Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, September 24, 2018

CLE on New Tax Basis Reporting Requirements in Estate Administration

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a teleconference entitled, New Tax Basis Reporting Requirements in Estate Administration, on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 pm. Central. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Are You Following the New Tax Rules?

The way tax basis of assets is reported during estate administration has changed. Are you confident in your knowledge of the basis consistency rules to ensure every estate is administered correctly? Clarify the new rules and get practical tax-saving tips from experienced faculty - register today!

  • Compare the new basis consistency rules and the old law.
  • Adopt your tax planning and reporting practices to reflect the new requirements.
  • Determine what asset valuation method to use for basis reporting purposes.

Who Should Attend

This tax law update is designed for attorneys. It will also benefit accountants and CPAs, estate planners, trust officers, and paralegals.

Course Content

  • New Basis Consistency Rules vs. the Old Law
  • What Executors/Personal Representatives Need to Know NOW
  • New Information That Must be Included
  • Valuation of the Assets for Basis Reporting Purposes
  • Reporting to Beneficiaries

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education

Credit Hrs State
CLE 1.50 -  AK
CLE 1.50 -  AL
CLE 1.50 -  AR
CLE 1.50 -  AZ
CLE 1.50 -  CA*
CLE 1.50 -  CO
CLE 1.50 -  CT
CLE 1.50 -  DE
CLE 2.00 -  FL*
CLE 1.50 -  GA
CLE 1.50 -  HI
CLE 1.50 -  IA
CLE 1.50 -  ID
CLE 1.50 -  IL
CLE 1.50 -  IN
CLE 1.50 -  KS
CLE 1.50 -  KY
CLE 1.50 -  LA
CLE 1.50 -  ME
CLE 1.50 -  MN
CLE 1.80 -  MO
CLE 1.50 -  MP
CLE 1.50 -  MS
CLE 1.50 -  MT
CLE 1.50 -  NC
CLE 1.50 -  ND
CLE 1.50 -  NE
CLE 1.50 -  NH
CLE 1.80 -  NJ
CLE 1.50 -  NM
CLE 1.50 -  NV
CLE 1.50 -  NY*
CLE 1.50 -  OH
CLE 2.00 -  OK
CLE 1.50 -  OR
CLE 1.50 -  PA
CLE 1.50 -  RI
CLE 1.50 -  SC
CLE 1.50 -  TN
CLE 1.50 -  TX
CLE 1.50 -  UT
CLE 1.50 -  VA
CLE 1.50 -  VT
CLE 1.50 -  WA
CLE 1.50 -  WI
CLE 1.80 -  WV
CLE 1.50 -  WY

Continuing Professional Education for Accountants

Credit Hrs State
CPE for Accountants 1.50 -  AZ
CPE for Accountants 1.50 -  NY
CPE for Accountants 1.50 -  WA
CPE for Accountants 1.50 -  WI

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 1.50

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 1.50 *

* denotes specialty credits

September 24, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

CLE on Estate Planning for Farmers and Ranchers

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Planning for Farmers and Ranchers, on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, at the Hilton Garden Inn North Little Rock in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

How to Protect Farm Assets and Transfer Them to Heirs

Estate planning for farms and ranches requires specialized knowledge and tools to ensure the best client representation. This legal course will give you the knowledge to preserve the farms and other assets your clients have worked their entire lives to acquire and build. Explore the challenges and opportunities unique to estate planning for farmers to help make good sense of difficult legal and financial policies. Learn what you need to know about estate taxes, wills, trusts, government programs, and other key elements. Help your clients take care of their estate planning needs and their family's future - register today!

  • Take full advantage of government farm programs and valuation discounts.
  • Explore the deciding factors in choosing the right business entity when planning ownership transfer.
  • Analyze the liquidity of farm assets and augment each plan accordingly.
  • Employ all available tools for transferring assets and preserving wealth.
  • Tackle harvest yield predictions and other unique factors of farm asset valuation.
  • Recognize when giving away the farm is the wisest financial decision and how to do it properly.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level seminar is designed for:

  • Attorneys
  • Estate and Financial Planners
  • Accountants and CPAs
  • Tax Preparers
  • Trust Officers
  • Paralegals

Course Content

  1. Business Structure Choice and Conversion - Including Sample Documents
  2. Income and Gift Tax Planning
  3. Medicaid (Long-Term) Planning for Farmers and Ranchers
  4. Planning for a Full or Partial Outright Sale or Gift
  5. Agricultural Use Valuation
  6. Planning for a Gradual Transfer Within the Family
  7. Transfers Upon Death: Key Estate Administration Concerns

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 6.00

Financial Planners – Financial Planners: 7.00

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 7.00 *

* denotes specialty credits

September 22, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Burt Reynolds Left His Only Son Out of His Will and Created a Trust for Him Instead

BurtquinnBurt Reynolds included a statement in his will stating that his son, Quinn, will not be receiving anything from his will. It read that, when it came to his son, “I intentionally omit him from this, my Last Will and Testament, as I have provided for him during my lifetime in my Declaration of Trust.”

Reynolds died earlier this month at age 82. Quinton, born in 1988, was the adopted son of Reynolds and his ex-wife Loni Anderson. At the time of his death, Reynolds was reportedly worth $5 million.

The will, which was signed in 2011, appoints Reynolds’ niece Nancy Lee Brown Hess as the personal representative of Reynolds’ estate. Hess said in a statement, “My uncle was not just a movie icon; he was a generous, passionate and sensitive man who was dedicated to his family, friends, fans and acting students.” She said that his death was highly unexpected, and that Reynolds "was looking forward to working with Quentin Tarantino (in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and the amazing cast that was assembled.”

See Emily Zauzmer, Burt Reynolds Left His Only Son Out of His Will and Created a Trust for Him Instead, People, September 18, 2018.

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

September 21, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Television, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

No-Contest Clause Upheld by the Wyoming Supreme Court With No Probable Cause Exception

WritingwillA no-contest clause essentially makes all gifts under the will or trust conditional upon not challenging the document, and the practice of including one is becoming increasingly popular in American society. Blended families may have a higher chance of disagreements and squabbles over inheritances, as beneficiaries may have varying levels of gifts.

Trust and estate litigation is frequently driven by emotion, and often times the beneficiary’s complaints are not rational, thus corresponding litigation can severely tap into the estate's assets and funds. This is what the settlor is typically trying to avoid by the use of a co-contest clause. The Wyoming Supreme Court recently held in EGW and AW v. First Federal Savings Bank of Sheridan, 413 P.3d 106 (Wyo. 2018) that a no-contest does not violate public policy in Wyoming. 

The Court ruled that a “testator has the right to grant bequests subject to any lawful conditions he or she may select.” In the opinion, the Court explains that the ability to relinquish a person's property in the way they so choose is a strongly held right, and one that is backed by the full power of the law. The Court also found that even with challenge is in good faith and with probable the no-contest clause is still enforceable. Many states allow challenges made with probable cause to be brought in spite of a no-contest clause, a principal that is set forth in § 3-905 of the Uniform Probate Code, but Wyoming did not adopt that section of the Code.

See Carol Warnick, No-Contest Clause Upheld by the Wyoming Supreme Court With No Probable Cause Exception, Fiduciary Law Blog, September 12, 2018.

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

September 19, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Lesson in Intestacy from Tupac Shakur

TupacThe 22nd anniversary of the unsolved murder of Tupac Shakur, known as 2Pac within the rap world, recently passed on September 13th. Though his life and death may be steeped in controversy and mystery respectively, his estate can seen as a study in mult-generational estate planning, litigation, and management.

Shakur died in intestate in 1996 at the young age of 25, and his entire estate was inherited by his mother, Afeni Shakur. There was even litigation in 1997 from William Garland claiming to be Tupac absent father and demanding one half of the late rapper's estate. The court found that Garland had not demonstrated a substantial relationship nor support to be treated as an heir of Shakur's. His fatherly support over the artist's life consisted of $820, a bag of peanuts, and a ticket to "Rollerball."

Afeni Shakur, however, managed her deceased son's estate admirably, growing his estate both popularly and financially. Shakur's estate released six posthumous albums — including 1996’s The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory and 1998’s Greatest Hits, which are each certified 10 times platinum — a Broadway musical, several books, documentaries, clothing, and merchandise. Shakur is the first deceased performer to appear as a hologram (at Coachella in 2012). He is also the only artist to be nominated posthumously for the Grammy’s Best Solo Rap Performance award (in 2000 for Changes).

Afeni Shakur passed away in 2016 at the age of 69, but the estate had alternative fiduciaries so little is left up to chance and speculation. The words of Shakur’s homage to his mother ring true in his song dedicated to her: “Oh mama, I appreciate you. Although my shadow’s gone I will never leave you.”

See Cori A. Robinson, A Lesson in Intestacty from Tupac Shakur, Above the Law, September 11, 2018.

Special thanks to Carissa Peterson (Associate, Hrbacek Law Firm, Sugar Land, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.

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

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Article on Revisiting Revocation upon Divorce?

DivorceNaomi R. Cahn recently published an Article entitled, Revisiting Revocation upon Divorce?, Iowa Law Review, Vol. 103, No. 1879 (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

In an increasing number of states, divorce presumptively renders an ex-spouse ineligible to benefit from the testator’s will. Divorce may also impact other revocable dispositions in favor of the ex-spouse and exclude the ex-spouse’s family members from benefitting in any way from the decedent’s death. Revocation upon divorce statutes have become more common as divorce itself has become more common, and courts have been quite rigorous in interpreting the statutes, creating an almost irrevocable presumption of revocation. By contrast, other countries vary in their approaches to the effect of a divorce on testamentary and nonprobate transfers to an ex-spouse and family members.

This Article challenges the utility of the presumption of revocation upon divorce. In raising questions about the appropriateness of the presumption, this Article traces developments in divorce law—from the purely fault system to the no-fault system to contemporary, and more collaborative, approaches to divorce—to show the historical shifts towards contemporary attempts to dissolve the acrimony often associated with divorce. This Article also explores the relatively limited sociological and empirical material on actual individuals’ preferences for disposition of their estates to ex-spouses and their families. And it examines the class, gender, and race aspects of wealth ownership as part of an effort to determine who is most likely to have probate and nonprobate assets affected by the revocation statutes. Finally, this Article discusses alternative approaches for states to consider.

September 13, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Making Wills Easier and Cheaper with Do-It-Yourself Options

WillPeople are bombarded with different avenues of technology and advancements, and with these advances come the benefit of convenience and decreased expense for undertakings that seemed out of reach for some. While it is recommended that every person over the age of 18 possess a legal and valid will, numerous people saw them as too cumbersome and expensive - or in selected cases if unnecessary as they may have limited assets to pass on to heirs. In fact, a recent survey by Caring.com found that 60% of Americans do not have a will in place.

Patrick Schmitt, co-founder and co-chief executive of FreeWill, said he set out to offer wills that were easy to create and update, and the site even allows users to leave money to charities. Their business models works in that the company receives money from the charitable institutions that pay a fee for using the FreeWill service to reach out to donors. Schmitt had worked during the Obama administration on the Democratic National Committee’s midterm fund-raising team and was frustrated in with the availability of estate planning service online.

Attorneys disagree over to what degree technology can substitute for legal counsel. Richard A. Behrendt, a trust and estates lawyer outside Milwaukee, said, “There are so many things that can be done improperly or planning opportunities that could be overlooked if you’re just sitting at your computer trying to make a one-size-fits-all will work for you.”

See Paul Sullivan, Making Wills Easier and Cheaper with Do-It-Yourself Options, New York Times, September 7, 2018.

Special thanks to Richard A. Behrendt, Esq. (Wisconsin Estate & Legacy Planning Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

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

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

September 12, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What Happens if you Die Without a Will? You Might Leave a Hot Mess Behind

Will and testamentIf you die intestate, meaning with a valid, legal will, your assets will be transferred according to the intestacy laws of your state. Those regulations may or may not coincide with your wishes, and even if they do, it can still create a large hassle because of the potential of litigation by your loved ones.

You will must be a legally binding document, and the elements of that also depends on the laws and guidelines of your state. It is not always sufficient to print off a last will and testament template off the internet, fill in the blanks, sign, and shove into a folder somewhere. A sheet of paper (or computer document) explaining your "recommendations of handling" your financial accounts as well as your personal and real assets should never be considered as a substitute for a valid will.

Even if you have "modest" means or finances does not mean that you should entirely discount a will or an estate plan. Attorneys will be upfront about their fees and projected cost, and do not be afraid to ask.

See Michelle Singletary, What Happens if you Die Without a Will? You Might Leave a Hot Mess Behind, Washington Post, August 19, 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.

September 11, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 10, 2018

A Dying Mother Wrote Her Children Letters, Leaving a Gift of Love for Years

ZinnJacqueline Zinn passed away in 2013 from brain cancer and spent the previous 18 months fighting as hard as she could, enduring surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. When she knew that she only had precious weeks left Jacquie decided to think of her four children and what they would need when she was gone.

Her husband Doug said that Jacquie wanted to be “present with her kids" at special milestones in their life, even after her death, so she wrote letters to be opened by the children when those times came. One was for each of them to be opened immediately after her death to help with the crushing grief, the second at college graduation, and the third at their wedding. This way they could still feel their mother's love at these emotional moments.

The idea that a mother facing her own early demise would focus beyond her death, to want to cushion the blow of it to her offspring, is simply amazing. When a normal person may easily deny their mortality, thinking they had plenty of time to write a will or make an estate plan, Jacqueline Zinn knew her days were numbered. Yet she did not fall into depression or denial; instead, she faced it with a determination and grace that we can all admire.

See Steven Petrow, A Dying Mother Wrote Her Children Letters, Leaving a Gift of Love for Years, Washington Post, September 2, 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.

September 10, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Property's Immortality

ImmortalShelly Kreiczer-Levy published an Article entitled, Property's Immortality, 23 Cardozo J.L. & Gender 107-147 (2016-2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The law of post most-mortem transfers assumes an autonomous individual, free to will their property as they see fit. This Article offers a relational critique of this legal reality, and highlights the implications of such a critique for gender equality. Although property's role in supporting relationships and facilitating cooperation has long been celebrated, post-mortem transfers pose a challenge to relational legal theory. It is commonly held that death puts a stop to all relationships and defies all relational commitments. This Article builds on a different perception of death, and argues that the need to transcend mortality is profoundly relational. Property-related projects can serve as an opportunity to engage in a meaningful endeavor that potentially may outlive its owners. The value of continuity is therefore foundational to understanding of legal rules underlying postmortem transfers by wills or intestate succession. Moreover, this Article radically argues that continuity is not based on autonomy and free will, but is
rather a relational and bifocal project. It protects not only the decedent's need to transcend mortality, but is equally about potential recipients' connection to their roots. The legal implications of this novel conceptualization are far reaching. Testamentary freedom should be limited in order to protect certain potential recipients' need for roots. Therefore, courts should hold the power to invalidate wills that disinherit a child that maintained a close relationship with her parents; wills that disinherits daughters simply because they are women; and wills that require gay children to marry a person of the opposite sex.

September 10, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)