amounts.

Beware though: just because the federal exemption has been increased it does not mean that you will not owe the estate taxes owed to the state that you reside in. There other options to help with state estate tax responsibilities in the shape of certain trusts.

A credit shelter trust can be a viable option for married couples with children who wish to ultimately pass assets to their beneficiaries (children) and also keep those funds available for their surviving spouse for their lifetime. The disclaimer offers flexibility to a surviving spouse under embedded provisions, which are usually contained in a will.

See David Frisch, How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 Affects Estate Taxes, Forbes, June 27, 2018.

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

 

July 5, 2018 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, New Legislation, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

CLE on Estate Planning: Top 8 Tools to Know

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Planning: Top 8 Tools to Know, on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at the Clarion Hotel in Lenexa, Kansas. 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.
  • Strategically use prenuptial agreements as estate planning tools.

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. Prenuptial Agreements as Estate Planning Tools
  9. Ethical Considerations

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education

Credit Hrs State
CLE 8.00 -  KS*
CLE 8.00 -  MO*

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

July 4, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Five Shrewd Family Money Moves

ChessPresident Trump's new tax law appears to temporarily alleviate the majority of client's estate tax worries, but income tax and capital gains tax remain legitimate issues. Here are five tips to maximize assets passed on in a family while reducing or limiting the tax burden:

  • Give Stock to the Children
    • By “gifting” highly-appreciated stock assets to a younger, less well-off member of the family, the recipient can sell the asset while avoiding some or all of the capital gains taxes on the sale.
  • Fund the Children's Retirement
    • 66% of Americans 21-23 have no invested into a retirement plan yet, so another more well-to-do family member can assist by depositing money into a pre-tax retirement account just as an IRA or 401(k).
  • Convert Grandparent's IRA to a Roth IRA
    • It may benefit the younger generation for the older IRA owners to convert some or all of their IRAs to Roth IRAs while alive.
  • Leave the Right Money to the Right People
    • Depending on the income brackets of the beneficiaries, certain assets should go to different people to get the most out of tax-deferred accounts and IRAs as well as highly appreciated assets.
  • Keep the Life Insurance Going
    • "If the life insurance owner believes the insured will pass away sooner than the product of that equation, it’s probably a good idea to keep paying the premiums and keep the insurance in force."

See Kevin McKinley, Five Shrewd Family Money Moves, Wealth Management, July 2, 2018.

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

July 3, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)