Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, July 3, 2015

Top Concerns Of Ultra-High Net Worth Families

Estate planningThe “U.S. Trust 2015 Insights on Wealth and Worth” survey has gained insight on some of the top concerns of ultra-high net worth (UHNW) families.  These concerns range from personal physical and emotional health, to also having a desire to give back to society through charitable giving.  One of the main things that UHNW families worry about is whether their children will manage the inheritance left to them in a responsible manner.  There are financial techniques like setting up trusts that UHNW families can use to help provide guidance to future beneficiaries. 

See Maureen Nevin Duffy, Kids A Top Worry Of Rich Families, Survey Says, Private Wealth, June 23, 2015.

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

July 3, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Portion Of Millionaires Have No Estate Plan

SavingsMore than a third of millionaires have not consulted with a financial planner to set up an estate plan.  Procrastination is a problem that has an effect on people in all income groups.  Recent changes in tax policies have created a sense of “estate planning fatigue” with some wealthy families.  Not having an estate plan can result in “complete chaos” as loved ones who are left behind fight over the estate.  It is a good idea for wealthy individuals to consult with a professional estate planner so that they can be prepared for the future.

See Alex Padalka, One-Third of Millionaires Have No Estate Plan, Financial Advisor IQ, July 2, 2015.

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

July 3, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Issues Final Regulations On The Portability Of Unused Exclusion Amounts

IrsPortability lets a surviving spouse carry over any portion of the deceased spouse’s unused exclusion (DSUE) to shield more assets from estate taxes.  It is a new provision that has been confusing lawyers, CPA’s, and their clients since it was brought into existence on Jan. 1, 2011. There are some people who miss out on these benefits by failing to elect for portability, some critics have called for a more simplified process.  The new rules will permit some people to elect for these exclusions even if they are past the 15-month extended estate tax filing period so long as their estate falls below the exclusion amount ($5.43 million in 2015). The IRS is adopting a stricter approach for larger estates by only granting a portability election if they file at the time of the first spouse’s death. 

See Ashlea Ebeling, IRS To Allow Do-Overs For Some Estates, Forbes, July 2, 2015.

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

July 3, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE On Advanced Texas Estate Planning & Probate

CLE PictureThe Texas Bar Association is presenting a CLE entitled, Advanced Estate Planning and Probate 2015,  July 29-31, 2015, at the San Antonio Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa for a video presentation.  Here is why you should attend:


  • Dealing with Water, Wind, and Mineral Interests in Estate Administration.
  • Setting up Your Estate Planning Practice so You Can Retire with Ease.
  • Extent and Limits of Spendthrift Protection - Creditor sand Divorce.
  • Micro-Captives: The Insurance Company You Keep.
  • Use and Abuse of Show Cause Motions.

Course Amenities

  • Breakfast and lunch provided each day.
  • 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.

July 3, 2015 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

CLE On National Firearms Act (NFA) Trusts

CLEThe Texas Bar Association is presenting a CLE entitled, National Firearms Act (NFA) Trusts, Wednesday, July 8, 2015, 1:00-2:00 pm Central, online.  Here is why you should attend:

Topics to Include:

  • Professional considerations: business, ethics, and avoiding malpractice
  • State and federal law governing NFA trusts
  • Advantages of NFA trusts over individual ownership
  • Steps in acquiring NFA firearms
  • Risks of using trusts to own NFA firearms
  • Losing Form 4: Problems with the NFA Registry
  • Drafting NFA trusts
  • Alternatives to NFA trusts (individual ownership, business entitles)
  • Privacy considerations

Mr. Sean Patrick Healy, Tyler
Healy Law Offices, PC

Dave Matheny, Austin
Silencer Shop



July 2, 2015 in Conferences & CLE, Trusts, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

CLE On Same-Sex Marriage and Estate Planning

CLEThe American Bar Association is presenting a CLE entitled, Same-Sex Marriage and Estate Planning: Nope, It’s Not Over Yet!, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 12:00-1:30pm Central, online.  Here is why you should attend:

On June 26th, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the right of same-sex couples to marry is constitutionally protected and thus available on a nationwide basis.

While the ruling provides some clarity, it also raises new questions. It brings new state property rights and responsibilities to couples who may have been married for years. The ruling will be applied retroactively which may result in the reclassification of property that was thought to be separately owned into marital property, including community property and tenancy by the entirety property.

The panelists will discuss the new world of estate planning for same-sex married couples, including how to evaluate current estate plans, changes that may be appropriate, and pitfalls to watch for.

June 30, 2015 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Has Released Proposed ABLE Account Regulations

ABLE1The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released proposed regulations that will serve the purpose of implementing a new law that authorizes states to offer ABLE accounts.  Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts are designed to help people with disabilities and their family save money while reducing or eliminating the tax burden.  This column explains some of the features of ABLE accounts and how they can be a benefit to people who are disabled.  The IRS regulations can be read here.  

See Lewis J. Saret, Guidance Under Section 529A: Qualified ABLE Programs, Wealth Strategies Journal, June 26, 2015.

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

June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2015

6 Tips Family Trustees Should Follow

CalculationPeople should think twice before getting involved with serving as a trustee for friends or family.  The role of trustee can be a thankless position that carries with it many fiduciary responsibilities and risk of personal liability.  If a person is thinking about being a family trustee they should understand these six tips:

    1. Consider seeking professional help with trust management. If a trustee lacks the expertise needed to perform certain trust functions they may be able to use trust assets to pay for professional assistance.
    2. Impartiality is a must.  A trustee has a fiduciary responsibility to put the welfare of the beneficiaries first and to be impartial. 
    3. Be careful about investing. A trustee must be reasonably prudent when investing and has a legal obligation to invest in a diversified portfolio.  There may be an exception when family wealth is concentrated in a particular piece of property.
    4. Personal liability is a risk.  A trustee could be at risk of being sued, they should use caution and document all decisions.
    5. The experience will probably not be pleasant.  The role of trustee can be a stressful thankless responsibility that involves a lot of work. 
    6. Make sure there is a way out. If the pressures of being trustee become too much to bear there should be a mechanism in place for resigning. 

See Deborah L. Jacobs, 6 Tips for Family Trustees, Morningstar, June 28, 2015. 

June 29, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Use A Credit Shelter Trust To Avoid Illinois Estate Tax

Trust AltNot every state has an estate tax, but for those that do, it is a major issue that must be worked around by any estate planner. In Illinois, a credit shelter trust might be a great choice the get around the $4 million tax threshold for married couples with children. The trust will allow ownership to be shifted in order to avoid any one spouse dying with more than $4 million in assets and avoid the tax altogether when the estate passes to any children. While this trust wont apply to every estate, for the right one it could avoid hundreds of thousands in Illinois estate tax and allow a more robust legacy to the next generation.

See Ian Holzhauer, Minimize Illinois Estate Tax with a Credit Shelter TrustTailored Estate Planning, June 26, 2015.


June 29, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Article On Using Lessons from Labor Supply Theory to Design Incentive Trusts

Article PictureJohn Michael Grant  (Marval, O'Farrell & Mairal), recently published an article entitled, Complications in Putting Unborn Spoiled Brats to Work: Using Lessons from Labor Supply Theory to Design Incentive Trusts, (June 12, 2015). Provided below is an abstract of the article:

Labor Supply Theory has never been applied to estate planning, despite its relevance to the design of incentive trusts. I first discuss common incentive trust structures and goals, and possible alternative provisions designed to encourage a beneficiary to engage in productive work. Next, I give a brief presentation of labor supply theory and indifference curve modeling. I then apply the models to alternative incentive trust structures and will offer arguments for the adoption of a minimum salary structure with wage enhancements. I conclude by offering reasons to doubt certain underlying assumptions and to hesitate before advising clients to adopt the recommended structure.

June 28, 2015 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)