Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Swedish Death Cleaning is the Morbid New Way to Declutter Your Life

Sweedish-death-cleaningDöstädning is a Swedish term that literally means “death cleaning.” In Sweden, this is a practice in which individuals begin decluttering their homes in preparation for their exit from this mortal coil. Though appearing a bit morbid at first glance, people engage in the activity as early as their 40s. The scope of the exercise expands significantly beyond the confines of throwing out junk in preparation for death, but involves self-reflection and a consideration of personal collection habits.

See Hannah-Rose Yee, Swedish Death Cleaning is the Morbid New Way to Declutter Your Life, New York Post, October 5, 2017.

Special thanks to Deborah G. Matthews for bringing this article to my attention.

October 16, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter

51RHKNQvXPL._SX326_BO1 204 203 200_Margareta Magnusson published a book entitled, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter (2017). Provided below is a summary of the book:

A charming, practical, and unsentimental approach to putting a home in order while reflecting on the tiny joys that make up a long life.

In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you. In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, artist Margareta Magnusson, with Scandinavian humor and wisdom, instructs readers to embrace minimalism. Her radical and joyous method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations, and makes the process uplifting rather than overwhelming.

Margareta suggests which possessions you can easily get rid of (unworn clothes, unwanted presents, more plates than you’d ever use) and which you might want to keep (photographs, love letters, a few of your children’s art projects). Digging into her late husband’s tool shed, and her own secret drawer of vices, Margareta introduces an element of fun to a potentially daunting task. Along the way readers get a glimpse into her life in Sweden, and also become more comfortable with the idea of letting go.

October 15, 2017 in Books, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Faulted on Scrutiny of Estate and Gift Tax Returns

DownloadIn a recent report, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recommended that the IRS fix a number of current processes associated with review of estate and gift tax returns. TIGTA encouraged the IRS to strengthen its internal controls and suggested that it should revise the Internal Review Manual. IRS management agreed with all the recommendations and is planning on taking some action to fix the issues. TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George stated, “Taxpayers must be treated fairly and consistently. The IRS must effectively process, select, and assign estate and gift tax return cases for examination and identify the overall compliance impact of the program.”

See Michael Cohn, IRS Faulted on Scrutiny of Estate and Gift Tax Returns, Accounting Today, September 28, 2017.

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

October 15, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Article on Successions and Title Clearing Manual 2017

JasonElizabeth Ruth Carter recently posted an Article entitled, Successions and Title Clearing Manual 2017, Wills, Trusts, & Estate Law eJournal (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

These materials have been prepared as a guide for LSU clinic students and others providing pro-bono legal assistance in Louisiana. The materials give an overview of the probate process in Louisiana, common successions issues, and strategies for concentrating title.

October 14, 2017 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Most Successful Entrepreneurs Have Out-of-Date Estate Plans

Ky-slip-fall-lawyerEstate planning is essential for those wanting to reduce federal and state tax liabilities and to control the disposition of their assets after death. A survey of wealthy entrepreneurs revealed that nearly nine out of ten had some sort of estate plan in place. Even so, 85% of these estate plans were more than 5 years old. With tax laws continuously in flux, an older estate plan may mean missed tax savings or additional, previously unforeseen tax liabilities.

See Russ Alan Prince, Most Successful Entrepreneurs Have Out Of Date Estate Plans, Forbes, October 9, 2017.

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

October 14, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Book on Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life

51Zn380w53L._SX329_BO1 204 203 200_Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter, M.D., published a book entitled, Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life (2017). Provided below is a summary of the book:

In medical school, no one teaches you how to let a patient die.

Jessica Zitter became a doctor because she wanted to be a hero. She elected to specialize in critical care—to become an ICU physician—and imagined herself swooping in to rescue patients from the brink of death. But then during her first code she found herself cracking the ribs of a patient so old and frail it was unimaginable he would ever come back to life. She began to question her choice.

Extreme Measures 
charts Zitter’s journey from wanting to be one kind of hero to becoming another—a doctor who prioritizes the patient’s values and preferences in an environment where the default choice is the extreme use of technology. In our current medical culture, the old and the ill are put on what she terms the End-of-Life  Conveyor belt. They are intubated, catheterized, and even shelved away in care facilities to suffer their final days alone, confused, and often in pain. In her work Zitter has learned what patients fear more than death itself: the prospect of dying badly. She builds bridges between patients and caregivers, formulates plans to allay patients’ pain and anxiety, and enlists the support of loved ones so that life can end well, even beautifully.


Filled with rich patient stories that make a compelling medical narrative, Extreme Measures enlarges the national conversation as it thoughtfully and compassionately examines an experience that defines being human.

October 13, 2017 in Books, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hugh Hefner, Role Model? He Was When It Came To Estate Planning

151207113336-hugh-hefner-playboy-playmates-exlarge-169When listing potential role models, few people would consider Hugh Hefner as a top contender for a spot. But, as is often the case, context can change everything. Though normally appearing surrounded by buxom blondes and pictured in a bathrobe and captain’s hat, Hefner’s laissez-faire persona worked to obscure his estate-planning acumen. Hefner’s business and real estate deals left him with a rent-free residence, a million-dollar-a-year allowance, and a final estate plan that seems impenetrable to contest. Though he appeared to be the quintessential playboy, Hefner’s acuity left his heirs with a solid inheritance through a meticulously designed estate plan.

See Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Hugh Hefner, Role Model? He Was When It Came To Estate Planning, Forbes, October 9, 2017.

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

October 13, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is Cruise Ship Living a Cheaper Option for Seniors Than Assisted Living?

0aafd601fa004987cc888165eb5ee545For many seniors, there may come a time when the daily burdens of maintaining a household become too much to handle. For those seniors who are still in fair health, the traditional option is to pick up and  move to an assisted-living facility. These institutions allow seniors to remain mostly independent, but provide help with medications, transportation, housekeeping, entertainment, and meals. The greatest drawback to this option is the exorbitant cost.

For 2017, the average cost for one of these facilities exceeded $45,000 per year. This can be difficult for seniors, many of whom exist on a fixed budget, to afford. An unorthodox alternative that few consider is the fabulous life offered aboard a cruise ship. An individual can stay on a ship for fewer than $100 per night. For couples, the price is more, but there are many additional discounts available for those travelling in pairs. In total, such a stay is almost $10,000 less than an assisted-living facility. In addition, cruise ships offer amenities very similar to those found in an assisted-care home. So, for seniors who are unable to live independently but are not in need of the intensive services of a nursing-home, life on a cruise ship may be a viable and more enjoyable alternative.

See Christy Bieber, Is Cruise Ship Living a Cheaper Option for Seniors Than Assisted Living?, The Motley Fool, October 3, 2017.

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

October 13, 2017 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Spanish Woman Wants to Open up Grave to Prove She’s Alive

Nightlivingdead1968_25_wide-53cc574823a08277d0af87336e1eb6fa00453a20Juana Escudero can count herself among the living dead. Escudero, apparently the unfortunate victim of a governmental clerical error dating back about seven years, has been unable to go to a doctor or renew her driver’s license because all government databases show her as being deceased. Escudero believes that the confusion started when a woman sharing her exact name and date of birth passed away in 2010. It seems as though the similarities in their descriptions led to an administrative mistake at the Social Security office that marked her as dead. Escudero has fought with various agencies to prove her status among the living, but her voice seems powerless to penetrate the government bureaucracy from beyond her suspiciously shallow grave.

See Spanish Woman Wants to Open up Grave to Prove She’s Alive, Fox News, September 27, 2017.

October 13, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Article on Advising Family Businesses in the Twenty-First Century: An Introduction to Stage 4 Planning(R) Strategies

062913_istock_parents_fighting_600Scott E. Friedman, Andrea H. HusVar, & Eliza P. Friedman recently published an Article entitled, Advising Family Businesses in the Twenty-First Century: An Introduction to Stage 4 Planning(R) Strategies, 65 Buff. L. Rev. 425 (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Beyond what these inherently imprecise statistics and anecdotal published reports reveal is the tragic human toll taken as a result of family business dysfunction: parents, children, and siblings who no longer talk to each other, sometimes as a result of intra-family litigation, sometimes, in our experience, even as a result of physical altercations and fisticuffs. These disputes inevitably spill over and impact non-family employees and the broader community. Indeed, we suspect that any attorney who works with family businesses on a regular basis has his or her own personal experience involving family business dysfunction and crisis.

In spite of endless seminars, articles, websites, and other information designed to help families in business together, not much has changed. Far too many families, many of whom expend substantial resources designed to secure them the most advanced contemporary planning techniques, continue to experience dysfunction, and the "failure statistics" cited above appear to remain as predictable as they are consistent. The legal profession's failure to develop new and improved planning strategies is particularly troubling given the typically critical role such strategies play in counseling family business clients. This Article begins by describing historical planning strategies, which we refer to as Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3, and then introduces a new planning paradigm based on the application of new insights from social neuroscience and positive psychology to family business planning, what we refer to as Stage 4 Planning(R).

October 12, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)