Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, July 11, 2016

Article on the Effects of Obergefell v. Hodges in Estate Planning

Same-sex marriage in texasGerry W. Beyer recently published an Article entitled, Estate Planning Ramifications of Obergefell v. Hodges, Estate Planning Developments for Texas Professionals (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

One year ago, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges holding that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.” Since then, an estimated 123,000 same-sex marriages have occurred bringing the total number of same-sex marriages in the United States to almost one-half million. The number of Texas same-sex marriages will be difficult to track because the government does not plan on keeping a separate count of same-sex marriage licenses. Nonetheless, with over three percent of Texans identifying themselves as gay or lesbian, it is of vital importance for estate planners to understand the current and potential future impact of same-sex marriage on estate planning in Texas.

July 11, 2016 in Articles, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 1, 2016

New Mexico Supreme Court Rules Against Aid in Dying Law

Aid in dyingThe New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that there is no fundamental right for a terminally ill patient to seek assistance from a physician in ending their life. As this aid in dying trend is making its way across the United States, New Mexico resisted and upheld their Assisted Suicide Act. One Justice overseeing the case indicated that it would be hard to determine the qualifications for terminally ill patients or what constitutes a safe medical practice or medication. Some supporters of the decision also warn of coercion and abuse that could slip its way into the passage of an aid in dying law.

See Scott Sandlin, New Mexico Assisted Suicide Law Affirmed, Albuquerque Journal, June 30, 2016.

July 1, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

Digital assetsAs the age of technology flourishes, digital media assets are becoming increasing popular. The Florida Governor signed the Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act into law on March 10, 2016. The Act allows people to plan for the management and disposition of their digital assets, such as emails, text messages, and social media accounts, by vesting fiduciaries with the authority to access, control, or copy these assets. Additionally, the Act has rules of priority for the disclosure documents where an online tool of disclosure will trump a user’s estate planning documents. Further, a custodian must comply with a request for disclosure of the digital assets when necessary. The Act goes into effect on July 1, 2016, and will apply to all fiduciaries acting under a will, trust, or guardianship.

See Jennifer J. Wioncek & Michael D. Melrose, Florida Passes Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, Wealth Management, June 27, 2016.

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

June 30, 2016 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, New Legislation, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Aid-in-Dying Facility Opens in Berkeley

End of life practiceBerkeley physician Lonny Shavelson has opened a medical facility specializing in aid-in-dying care for terminally ill patients that fall under the End of Life Option Act. With great opposition, Shavelson is hoping to open communication with terminally patients and normalize the practice while other doctors get comfortable with the idea. As more and more doctors accept the practice, Shavelson anticipates that his practice will no longer be in demand—a hope he welcomes.

See Karim Doumar, Berkeley Physician Opens End-of-Life Practice in City, Daily Californian, June 13, 2016.

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

June 14, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Physicians Question the End of Life Act

End of life actThe End of Life Act will allow terminally ill patients in California to take medicines to end their suffering. This Act has many physicians questioning where the bright line rule has gone and whether they would ever consider writing a prescription for death. Although physicians are not forced to write these prescriptions, they must be able to discuss the options with applicable patients. Experts predict that this practice, however, will be a marginalized practice within the healthcare system. Most patients weigh their options before turning to this medicine, and it is important for physicians to address the concerns and fears that these patients are experiencing.

See Soumya Karlamangla, As California’s End of Life Act Goes into Effect, Some Doctors Question Where to Draw the Line, Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2016.

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

June 7, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Minnesota Authorizes Statutory Pet Trusts

MinnesotaMinnesota became the 50th state to authorize statutory pet trusts when the governor signed H.F. No. 1372 on May 22, 2016. The statute, based on the Uniform Trust Code, takes effect on August 1, 2016.  Here is the text of the statute, MN ST § 501C.0408:

1.  Creation of an animal trust authorized; termination. A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor's lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor's lifetime, upon the death of the last surviving animal. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the trust may not be enforced for more than 90 years.

2. Enforcement of trust. A trust authorized by this section may be enforced by a person appointed in the terms of the trust or, if no person is appointed, by a person appointed by a court. A person having an interest in the welfare of the animal may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to remove an appointed person.

3. Application of trust property. Property of a trust authorized by this section may be applied only to the trust's intended use, except to the extent a court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the intended use. Upon termination of the trust, or if the court determines the trust has excess funds, the trustee shall transfer the unexpended or excess trust property pursuant to the terms of the trust instrument or, if there is no provision in the trust instrument, then the trust passes to the settlor's heirs-at-law determined as if the settlor died intestate domiciled in this state at the time of distribution.

4. Public health programs and trusts. An irrevocable inter vivos trust created under this section is subject to section 501C.1206.

June 1, 2016 in New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 18, 2016

New Article On Russian Federation Estate Legislation

RussiaJulia Grunina (Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy) & Irina Tolmacheva (Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy) recently published an article entitled, Review of the Economic Legislation, Russian Economic Developments, 2016, Moscow, IEP Publishers, pp. 94-95. Provided below is an abstract of the article:

In February, the following main amendments were introduced into the legislation: a Civil Code norm as regards refusal of the heir from the estate in favor of other persons was brought in compliance with the Resolution of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation; provisions of a number of laws on individual types of non-profit organizations were brought in harmony with provisions of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation; the list of higher education establishments which were granted the right to carry out supplementary profile testing for admission was approved.

April 18, 2016 in Articles, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bill Introduced In Senate To Make Tax Filing Easier For Low Income

IRSSen. Elizabeth Warren recently introduced a bill that aims to make tax filing for individuals easier. The legislation would create an online, free to use program and allow taxpayers to access any personal information that is held by the IRS even if it was transmitted by a third party. The bill has received the support of insurgent presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and is viewed by many as targeting the multi-billion dollar per year tax preparation industry. This interpretation has some support based on another provision of the law that would bar the IRS from agreements with companies that in anyway restricts the ability for the Service to offer free preparation services. However, the bill should also seek to expand the hugely successful, but poorly promoted, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. In Lubbock, VITA has provided high quality, in person assistance to individuals whose tax situations require help beyond what a interactive program could provide. In addition, the program has helped low income individuals save thousands of dollars from fees they would have otherwise paid to preparation services for what are often returns that can be completed in a small amount time. Hopefully Sen. Warren will look to support some of the currently existing assistance programs and learn from their experience about what the average tax payer needs.

See Naomi Jagonda, Warren introduces bill to make filing taxes easier, The Hill, April 13, 2016.


April 14, 2016 in Current Affairs, Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, April 11, 2016

California Issues New Regulations For State Obamacare Exchange

CaliforniaCalifornia eagerly embraced the Affordable Care Act at it's inception and was among the first to set up an exchange residents could use to purchase insurance. However, as with all programs, unexpected hurdles were thrown up which prompted changes to the rules concerning payment, transparency, and levels of care in the state. The new rules that were recently released will be phased in over seven years and have the support of key interest groups such as the California Hospital Association. Among the changes are a reduction in reimbursement payments for providers failing to meet minimum quality standards and greater openness about the negotiated rates between insurers and service providers. In addition, primary care doctors must be assigned to new plan enrollees within 30 days and insurers must help customers find lower price medications or discounts. What impact the new rules might have will not be fully understood for years, however, other states are keen to see how the changes play-out as they develop their own package of reforms to their own healthcare marketplaces.

See Ana B. Ibarra & David Gorn, California Insurance Marketplace Imposes New Quality, Cost Conditions On Plans, Kaiser Health News, April 8, 2016.

April 11, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

New Changes Coming This Summer For Gun Trusts

GunGun trust have grown in popularity in recent years as it allows enthusiast to pass along ownership of a collection to family and friends without having to jump through every bureaucratic hoop. In addition, the trusts allowed a modicum of protection to beneficiaries against ever changing laws on gun ownership particularly in regards to background checks. However new rules, which will go into effect on July 13, 2016, will impose background checks on every "responsible person" in the trust including beneficiaries. Until now, a loophole prevented fingerprinting and approval by local law enforcement of members who would have access to or control over the weapons in the trust. As a result, guns and accessories that would otherwise be tightly controlled, such as machine guns and silencers, were able to pass without the same level of scrutiny faced by normal individuals. But the new rule will remove that advantage and potentially impact a beneficiary's ability to access the guns in addition to the fact that cost will go up with the ATF estimating an addition $30 million per year in expenses. As a result, if you or a client have recently considered setting up a gun trust, act now to avoid the new regulations and save some money in the process.

See Rebecca Flewelling, It Will Soon Get Tougher To Create A Firearms Trust, Private Wealth, March 30, 2016.

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

April 2, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)