Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, February 8, 2016

New Legislation Makes Charitable Deduction Laws Permanent

New legislationThere have been some charitable provisions that have been extended permanently in the recent Protecting Americans from Tax Hike Act of 2015. “An individual age 70½ or older can make direct charitable gifts from an individual retirement account, including required minimum distributions, of up to $100,000 each year to public charities (other than donor advised funds (DAFs) and supporting organizations) and not report the IRA distributions as taxable income on his federal income tax return.” This new legislation which has no expiration date has been in effect since January 1, 2015. This article also discusses how the new legislation will impact S Corporations that make charitable contributions. It also explains the requirements of eligibility for the enhanced deduction, and also touches on qualified conservation contributions. It would be a wise decision to meet with an estate planning professional to learn more about how these new changes will impact you.

See Conrad Teitell, Charitable Deduction Laws Now Permanent, Wealth Management, February 5, 2016.

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

February 8, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article On Small Trust Termination Statutes

ArticlePictureAlyssa A. DiRusso (Professor of Law, Cumberland School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Euthanizing Small Charities: The Threat of Small Trust Termination Statutes, 45 Cumberland L. Rev. 475 (2015). Provided below is an abstract of the article:

With the widespread adoption of the Uniform Trust Code, many American states are enacting statutes that grant a trustee full discretion to terminate a trust on the sole ground that it has too little money to justify administrative expenses. This Article argues that there are two key costs of terminating small charities: depleting democracy in philanthropy and shrinking diversity in charitable focus. To support these claims of harm to democracy and diversity in charity, the Article reviews empirical evidence mined from tax returns: first, on disparity between charitable goals of the well-funded trust and the less-so, and second, on diversity of focus in smaller versus larger charities. The analysis reveals that smaller charities do tend to have different substantive primary goals than larger charities and that smaller charities do demonstrate more variety in focus than larger charities. We therefore may threaten democratic and diverse charity when terminating small charitable trusts, and ought to be reluctant to put our smaller charities to sleep.

February 8, 2016 in Articles, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

What To Know About Choosing An Out Of State Executor

Business_expenseThis financial advice column discusses the pros and cons of choosing an out-of-state executor. Selecting a personal representative to serve as the executor of an estate is a very important decision. When selecting an out-of-state executor, it is important to make sure that they meet all the requirements in your state. This column discusses the requirements in the State of Indiana, and one of those requirements is that the out-of-state executor would have to post bond and appoint a “resident agent.” “The goal is to make sure that the out of state personal representative submits to the personal jurisdiction of the probate court.” Because the Court’s authority stops at the State line the resident agent would need to be available to accept service of process, notices and documents.

See Christopher Yugo, Pros and cons of an out-of-state executor, NWI Times, February 7, 2016.

February 7, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article On Contingent Beneficiaries

ArticlePictureKevin Bennardo (Professor of Law, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Slaying Contingent Beneficiaries, 24 U. Miami Bus. L. Rev. 31. Provided below is an abstract of the article:

This Article analyzes what impact, if any, the slaying of one beneficiary by another should have on distribution of a decedent’s property. This issue could arise in a variety of conveyances, such as intestate succession, wills, pay-on-death bank accounts, transfer-on-death securities, or life insurance proceeds. Based on equity, the Restatement (Third) of Restitution takes the position that a beneficiary may never move forward in the line of succession as the result of a slaying. This result is thought to be an extension of the traditional “slayer rule,” which disallows a slayer from inheriting from her victim.

The Article argues for the opposite conclusion: the slaying of a higher-priority beneficiary by a contingent beneficiary does not result in unjust enrichment because it does not result in a transfer of a property interest to the slayer. Although the slayer advances in the line of succession as a result of the slaying, the slayer still only possesses a defeasible expectancy, not a property interest. Because an expectancy is the legal equivalent of nothing, the slayer has not profited as a result of the killing.

February 7, 2016 in Articles, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Banks Are Now Helping Parents Plan For Their Children’s Retirement

Kids retirementThere are a growing number of banks helping parents with planning for their children’s retirement. A new “Roth IRA for kids” sends the message that it is never too early to start planning for retirement. “Fidelity is the latest on the list of major banks like Charles Schwab and Vanguard who offer retirement-savings products for kids under 18, reports Dan Kadlec at TIME.” These Roth IRAs for children are custodial accounts created by parents and where the children are the beneficiaries of investments that grow tax-free. As medical advancements cause average life-spans to increase people are going to need to start planning as soon as possible to make sure they have the savings needed to live a comfortable retirement. Perhaps creating a Roth IRA for children is not such a bad idea.

See Libby Kane, Forget college – Banks are offering parents ways to save for their kids’ retirement, Business Insider, February 6, 2016.

February 6, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Getting Ready For The First Estate Planning Meeting

Necessary estate planningPutting together an estate plan with an estate planning attorney is an important task that everyone needs to perform. This column discusses the important steps that people should follow when they are getting ready to have their first estate planning meeting. It is important to put together a list of assets and liabilities, and also decide how to distribute personal items that might have sentimental value. People should start thinking about who has the necessary skill and willingness to serve as the personal representatives of the estate. Creating trusts for children and grandchildren might be a better alternative than distributing assets directly to them, but it is important to make sure that the person who is tasked with serving as trustee is qualified for the position. It is also extremely important for people to decide who will be making medical and financial decisions for them if they lose capacity by creating the necessary power of attorney.

See Julia Satti Cosentino, 7 Ways You Can Prepare for Your First Estate Planning Meeting, Generation to Generation, January 28, 2016.

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

February 6, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

CLE On Advanced Planning And Probate In Texas For 2016

CLEThe State Bar of Texas is hosting a CLE entitled, Advanced Estate Planning and Probate 2016, which will take place on June 22-24, 2016 at the La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio. Provided below is a description of the event:

If you are a Real Estate Probate and Trust Law Section member, you can save up to $100! ($25 provided by REPTL) Not a member? You can join today!

Hot Topics:
Directed Trusts
Will Reformations and Will Constructions
Criminal Aspects of Guardianship
Bringing the Bling to Your Presentation
International Estate Planning
Pre-Trial Tricks, Traps, and Opportunities

Registrants of the advanced course will receive the following benefits:
Continental breakfast and lunch provided each day
Networking socials on Wednesday and Thursday evening
Complimentary self-parking at all sites
Complimentary wireless signal in the meeting room
Complimentary online registration for the Attorney Ad Litem Certification for Guardianship Proceedings

February 4, 2016 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Group Claims To Own Share Of Michael Jackson’s Estate

JacksonA group of business people are claiming to have an ownership interest in a portion of Michael Jackson’s estate. A co-executor of the Jackson estate testified that “he thought it was strange that the group claiming to own part of the Michael Jackson Co. did not come forward until three years after his death.” The group claims that in accordance with a 3:00 a.m. deal that they made with Michael Jackson in Tokyo on June 1, 2006, that they should be entitled to 15 percent of the company. The Jackson estate is asking the Court to name them the sole owner of the entity in dispute. “Jackson died on June 25, 2009, at age 50 of a drug overdose while in Los Angeles preparing for a series of comeback concerts in London.”

See Group says they own a percentage of Michael Jackson’s estate, KFI AM 640, February 2, 2016.

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

February 3, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Music, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Why Selling A Life Insurance Policy Might Be Better Than Giving It Up

Life insuranceThis article discusses how many people pass of the opportunity to sell an unused life insurance policy.  “Almost 88% of life insurance policies go unused or are surrendered. Jon Sabes, CEO of GWG Holdings (GWGH - Get Report) , said many consumers are simply not aware that they have the option of cashing their policies in.”  The secondary market that exists for life insurance policies is described in this article as being similar to reverse mortgages. Life insurance is a very important part of estate planning and people with life insurance policies that they know will go unused should think about how they want to get rid of the policies. People who have life insurance policies that they know will not be used should speak with their estate planner about the options that this article mentions.

See Gregg Greenberg, Sell Your Life Insurance Policy—Don’t Just Give It Up, The Street, February 2, 2016.

February 2, 2016 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Impact Aging Has On Financial Decision-Making

AgingAs people age their ability to manage financial decisions might decline. The likelihood and severity of that decline is different for each person and could depend on a large number of different variables. This article discusses the scientific research that has been done on the impact that the aging process has on people’s cognitive ability to make financial decisions. It is important to be able to anticipate any potential health problems that might come up in the future and carefully plan ahead. People need to think about the unpleasant possibility that they might one day face cognitive decline when putting together their own estate plan. It is also crucial to get the assistance of an estate planner who has experience with helping clients plan for the possibility of a future decline in cognitive abilities.

See Ted Beck, How Aging Affects Financial Decision-Making, Forbes, February 2, 2016.

February 2, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)