Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Today, legislation that allows doctors to help terminally ill residents in D.C. to end their lives will face a crucial vote. Proponents of physician-assisted suicide are hopeful that the nation’s capital will be the next jurisdiction to allow this controversial piece of legislation. The proposal is modeled after Oregon’s system for assisted suicide with the same requirements. Ultimately, the legislation faces uncertain progression if it advances to the full council.
See Fenit Nirappil, Assisted Suicide Legislation Faces Key Vote in D.C. Council, Washington Post, October 4, 2016.
Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
The 2010 amendment of IRC § 2010(c) allowed an estate executor to make a portability election; therefore, influencing the decision to make a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) election. A QTIP election reduces the decedent’s taxable estate, further maximizing the amount of unused exclusion available for the decedent’s surviving spouse. Accordingly, the executor electing portability of the decedent’s unused applicable exclusion amount may wish to make a QTIP election, regardless of whether the QTIP election reduces the estate tax liability to zero.
Rev. Proc. 2001-38, 2001-24 I.R.B. 1335 details a procedure for which the IRS will disregard and nullify federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax for purposes of a QTIP election made when the election was unnecessary to reduce the estate tax liability to zero. With the use of portability elections, the ability to void and nullify QTIP elections in Rev. Proc. 2001-38 may bring questions over the ability of the decedent’s estate to make an unnecessary QTIP election for the sake of maximizing the available unused exclusion amount. Subsequently, this revenue procedure modifies and supersedes Rev. Proc. 2001-38. It confirms the IRS procedures for disregarding a QTIP election, but excludes those estates that made a portability election in accordance with § 2010(c).
New York phone, cable, and utility companies can no longer charge for early termination fees if service has been discontinued due to the customer’s death. On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who noted that the practice of charging fees to deceased customers was “heartless and inappropriate” and further created burdens for loved ones, signed the law. Any violator of this law is subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
See NY: Utilities Can’t Charge Termination Fees After Death, Fox 5 NY, September 28, 2016.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
New York is now allowing pet owners to be buried with the cremated remains of their pet. Governor Cuomo signed the proposal into law on Monday. Cemeteries do not have to offer the option, and religious cemeteries are forbidden from offering it. This law comes at the tail end of a series of measures that honor the bond between human and beast in New York.
See Forever with Fido: New York to Allow People to Be Buried with Pets, NBC New York, September 27, 2016.
Monday, September 19, 2016
Two years ago, Belgium rescinded the age restrictions on euthanasia, and now, the first terminally ill minor has been assisted to die. Currently, Belgium is the only country that allows minors to be assisted in dying. The law, however, is quite strict, requiring the minor to be in the final stages of terminal illness; understand rationally the difference between life and death; and ask to end their life on repeated occasions. Additionally, another requirement for these minors is to have parental consent along with the consent of two doctors. Not surprisingly, this law comes with much opposition.
See Belgium Sees First Case of Minor Being Granted Euthanasia, Fox News, September 17, 2016.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
The IRS will implement new rules likely limiting techniques used by rich individuals to lower their estate and gift taxes. These new regulations apply to valuation discounts, which allow people with assets greater than the current $5.45 million exemption to lower the value of their assets subject to gift and estate taxes. Asset owners of this type typically put their assets into a holding company that is not traded, giving shares of the company to family or charity. Subsequently, the assets’ value drops due to dispersed control of the company. The proposed regulations will allow the IRS to ignore these discounts.
See Laura Saunders, The Controversial Way Wealthy Americans Are Lowering Their Estate Taxes, Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2016.
Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.
New Treasury guidelines will require that residential property be subjected to inheritance tax even if the property is owned offshore. These guidelines add pressure to wealthy UK residents who are domiciled elsewhere; it forces them to consider the benefits of remaining in the UK. The rules will take effect on April 6, 2017 and subject non-domiciled residents to inheritance tax on their residential property. However, the guidelines will allow non-domiciled individuals a grace period until April 2018 to separate their assets.
See Hugo Greenhalgh, UK Inheritance Tax Move to Hit Non-Doms, Financial Times, August 20, 2016.
Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.
Friday, August 19, 2016
The section 2704 new proposed regulations may be the most significant regulations in the transfer tax area in a long time, resulting in substantial restrictions on valuation discounts for transfers of interests in family entities. Please click here for a detailed analysis of the Section 2704 proposed regulations and planning implications.
Monday, August 15, 2016
In July, Betsy Davis sent out invitations to her “rebirth” party, one that required emotional stamina, centeredness, and openness. The party would conclude with a physician-assisted suicide. For the past three years, Betsy had been losing control of her body due to ALS. Her party came one month after California passed a law that gave terminally ill patients the option to hasten death. Her friends and family were at peace knowing she was able to turn her departure into a work of art.
See Karen Mizoguchi, Terminally Ill California Woman with ALS Throws One Last Party Before Ending Her Life, People, August 11, 2016.
Monday, August 8, 2016
As of Saturday, a new Medicare law is in force that requires hospitals to notify patients of the possibility that they could incur substantial out-of-pocket medical costs if their stay is more than 24 hours without being formally admitted. The problem stems from patients who are under “observation”—for fear of Medicare penalizing over inappropriate admissions—making them liable for large hospital bills; further, Medicare will not pay for any subsequent nursing home care, unless the patient was an inpatient for three consecutive days. Patients can expect to start receiving these warnings in January. With this new law, the estimated notices per year are 1.4 million.
See Robert Pear, New Medicare Law to Notify Patients of Loophole in Nursing Home Coverage, NY Times, August 6, 2016.
Special thanks to Jerry Borison (Professor of Law, University of Denver Strum College of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.