Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Article on Recent Case: Intestacy, Wills, Probate, and Trusts

Will and testamentGerry W. Beyer recently published an Article entitled, Recent Case: Intestacy, Wills, Probate, and Trusts, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This is the Summer 2018 edition of my article discussing 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.

August 14, 2018 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Article on Minors and Digital Assets Succession

MatrixNatalie Banta recently published an Article entitled, Minors and Digital Assets Succession, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Minors who die in the United States hold a property interest in an asset that did not exist when the law established eighteen as the age of legal capacity to devise. These assets are digital assets: email, social networking, documents, photos, text messages, and other forms of digital media. Minors use these assets with a fluidity and ease unrivaled by older generations. Under the current law, minors have no right to decide what happens to their digital property at death. Despite the fact that minors have the capacity to contract with online businesses, make health care decisions, marry, have sex, and seek employment, minors are denied one of the most basic rights of property ownership — the right to devise. This Article is the first to explore how minor capacity law should change to accommodate the changing nature of property and grant minors the right to devise their digital assets. It explores historical capacity standards imposed upon minors in order to own and use property and argues that these standards are no longer adequate to regulate digital assets. It demonstrates how applying succession law instead of an arbitrary age requirement safeguards minors interests, protects property and privacy rights, and promotes the freedom of succession. This Article argues that granting minors the ability to devise digital assets is a logical evolution of minor capacity standards seen in other areas of the law. It has been forty years since we have considered the age of legal capacity to devise property and with the proliferation of digital assets, the time is ripe for a reassessment of minors’ capacity to devise digital property.

July 24, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Technology, 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)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Two Men Claiming to be Charles Manson's Sons Eliminated From Fight Over Estate

MansonTwo men that publicly claimed to be the offspring of late infamous mass-murderer Charles Manson have been eliminated from the battle of the Manson estate by a Los Angeles judge due to lack of proof. One man asserted that he was the product of an orgy that Manson was a party to and later given up for adoption, while the other man's mother was a member of the Manson Family.

The fight over Charles Manson's memorabilia, image, and publishing rights is now between two men left standing: Michael Channels, a memorabilia collector and pen pal who claims Manson named him as the sole beneficiary of all his rights and possessions in 2017 and Jason Freeman, a legitimate and acknowledged grandson of the cult leader whose father, Charles Manson Jr., killed himself in 1993.

There is no estimate on the current value of Charles Manson's estate. Manson's body is also being fought over as it lays unclaimed in a Los Angeles morgue under a false name.

See Jennifer Smith, Purported Sons of Charles Manson Fight Estate, Daily Mail, July 13, 2018.

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

July 15, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Don't Split Heirs With Your Estate

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-07-13/9599b5d1-9640-41a8-a934-5f50409948b1.pngMark Accettura, estate planning attorney and author of Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over Inheritance and What to Do About It, says that stepparents and stepchildren are natural competitors to children. “It’s the number one source of conflict in my practice.”

Your first responsibility should be your spouse, especially if they are not financially independent and look to you for economic support. A surviving spouse does have the right to claim certain amounts of the late spouse’s assets, in the absence of a will or proper prenup depending on their state's laws on the matter.

At the death of the first spouse, distribute at least a little cash to all the adult children, equally. It’s not so much the amount as the signal that you cared. If the relationships are appropriate, try to treat children and stepchildren the same.

A persistent source of conflict is the division of personal property, says John Scroggin, an attorney with Scroggin & Co. in Atlanta. First-family heirlooms might be claimed by second-family children — in the worst case leading to lawsuits.

See Jane Bryant Quinn, Don't Split Heirs With Your Estate, AARP Bulletin, July/August 2018.

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

July 12, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 29, 2018

CLE on PROBATE: Everything You Need to Know

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled PROBATE: Everything You Need to Know, on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - Thursday, July 26, 2018 at Holiday Inn Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Provided below is a description of the event:

Top Mistakes, Do's, Don'ts, Tips and Tricks

Is probate really necessary? How do you distinguish between probate and non probate assets? What are the top mistakes executors commonly make and how can you keep them from happening? How do you handle difficult, non-divisible, joint, hidden and unusual assets? In this comprehensive, all-inclusive guide to everything probate, you'll get answers to these questions and so much more. Whether you are new to the probate process, or are just needing a refresher, this course is for you. From petition to inventory to creditors to closing - this program walks you step by step through the process and procedures, while addressing sticking points along the way. Register today!

  • Get the probate process and procedure - clarified.
  • Find out top alternatives to (and ways to get out of) probate.
  • Get effective tips for proving the validity of the will and petitioning it, as well as how to handle lost wills.
  • Should there be early distribution of assets? Learn how to quickly identify and decide how to handle this potentially problematic procedure.
  • Review procedures for locating and marshalling assets, with sample forms and documents.
  • Discover which valuation method is best and how to ensure accurate appraisals.
  • Get proven tactics for handling 401ks, IRAs, pensions, stocks and retirement plans.
  • Gain tips for handling Medicaid estate recovery and VA liens.
  • Tackle top trust traps in probate and walk through the final accounting process.
  • Identify key tax deadlines and get techniques for preparing, coordinating and filing returns.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level program is designed for attorneys. Accountants and paralegals will also benefit.

Course Content

Day 1: Process, Initial Steps, Executor Mistakes, Assets, Wills and Probate Problems

  1. Probate Process and Procedure - Clarified
  2. PROBATE VS. NON PROBATE ASSETS - Which Ones Can Pass Outside of Probate?
  3. ESTATE ADMINISTRATION: Ensuring Executors Know Their Duties
  4. INITIAL CONFERENCE and Hearing - Timeline, Documents, Statements and Complications
  5. WILLS: Proving Validity, Petitioning and Top Problems
  6. Is Probate Necessary? Alternatives and Avoidance
  7. Top PROBLEMS in Probate

Day 2: Disputes, Insolvent Estates, Creditor Issues, Trusts, Taxes and Final Accounting

  1. When the Love is Gone... Tips for Resolving FAMILY DISPUTES in Probate
  2. CREDITOR CLAIM Conundrums
  3. MEDICAID Estate Recovery
  4. TRUST Traps in Probate
  5. TAX Deadlines, Preparation, Coordination, Filing Returns - AND Top IRS Pitfalls!
  6. Handling DISTRIBUTIONS and Closing the Estate Without a Hitch
  7. Ethical Practice Considerations and Concerns in Probate

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 13.25 *

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 16.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

June 29, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Non-Probate Assets, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Article on Freedom of Disposition in American Succession Law

Will and testamentRobert H Sitkoff recently published an Article entitled, Freedom of Disposition in American Succession Law, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The organizing principle of the American law of succession is freedom of disposition. This book chapter surveys freedom of disposition in American succession law--intestacy, wills, trusts, and nonprobate transfers. The chapter also considers the main limits on freedom of disposition, focusing on forced shares for spouses, the Rule Against Perpetuities, and the federal wealth transfer taxes. For the most part, however, the American law of succession facilitates rather than regulates implementation of the decedent’s intent. Most of the American law of succession is concerned with enabling posthumous enforcement of the actual intent of the decedent or, failing this, giving effect to the decedent’s probable intent.

Note: The chapter is based on the author’s remarks at the Conference on Freedom of Testation and its Limits at the University of Lleida, Spain, on 20 April 2018.

June 21, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Being an Executor is an Important and Often Risky Task

Will and testamentWriting out a will is often pushed back on a person's agenda, as well as updating it when important life changed occur. There are are potential risks that happen if you fail to do either of these, such as their assets and possession landing with a person that they never intended to benefit.

Another undertaking that is crucial is assigning an executor. Though when the person officially takes on the role who will already have passed, the job is an important one with several possible pitfalls. The person you designated should understand that it could be a time-consuming and highly demanding job - especially when performed correctly. Finding tax documents, insurance policies, bank accounts, debt records, paying off any bills, etc. could take up a huge chunk of time.

It's also important for the executor to correctly file the appropriate taxes for the estate as if this is not done timely the executor themselves could be billed for late fees and penalties. The courts have recognized that it is the responsibility of the person conducting the probate process to pay the taxes, so the law has been continuously upheld.

See Julian Block, When You Write Your Will, Don't Mess This Up, Market Watch, June 12, 2018.

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

June 16, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Book on Selected Statutes on Trusts and Estates, 2018

Statute bookMark L. Ascher & Grayson M.P. McCouch recently published a a book entitled, Selected Statutes on Trusts and Estates, 2018 ed. (2018). Provided below is some information about the book:

This casebook statutory supplement meets the needs of students in basic and advanced courses on wills, trusts, decedents' estates, fiduciary administration, and future interests, providing a compendium of essential uniform act provisions and official comments. It covers a wide range of topics, including: intestacy; wills; probate administration; nonprobate transfers; disclaimers; principal and income; prudent investments; perpetuities; trusts (including trust decanting and directed trusts); powers of appointment; and powers of attorney. The previous edition has been updated to include the recently-promulgated Uniform Directed Trust Act and related conforming amendments.

June 15, 2018 in Books - For Practitioners, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Intestate Succession, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

CLE on Estate Administration Boot Camp

The National Business Institute is holding a 2-day conference entitled, Estate Administration Boot Camp, on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 -Thursday, June 21, 2018, at Holiday Inn Colorado Springs Airport in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A description of the event is provided below:

Program Description

Everything You Need to Know about Effectively Administering an Estate

Are you fully confident in your knowledge of the latest court and tax rules and the most effective transfer tools to ensure each client's estate is laid to rest according to the decedent's wishes, with minimal tax burden? This comprehensive 2-day instruction will give you all the skills you need to administer estates that include trusts and/or business interests without a hitch. Register today!

  • Don't miss any crucial notice and filing requirements when opening the estate - learn what must be done right away.
  • Get helpful forms and checklists that will help you in administration.
  • Understand how income and estate tax deductions interact and find the most advantageous way to structure the tax returns
  • Learn how to use disclaimers more effectively.
  • Clarify what must be done when the trust becomes irrevocable.
  • Protect your professional reputation with a practical legal ethics guide focused on trusts and estates practice.
  • Prevent mistakes in final petition and ensure each estate is closed quickly and without disputes.

Who Should Attend

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

  • Attorneys
  • Accountants/CPAs
  • Tax Professionals
  • Financial Planners
  • Trust Officers/Administrators/Managers
  • Paralegals

Course Content

DAY 1

  • Forms of Administration and When They are Used
  • First Steps and Notices, Executor Duties, Opening the Estate
  • Key Intestacy Laws You Must Know
  • Marshalling the Assets
  • Spouse Elective Share and Disclaimers
  • Trusts that Affect Estate Administration
  • Legal Ethics in Estate Administration

DAY 2

  • Income Tax Returns
  • Portability and Estate, Gift, GST Taxes
  • Handling Distributions
  • Business Interests in Estate Administration
  • Handling Debts and Claims Against the Estate
  • Closing the Estate and Final Accounting
  • Estate and Trust Contests, Disputes, Challenges

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 14.00 *

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

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