Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Recently, the Diet has amended a bill to remove the discriminatory provisions regarding the inheritance rights of children born out of wedlock. The amendment is removing the provision limiting an inheritance to an out of wedlock child to half of that of a marital child. The action followed the Supreme Court's Grand Bench that stated the article “runs counter to the Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law.”
See Yomiuri Shimbun Spouse's Rights Must Be Respected Despite Change on Inheritance Rights, Japan News, Dec. 9, 2013.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Filip Celadnik (Independent) recently published an article entitled, A Trust Fund as a Result of the Czech Attempt to Legally Transplant Trust: A Disappointment as a Child of an Expectation?, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal, Vol. 9, No. 33: Nov. 20, 2013. Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:
The new Civil Code will establish a special legal concept of trust-like structures – the trust fund – and a new related property law, the so called the separate patrimony, into the Czech private law. The Czech Legislator has taken the normative regulation of trust in the Quebec Civil Code as the model for the legal regulation of the trust fund which is itself doctrinally based on the English trust. The author of this paper, recognising the theory and practise of this institute, understands and appreciates the intentions of the legislator in legally transplanting the English trust doctrine into the Czech legal order. However, as will be elaborated on further in this paper, the results of the process are less than satisfactory. The author of this paper deals first with the doctrinal incompatibility of common law and civil law and with the dual aspect of ownership in the common law. This discourse is necessary for the subsequent criticism of the separate patrimony and the related legal regulation of the trust fund. To this effect, the author pursues an analysis of a hypothetical unlawful transfer of property in the trust fund to a third party as well as contemplates the protection afforded to the beneficiaries. Based on these deliberations, the author of this paper subsequently discusses the alternative manners of transposition of the English trust into the Czech law, with a particular focus on the Italian approach by ratifying The Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on their Recognition. The crucial are conclusions drawn in the final part of the paper where the author, among others, considers whether there is any sense in the Czech Republic implementing the Quebec concept of trust, whether the Czech legislator even dealt in detail with the practical application of the theoretical concept of the separate patrimony and whether the chosen method of transposing the trust is the most suitable one. Further, the author of this paper questions the constitutional-compliance of the trust fund, the extent to which the trust fund will be used in the Czech Republic and whether the Czech legislator should not rather opt for the Italian method whilst transposing the English trust.
Monday, December 2, 2013
Effective January 1, 2014, the new Israeli tax reform law will subject many previously tax-exempt trusts to significant income tax liability.
For years, Israel hasn’t taxed its residents on any distributions received from trusts created by a U.S. resident with a U.S. trustee unrelated to beneficiaries. Israelis receiving money from such trusts weren’t even required to report distributions.
Under the new law, any trust with foreign settlors and at least one Israeli resident beneficiary will now be taxed. In situations where the settlor is related to the beneficiary, known as a Relatives Trust, trustees must choose between the Deferred Tax Regime and the Alternative Regime.
See Julie D. Goldstein, Israel Changes Its Tax Law to Include the Taxation of Many U.S. Trusts, Mondaq, Nov. 16, 2013.
Friday, November 29, 2013
A study conducted by the U.N. revealed that just eight years after India amended the Hindu Succession Act that gives equal inheritance rights to agricultural land to sons and daughters, a dowry is still considered 'adequate' compensation for inheritance. Even though the law did not accomplish its goal, the study shows the positive impact similar laws have had. Andhra Pradesh, a state in India, has had a similar law for 20 years longer than Bihar and Madya Pradesh, and has experienced four times the rate of female inheritance. Additionally, the rate of female inheritance has increased substantially in Andhra Pradesh.
See Just One In 10 Women Inherits Land, The Hindu, Nov. 28, 2013.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Kai Lyu (The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) – Faculty of Law) recently published an article entitled, Clarifying the Trust Law in China: Characteristics and Conceptual Basis, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal, Vol. 9, No. 33: Nov. 20, 2013. Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:
As a civil law jurisdiction, China’s Trust Law was designed with three characteristics in the process of transplantation and localization of the common law trust. However, these characteristics give rise to theoretical confusions and practical obstacles. This unintended result is not caused by insufficient rules in the Trust Law but by a deficient conceptual basis which is needed to underpin the trust institution. This paper addresses this problem by testing the contract theory and the special patrimony theory and, after systemic analyses, concludes that the latter conceptualizes China’s Trust Law well.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
According to a recent client survey by investment firm The Henley Group, about 70% of those polled, who are predominately expatriates in Hong Kong, had not written a will.
Henley Group CEO Mark Rawson was not surprised. “People don’t think about these things until they are forced to think about them . . . [i]t is like tax returns – anything that is unpleasant we tend to put off.” One of the main triggers that motivates clients to write a will is starting a family. Another is seeing a friend that died without their affairs organized.
Hong Kong residents who die without a will have no control over what happens to assets and who will look after children. Dying intestate may also unnecessarily expose your estate to estate taxes. Although putting a valid will in place is a simple process, the taboo subject of mortality in Asia likely contributes to the great reluctance to deal with this important matter.
See Mary Kavanagh, Hongkongers Urged to Write Their Will as Survey Shows Most Do Not Have One, South China Morning Post, Nov. 19, 2013.
Jennifer Bailey stole £63,000 from her mother who was suffering from dementia. Bailey spent the funds on trips and shopping sprees leaving nothing to pay for Mabel Snow, 81, funeral. Over the past three years, Bailey stole funds that should have been paying for Snow’s medical care. Family members are confused by Bailey's actions claiming that she did not need the money because she enjoyed a high quality lifestyle.
See Natalie Chalk Daughter Stole Life Savings of Dementia Mum Leaving Nothing Left to Pay for Funeral, Express.co.UK , Nov. 21, 2013.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Tina Turner has given up her U.S. citizenship voluntarily to be with her long time German executive husband, Erwin Bach. It is unlikely that she made the decision based on taxes but the U.S. tax system probably didn't help. Turning in returns that claim foreign tax credits is not a synergetic process and can cause some tax mismatches. Moreover there are additional forms that have civil and criminal consequences for tax violations. Aditionally, the FATCA is continuing to mandate foreign banks divulge American accounts.
See Robert Wood, Tina Turner Gives Up U.S. Citizenship ---Big FATCA Wheel Keep on Turnin', Forbes, Nov. 13, 2013.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Bryan and Dusty Schoening’s home is an attraction in of itself with its eleven restored hearses, two front-yard cemeteries, coffin-shaped greenhouse, and coffin-shaped gazebo. The home is also the headquarters of Coffin It Up, Bryan’s custom coffin business. Besides making customized coffins starting at $1,000, Bryan also specializes in making coffin-shaped furniture, jewelry, purses, coolers, and anything else that can be made into a coffin.
Dusty says many clients order coffins for religious reasons or because they came here from another country. Bryan notes that America is the only place that really uses caskets, which are rectangular-shaped. Coffins, on the other hand, resemble a human being with six or eight sides.
Bryan and Dusty met at a Los Angeles protest over the use of circus elephants. One of their front-yard cemeteries is a pet cemetery with approximately 20 buried animals, including a headstone dedicated to Stoney, a Las Vegas performing elephant. The other cemetery honors the memories of the dead, including the ex-planet Pluto. No people are buried there, but fans and locals have donated headstones paying respect to their deceased loved ones.
Bryan and Dusty’s coffin-shaped gazebo isn’t just for decoration. They use it to perform weddings through their nondenominational church, the Church of the Coffin. Bryan became an ordained minister and now marries at least one couple a year. At first mistaken for a death cult, the Church of the Coffin serves to marry those of any faith.
So next time you pass through Pahrump, stop by and check out Coffinwood. Bryan and Dusty offer tours to anyone who calls or emails ahead of time. Even though they might be surrounded by the eerie and morbid, Dusty says it’s all about life for them. “Coffins are a reminder that that’s the end result. That’s where we are all going to end up, so you might as well appreciate everything you have right now.”
See Sandy Lopez, Pahrump Couple’s Coffinwood Part of Family Business, Review Journal, Nov. 13, 2013.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
In Australia, a Brisbane court held that a will contained in an iPhone drafted just before a suicide was legally valid. Despite the fact that the will was not witnessed, the intention was clear, the man wanted the will to be operative. The man typed the will in the notes application of the iPhone and named his brother as the executor. However, the man's brother could not follow the will's instructions because it did not meet the requirements of a valid will. Justice Lyons decided that due to the special factors in the decision the iPhone will was valid and probated.
See Rae Wilson Will Done on iPhone Before Owner Took His Life Ruled Valid, The Daily Examiner, Nov. 7, 2013.