Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lesbian couple in Massachusetts same-sex marriage lawsuit now separated

Julie and Hillary Goodridge, one of the lesbian couples from the landmark Massachusetts case that held that gays and lesbians had a state constitutional right to wed, have separated. They were married on May 17, 2004 and have a daughter named Annie who is 10. Mary Breslauer, the family spokeswoman, said they are living apart amicably, and wouldn’t comment on the length of the separation or whether there were plans for a divorce. Lesbian couple in Mass. same-sex marriage lawsuit now separated. USAToday.com, (July 21, 2006).
   
Thanks to Paul Caron, University of Cincinnati College of Law, for bringing this article to my attention.

July 26, 2006 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Trust/Estate lawyer disbarred for false expense reports

At his disbarment hearing, former trusts and estates attorney Robert J. Pape claimed his severe ethical misconduct was a product of depression, in part from learning late in life that he was adopted. Read the full New York law Journal story, NYC T&E Partner Disbarred for Stealing $200k from Firm (June 28, 2006) by Anthony Lin.
   
Here are some excerpts:
   
A former Manhattan law firm partner who filed false expense reports for almost $200,000 to pay his yacht club membership and credit card bills has been disbarred.
   
"He showed a brilliance in the way he expanded the double dip system," wrote the referee, Benjamin Altman. "[Pape's] scheme created a host of different ways to defraud, i.e., billing two clients when neither was involved, billing a non-existent client, billing two different clients when no evidence of appointments were in any diary or calendar."
   
In arguing against disbarment, Pape had claimed his actions had arisen partly from depression he suffered. Barbara Falanga, a social worker who treated Pape after he was suspended from the firm, testified at his disciplinary hearing that his learning relatively late in life that he was adopted was also a factor in his conduct.
   
But the referee dismissed Falanga's testimony as having little value, noting that she was not a physician and, therefore, not qualified to diagnose Pape's mental health, much less whether it had any bearing on his conduct.
   
* * * [T]he referee said the matter was a straightforward case of a lawyer intentionally converting client funds for personal use. Disbarment is required in almost all such cases.

July 26, 2006 in New Cases, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Anna Nicole Smith Cannot Rest Easy Even Though Pierce Now With Howard

Dallas Morning News reporter Katie Fairbank reviews the public life and private nature of E. Pierce Marshall in A legacy oil heir never wanted.  Albeit a very private man by nature, E. Pierce Marshall never gave in during the very public legal battle with Anna Nicole Smith over his deceased father, J. Howard Marshall's, estate.  In fact, he said he was defending his father's wishes.  He argued in 2000 to a Texas court that his father believed he had adequately provided for Anna Nicole, having spent $6.6 million on real estate, jewelry, and other gifts for her. That is why Pierce Marshall said she wasn't included in his father's will.
   
Mr. [E. Pierce] Marshall played down his wealth in his daily life as well. He and his wife lived in a house appraised at $656,780 relatively modest amid the mansions and McMansions of North Texas. In a city awash with millionaires, a high-dollar social scene and billionaires that regularly offer their opinions, Mr. Marshall did his best to stay out of the limelight. He was so successful that many people in the city didn't even realize he and his wife had lived in Dallas since 1979. "Pierce to me was a very regular fellow. Private, thoughtful, appropriate. Not much flash; that just was not his style," Mr. Bradley said. His family could describe him in one word: real. He regularly declined interviews and was rarely photographed. When he died, the news was kept quiet for days and released on a Friday evening to avoid attention. Much of his life was spent like many middle-class suburbanites. He flew coach and stayed at modest hotels. He read a lot, was a "doting grandfather," and was fond of automobiles and racing.
   
Pierce "never expressed any regrets concerning the decision to defend his father's estate plan. He knew, quite simply, in his heart that he was doing the right thing, and he always had the rest of the family's support and conviction behind him."
   
For the more information about the Marshall v. Marshall case on this blog, please go here.

July 25, 2006 in Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I.R.S. to Cut Estate Tax Auditors

In I.R.S. to Cut Tax Auditors (July 23, 2006), New York Times journalist David Cay Johnston reported that the federal government is planning to eliminate nearly half of its estate tax attorneys. 
   
The administration plans to cut the jobs of 157 of the agency's 345 estate tax lawyers, plus 17 support personnel, in less than 70 days. Kevin Brown, an I.R.S. deputy commissioner, confirmed the cuts after The New York Times was given internal documents by people inside the I.R.S. who oppose them.
   
The Bush administration has passed measures that reduce the number of Americans who are subject to the estate tax which opponents refer to as the "death tax” but has failed in its efforts to eliminate the tax entirely. Mr. Brown said in a telephone interview Friday that he had ordered the staff cuts because far fewer people were obliged to pay estate taxes under President Bush's legislation.
   
Estate tax lawyers are the most productive tax law enforcement personnel at the I.R.S., according to Mr. Brown. For each hour they work, they find an average of $2,200 of taxes that people owe the government.
   
Mr. Brown said that careful analysis showed that the I.R.S. was auditing enough returns to catch cheats and that 10 percent of the estate audits brought in 80 percent of the additional taxes. He said that auditing a greater percentage of gift and estate tax returns would not be worthwhile because the next case is not a lucrative case and likely to be of relatively little value.
   
Special thanks to Prof. Joel C. Dobris of the University of California-- Davis for bringing this article to my attention.

July 25, 2006 in Current Events, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 24, 2006

New Edition of Paralegal Text Released

The second edition of Wills, Trusts, and Estates for Legal Assistants, co-authored by Gerry W. Beyer (Governor Preston E. Smith Regents Professor of Law, Texas Tech University) and John K. Hanft (Instructor, San Francisco State University Paralegal Program and Co-Director of the Witkin Legal Institute) has just been released by Aspen Publishers.

This book is designed for legal assistants and paralegals to use during their legal training as well as a reference for individuals who assist attorneys in their estate planning practice. The book focuses on intestate succession, wills, trusts, estate administration, non-probate assets, wealth transfer taxation, disability and death planning, and malpractice and professional responsibility.

An Instructor's Manual and Test Bank to accompany this book is also available.

July 24, 2006 in Books - For the Classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Transfer Taxation of FLPs

ABA-CLE is sponsoring a teleconference and live audio webcast entitled Estate and Gift Tax Implications of FLPs on Tuesday, August 1, 2006, starting at 1:00 p.m. EST.

Here is the description of the program:

Family limited partnerships are often a major component of a client’s gift and estate plan. However, compliance with the shifting rules makes the use of FLPs in estate planning a challenging strategy.

Join our faculty to learn the current status of gift and estate tax treatment of FLPs and take a close look at emerging issues.

After this program, you will be able to:

    • avoid the pitfalls of establishing and operating a FLP
    • steer clear of potential Internal Revenue Service attacks on FLPs
    • identify situations when a FLP may or may not be an appropriate tool

The program faculty includes:

William S. Forsberg, Parsinen Kaplan Rosberg & Gotlieb P.A., Minneapolis, MN
Stephanie Loomis-Price, Baker Botts L.L.P., Houston, TX
James Dean Spratt, Jr., King & Spalding LLP, Atlanta, GA
Hugh F. Drake (Moderator), Brown, Hay & Stephens, LLP,  Springfield, IL

July 24, 2006 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Top SSRN Downloads

Here are the most popular SSRN downloads from May 19, 2006 to July 18, 2006 for all papers announced in the last 60 days from the Journal of Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law :

Rank Downloads Paper Title
1 191 Remapping the Charitable Deduction
David Pozen,
Yale University - Law School,
Date posted to database: May 8, 2006
Last Revised: July 21, 2006
2 94 Interstate Competition and State Death Taxes: A Modern Crisis in Historical Perspective
Jeffrey A. Cooper,
Quinnipiac University School of Law,
Date posted to database: May 2, 2006
Last Revised: May 2, 2006
3 64 Charitable Contributions in an Ideal Estate Tax
Miranda Perry,
The University of Colorado Law School,
Date posted to database: May 25, 2006
Last Revised: May 25, 2006
4 57 Policy, Logic, and Persuasion in the Evolving Realm of Trust Asset Protection
John K. Eason,
Tulane Law School,
Date posted to database: May 18, 2006
Last Revised: June 2, 2006
5 26 Amending Perpetual Conservation Easements: A Case Study of the Myrtle Grove Controversy
Nancy A. McLaughlin,
University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law,
Date posted to database: June 15, 2006
Last Revised: June 16, 2006
6 24 Women in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dilemmas and Directions
Naomi Cahn,
George Washington University Law School,
Date posted to database: May 31, 2006
Last Revised: June 16, 2006
7 17 Planning Options for the Daily Care of a Minor in the Event of an Adult's Incapacity or Death
Naomi Cahn,
George Washington University Law School,
Date posted to database: May 31, 2006
Last Revised: June 5, 2006
8 16 Focardi: Cook-ed, Not Schott
Wendy C. Gerzog,
University of Baltimore - School of Law,
Date posted to database: June 8, 2006
Last Revised: June 8, 2006
9 13 Buder: The Extent of Equitable Recoupment
Wendy C. Gerzog,
University of Baltimore - School of Law,
Date posted to database: March 29, 2006
Last Revised: March 29, 2006

July 23, 2006 in Articles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Income Tax and FLPs

ABA-CLE is sponsoring a teleconference and live audio webcast entitled Income Tax Implications of FLPs on Thursday, July 27, 2006, starting at 1:00 p.m. EST.

Here is the description of the program:

Learn about the federal income tax traps and opportunities presented at each stage of a family limited partnership's existence from formation and operation through liquidation.

Attend this program to learn:

    • when founding partners might recognize gain upon formation of the FLP
    • why special allocations of partnership items might pose problems for traditional FLPs
    • how to allocate built-in gains in the FLP
    • how to avoid the perils of liquidating the FLP too soon after its formation
    • when distributions of marketable securities and appreciated property from the FLP may be taxable

The faculty for this program are as follows:

Samuel A. Donaldson, Director – Graduate Program in Taxation, University of Washington, School of Law, Seattle, WA

Richard B. Robinson, Robinson & Diss PC, Denver, CO

Hugh F. Drake (Moderator), Brown, Hay & Stephens, LLP,  Springfield, IL

July 22, 2006 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Adrienne Davis to Visit at Alabama

Reef C. Ivey II Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law Adrienne Davis will serve as the Visiting John S. Stone Chairholder during the Fall 2006 semester at the University of Alabama School of Law.  Prof. Adrienne will be teaching a Decedents' Estates course.

July 21, 2006 in Appointments and Honors | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Hampshire legislation aimed at attracting new trust company jobs to the state

The stated purpose of the Trust Modernization and Competitiveness Act of 2006, signed into law by New Hampshire Governor Lynch on June 20, 2006, is “to establish New Hampshire as the best and most attractive legal environment in the nation for trusts and trust services.”

In a report issued in December 2005, RKG Associates forecast that almost 4,000 new positions would be added in the next four years in the New Hampshire financial sector, yielding the state approximately $4 million in tax revenue.

For more information, see Legislation to Attract New Trust Company Jobs, RathLaw.com.

July 21, 2006 in New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)