Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, May 21, 2018

How the Non-Wealthy Can Organize Their "Big Book"

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-21/9e7a33bd-f564-4a71-a87d-9922db4215d3.pngIn many aspects, the very wealthy may have an easier path. Their portfolios, investments, and other important documents are handled by others in a family office. But for the average American, the method for organizing everything they need to pass on their assets appropriately may be up to debate. Many people may have an actual binder or "book" that comprises lists of their material belongings, bank accounts, and other vital information in to one efficient location.

Jamie Cox of Richmond-based Harris Financial Group concludes that, "Making sure you are organized is the most fundamental principle of financial planning.”

What should go in to the "big book?" It's more than wills, funeral arrangements, and power of attorneys. Passwords for email accounts, insurance policies, auto loan agreements, and much more should be included to make the transfer of your estate as smooth as possible.

Cox also suggests that using an online vault such as the Emoney software, which is owned by Fidelity Investments. "[A]ll the information is consolidated, the account numbers and holdings are up to date. If you change accounts or advisers or banks, you just reconnect to the new institution and all the information flows in. You have history.”

See Thomas Heath, Let's Talk About the Big Book: Everything Your Family Need to Know When You Die, Washington Post, May 18, 2018.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 21, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 18, 2018

What the Inheritance Means For Step-Families [New Jersey]

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-19/8e3583ad-e51b-4864-a35f-4c6217c56f20.pngIn New Jersey, there is legislation presented that could make step-grandchildren Class A beneficiaries rather than Class D. Because of their current classification, step-grandchildren are taxed on their inheritance, determinant on the amount. If the transfer is less than $700,000, the rate is 15%, while anything over is taxed at 16%.

If you were to pass away before your spouse, leaving your assets to your spouse in a trust, and then to your stepchildren as remainder upon your spouse's passing, then they would be subject to a "compromise" tax. This tax would be calculated based on your spouse's "age, her state of health, her financial needs, the terms of the trust, etc," according to Catherine Romania, an estate planning attorney with Witman Stadtmauer in Florham Park.

See Karen Price Mueller, What the Inheritance Means For Step-Families, NJ.com, May 17, 2018.

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

May 18, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Inheritors Not Prepared To Inherit, FIS Says

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-18/c0ec8bed-e554-4128-ba27-0821ee008c6c.pngAccording to FIS, a financial technology firm, thirty trillion dollars will pass from the older generation to the younger within the next decade. However, only 10% of the over 1,700 Americans surveyed believed that they would be receiving an inheritance in the near future. This statistic suggests than many consumers are uninformed on how wealth transfers - even smaller ones - work.

A large number of those surveyed do not comprehend the importance of professional financial advice. "Nearly half (48 percent) of Gen Xers would first turn to a friend or family member for inheritance advice and one-third of baby boomers would try to handle it themselves, the report said."

Brian DuVal, head of wealth and retirement for FIS, said, “The challenge [for advisors] is to do a better job of educating their customers on wealth and retirement topics."

See Karen Demasters, Inheritors Not Prepared To Inherit, FIS Says, Financial Advisor, May 16, 2018.

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

May 18, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ten Planning Lessons From Barbara Bush

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-18/019c0ec4-fe12-4c4a-af02-3856fe5fb170.pngMatriarch Barbara Bush left this life the same way that she lived, with dignity and class. Her end-of-life planning was ample enough to provide clear instructions to direct those around her. Here are 10 takeaways for clients based on what we know about vigilant end-of-life plans:

  • Understand Probate
    • Probate can be timely, expensive, and anything that occurs in probate is public knowledge.   
  • Plan for Contingencies
    • Always have a backup plan in estate documents, such as for when a trustee passes away before the estate author.
  • Sentimental Value is Real
    • Some personal items may mean more to a family member than their monetary value suggests.
  • Define Palliative Care
    • This type of medical assistance is specified for those with serious illness and focuses on comfort.
  • Leave an Account Roadmap
    • Attempt to consolidate unused accounts and list all of them in your estate plan.
  • Remember Taxes
    • Though the federal estate tax exemption has been doubled, soon many states may possess a much lower exemption.
  • Beneficiary Planning
    • Verify that every type of planning tool - 401k, IRA, insurance policy - has a documented and valid beneficiary.
  • Revisit the Plan
    • Life happens, and when it does, confirm that your estate documents are still in line with your wishes.
  • Respect the Experts
    • Sometimes the "fill-in-the-blank" wills can lead the best planner astray. Do not discount an expert's advice.
  • Everyone Can Plan
    • You do not have to be rich to need a comprehensive estate plan nor to establish your legacy how you see fit.

See Caroline Feeney, Ten Planning Lessons From Barbara Bush, Wealth Management, May 17, 2018.

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

May 18, 2018 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE on Estate Administration Procedures: Why Each Step is Important

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-18/83c53e29-8440-49f1-8f25-964c0cfcfd2e.pngThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Administration Procedures: Why Each Step is Important, on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at the Richmond Marriott in Richmond, Virginia. A description of the event is provided below:

Program Description

Properly Administer Your Client's Estate

Do you have a solid understanding of proper procedures surrounding estate administration? Do you feel confident that you can overcome the wide array of challenges you may face while working with each estate's unique requirements? Join us and gain a comprehensive understanding of the estate planning process so you can easily organize and manage your responsibilities. Register today!

  • Weigh the pros and cons of informal administration and learn how it can be advantageously used.
  • Make the entire process as efficient as possible when working with the personal representative.
  • Determine the survivors' immediate needs - and ensure they're met.
  • Know your options: take a look at alternative methods to closing the estate.
  • Competently file federal and state estate tax returns and know exactly what is required.
  • Learn how to handle the most common issues in probate litigation.

Who Should Attend

This basic level seminar will provide fundamental estate administration topics for:

  • Attorneys
  • Accountants
  • Paralegals
  • Trust Officers
  • Estate Planners
  • Tax Professionals
  • Financial Planners

Course Content

  1. Foundations of Estate Administration Defined
  2. Preparing to Begin the Administration Process
  3. Considerations for Collecting the Assets, Preparing the Inventory and Handling Claims Against the Estate
  4. Being Thorough to Close the Estate Without a Hitch
  5. Understanding Tax Procedures to Avoid Problems Later
  6. Ethical Challenges in Estate Administration
  7. Common Issues To Be Prepared for in Litigation and Probate

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 7.00 *

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 8.00

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.70

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 8.00 *

Professional Achievement in Continuing Education – PACE: 8.00

* denotes specialty credits

May 18, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

CLE on Top Estate Planning Techniques

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-16/4c913a31-ccc4-4b08-a2c9-058975428840.pngThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Top Estate Planning Techniques, which will take place on Monday, June 11, 2018 at the Holiday Inn Princeton in Princeton, New Jersey. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Focus Your Efforts on Techniques That Work

This engaging course will take you through the basics of estate planning and beyond with old and new techniques that our attendees have voted to be the most effective in their practice. Find out what makes these estate planning tools "superstars" and gain practical tips for maximizing their uses. Enroll today!

  • A simple will remains one of the most effective tools in estate planning - learn how to phrase it to maximize its effectiveness.
  • Gain practical tips for drafting legally defensible transaction agreements to make sure the gifts are properly documented.
  • Help your client transfer a business to beneficiaries without diminishing its value or surrendering too much control.
  • Protect yourself with thorough knowledge of laws and regulations governing the actions of fiduciaries.
  • Learn why it's important to know when to file the tax return for grantor trusts.
  • Determine whether a client qualifies as a beneficiary of a special needs trust and gain tips for drafting one.
  • Don't reinvent the wheel - modify our sample trust documents to create airtight qualified personal residence trusts.
  • Maximize your asset protection: learn how to make sure all your clients' assets are accounted for in the trust documents.
  • Create clear final instructions and last wishes to lift the burden of funeral planning from heirs.
  • Use spendthrift language in ILITs to limit the ability of beneficiaries to assign interest and creditors to make demands on the trustees to pay the debts of beneficiaries.

Who Should Attend

This basic level seminar offers an overview of the best practices in estate planning and will benefit:

  • Attorneys
  • Paralegals
  • Financial planners
  • Accountants and CPAs
  • Tax Professionals
  • Trust officers

Course Content

  1. Wills
  2. Annual Exclusion Gifting
  3. Tax and Estate Planning for Pension and IRA Assets
  4. Grantor Trusts
  5. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
  6. Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
  7. Business Entities
  8. Special Needs Trusts
  9. Top Post-Mortem Planning Techniques

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education

Credit Hrs State
CLE 8.00 -  NJ
CLE 8.00 -  NY*
CLE 6.50 -  PA

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 8.00

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.70

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 8.00 *

Professional Achievement in Continuing Education – PACE: 8.00

* denotes specialty credits

May 16, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Exploring the Boundaries of Succession Law

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-16/5470d564-e39a-47b2-b876-9f22976e748b.pngAlexandra Braun recently published an Article entitled, Exploring the Boundaries of Succession Law, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

It is generally assumed that succession law is a distinct area of private law with its own rationale, and that it is possible to define with certainty what falls within its domain. This chapter seeks to question the latter of these assumptions and argues that the scope of this province of the law is not self-evident, especially in light of the proliferation of mechanisms that produce effects both during lifetime and on death, such as, for instance, life insurance, pension and retirement schemes, various forms of bank accounts or joint tenancies, trusts, foundations, clauses in partnership agreements etc.

The aim of this contribution is to explore arrangements that are neither wholly inter vivos nor wholly testamentary, and to consider some of the problems that arise when grappling with the question of whether conventional succession laws should apply. It will argue that difficulties of classification date back to Roman times, and that the question as to the scope of succession law continues to be an important one that warrants a systematic debate not only for reasons of doctrinal coherence, but also because of the practical implications.

May 16, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

CLE on Estate Planning: Top 7 Tools to Know

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-15/59352528-c961-4778-8949-2d8f5a709df4.pngThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Planning: Top 7 Tools to Know, which will take place on Monday, August 27, 2018 at the Embassy Suites Syracuse in East Syracuse, New York. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Strategically Use the Top Estate Planning Tools

The estate planning process is often charged with emotion and filled with legal confusion for clients. Attorneys not only need in-depth familiarity with the top estate planning tools, but also need to know how to strategically use them to their best effect if they want to build their reputations as go-to practitioners. In this comprehensive overview of top estate planning tools, our experienced faculty will go over how to strategically use wills, trusts, advanced directives and more. No matter if you are new to the estate planning arena or are an experienced practitioner in need of a refresher, you are sure to take away valuable techniques you can use to provide maximum benefit to your clients - register today!

  • Create wills that prevent future conflict and confusion.
  • Ensure you are using the right trust structure when setting up revocable living trusts.
  • Structure intentionally defective grantor trusts to avoid critical problems.
  • Make sense of IRS rules regarding retirement benefit planning.
  • Take advantage of portability, step-up basis and other essential tax minimization tactics.
  • Preserve access to public benefits when creating special needs trusts.
  • Make sure healthcare wishes are clearly stated in advance medical directives.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level seminar offers an overview of the best practices in estate planning and will benefit:

  • Attorneys
  • Financial Planners
  • Accountants and CPAs
  • Trust Officers
  • Paralegals

Course Content

  1. Will Strategies to Prevent Conflict and Confusion
  2. Revocable Living Trust Tactics
  3. Grantor Trust Structuring Tips: Tax Savings and Problem Avoidance
  4. Retirement Benefit Planning Techniques
  5. Tax Minimization Tactics: Portability, Step-Up Basis and More
  6. Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) and ABLE Account Strategies
  7. Advance Directive Tips: Making Healthcare Wishes Explicit
  8. Ethical Considerations

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education

Credit Hrs State
CLE 6.50 -  CT*
CLE 8.00 -  NJ*
CLE 8.00 -  NY*
CLE 6.50 -  PA*

Continuing Professional Education for Accountants – CPE for Accountants: 8.00

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 8.00

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.70

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 8.00 *

Professional Achievement in Continuing Education – PACE: 8.00

* denotes specialty credits

May 15, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 14, 2018

What You Don’t Know About Estate Planning Will Cost You

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-14/ee954a16-cf70-48f6-ba09-3122adc2cb5a.pngMinimizing estate taxes on the next generation's inheritance is not the only factor of estate planning that a parent or grandparent should consider. If the person planning their will has extensive assets to account for, there are practices to keep in mind.

Giving to Charity

Though there are tax deductions when a person gives to charity, the intangible benefits far outweigh them. When one donates a piece of their wealth to a charitable organization, they teach the next generation the importance of helping others less fortunate.

Giving to Loves Ones and Family

There is more to money than the idea of having money. Pressing upon children the noble effects of wealth other than "keeping up with the Joneses" is vital when laying out an estate plan. Equality is not always equal, and treating children different based upon their individual circumstances is completely appropriate.

Protecting Your Assets

Be honest with your estate and financial planners. If you believe one of your beneficiaries might not be a good steward of their own money, there is a high probability that they will not be responsible with their inheritance. Trusts and extra wording in a will may incentivize the rebellious child to mature.

See Ted Snow, What You Don’t Know About Estate Planning Will Cost You, Nightly Business Report, April 25, 2018.

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

May 14, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

How Should a Mother Provide for Her Children in Her Will?

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-13/6ff2489f-9846-4d4d-9afd-88a57c97c165.png46% of women older than 75 in America live alone, often times due to the death of their spouse. When the task of constructing a will is partnered with the worries of maternal love, things may become troublesome.

Mother will always worry about their children no matter how old they get. Their adult children could bring even more unintentional worries to an elderly mother. Many widows are concerned with equality between their children and making sure that each child gets an equal inheritance. However, obstacles could arise that could cause equal shares to not truly be equal. What if one child is financially stable and the other is fresh out of college, or one has no children and the other a special-needs child?

Mothers want to be fair to all of their offspring. Communicating to their beneficiaries that "fair" does not always correspond to "equal" could make the process easier for the whole family.

See Sandra Butler, How Should a Mother Provide for Her Children in Her Will?, Market Watch, May 11, 2018.

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

May 13, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)