Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, April 17, 2014

CLE on NFA Trusts


Texas Bar CLE is presenting a webcast replay entitled, National Firearms Act (NFA) Trusts, on Tuesday, April 22, 2014.  Topics include:

  • Professional considerations: business, ethics, and avoiding malpractice
  • State and federal law governing NFA trusts
  • Advantages of NFA trusts over individual ownership
  • Steps in acquiring NFA firearms
  • Risks of using trusts to own NFA firearms
  • Losing Form 4: Problems with the NFA Registry
  • Drafting NFA trusts
  • Alternatives to NFA trusts (individual ownership, business entitles)
  • Privacy considerations

April 17, 2014 in Conferences & CLE, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article on Teaching Trusts and Estates with King Lear


Karen E. Boxx (University of Washington School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Teaching Shakespeare in the Classroom: How an Annual Student Production of King Lear Adds Dimension to Teaching Trusts and Estates, St. Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 58, No. 3, pp. 751-65, 2014.  Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

King Lear is the archetypal story of the tension an difficulties in parent-child and sibling relationships. In a Trusts and Estates class, it reinforces the message that those relationships are the starting point and bedrock of this body of law and the vast system of rules that has been developed to resolve these conflicts.

This Article first summarizes the plot of King Lear and then describes the process I use to get the play produced by student volunteers. It then sets forth some of the estate planning and lawyering lessons King Lear presents and describes some of the skills I think the play production helps develop. Finally, the Article discusses the less traditional benefits from holding an in-class performance of a play.

This Article is part of the St. Louis Law Journal's annual teaching issue, which is devoted to Trusts and Estates in 2014.

April 17, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Teaching, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The National Aging and Law Conference 2014


The American Bar Association is sponsoring the National Aging and Law Conference 2014 on Thursday-Friday, October 16-17, 2014.  Provided below is a description of the program: 

The 2014 National Aging and Law Conference (NALC) will bring together substantive law, policy, and legal service development and delivery practitioners from across the country.  The program will include sessions on Medicare, Medicaid, guardianship, elder abuse, legal ethics, legal service program development and delivery, consumer law, income security, and other issues. An agenda of 18 workshops and 4 plenary sessions will offer a wide array of programing, with a focus on practical information for front-line law and aging service providers. This is a rebirth of the National Aging and Law Conference that was last held in December 2010, and a replacement for the NAELA National Aging and Law Institute that was held for the last time in 2013. The conference will return to a focus on legal issues impacting low to moderate income Americans age 60 and over.

April 17, 2014 in Conferences & CLE, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Actions of a Trustee as Manager of Entity in Which Trust Holds an Interest Will Be Judged by Corporate Standards


The settlor created trusts for the benefit of family members which held minority interests in entities carrying on various family businesses.  The settlor’s son was the trustee of nine of the trusts which were Sub S trusts and managed the entities with his brother. Some of the beneficiaries sued the trustee alleging breach of trust and the trial court granted summary judgment to the trustee.  On appeal, the judgment was reversed and remanded.  The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed the intermediate appellate court holding that with regard to the entities, the trustee is to be held to a corporate fiduciary standard because the settlor did not give the trustee control over the entities and because the trusts held minority interests in the entities.  Rollins v. Rollins, No. S13G1162, 2014 WL 819500 (Ga. Mar. 3, 2014).

Special thanks to William LaPiana (Professor of Law, New York Law School) for bringing this case to my attention.

April 17, 2014 in New Cases, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Real Property Trust and Estate Spring Symposia

CLEThe ABA Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law is presenting a CLE on  Real Property Trust and Estate Spring Symposia, on May 1-2,  2014.  Provided below is a description of this event:

This year's RPTE Spring Symposia offers CLE programs addressing the latest developments in estate planning, covering a wide range of topics.

A three-part Estate Planning Basics program might be of interest to newer lawyers, while more seasoned professionals will find a variety of specialized programs from which to choose. In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Symposia, there will be two special panels of distinguished Section Chairs to share their reflections on the challenges and lessons from the quarter century just ended and the opportunities for our changing practice in the years ahead.

Take a look at some of our notable trust and estate programs and speakers:

Estate Planning Basics

Benetta P. Jenson, JP Morgan Private Bank
Paul Lee, Alliance Bernstein LP
Karin C. Prangley, Krasnow Saunders Kaplan & Beninati LLP
Donna Otis, Otis Law Group Ltd.
Lee-Ford Tritt, University of Florida Levin College of Law
Ryan Walsh, Hamilton Thies & Lorch LLP

The First Quarter Century: Former Section Chairs Reflect on Lessons from the Past and How We Have Grown

Christine L. Albright, Holland & Knight LLP
Louis A. Mezzullo, Withers Bergman LLP
Edward F. Koren, Holland & Knight LLP

Golden Words from Silver Tongues — A Panel Discussion with Recent Section Chairs on Maintaining a Successful Estate Planning Practice over the Next 25 Years

Steve R. Akers, Bessemer Trust
Tina Portuondo, University of Miami School of Law
Alan F. Rothschild Jr., Hatcher Stubbs Land Hollis & Rothschild
Gideon Rothschild, Moses & Singer LLP

How to Solder Broken Plans: Ten Estate Planning Blunders to Fix Now

Keri Brown, Baker Botts LLP
Katy Crafton Fluet, McDermott Will & Emery LLP
Mark R. Parthemer, Bessemer Trust

One is Silver and the Other Gold: Making Friends with the Enemy - How to Identify and Manage Difficult Opposing Counsel

Juli Adelman, Vantage Trial Consulting
Paul Fisher, Fisher Mediation
Jessica A. Uzcategui, Sacks Glazier Franklin & Lodise LLP

Seeking and Finding New Silver Patterns in a Changed Estate Planning Environment: Creative Inter Vivos QTIP Planning

Richard S. Franklin, McArthur Franklin PLLC
Lester B. Law, Abbot Downing
Barry A. Nelson, Nelson & Nelson, PA

If you've never been to the RPTE Spring Symposia, this is a great year to check it out! First-time attendees receive a discounted registration rate — 40% off the general rate!

April 17, 2014 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is Inheritance an Initiative Sucker ?

Will2CNN host Anderson Cooper, does not believe in inheriting money because “I think it’s an initiative sucker. I think it’s a curse.” Despite his wealth, his feelings towards inheritances are not unique. According to the Insured Retirement Institute, less than half of the baby boomers think it is important to leave an inheritance to a loved one. That number has decreased over the years from two-thirds to 46%. Financial planners are quick to explain that folks who want to leave inheritance, but do not plan can leave their heirs with many problems.

People that want to provide an inheritance should work with a reputable financial adviser. Working with an adviser will increase the amount of money you are able to leave to your heirs.  The survey also indicated that 53% of those who worked with advisers claim they feel comfortable and confident about their retirement plan. In contrast, of those without advisors only 21% felt confident about retirement.

See Bart Astor, What Kind Of Inheritance You Owe Your Kids?, Forbes, Apr. 14, 2014.

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

April 17, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tax Refunds Confiscated to Pay Off Parents’ Debt

Money BagMany taxpayers are finding out that their tax refund checks have been intercepted by the U.S. Government to pay very old Social Security debts that they were unaware of owing. Due to the farm bill passed three years ago, there is no longer a 10-year statute of limitations for debt owed to the federal government. So far this year, the Treasury Department has confiscated $75 million in tax refunds to pay off debts older than 10 years. Many of the cases involve overpayment of social security claims decades ago, and now the children of those who were overpaid are the ones repaying the debt.

See Marc Fisher, Social Security, Treasury Target Taxpayers For Their Parents’ Decades-old Debts, The Washington Post, Apr. 10, 2014.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Law Office of Lewis J. Saret, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 17, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Changes in Irrevocable Trusts


In recent years, many states have been updating their trust laws, thus providing new and simplified techniques to help trustees fare with challenges of administering irrevocable trusts.  The following two techniques can assist advisors in solving many problems associated with irrevocable trusts:

  • Non-Judicial Settlement Agreements. Section 111 of the Uniform Trust Code now allows for non-judicial settlement agreements in regard to trusts.  These agreements enable the modification or termination of an irrevocable trust absent court approval.  Furthermore, the provision provides for virtual representation, allowing trust beneficiaries with substantially similar interests to represent the interests of those beneficiaries who cannot represent themselves.

  • Decanting. With respect to non-judicial settlement agreements, decanting enables a trustee to remedy issues arising from outdated administrative provisions present in irrevocable trusts, or to deal with unforeseen circumstances occurring with particular beneficiaries. 

While non-judicial settlement agreements and decanting should be used carefully, they both introduce flexibility into the administration of irrevocable trusts. 

See Tracy Craig, New Ways to Change ‘Irrevocable’ Trusts, OnWallStreet, March 13, 2014.

April 16, 2014 in Estate Administration, New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

5 Estate-Planning Mistakes to Avoid


Common mistakes made on an estate plan can be costly.  Some errors can compromise what your heirs inherit when you die, and other mistakes may leave you vulnerable if you become incapacitated.  To ensure your estate does not fall victim to predators, creditors, or taxes, avoid these 5 estate-planning oversights:

  1. Choosing Unwisely.  A large part of your estate plan is selecting durable power of attorney and medical power of attorney.  It is crucial to carefully appoint these individuals, as you are literally putting your life in their hands. 
  2. Leaving Your IRA to Your Estate.  Naming your estate as your individual retirement account beneficiary will subject it to claims and creditors during probate.  Your entire IRA could be used to pay any outstanding debt or loans.  However, by naming a live person as the IRA beneficiary allows those assets to escape probate and creditors. 
  3. Neglecting to Revise Beneficiaries. This is imperative especially where IRA beneficiaries are concerned.  If you forget to change the designated beneficiary to your IRA, the person named to your IRA is legally entitled to that asset when you die. 
  4. Foregoing a Health-Care Directive. Failing to create an advance health-care directive, or living will, can be detrimental as it lets your family, physicians, and friends know your end-of-life preferences.  This simple piece of paper saves your family the emotional angst of guessing your wishes in an already difficult time. 
  5. Leaving a Living Trust Unfunded. A living trust allows you to pass assets to heirs outside probate but proves useless if you fail to put assets into the trust.  “Once you set up a living trust, you must retitle your assets under the name of the trust.”   

See Shelly Schwartz, The 5 Biggest Estate-Planning Blunders, CNBC, Apr. 14, 2014.

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

April 16, 2014 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Out of the Ordinary Obituary


Instead of a traditional obituary, Sweden’s Stig Kernell instead published one simple line: “I am dead.”

Kernell was 92 when he passed.  His son said he had a great sense of humor and wasn’t afraid of death.  Although Kernell wanted to keep his obit simple, newspapers around the world picked up on this odd obit, probably giving Kernell’s death much more acknowledgement than he intended.

See Man’s Three-Word Obit Goes Viral, AOL, Apr. 14, 2014.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 16, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)