Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, November 30, 2015

New Welsh Law Makes Organ Donation Mandatory In Most Situations

MedicalWales has just passed a new law that will automatically allow doctors to remove the organs of dead patients without requiring consent. This is the first time that a region has moved away from the traditional method of only taking from donors that had previously consented or had family consent after the donor's death. However, opt out is still allowed for the living and the family of the deceased are able to object to organ removal which provides some ability to get around the requirement. The new legislation has encountered some opposition, mainly among those that have concerns over the religious implications for groups that oppose transplants. But supporters argue the lives saved will outweigh other concerns and that the opt out provisions are enough to protect religious rights. The new rules will, in all likelihood, be closely watched by other jurisdictions that have been or are considering the passage of similar legislation.

See Ben Spencer, Organs can be taken from the dead without any consent: Landmark law change in Wales gives doctors right to assume all adults have agreed to be donors, The Daily Mail, November 30, 2015.

November 30, 2015 in Death Event Planning, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Government Begin To Take Interest In Elder Abuse By Investment Firms

Piggy BankThe abuse of the elderly is of growing concern in the national consciousness due to the unprecedented number of retirees society is now absorbing. As as result, new rules are being proposed that will require investment firms to put in place protections to prevent fraud and other abuse of older clients. However, many in the industry are skeptical of the changes citing privacy concerns as many of the proposed regulations require client records to be handed over to government entities. As of now, the new rules are purely prospective in nature but due to the growing problem of elder financial abuse it is likely action will be taken by federal and state governments. What form any new regulation will take only the future will tell for sure.

See Dan Jamieson, Elder Abuse Rules In The Works For Investment Industry, Financial Advisor, November 12, 2015.

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

November 26, 2015 in Elder Law, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bill Introduced to Deny Passports To Those That Owe Back Taxes

PassportA bill has been introduced in the Senate that will allow the government to deny passports to those that owe $50,000 or more to the IRS. Under the proposed plan, any taxpayer who owes more than the limit and not in a current repayment plan will not be issued a passport. Critics have argued that travel is fundamental right and the proposal would be a violation of the constitution and that the $50,000 threshold is easy to reach when penalties and interest are included. But proponents are quick to counter that the plan would help the government increase compliance with tax payments and only affect serious offenders that have not attempted to resolve the issue. As of now, the plan is still in the Senate and it is unknown when it make it's way to the House.

See Robert W. Wood, Coming Soon: No Travel Or Passport If You Owe IRS, February 5, 2015.

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

November 24, 2015 in Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 13, 2015

President Obama Signs New Partnership Audit Rules Into Law

Obama signedPresident Obama has recently signed H.R. 1314, The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 into law. This new statute will dramatically change the way partnerships and LLCs taxed as partnerships are audited and taxed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The new legislation will become effective on or after January 1, 2018, but partnerships can elect to be subject to the new rules immediately. When the new rules go into effect the IRS will be able to assess or collect any tax deficiencies from the partnership instead of the partners. This column discusses some of the means of electing out of or reducing effect of the new regulations. Those who might be impacted by the new legislation should speak with a tax professional about their options.

See Howard N. Solodky, Mark Wiley, Jeffrey T. Lawyer, Graeme F. Philip, and Michael R. Cashin, United States: Radical New Partnership Audit Rules, Mondaq, November 13, 2015.

November 13, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 26, 2015

2016 Estate Tax And Gift Tax Exemptions Published

IRSThe IRS recently announced the new exemption limits for the federal estate tax and gift tax exclusion. In 2016 the estate tax exemption will be $5.45 million for an individual which is an increase $20,000 over the 2015 limit of $5.43 million. For couples, the exemption will be $10.9 million and the yearly gift tax exclusion will remain unchanged from the previous year at $14,000. In 2011, the U.S. Congress changed the tax estate and gift tax system by indexing exemptions to inflation as well as setting the top estate tax rate at %40. However, these tax rates may be subject to change following the 2016 elections due to the strong political pressure to see the tax increased or abolished depending on party affiliation.

See Ashlea Ebeling, IRS Announces 2016 Estate And Gift Tax Limits: The $10.9 Million Tax Break, Forbes, October 22, 2015.

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

October 26, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Changes To The Connecticut Probate Fees Create Uncertainty

Piggy BankRecent changes to the Connecticut estate tax system has created much uncertainty for estate planners in the state. The big problem is a reach back provision on probate court fees which is making estates pay a higher fee even if the person died before the legislation was passed. A cap of $12,500 used to be imposed but was removed which is the primary driver of discontent with the new system especially since the fee is imposed whether the probate court system is used or not. This new fee structure, in addition to other taxes such as those on luxury purchases, have created a situation where the wealthy with the ability to move are opting for that choice. Only time will tell what the full impact of these new taxes will be on estate planning in Connecticut but already it has lead to much grumbling and predictions of a wealth exodus for those nearing the end of their life.

See Ashlea Ebeling, The $250,000 Connecticut Probate Fee & The $20 Million Estate Tax Cap, Forbes, October 16, 2015.

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

October 21, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bay Area Wills, Trusts, And Probate Blog Is Back Online!

KeyboardThe Bay Area Wills, Trusts, and Probate Blog written by Karen Meckstroth is back online! The first post is about the California End of Life Option Act which was recently passed and allows physician assisted suicide in certain circumstances. I would like everyone to join me in welcoming back Karen with her superlative blog by checking out her new post!

October 19, 2015 in New Legislation, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Article On American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 In Utah

ArticlePictureJohn Spencer Treu  (Pace University - Lubin School of Business; New York University School of Law) recently published an article entitled, What the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 and Portability Mean to Utah Estate Planners, Utah Bar Journal 27.1 (2014): 20-22. Provided below is an abstract of the article:

Congress avoided the so-called fiscal cliff with the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 and, in so doing, implemented a number of important tax provisions that affect estate planners for estates of all sizes. The act made several key estate tax provisions permanent including fixing the exclusion amount and tax rates and, most importantly, it made the concept of portability permanent. Portability enables surviving spouse’s to utilize the unused unified credit of their decedent spouse, a strategy that historically required the use of a credit shelter trust. This article also discusses additional ways that portability affects estates large and small and how estate planners may use credit shelter trusts under the current estate tax regime with portability.

October 14, 2015 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

California Joins Texas By Introducing Transfer On Death Deed

CaliforniaBeginning January 1, 2016, California will allow Transfer on Death Deeds which grant the ability to transfer real property at death without having to go through probate. Assembly Bill 139 requires that a revocable TOD deed be signed, dated, acknowledged, and recorded in order to be effective. The legislature stated that the reason behind the change is the high cost of using an attorney to prepare an estate plan and the prohibitive cost of probate. Transfer on Death Deed join Payable on Death forms which, between the two, allow Californians to easily transfer real property and most types of personal property without having to use the court system.

See Mark Kellem, Gov. Brown signs bill to make home transfers easier after death, Glendale News-Press, September 21, 2015.

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

September 22, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Texas Adds Transfer At Death Deeds To Estate Code

TexasThe 2015 Texas Legislature added Section 114 to the Estate Code which authorizes Transfer on Death Deeds in the state. A TOD Deed is a when the intended beneficiary of the property upon the owner's death may be noted on the deed itself and filed with the county clerk to allow the property to pass without using intestacy or a will. This is advantageous since it allows the estate to avoid probate especially since many people who will use a TOD deed only have one major asset to pass, usually a home, and do not need the expense of a probate courts. This is a brand new concept in Texas so, going forward, the estate law community will be watching how this effort will play out for those it is intended to help.

See, Transfer on Death Deeds Now Valid in Texas, National Law Review, September 18, 2015.

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

September 21, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)