Friday, April 29, 2016
Ron Hopper was an avid fisherman and, as he approached retirement, he dreamed of being able to travel the world with his friends exploring exotic locals in the hunt for the big catch. But it was not to be. At the age of 64 he died of cancer shortly before a big trip to Thailand that was planned with his long time angling companions. Yet he managed to make the trip anyway. Shortly before his death his friends proposed using half of his ashes, with the rest to spread by Hopper's wife in the Caribbean, as part of a bait mix in their quest to reel in the giant Siamese Carp. The idea was met with approval and when his two friends made their trek to southeast Asia he came along as well just not in the way everyone imagined just a few years before. And, in a fitting end to the story, the ashes proved to be the perfect bait when his compadres caught what would have been a world record catch. While, no doubt, everyone wished Hopper would have been able to be there in the flesh it was still a fitting end to the journey of his mortal remains.
See, Fishermen use dead friend's ashes as bait to catch 180-pound carp, Fox News, April 28, 2016.
The State Bar of Texas is hosting a CLE entitled, Intermediate Estate Planning 2016, which will take place on June 21, 2016 at the La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio. Provided below is a description of the event:
Intermediate Estate Planning and Probate will address the ins and outs of taking that next step from basic wills to more sophisticated planning techniques and approaches.
- Dissecting a Will
- Incapacity Planning
- Collecting Assets
- How to Effectively Use the Internet to Market a Law Firm Within the Boundaries of the State Bar Rules
- What Every Estate Planner and Executor Needs to Know About Real Estate
- Dealing with International Assets in Estate Planning, Tax, and Estate Administration
- Marital Property Agreements
- Special Needs in Planning, Guardianship, and Litigation
- Gold Teeth and Other Random Issues in Probate
Thursday, April 28, 2016
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is making changes to its procedures and computer systems in order to better identify a taxpayers outstanding tax debts and then subtract those debts from the taxpayers refund. This new procedure will have a particular impact on the owners of small businesses. “A new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that the IRS needs to revise its computer programming and correct its procedures to ensure it identifies all available tax refunds to offset a taxpayer’s federal tax liabilities.” This article discusses some of the details related to the changes that the IRS will be making. Taxpayers should be aware of the rules so that they can benefit from them and avoid problems. It is a good idea to meet with an experienced tax professional for more personalized advice.
See Michael Cohn, IRS to Tighten Program Offsetting Tax Refunds against Tax Debts, Accounting Today, April 28, 2016.
It is common for people to put off making important estate planning decisions. “A 2015 survey by CNBC showed that 38 percent of individuals with investable assets of $1 million or more have not consulted with a financial professional to establish an estate plan.” This article discusses some of the common reasons why people avoid estate planning. Advisers should convince clients to set up an estate planning by outlining the benefits to them. There are a myriad of issues that the financial adviser will need to go over with the client which are discussed in this article. It discusses some of the key elements of the estate plan that the adviser should help their clients identify. This article also describes the process of creating and updating an estate plan. An estate plan is a good way to make sure that clients are able to fulfill their wishes and provide for their loved ones.
See Robert Warner, A Guide To Helping Clients Complete Their Estate Plans, Wealth Management, April 28, 2016.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.
One difficult situation that a financial adviser might face is watching a client pass away and then seeing the beneficiaries of the estate undo years of financial planning. This article discusses why it is important for advisers to establish relationships with their client’s beneficiaries. Estate planning involves more than just the transfer of money or management of assets. It involves personal connections with clients and beneficiaries. In this column the author recounts his own experience with losing an account after a client passed away. He discusses some of the changes he made to the way he does business after his experience with losing business. Building relationships with beneficiaries is a good way to promote the long term success of an adviser.
See Scott Huff, Rethinking Estate Planning as Building Beneficiary Relationships, Wealth Management, April 27, 2016.
A California judge ruled on Wednesday that the trial over Sumner Redstone’s advance healthcare directive will remain open to the public. The lawsuit brought by Mr. Redstone’s ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, centers around the 92-year-old billionaire’s mental competency. Herzer claims that Mr. Redstone lacked the mental capacity to remove her from his advance healthcare directive, and she is asking to be reinstated as the person in charge of the media mogul’s healthcare. This case is set to be tried on May 6. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan did leave open the possibility that some testimony could still be shielded from the public. Mr. Redstone’s medical records will have to be carefully examined and the information entered into evidence will be limited.
See Lisa Richwine, Judge rejects Redstone bid to close part of competency trial, Mediacorp News Group, April 28, 2016.
There once was a popstar named Prince.
He died and we’ve looked ever since
For a will to instruct us how
To divide this massive cash cow.
People looked high, people looked low.
Was there a will? Answer still no.
His sister rushed into the breach
And sought immediate relief.
She asked not for power or money,
But for a familiar trustee
To protect the diamonds and pearls
Until the true facts are unfurled.
So tabloids let’s NOT go crazy
As journalism, that’s lazy.
Go search for lost kids if you must
Or better a will under dust.
Special thanks to Prof. Frederick E. Vars (University of Alabama School of Law) for sharing his composition with the blog!
Nevada has become, in recent years, a popular destination for those seeking to set up a trust. This is due to the very friendly laws that have been enacted that provide a wide range of options to choose from. Listed below are a few of the most popular trust related features that can be found in the state:
- Asset protection trusts in Nevada are allowed even when the trust is self-settled. This gives a person the ability to transfer their assets to a trust with a spendthrift provision in order to protect the property from creditors. In addition, the time span needed to gain full protection of the asset is only two years which make it much lower than almost all other states.
- For those looking to use a trust protector few states are better than Nevada. The laws governing the use of a protector are detailed and make their decision binding on others as well as allowing a laundry list of powers to be granted by the settlor.
- If you are looking to avoid taxes then Nevada is the place to be. The state has no income tax with the gift and death taxes being abolished as well with the benefits being extended to out of staters as well.
See Neil E. Schoenblum, 8 Reasons Nevada Is A Leading Trust Situs, Law 360, April 18, 2016.
Captain Robert Falcon Scott, I can imagine no better name for a world famous explorer, of the Antarctic no less, than that. During his time that name captivated more than just a single person as he lead one of the first explorations of the continent and died on his second after barely missing being the first team to reach the South Pole (while also discovering the first plant fossils on the continent on his doomed trek back to camp). Now, new details about the life of this intrepid discoverer will become available after the archives of his widow were transferred Cambridge University in order to satisfy an estate tax debt. In addition, the archives also include papers relating to the a prominent Conservative politician, and later Baron, as well as details about the early 20th century British political class. While the families would probably still have wished there be no taxes at all to need offsetting, the donation of personal papers such as these to satisfy death duties has been a boon to the academic community so let us hope similar collections continue to be passed along.
See Stuart Roberts, Diaries of Captain Scott's widow secured by Cambridge University Library, University of Cambridge, April 20, 2016.
Lately, the subject of access to digital accounts after the death of the owner has been in the news due, in no small part, to the fact that a number of states have adopted legislation addressing the matter. However, Germany just got it's first bit of law on the subject after a Berlin regional court ruled that the parents of the deceased minor had the right to access their child's Facebook account including all private messages. The court reasoned that the digital messages were the same as inheriting letters and other documents under normal estate law. In addition, the court addressed the privacy issue, an important aspect under German law, along the same lines saying a third party sender had no special right to privacy online than they would have with physical messages that were inherited. This ruling was vigorously fought by Facebook which severely limits the ability of non account holders to access the account of a deceased user. Currently an appeal is pending although no trial date has yet been set.
See Jabeen Bhatti, German Parents Can Inherit Child's Online Profiles, BNA, April 20, 2016.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.