Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rising Obesity Rates Putting Pressure On Nursing Homes

ObesityNursing homes in the United States have been put under an increasing amount of strain because of the rising number of obese patients. “The percentage of those entering American nursing homes who are moderate and severely obese — with a body mass index of 35 or greater — has risen sharply, to nearly 25 percent in 2010 from 14.7 percent in 2000, according to a recent study, and many signs suggest the upward trend is continuing.” Nursing homes are struggling to care for these patients because Medicaid does not reimburse them for the type of specialized equipment needed to care for heavier patients. There are many nursing homes across the country that routinely decline referrals for obese patients. Whether denying a patient admission into a nursing home because of obesity violates the Americans With Disabilities Act is an unsettled legal question. This issue is going to remain prevalent in the future as the number of obese senior citizens continues to rise.

See Sarah Varney, Rising Obesity Rates Put Strain on Nursing Homes, The New York Times, December 14, 2015.

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

December 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Very Old Viking Settlement Found Under Norwegian Airport

VikingAn ancient Viking settlement that is more than 1,500 years old has recently been discovered buried underneath a Norwegian airport. Archaeologists found the site during an airport expansion. Many valuable artifacts have been discovered in this site which is believed to have once been inhabited by a fishing community. The historical remains have been kept in good condition thanks to the low-acidity in the soil. This part of Norway is believed to be rich in historical treasures but government restrictions have made archaeological digs difficult. These new important discoveries will allow historians and archaeologists to gain more knowledge and insight about ancient Viking civilization.

See 1,500-year-old Viking settlement discovered underneath Norway airport, Independent, December 25, 2015.

December 25, 2015 in Current Affairs, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Developing A Strong Marketing Plan For 2016

Good planThis column provides an agenda that firms should follow to develop a strong marketing plan for 2016. It is important to be brutally honest when evaluating the good and bad aspects of this years marketing plan when developing a plan for next year. Think big when setting up a strong client acquisition goal, but make sure the goal is realistic. Carefully plan out what actions will need to be taken and what tactics the firm will need to adopt. Creating a fixed routine and then committing to it is an important thing for a firm to do if it wants to accomplish its goals. Finally, it is important to cut down the marketing plan and adopt simple and action friendly language.

See Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols, Create a Rockin' Marketing Plan in Less Than 45 Minutes, Wealth Management, December 10, 2015.

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

December 10, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Space Mining Laws Set The Stage For Next Interplanetary Gold Rush

Space miningPresident Obama has recently signed legislation that will permit the commercial extraction of minerals and water from asteroids and the moon. The hope is that this legislation will inspire an extraterrestrial gold rush with the private aeronautics industry that is currently expanding and attempting to cut the cost of commercial space flight. “The US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 says that any materials American individuals or companies find on an asteroid or the moon is theirs to keep and do with as they please.” There are currently both large and small startup companies that are studying their options when it comes to space mining. This is an area that might seem less science fiction and far fetched in the future as technology continues to develop.

See Get ready for an interplanetary Gold Rush: Space mining laws set to spark explosion in extraterrestrial extractions, The Daily Mail, December 8, 2015.

December 8, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Five Apps People Can Use To Get Their Financial Affairs In Order

The appsThis article discusses five apps that people can use to get their financial affairs in order:

  1. FileThis. This app can download account statements and it offers its user an account overview and bill due-date reminders.
  2. ItsDeductible. Is an app that lets people record contributions and donations that they make for tax purposes.
  3. DropBox. A cloud-based storage service that lets people save important documents and paperwork.
  4. Mobile banking. Provides people with the opportunity to do important personal banking from their smart-phones.
  5. Mint. This is a personal finance aggregator with over 2.5 million monthly users.

See Liz Weston, Five apps to organize your financial life, Reuters, December 7, 2015.

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

December 8, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 7, 2015

What Rights Do Posthumously Conceived Children Have To An Inheritance?

EmbryoA growing issue that is currently being hashed out in courtrooms and legislatures across the country concerns the legal rights of posthumously conceived children. If a child is born after the death of a mother or father what sort of legal rights to inheritance or Social Security survivor benefits are they entitled to? In 2012 The Supreme Court held in Astrue v. Capato that courts must look to State law to determine if a posthumously conceived child could inherit under intestacy laws. This column discusses the recent legislation in New York that was signed by Gov. Cuomo which attempts to clarify the inheritance rights of posthumously conceived children. The rapid development of modern reproductive technologies is going to make it more important for states to update and modernize their laws dealing with the legal status of posthumously conceived children when it concerns inheritance rights.

See Inheritance Rights Of Posthumously Conceived Children, Wealth Management, December 5, 2015.

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

December 7, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Science, Technology, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Options For Digital Estate Planning

Digital estate planningOne of the areas of the law that have been developing in recent years concerns digital estate planning. As more people spend their lives online they will need to develop a plan for their online accounts after they pass away. There are new companies that are developing to assist people with their digital estate planning needs. Communicating with loved ones is very important for people that want their intentions to be followed. This column discusses factors that people need to consider when they do their end-of-life planning for their digital estates. Digital estate planning is something that is only going to become more important as more people spend their lives online.

See Teresa Mears, Passwords and Powers of Attorney: Your Digital Estate Planning Options, U.S. News & World Report, December 3, 2015.

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

December 4, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Some Tips On How To Protect A Person's Cyber Security

KeyboardDigital assets and account are now so common that almost anyone who has internet access is guaranteed to have more than one. Be it Facebook or online banking security is a primary concern but is often lacking. Be it weak passwords and identity questions to personal susceptibility to phishing emails, much security is lost in a way that is easily fixable. One big fix is to have strong passwords, they are essential since the use of common words, phrases or simple number like "1234" allow easy access to any online criminals. Use of public wi-fi hotspots should also be curtailed when accessing sensitive online accounts as all data is transmitted un-encrypted and can be intercepted by 3rd parties with ease. In addition, making sure all old electronics have been wiped of memory is essential as much data can be retrieved by those that know what to look for and allow an end around to many security precautions. Ultimately, there is no one way to secure online accounts, but if a grab-bag of precautions is taken, then hackers and thieves will find the going much tougher and hopefully not worth the hassle.

See Joshua H. Miller, The Digital Estate, Private Wealth, November 9, 2015.

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

December 3, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Slow Battle To Grant Access To Digital Content For Fiduciaries

KeyboardAlmost everyone has online accounts these days and the number is highly unlikely to shrink as the world continues it's embrace of the digital revolution. However, accessing an account for the any fiduciary that might one day be appointed, be it as guardian, estate administrator, or any other, is extremely difficult in many circumstances. That is because the terms of service for the online accounts dictate access and they often reject the ability for anyone but the account owner to control and use the account. In the last year, an attempt was made to streamline access with the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act but the proposal was met with much opposition from trade groups and eventually was approved by one state alone. However, following the act's defeat, the drafters worked in tandem with trade groups to publish a revised act which incorporates many of the objections from industry. Only time will tell if this proposed legislation is able to get off the ground but some action is needed to solve this long simmering problem.

See Jena L Levin & John T. Brooks, Administration of Trusts And Estates in the Digital Age, Wealth Management, December 1, 2015.

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

December 3, 2015 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 30, 2015

IRS Will Now Offer A Copy Of Fraudulently Filed Tax Returns To Identity Theft Victims

IRSWhen a taxpayer is filing a tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) they might sometimes hear back from the IRS that a tax return has already been filed for them. “Typically, this is due to a fraudulent return filed using the taxpayer identification number and name of the taxpayer that seeks a fraudulent refund of taxes already paid to the IRS – the IRS version of identity theft.” Under the previous policy a defrauded taxpayer that was the victim of identity theft could not see the return that they filed with the IRS. Taxpayers will also be able to see fraudulent tax returns from previous years going back six years. Any person interested in receiving more information about how to request a copy of a fraudulent tax return should look here.

See Charles (Chuck) Rubin, Identity Theft Victims Can Now Get A Copy of Fraudulently Filed Returns, Rubin On Tax, November 29, 2015.

November 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)