Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Swedish Court Holds Text Messages Not Valid Will


Before committing suicide, a 27-year-old Swedish man spent his last hours sending his family and friends text messages detailing what they would inherit.

A Swedish district court ruled that the SMS testament was valid, but an appeals court overturned this verdict.  Inheritance law expert Margatreta Brattstrom had this to say about Sweden’s inheritance laws, “Our inheritance laws are ancient and a lot has happened since the early 20th century when the rules were written down.”  She points out that the man’s instructions would have remained valid if he had written them down with a pen instead of using text messages.

See SMS not a Valid Last Will and Testament: Court, The Local, Feb. 24, 2014.

February 24, 2014 in Current Affairs, New Cases, Technology, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tips on Spending Your Inheritance

InheritanceRobert Pagliarini, financial planner specializing in inheritance planning, provides six tips below on how to spend and save your inheritance wisely. 

  1. Conflicts with the decedent should not influence the money you inherit.
  2. Wait to spend the windfall until you actually receive it.
  3. Prioritize a wish list to spend the money on.
  4. Make sure you keep your insurance policies up to date.
  5. Invest 90% of your inheritance.
  6. Take ongoing costs into consideration.

See Robert Pagliarini, 6 Tips to Spend Your Inheritance, Money Watch, Feb. 14, 2014. 

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


February 24, 2014 in Estate Administration, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CLE on In Depth Estate Planning

CLEThe American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education (ALI CLE) and the University of Wisconsin Law School are cosponsoring a CLE entitled, Estate Planning in Depth, on Sunday-Friday, June 22-27, 2014.  Provided below is why you should attend this event:

An intensive, interactive classroom experience complemented by opportunities to learn informally after-hours from expert faculty and from fellow registrants at various events including evenings at the Student Union and a picnic supper

  • A relaxed campus environment that helps make learning fun, plus an affordable housing and meal package that keeps costs low
  • Comprehensive study materials — typically 1,000 pages or more – that are among ALI CLE’s best
  • Half-day Sunday primer that brings less-experienced practitioners up to speed
  • Engaging registrants - last year 28 states - and an expert faculty from across the country who shares ideas with one another over the course of five days.

February 24, 2014 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article on Kosovo Inheritance

SsrnShpresa Ibrahimi (Independent) recently published an article entitled, Imperative Part of the Law on Kosovo Inheritance (Comparative View), (January 26, 2014). Imperative part of the Law on Kosovo Inheritance (Comparative view), Iliria International Review – 2013/2. Provided below is the abstract of article from SSRN:

Making a testament seems to be one of the available freedoms, and most significant of the law subjects. Testament, as final declaration of the testator’s will, is considered to be one of the most significant freedoms of the same, since by declaring his will, determines the fate of his/her property heritage, earned with lots of efforts throughout life.

Freedom of compiling the testament, in the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo is guaranteed by the Law on Inheritance in Kosovo but also by the international Conventions. However, every subjective right has its limits. Such limitation comes as a result of the care toward subjective rights of other persons, sometimes the best of the society, but the purpose of limiting such freedom in terms of inheritance, comes as result of common marital life, as a result of the care toward children and parents. Quota of the obligatory part is part of heritage that shall not be deprived, since it is guaranteed with imperative norms.

This inheritance quota is presented as object for analyses and study in relation to testamentary freedom, always in a comparative view in the region and broader.

February 24, 2014 in Articles, Estate Administration | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Amicus Brief Argues That Inherited Retirement Accounts Should Not be Exempt From Bankruptcy Creditor Claims

IRAAs I have previously discussed, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that inherited IRS’s are not creditor exempt in bankruptcy. The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, and Jenner & Block, a national law firm headquartered in Chicago, has filed an amicus brief. The brief addresses the issue of whether inherited retirement funds should also be exempt from creditor claims, as are retirement funds held by the original owner. The brief addresses the differences between inherited and originally owned retirement accounts in the ways they are treated under tax law.

IRA owners make pre-tax contributions to their IRAs, and are prohibited or penalized for withdrawing funds prior to reaching retirement age. However, additional contributions are not allowed with inherited IRA’s, and withdraws from the account are often immediate and prior to the beneficiaries reaching retirement age. The brief argues that since the two accounts are treated differently for tax purposes, they should also be treated differently under the Bankruptcy Code. The brief concludes that inherited retirement accounts should not be treated as bankruptcy exempt accounts.

See, Firm Files Amicus Brief in Bankruptcy Matter Pertaining to Inherited Retirement Accounts, Jenner & Block, Feb. 21, 2014.

February 24, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Advance Health Care Directives


Most people don’t like to think about end-of-life decisions, but the case of Marlise Munoz should be a wake-up call for everyone to take the necessary steps to make their wishes known.  This can be accomplished with an Advance Health Care Directive, which is is a simple document authorizing one or more individuals to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to. 

Some states like Texas and Illinois will automatically invalidate a pregnant woman’s end-of-life decisions.  However, other states like Maryland allow women to write their wishes regarding pregnancy into their Advance Health Care Directives.

See Cheryl Jones, Lessons from Real Life: Why Everyone Needs an Advance Health Care Directive, JDSupra, Feb. 11, 2014.

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

February 23, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Advisor's Guide to Long-Term Care


The ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law recently published a book entitled, The Advisor’s Guide to Long-Term Care, edited by R. David Watros and Erik T. Reynolds.  Provided below is a description of this book:

Waiting to address long-term care needs until the point one actually needs care is too late, as it significantly impacts a client's financial situation, quality of life of their loved ones, and their ability to maintain their independence. Incorporating long-term care insurance into the financial plan can ultimately help protect assets reduce the burden of care that would otherwise fall on family members, and enable the client to receive care in the setting they most prefer, including their home. The Advisor's Guide to Long-Term Care looks at the full range of the topic, explaining how to best use it in the estate plan as a prudent risk-management choice. 

Statistics point to the high probability that people are likely to need extended health care at some point in their life. The Advisor's Guide to Long-Term Care is intended to help estate planners and advisors to address these issues with their clients, establishing the issues and trends for care and covering all relevant issues involved in the funding and planning for this insurance. This helps the advisor establish a plan that will place the family back to where they were emotionally, physically, and financially, as best as possible prior to a long-term care event occurring.

Starting with the funding of long term care, one of the most essential important factors to consider, the authors clearly explain the different options for self-funding, governmental programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, veteran_s benefits, and the Federal Long-Term care insurance program, as well as other funding considerations. Tables and figures make the details involved in these choices clear and accessible.

Subsequent chapters examine key issues in long-term care insurance, legislation that has affected the insurance, such as HIPAA and the PPA, taxation, and issues to consider in selecting a long-term care insurance company. The authors consider using long-term care for estate planning and wealth preservation and a discussion of employer's options and benefits in establishing long-term care coverage for their employees.

February 23, 2014 in Books - For Practitioners, Disability Planning - Health Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

An Increasingly Popular Estate Planning Strategy

HouseHomes are likely one of the most valuable assets that you will own. Many people want to keep their home in the family after death and are now using an estate planning strategy called a "life estate." In a Wall Street Journal article Chris Gay explains some of the advantages that life estate provides. A life estate is an agreement that permits the current owner can live in the home for life and deed it to another heir after death without going through probate. One advantage of using a life estate is that the heir will receive the home at the "step up" value of the owner's death.

See Matthew Heimer, How to Keep Your House in the Family, Market Watch, Feb. 11, 2014.

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

February 23, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CLE on Planning for Medium-Sized Estates

CLEThe American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education (ALI CLE) is sponsoring a CLE entitled, Planning For Medium-Sized Estates: Practical Strategies for Estate, Gift, and Tax Planning, on Wednesday- Friday,  March 19- 21. Earn 21-25 CLE/ CPE credits, including ethics with just one program.  Provided below is a description of the event:

With the new permanence of portability and the groundbreaking decisions of the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry, estate planners have had to scramble to adjust to the new regulations, correct previous filings, update estate plans, and consider new tax and non-tax planning opportunities. Medium-sized estates, in particular, require a refreshed look so that clients can avoid negative tax consequences as well as take advantage of some new, potentially fruitful opportunities.

Topics Include:

how Windsor and Perry affect planning for same-sex couples – what’s different and what stays the same?
portability becoming permanent
generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemptions today
probate avoidance
and more!

February 23, 2014 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

One Big Retirement Mistake


It can be tempting to withdraw your retirement savings when you need cash, but this mistake can seriously jeopardize your future retirement income.

Besides taking a hit to your long-term savings, you will play income taxes and a 10% penalty for pulling the money out early.  Here’s a hypothetical from Fidelity: a 30-year-old who cashes out a retirement account worth $16,000 will owe around $3,200 in taxes and $1,600 in penalties.  His future retirement income will also drop an estimated $470 a month.

For those who don’t absolutely need the cash, their money is best left in their retirement account.  Not surprisingly, younger savers with lower incomes are more likely to withdraw.  44% of those aged 20 to 29 cashed out compared to only 26% of those aged 50 to 59.  50% of those earning $20,000 to $30,000 in 2013 cashed out compared to only 13% of those earning over $100,000. 

See Andrea Coombes, This Is a Retirement Saver’s Worst Mistake, MarketWatch, Feb. 13, 2014.

February 22, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)