Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Article: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: A Guide to Setting Up a Will and Managing a Loved One’s Estate (Foreword)
Vincent Ooi recently published an article entitled, Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: A Guide to Setting Up a Will and Managing a Loved One’s Estate (Foreword), Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article:
For some of us, death remains a subject that we would rather avoid discussing. We may believe that there is no hurry to consider the issue and that we have plenty of time left. However, the general reluctance in our society to engage with end-of-life matters can unfortunately result in us delaying the issue until it is too late.
A Will is not merely a legal document. It is an expression of our wishes, and a way for us to continue providing for the needs of our loved ones even after we are gone. It is true that even without a Will, the default rules of intestate succession will apply to distribute our estate. However, these rules are blunt and inflexible, and may not take into account the specific needs and circumstances of our chosen beneficiaries. Our care and love for our families should not stop with death, and a Will is an easy way to ensure that they continue to be looked after when we are no longer around to do so.
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
An Istanbul court has finally made a decision in an 18-year lawsuit involving the inheritance of Birsen Sakaoglu, who was named Miss Turkey in 1936. The court's decision confirmed that "the savings of 25 million Liras ($2.96 million) belonging to her will be left to the Fire Department and its personnel in the Fatih district.
Following the Miss Turkey beauty contest in 1936, Sakaoglu settled in the United States with her husband, but eventually returned to Istanbul and started a new life in the Fatih district.
Sakaoglu was no stranger to the Fatih Fire Department. The Fire Department saved Sakaoglu from a fire when she was child and again in 1999 when she was trapped in the flames at her home.
Sakaoglu passed away in 2003 at the age of 94, leaving a will which expressed her intention on donating her savings to the Fatih Fire Department that saved her as a "debt of loyalty."
See Former Miss Turkey’s inheritance to be distributed to firefighters, The Hurriyet Daily News, September 14, 2021.
Monday, September 20, 2021
Article: The U.S. Supreme Court In Kaestner: Deciphering the Constitutionally Required Minimum Contacts Necessary for State Taxation of Trust Income
Beckett Cantley and Geoffrey Dietrich recently published an article entitled, The U.S. Supreme Court In Kaestner: Deciphering the Constitutionally Required Minimum Contacts Necessary for State Taxation of Trust Income, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article.
As far back as 1929, several states have sought to broaden their tax base by expanding taxation to out-of-state trusts that have in-state beneficiaries, even when the beneficiaries possess only a contingent interest in the trust’s assets. On June 21, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court confronted the constitutionality of this trust tax practice in North Carolina Dep’t of Revenue v. Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust (“Kaestner Trust”). In Kaestner Trust, the Supreme Court issued a narrow decision in favor of the Trust, basing its opinion on a compilation of landmark constitutional law and civil procedure cases. Specifically, the Court ruled that the domicile of a contingent beneficiary on its own does not constitute sufficient “minimum contacts” between a trust and a jurisdiction for tax purposes, and thus the North Carolina statute violated the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Every jurisdiction has its own method of defining the minimum contacts necessary to bring a trust into its taxation orbit. In light of the Court’s decision, other state statutes that impose a fiduciary income tax based on weak connections may face constitutional scrutiny in the near future, including tax regimes containing “throwback” rules, “one-dollar” rules, and testamentary trust residency standards that rely indefinitely on the domicile of a testator. The main purpose of this article is to understand the Kaestner Trust decision, discuss how the impacted states have adjusted, and identify any statutes peripheral to the case that may face constitutional inquiry in the future.
The introduction to this article provides the foundation for understanding state trust taxation regimes and frames the controversy of multi-state taxation. Part II explains the facts within Kaestner Trust and analysis used by the Supreme Court in rendering the North Carolina statute unconstitutional. It also discusses how the North Carolina trust statute has been impacted. Part III identifies the other states, besides North Carolina, directly impacted by the Kaestner Trust decision and how these states have responded to the case. Part IV analyzes how the decision might promote further inquiry into the constitutionality of statutes that lie on the margins of Kaestner Trust. Finally, the article considers estate planning and trust drafting opportunities created by the case and concludes by briefly summarizing the significance of Kaestner Trust.
Sunday, September 19, 2021
The "desolate cemetery," just twenty miles outside of Phoenix, often holds burial services for unclaimed remains. Marjorie Anderson's, a 51-year-old mother of two, remains were delivered to the White Tanks Cemetery in a plastic urn which was transported in a cardboard Costco box.
Those present at Anderson's burial included an Episcopal chaplain and a few county workers, but there was nobody there that knew Anderson. Anderson's urn was placed next to 13 others along the edge of a freshly dug trench.
Situations like this happen weekly at the White Tanks Cemetery, "where a record 551 people were laid to rest last year, part of a surge of unclaimed bodies."
Although there are no official statistics about how many unclaimed bodies are buried across America "a Washington Post Investigation. . .found that every year tens of thousands of lives end this way."
Further, Covid-19 increased the number of unclaimed bodies in a variety of places, including Maricopa, which had a 30 percent spike.
Sadly, the problem was growing even before Covid-19 plagued the World.
See Mary Jordan & Kevin Sullivan, Alone in death, The Washington Post, September 17, 2021.
Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Eric A. Kades recently published an article entitled, Anti Trusts, Reforming an Excessively Flexible Legal Tool, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article.
Trusts are one of the most flexible legal tools in lawyers’ arsenals, deployed for socially desirable used ranging from supporting orphans to structuring complex investments. Trusts, however, are also used for a host of socially undesirable purposes, including restraint of trade, cheating creditors, establishing family dynasties akin to feudalism, and avoiding taxes. This negative litany shows that flexibility has a dark side, and these undesirable trust uses have accelerated in the last few decades. Creative lawyers continuously find novel uses for moldable tools like the trust. This article argues that long experience and recent developments teach us that dark eclipses light for private trusts: the costs of undesirable innovations exceed the benefits of desirable ones. Applying a novel normative theory of flexible legal tools, this article calls for fundamental reform of private trust law. With a small exception for financial investments, the current fully flexible private trust should be replaced with a much less flexible device, the Restricted Donative Trust, designed to prevent abusive uses while permitting desirable innovations.
Friday, September 17, 2021
Margaret Ryznar recently published an article entitled, A Tax Credit for Wills, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article.
In this article, Ryznar suggests using tax law to encourage people to execute wills, arguing that the coronavirus pandemic revealed the importance of estate planning.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Selena's former husband Chris Perez posted a tweet on Tuesday claiming that his legal battle—which has lasted a half-decade—with the Quintanilla family has come to a mutual end. The legal battle was over a proposed Selena documentary.
According to the former husband of the late Tejano idol, he and the Quintanilla family have "amicably resolved" their ongoing legal dispute over the proposed documentary on Selena's life and music.
Chris Perez's tweet read:
Good news! I have amicably resolved my legal dispute with the Quintanilla family. Now that these issues are behind us, going forward, my hope, and the hope of the Quintanilla family, is for us to work together to continue to honor and celebrate the legacy of Selena.
Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., shared a similar message of reconciliation on Facebook shortly after Perez's post.
See Ariana Garcia, Selena's former husband Chris Perez ends years-long legal battle with Quintanillas over documentary, Chron, September 15, 2021.
Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
It is an important—and honorable—objective to provide for the educational needs for your children, grandchildren, and even future generations. One option that can be used to achieve that objective is a 529 plan. A 529 plan can be "a highly effective tool for funding tuition and other educational expenses on a tax-advantaged basis."
However, after death, there's no guarantee that subsequent plan owners will continue to use it to achieve the objectives of the original owners. One alternative would be to create a family education trust that invests in a 529 plan.
529 plans allow parents to make substantial, nondeductible constitutions up to and over $400,000 depending on the plan. 529 plans can be used to pay for tuition, books, fees, supplies, equipment, and room and board at most accredited colleges and universities and certain vocational schools. 529 plans may also be used to pay up to $10,000 per year per student for elementary and secondary school tuition.
Owner's can also have control over "the timing of distributions, can change beneficiaries from one family member to another and can roll the funds over into another state's plan tax-free."
Given the disadvantages of 529 plans, like the inability to invest assets other than cash, it could be beneficial to establish a family education trust to hold one or more 529 plans.
See David T. Riedel, Family Education Trusts: Leave a Lasting Legacy For Your Heirs, Adler, Pollock, & Sheehan P.C., September 7, 2021.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Roth IRAs are a useful way to save money for retirement and are used by many Americans. Although fashioned for ordinarily families, ultra rich people like tech billionaire Peter Thiel have been able to maximize the usage of Roth IRAs.
Thiel has been able to use the Roth IRA o accumulate more than $5 billion. Nonprofit journalism shop ProPublica ran an exposé in June "revealing how a small number of extremely wealthy folks had ended up with Roths—federally subsidized retirement accounts meant for middle-class savers–worth tens to hundreds of millions of dollars and up." Thiel was able to do so by "stuffing" his Roth IRA with "wildly undervalued "founders shares" of pre-IPO startups—potentially an illegal tactic—and then watching as their values rose exponentially, and completely tax-free."
According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, "as of 2019, more than 28,000 Americans held combined (Roth and tradition) IRA balances of $5 million or more and 497 taxpayers had balances of at least $25 million. The latter group had socked away a combined $77 billion in their IRAs—on average, more than $150 million each."
According to Steve Rosenthal, a tax attorney and senior fellow at Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, "the government spends a fortune subsidizing a whole range of retirement plans whose benefits flow overwhelmingly to America's most affluent. . .It's unbelievable the amounts of dollars at stake, and how titled they are to the high end."
See Michael Mechanic, America Is Spending a Fortune to Help Rich People Retire in Luxury, Mother Jones, September 1, 2021.
Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.
Monday, September 13, 2021
You may be familiar with the phrase "blood, sweat, and tears," when referring to an person's—particularly athlete's—hard work in a particular field. Tony Hawk took this phrase to another creative level when he "donated his blood as part of a collaboration with water company Liquid Death to produce 100 skateboards."
The 100 skateboards sold out quickly.
According to a social media post from Liquid Death, "Yes, there is actually @tonyhawk's real blood in these skateboards. and yes, we sterilized it first. Own your very own piece of the Birdman. . . Although it could arguably make the world a better place, never ever use these boards to make clones of Tony Hawk."
See Jack Guy, Skateboards containing American pro skater Tony Hawk's blood sell out overnight, CNN, August 26, 2021.