Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

After Killing Her Mother for Her Inheritance, Heather Mack Settles Claim

BaliHeather Mack and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer were convicted of murdering Mack's mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, for her $1.6 million inheritance in Bali in 2014, infamously stuffing the body into a suitcase. While incarcerated in a notorious Indonesian prison, Mack has been fighting with the executor of her mother's estate, claiming that she was her mother's only beneficiary.

William Wiese, as exeuctor of Wiese-Mack's estate as well as the deceased's brother, has refused to pay out the inheritance to the convicted murderer, citing the Illinois slayer statute which states if you're involved in a murder and you're a beneficiary of a trust of the person you murdered, you lose all rights as a beneficiary.

The two have now reached an agreement and Heather Mack will not receive "any property, benefit, or other interest" from her mother's estate. Instead, the sole beneficiary of the remainder of Wiese-Mack's estate will go to Mack's three year old daughter Stella, who was born inside of the Indonesian prison in 2015.

Other details of the agreement were left confidential.

See Hannah Parry, Heather Mack Settles Claims for Mother's Estate Four Years After Killing Her With Her Boyfriend - and All the Money Left Will go to Her Daughter Stella, 3, Daily Mail UK, June 21, 2018.

June 22, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Man Serving as Pallbearer Crushed to Death by Mother's Falling Coffin

LakkianSamen Kondorura, 40, of Indonesia was killed after his mother's coffin fell off the funeral tower during the service on the island of Sulawesi. The coffin was being carried by Kondorura and other pallbearers on a ladder up to an ornately carved raised tower called a lakkian. The deceased is placed in the lakkian before "elaborate traditional funeral rites."

The ladder crumbled under the weight of the pallbearers and the coffin and fell 10 feet, hitting Kondorura. He passed away on the way to the hospital.

Julianto Sirait, the chief police commissioner in the North Toraja district, said the ladder “was not properly reinforced” but the family has decided not to press charges against the manufacturer. The son's body now rests beside his mother's.

"When an ethnic Torajan dies, some families spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on funerals. The funerals can go on for days and include feasts, dancing, and animal sacrifice."

See Kathleen Joyce, Man Serving as Pallbearer Crushed to Death by Mother's Falling Coffin, Fox News, June 19, 2018.

June 19, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 11, 2018

Anthony Bourdain's Body is Stuck in France Due to Bureaucracy

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-06-11/5586227a-533a-45dd-92e7-7f45085669d3.pngWhile in France, the famous chef Anthony Bourdain unfortunately committed suicide inside of his hotel room at the Le Chambard on Friday. According to his mother, however, the family has not been able to retrieve his body to start the funeral arrangements.

“Listen, I lived there for five years — nothing is done quickly,” said Gladys Bourdain, 83. But even when the body is returned to the states, his mother will not be in charge of services. Bourdain was still legally married to his estranged wife, Ottavia Busia Bourdain, so therefore Ottavia will be in charge of the retrieval and arrangements.

“Although they’re separated, she’ll be in charge of whatever happens,” the mom said. “We haven’t talked for a couple days. I’m sure she’s as broken up as I am.”

See Anthony Bourdain's Mother Says His Body is Stuck in France, Fox News, June 10, 2018.

 

June 11, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Beware: Executors are Liable for Inheritance Tax [United Kingdom]

GuardIn the United Kingdom, an executor of an estate can be found personally liable for unpaid inheritance tax (IHT), even if they are not named as a beneficiary of that estate. This means if a beneficiary runs off with the funds of the estate while there is still IHT to be paid to the government, the executor's own assets could be at risk. This type of situation is an extreme one, of course.

The common stressful issue of being an executor in the United Kingdom is that IHT is expected within 6 months of the person's death and usually assets of the estate need to be sold to pay of the tax. But before assets can be available to sell, probate must be granted, which can mean more headaches and interest charges on the tax.

This problem is easily solved if the estate has cash or investments to pay off the tax. An executor could also ask Her Majesty's Revenue & Commission (HMRC) permission to pay off the IHT in installments if selling off the estate's assets is delayed.

If this seems like too much trouble resulting from the request to be a person's executor, you can also "just say no."

See Ruth Jackson, Beware: Executors are Liable for Inheritance Tax, Money Week, June 1, 2018.

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

June 6, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

IRS Announces End to Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program

SafeIRS announced on March 13, 2018, that it would dissolve its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). The OVDP allowed those facing criminal tax liabilities and civil penalties to voluntarily report foreign financial assets and income incurring these penalties to be excused. "Participation in the OVDP generally requires taxpayers (1) to provide certain required documents and tax forms, (2) pay tax and penalties, and (3) agree to cooperate with IRS and Department of Justice offshore enforcement efforts, if requested." A taxpayer must also be preliminary accepted into the program by filling out a preclearance document consisting of "(1) taxpayer identifying information, (2) identifying information for the financial institutions where the taxpayer had foreign financial accounts, and (3) identifying information for all entities, if any, used by the taxpayer to hold undisclosed foreign financial accounts or assets."

Though there is no clear-cut deadline in participation in the OVDP on the IRS's frequently asked questions, it does appear that a Voluntary Disclosure Letter should be postmarked no later than September 28, 2018. To send that letter the taxpayer must first be precleared, so if participating in the program is a necessity, the taxpayer should contact their tax advisor as soon as possible.

See Krista Hartwell, IRS Announces End to Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, AmericanBar.org, June 2018.

June 5, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Time to Rethink Foreign Trust Structure [South Africa]

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-06-04/b22ae5cb-97e0-4643-8426-2c4455566a65.pngForeign trusts have historically been the “automatic structure” chosen to hold funds sent offshore by South African residents that have to pay tax to the country. New legislation has passed that now creates a tax liability for certain loans paid to trusts. One way to avoid the tax liability is to be charged the official rate of interest (repurchase rate plus 100 basis points).

"The official rate of interest for a loan held in South African rand is currently 7.5%, but it has been foreshadowed in the 2017 Budget Review that it could be adjusted upwards to a more 'market-related' rate."

The costs of maintaining trusts has increased over time, and due to the increase in possible taxes or interest rate, trusts should not be used for small or minimal amounts.

See Amanda Visser, Time to Rethink Foreign Trust Structure, Moneyweb, May 29, 2018.

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

June 4, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, New Legislation, Travel, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Inheriting Property Overseas Can be a Dream Come True, but it Comes With Challenges

TuscanCarey Maxon received an email in 2015 that appeared to be a scam, but was in fact a reality - she had inherited a beautiful Tuscan estate from a friend she had not seen in over a decade. Like other Americans who inherit property overseas, she had to navigate a foreign legal system — in another language — and file a daunting amount of paperwork. Maxon wanted to properly respect and preserve her friend's legacy so her desire was to get professionals that were trustworthy and had an overwhelming understanding of the applicable law.

“Wherever the real estate is, the laws of that country govern,” said Leigh-Alexandra Basha, an expert in international estate and tax planning at McDermott Will & Emery. No matter where a bequest is based, if the property is worth more than $100,000, it must be reported to the IRS, Basha said. If the property is held by a corporation and is worth more than $16,000, it must be reported to the IRS.

See Sara Clemence, Inheriting Property Overseas Can be a Dream Come True, but it Comes With Challenges, Washington Post, May 29, 2018.

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

May 29, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Gift Tax, Travel, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

All You Need to Know About Spain's "Patrimonio" Wealth Tax

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-27/46dd059f-3230-4aee-9461-eb96a4467b5c.pngSpain has many of the usual taxes - sales tax, income tax, capital gains tax, etc. But the wealth tax takes many foreign residents by surprise. It is a national tax, but is set and regulated by Spain's different regional authorities. For non-residents that own property in Spain, only the Spanish property is taxes. Residents are taxes on their against their total assets, including real estates, business activities, savings, insurance policies, luxury personal property, royalties and interest in intellectual property. There are several allowances that can make this tax not quite a terrifying amount: pensions, normal household items, personally owned and run businesses and author’s rights are exempt, if relating to the individual’s main activity and source of income.

The wealth tax was reintroduced in 2011 during the financial crisis and was meant to only be temporary. Due to this uncommon tax, Spain has become less enticing to foreigners than other countries that provide more incentives and tax exemptions.

See Adam Neale, All You Need to Know About Spain's "Patrimonio" Wealth Tax, Olive Press, May 26, 2018.

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

May 27, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Post-Retirement Planning: A Checklist for Seniors

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-20/24c28768-1022-40da-9466-a1666b314f5b.pngPrior to exiting the workforce, sagacious seniors will seek the advice of their trusted advisors to ensure their carefully laid out retirement plan comes to fruition. But careful planning does not end at retirement. Prudent seniors should have a solid framework for their post-retirement plans as well. Such a plan includes creating and keeping a list of financial accounts, compiling a list of investments and digital assets, a durable and medical power of attorney, and keeping these documents in a safe location known to at least one trusted friend or family member.

See Post-Retirement Planning: A Checklist for Seniors, Elder Law: Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog, February 20, 2018.

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

March 20, 2018 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

4 Estate Litigation Predictions For 2018

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-02-27/15a70323-f48d-41fb-94d7-0f2a87e18071.pngThe start of a new year is a great time to look forward and predict upcoming trends in estate litigation for 2018. First, it is incredibly likely that the overall volume of estate litigation will increase. As our society ages and passes down more wealth than any other time in human history, the potential for lawsuits continues to grow. Second, the continual inclusion of arbitration clauses in wills and trusts will increasingly serve as the basis of litigation as executors and trustees invoke them to compel binding arbitration. Those opposing these clauses argue that they are void under the Uniform Trust Code, void against public policy, and should not have the power to bind beneficiaries who were never in a position to agree to the arbitration terms. Third, in terrorem, or no-contest clauses, will expand in both breadth and scope. Over the past decade, estate planning attorneys have included broader no-contest clauses in an effort to prevent contests involving beneficiary designations, claims against an executor or trustee for breach of fiduciary duty, and actions that retard the administration of an estate or trust. Finally, the mandatory and default rules under the Uniform Trust Code will be expounded as estate planning attorney’s attempts to limit certain fiduciary duties infringe upon state laws.

See Will Sleeth, 4 Estate Litigation Predictions For 2018, Financial Advisor, February 14, 2018.

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

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

February 27, 2018 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)