Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ireland Becomes First Country To Legalize Same Sex Marriage By Popular Vote

Beyer Blog Gay Pride FlagIreland, a country once known for its ultra conservative social values, has become the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage through popular vote. Turnout reached 60% and victory was by a two to one margin as young Irish turned out in force to pass the constitutional amendment. As late as the early 90's same sex relationships were banned in Ireland and subject to criminal penalties. This vote is being hailed as a game changer by gay rights advocates who hope this will spur further referendums in other parts of the world.

See Danny Hakim & Douglas Dalby, Ireland Votes to Approve Gay Marriage, Putting Country in Vanguard, New York Times, May 23, 2015.


May 24, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Newest Amendments To The Florida Probate And Trust Code

Florida_signThe 2015 amendments by the Florida legislature to the Trust and Probate Code are now available. The changes include rules on reasonable charges for attorneys fees and cost to an estates or trust, a lawyers fiduciary duties while serving as a trustee, personal service on entities assigned to administer an estate, and what notice of administration must be filed. If you work in anyway with Florida wills and trust then this article is a must read.

See Brian Spiro, 2015 Amendments to Florida Probate Code and Florida Trust Code, Clark & Skatoff, May 19, 2015.

May 21, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Trusts, Weblogs, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ireland Goes To The Polls On Same-Sex Marriage Amendment

Irish Flag OldIreland looks to break ground as one of the first western countries to enshrine marriage rights for same-sex couples in its constitution. Polls are showing a 10 point lead for the referendum with a large majority of under-30 individuals supporting but the over 65 crowd saying no by a similarly large margin. In this traditionally Roman Catholic country the Church has largely stayed out of the fray despite sticking to its official "no" stance. In 2015, the Irish parliament enacted a marriage equality bill but this vote would make the law unrepealable without another constitutional amendment. I will keep you updated on this story as it develops.

See Peter Foster, Ireland Gay Marriage Referendum: What You Need To Know, The Telegraph, May 19, 2015.

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


May 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Changing Duty To Give Notice To Beneficiaries

Trust AltOver the years, the obligation of a trustee to give notice to the settlor and beneficiaries has been far from uniform. Many states differentiated between types of trust with the general rule being that only the settlor required notice of certain key actions by the trustee as long as the trust remained revocable. However, this distinction was not always statutorily based and, in the case of Kentucky, the state Supreme Court refused to read this into the relevant code provisions. The most recent Uniform Trust Code enshrines the revocability doctrine in law but, depending of state, is not always guaranteed to be adopted. It is always advisable to review notice requirements when setting up a trust as this could be an easy way for an irate beneficiary to get into court.

See Terri Stallard, The Evolving Duty of Trustee Communication with Beneficiaries, National Law Review, May 15, 2015.

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

May 17, 2015 in Estate Administration, New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

New York Estate Tax Changes

LawChanges to New York's 2015-2016 Executive Budget change and clarify the changes made by last year's budget. The new budget takes away the window of time for the state's estate tax to apply to the estates of deceased individuals, and applies the schedule to all estates of individuals that die after April1, 2014. A clarification was made to the three-year gift add-back, which now applies to those who die on or after January 1, 2019, instead of applying to when the gift was made. The budget did not create portability and the estate tax "cliff" has not been changed.

See Barry I. Lutzky & Elizabeth A. Candido, New York State Enacts Several Modifications to Estate Tax Law, National Law Review, May 4, 2015.

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

May 6, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

ABLE Explained

ABLEIn December 2014, President Obama signed into law the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which went into effect this year.  The ABLE Act enables people with disabilities and their caretakers to open savings accounts for disability related expenses without jeopardizing Medicaid coverage and other federal benefits as long as the balance does not exceed $100,000.  The goal  of ABLE accounts is to provide an opportunity for a brighter economic future for individuals with disabilities and a level of comfort for those that love and support those individuals. 

An ABLE account can be opened for any eligible individual—that is, someone who is entitled to benefits based on blindness or disability under Title II or XVI of the Social Security Act.  A person with a “disability certification” is also eligible. 

ABLE accounts are patterned after 529 plans, and allow for tax-free growth while the funds are in an ABLE account and then allow for tax-free distributions when the funds are used for qualified disability expenses.  Moreover, ABLE accounts allow for a change in the designated beneficiary of an account as long as the new beneficiary is a member of the family. 

See James W.C. Canup, What Does “ABLE” Mean?, Wealth Management, May 5, 2015.

May 5, 2015 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

529 College Savings Plans Being Reworked by Senate

UniversityA bipartisan tax bill went through Senate Finance Committee mark up yesterday. The bill is intended to expand the benefits of a 529 college saving plans. Changes include adding  a computer as an eligible expense as long as it is primarily used by the student despite whether the college requires the computer. Another change would allow refunds received by a student when they withdraw from school to be put back into the savings plan penalty free if done within 60 days.

See Ashlea Ebeling, Senate Takes Up Fixes To 529 College Savings Plans, Forbes, Apr. 29, 2015.

April 30, 2015 in New Legislation, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Minnesota Considering Estate Tax Change

Tax CutA big change may be coming to the Minnesota estate tax. Currently, the state's estate tax exemption is set at $1.4 million and will increase to $2 million by 2018. A House bill being considered by Minnesota lawmakers would accelerate the jump to the $2 million exemption to make it happen this year, and bump the scheduled 2018 exemption up to $5 million. Additionally, the bill would change the tax rate from a 9 to 16 percent range, to a flat 16 percent rate.

See Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Lawmakers Poised To Limit Reach Of Estate Tax, Waseca County News, Apr. 23, 2015.

April 27, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Gift Tax Bill Passes House

LawLast week H.R. 1104, the bill entitled Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. If enacted, H.R. 1104 will exempt contributions to social welfare organizations, labor unions, and trade associations from the federal gift tax.

See Kevin J. Shortill, Gift Tax Certainty at Last? re: H.R. 1104, National Law Review, Apr. 17, 2015.

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

April 20, 2015 in Gift Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

House Bill to Protect Political Contributions from Gift Tax Passes

BillThis week the House has voted in favor of a bill that would prevent the IRS from imposing gift tax on political contributions. This bill is being framed as a preemptory protection since the IRS has not sought to  do so before. A companion Senate bill has been introduced.

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

See Bloomberg News, Mega-Donors Freed From Gift Tax They Never Paid, Private Wealth, Apr. 17, 2015.

April 19, 2015 in Gift Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)