Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Mysterious American Plane Spotted in Iran


Iran recently had an unlikely visitor: a private plane with a small American flag on its tail parked at the Mehrabad Airport in Tehran.  In Iran, all but a few U.S. and European business activities are banned, so the aircraft likely would have needed prior approval from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. 

Everything else about the plane, and why it was it Iran appears to be a mystery.  What we do know is that the plane is held in trust by the Bank of Utah, a community bank in Ogden with 13 branches throughout the U.S.  The Bank of Utah acts as a trustee for 1,169 aircraft, more than just about any other bank.  An executive of the Bank of Utah said he was not allowed to disclose the identity of the plane’s investors.  “As fiduciary, we must keep information confidential when it comes to the beneficiary.” 

See Michael Corkery, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, and Thomas Erdbrink, Iran Gets an Unlikely Visitor, an American Plane, but No One Seems to Know Why, The New York Times, Apr. 17, 2014.

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

April 18, 2014 in Current Affairs, Travel, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 11, 2014

“Old” World Economies Charging Higher Inheritance Taxes


According to a new study by UHY International, “Old” world economies are charging higher estate and inheritance taxes than “New” world economies.

Governments in established European economies are becoming increasingly reliant on the income streams from inheritance taxes.  The study found that the UK and Ireland impose the highest inheritance tax of all major economies.  The inheritance tax threshold in the UK has been frozen at  £325,000 (US $544,862), which is actually below the average London house price of £409,881 (US $686,058).  From an estate worth $3 million, the UK takes 25.8% and Ireland takes 26%.

By contrast, the US provides a $5.34 million exemption that is adjusted annually for inflation.  And with the anti-tax movement continuing to gain ground, more US states are likely to increase their exemption or repeal their estate taxes.  Australia, India, Israel, New Zealand, and Russia have repealed their inheritance taxes in an effort to encourage more wealth creation and transmission.

See Isaac M. O’Bannon, The Worst Countries for Inheritance Taxes, CPA Practice Advisor, Apr. 7, 2014.

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

April 11, 2014 in Estate Tax, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 7, 2014



The American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education (ALI CLE) is presenting a CLE entitled, FATCA and Trusts: What You Need to Know and How to Prepare for the July 1 Deadline, on Thursday, April 17, 2014.  Here’s why you should attend:

There are few topics more confusing for those trying to implement Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) than the treatment of trusts and personal investment companies. 

Recent regulatory actions have changed the rules on the treatment of trusts under FATCA and how they must be treated for nonresident alien (NRA) withholding and reporting purposes. Expert faculty at this CLE seminar on FATCA will cover the relevant issues and provide practical advice on how to tame the confusion.

April 7, 2014 in Conferences & CLE, Travel, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Zealand High Court Reveals A Breach of Fiduciary Duty

GavelRecently, a New Zealand High Court found that the former city councilor of Auckland City did not perform his fiduciary duty. Former Auckland City Councilor, Greg Moyle, failed to keep the beneficiaries of a $1.4 million dollar estate updated and informed about his investments. The investments were made with farmer Murray Dean's money. Mr. Dean died ten years ago, but in his will named Mr. Moyle as his executor.

Under the will, Mr. Dean left his estate to his wife and children from his first marriage. The will instructed that the estate should generate income for his wife's lifetime and after her death be distributed evenly among his children. After Mr. Moyle failed to provide information about how the money was being invested, Mr. Dean's children filed suit.

Eventually, Mr. Moyle provided the information, but the court forced him to pay court costs. The fees he paid himself were more than $100,000 in seven years; he claims the fees were standard in managing the sizable estate. Additionally, the court revealed unauthorized payments. General manager for NZ Financial Planning, Craig Dealey, stated the company only learned of the court case a short time after Mr. Moyle resigned and did not agree with the way Mr. Moyle handled the situation.

See David Fisher, Conduct Over Will Criticised by Judge, NZ Herald, April 5, 2014.

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

April 7, 2014 in Current Events, New Cases, Professional Responsibility, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book on International Estate Planning: A Reference Guide

International Estate Planning Barbara Hauser recently published a book entitled, International Estate Planning: A Reference Guide, (August 2013).  Provided below is a description of the book found on the Juris Publishing, Inc. Web Store:

International Estate Planning is a practical and authoritative guide to a tremendously complex field. It provides indispensable information to lawyers, accountants, and other practitioners who work on estate planning with clients who have issues involving other countries. The book is divided into two main parts: Part One addresses the tax issues; Part Two addresses the non-tax issues. The focus of the book is on estate planning to avoid wealth transfer taxes with references to income taxes.

Topics include clients who may:
• Own homes outside the U.S.
• Have children or parents who live in other countries
• Have a spouse who is not a citizen
• Work for a multinational corporation in an office abroad
• Be “foreigners” who have investments in the United States


March 27, 2014 in Books, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Article on Estate Planning for Mexican Immigrants


Reid Hudgins (2014 J.D. Candidate, Texas Tech University School of Law) recently published an article entitled, A New Immigration Demographic: Considerations for the Texas Attorney, 6 Est. Plan. & Cmty. Prop. L.J. 105 (Fall 2013).  Provided below is the introduction to the article:

The border separating the United States and Mexico “is the most frequently crossed . . . border in the world.”  In fact, approximately 350 million people legally cross this international border each year.  Historically, many of the Mexican immigrants who made their way into the United States were relatively undereducated and entered low-skilled jobs.  Recently, however, immigration of wealthy Mexicans into the United States and Texas has greatly increased, as they attempt to escape drug cartel violence.  This new pattern of immigration not only represents a significant shift from one social demographic of Mexican immigrants to another, but it also results in an entirely new set of side effects and consequences for both Mexico and Texas, different than those historically and traditionally felt by these jurisdictions.  This article focuses on the effect that this new immigration pattern will have on estate planning attorneys in Texas, as well as the consequences that accompany it.

March 10, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Will Belgium Attract Death Tourism?


As I have previously discussed, Belgium became the first country to lift all age restrictions on euthanasia.  Terminally ill children in Belgium can now request euthanasia if they are near death and suffering from “constant and unbearable physical” pain with no available treatment. 

There is now speculation that Belgium may become a new destination for “death tourism.”  Opponents of the law argue Belgium has opened its doors to death-seeking visitors, much like Switzerland.  Belgian legislators counter that the long and complicated process of requesting euthanasia will not permit such tourism.

 See Cecilia Rodriguez, Will Belgium’s Legalized Child Euthanasia Trigger Death Tourism?, Forbes, March 6, 2014.

March 10, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Inheritance Tax in the United Kingdom

InheritancetaxInheritance tax is a growing concern to people in their 60’s and 70’s. The inheritance tax threshold in the United Kingdom has been set at £325,000; anything over that amount is taxed at 40%. Government information indicates the average property price in London is over £430,000. This figure is well above the £325,000 threshold, which will be in place until 2018. During the same time, property values in the area are supposed to rise by 25%. Research from Close Brothers, a financial services group, shows that only 50% of respondents with assets above the tax threshold even knew about it. One option for some homeowners to reduce the expected inheritance tax is to take out life insurance held in trust. 

See Rachel Constantine, Younger Adults Turning Their Attention To Inheritance Tax, QCK.com, Feb. 19, 2014.

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

March 10, 2014 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Retiring Abroad with Good Health Care


While many older Americans may dream of retiring abroad, a key factor to consider in making such a decision is healthcare. International health insurance offering the best coverage can be expensive, while affordable alternatives may not provide the peace of mind most would want. Moreover, it is also important to consider the feasibility of a particular destination given one's state of health. Those who are likely to need more frequent care may need to consider countries with better care over countries with warmer sands.

See Tim Gray, The Dream of Moving Abroad in Later Life, With Good Health Care, The New York Times, Feb. 21, 2014.

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

February 28, 2014 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book on International Estate Planning, Second Edition

International.estateLeigh- Alexandra Basha recently edited a book entitled, A Guide to International Estate Planning, Second Edition. (January 2014).  Provided below is a description of the book the American Bar Association:

With the explosive growth in international investments, more and more lawyers and financial advisors realize the acute need to properly address critical issues of international estate planning for their clients. Whether you are counseling a foreign national or an American citizen, whether your practice is in the U.S. or abroad, whether you want to develop a general expertise in the area or are confronted by these issues on a more frequent basis, A Guide to International Estate Planning is a necessary and practical resource to help you identify and navigate many of the complex planning and regulatory compliance issues, both legal and tax, involved in international estate planning.

In addition to providing a complete overview of the basic principles and procedures of international asset management from addressing the conflict of laws issues that are central in determining which countrys laws will govern the disposition of a donor or decedents wealth to the basic transfer tax rules for nonresident aliens, U.S. citizens, and resident aliens, this resource teaches you proven strategies, techniques, and practical applications you can use to effectively meet your clients international estate planning needs. The book's 22 chapters are written by trust and estate lawyers with significant experience in international issues. Their advice goes beyond simply highlighting basic issues in estate planning as they also focus on key issues as compliance, treaty, choice of law, and estate administration problems. This updated edition now includes chapters on FATF and anti-money laundering and offshore compliance, as well as chapters from several foreign jurisdictions to provide comparative insights on different topics.

    • Part I: Overview
    • Part II: Wills, probate, and administration
    • Part III: Marital and family rights
    • Part IV: Special tax considerations
    • Part V: U.S. tax treaties
    • Part VI: Trusts and alter/native vehicles for the international and offshore client
    • Part VII: Considerations pertaining to particular foreign jurisdictions
  •    Part VIII: Consderations of ethics, transparency, and asset protection in a global world

February 13, 2014 in Books, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)