Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, November 28, 2014

Article on Privacy, Trusts and Cross-Border Transfers of Personal Information

Trust Eloise Gratton (McMillan LLP) and Pierre-Christian Collins Hoffman (McMillan LLP) recently published an article entitled, Privacy, Trusts and Cross-Border Transfers of Personal Information: The Quebec Perspective in the Canadian Context, 37:1 Dalhousie Law Journal 256 (2014).  Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

This paper argues that data protection laws apply to prevent the disclosure of certain information relating to trusts, which are increasingly being used as business and investment vehicles. Given the broad scope of the concept of “personal information” found under both provincial and federal personal information protection statutes, arguments can be made that information relating to trust beneficiaries or trustees, where such beneficiaries or trustees are natural persons, enjoy some level of protection. Even where a trust contains an express choice of law clause providing that the laws of another province or country apply, Quebec conflict of laws rules may point to the application of Quebec’s own personal information protection legislation. Hence, in order to avoid liability, trustees should use caution before disclosing trust-related information where part of the trust’s business operations is outsourced to foreign jurisdictions, or where a foreign authority may request the disclosure of such information.


November 28, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Swiss Museum Releases List of Artwork in Cornelius Gurlitt's Possession

Swiss Museum

As I have previously mentioned, the Kunstmuseum Bern has accepted the legacy of Cornelius Gurlitt.  As promised by the museum, the artworks discovered in Gurlitt’s possession are being made public in the interests of transparency. 

“We have promised transparency and are now acting accordingly.  We are therefore happy to be able to release, only three days after deciding to sign the agreement, the information we currently have at our disposal. The ongoing categorization has not been completed in full yet.  Additionally, we will further endeavor to emend the lists, step by step, for example, in regard to attributing the works to artists or improving the quality of the photos of the pictures and ensuring that all of them are photographed.  Any new, validated information will be made known the public immediately.”

On November 21st, a legal heiress to Gurlitt applied for a certificate of inheritance at a probate court in Munich.  Thus, the current executor will stay responsible for the administration of the legacy.  As a result, the Kunstmuseum Bern will have only restricted access to the works of art. 

See Kunstmuseum Bern Releases the Lists of the Artworks That Were Discovered in Cornelius Gurlitt’s Homes, Art Daily, Nov. 28, 2014.

November 28, 2014 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

White House Veto Threat Ends Tax Breaks Talks

Divide1With the tax breaks deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp nearing conclusion, the White House announcement that the deal would be vetoed by President Obama ended the talks. Statements from White House spokespersons expressed that the deal would not be approved due to concerns that the deal would not adequately provide for middle-class families and provide too many tax breaks for corporations.

See Bernie Becker, Veto Threat Derails Reid Tax Deal, The Hill, Nov. 25, 2014.

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

November 28, 2014 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Auction of Bunny Mellon's Jewelry and Home Items Increase Estate Sale Total

AntiquesAs I have previously discussed, the auction of  artwork from the collection of Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon exceeded expectations by bringing in $158.7 million from 43 pieces by famous artists.  In a second auction that featured items from Mellon's estate that were from her U.S., Europe, and Caribbean homes again exceeded the expected results by  bringing in $14.3 million. In total, Mellon's estate sale brought in $218.1 million through three separate auctions.

See Bloomberg News, Mellon Estate Sale Fetches $218 Million, Led by Rothkos Rabbit, FA, Nov. 25, 2014.

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

November 28, 2014 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Steer Clear of Holiday Debt


As the holiday season is officially in full swing, many households are concerned about the inevitable debt that comes.  Fifty-seven percent of American adults with children say they are willing to take on debt to make their children happy, and this year, holiday debt will linger longer for middle-income families. 

The holidays do not have to end with a mountain of debt.  By combining savvy shopping, healthy restraint, and strategies for finding extra cash can bring you into the New Year without regrets.  Below are some helpful tips:

  • Set a budget. Take a look at your savings and see how much you can afford to spend this holiday.  Stay on target and do not exceed your budget.
  • Create a spending plan. This should include everything you plan to spend money on such as gifts, travel, parties, restaurants, etc.  If the final number exceeds your budget, find ways to get discounts or cut spending. 
  • Meaningful gifts rather than pricey gifts. People often appreciate thoughtful presents that focus on experiences, memories or quality time with loved ones. 
  • Compare prices. You can do this by flipping through the advertisements crowding your inbox or searching the Internet for the best deals.  When you shop, bring competitor ads along.
  • Take advantage of credit card awards.  See if you have enough points for a free flight home, or enough points to cover gift expenses.
  • Dig up unused gift cards. You may have a stack of forgotten gift cards in your wallet that you should use before they expire. 

See Deborah Jian Lee, 15 Ways to Avoid Holiday Debt, Forbes, Nov. 26, 2014.

November 27, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Roth IRA Conversions No Longer on Sale

Black friday

Black Friday is right around the corner, but there won’t be any deals on Roth IRA conversions.  For Roth IRA account owners who did conversions in November 2012, the two-year increase of 5,200 points or 41 percent has been a windfall. These individuals have benefitted in three different ways:

  1. Elimination of income tax on 100 percent of Roth IRA appreciation. Those who did a Roth IRA conversion in November 2012 have eliminated taxation on 100 percent of sizable appreciation in the value of their Roth IRA in just two years.  Yet, even with the inevitable stock market downturn, the opportunity for further appreciation and elimination of additional income tax liability remains a real possibility for most individuals who did Roth conversions two years ago.
  2. Roth IRA not subject to required minimum distribution (RMD) rules. Roth IRA beneficiaries may continue to extend the life of Roth IRA assets with one difference: they are required to take annual minimum distributions beginning the year following the year of the original owner’s death.
  3. Reduced exposure to RMDs for remaining traditional IRAs. When you do a partial Roth IRA conversion, you reduce your exposure to RMDs on any remaining traditional IRAs. 

See Robert Klein, No Bargains on Roth IRA Conversions this Friday, Market Watch, Nov. 25, 2014.

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

November 27, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Things to Give Thanks For in Retirement

ThankfulOn this day of thanks, here are some things that those who are retired or approaching retirement in the United States can give thanks for:

  • Inflation rates are currently low.
  • Life expectancy is longer than previous generations.
  • Additional retirement fund assistance from Social Security.
  • A variety of choices of investment methods to plan for financial stability in retirement.
  • The nonfinancial things to be thankful for, including health, family, and friends.
  • The financial planning benefits that the internet brings.

See Bob Powell, Powell: Retiree Stats, Ect., To Be Thankful For, USA Today, Nov. 22, 2014.

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

November 27, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Date of Delivery For Gifts

Gift3With the holiday season in full swing, 'tis the season to review  date of delivery rules for charitable gifts, which determine the date that the gift was made and affect the tax consequences of the gift. Here are the general rules for determining date of delivery for some types of  property when given as a gift:

  • Securities: The day the securities are hand delivered and received by the charity, or the day the securities are mailed to the charity through the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Mutual fund shares: The day that the transfer from the fund's management to the charity is complete.
  • Checks: The day the check is mailed through the U.S. Postal service, and by certified mail and not post dated.
  • Tangible personal property: The day the gift is received through both possession and title.
  • Real estate: The day that the deed is received by the charity, or the date that the deed is recorded if required by local law to make the deed effective.
  • Gifts Made by credit cards: The day the bank makes the payment to the charity.
  • Donations made via a text message: The day the donor sends the text message.

See Conrad Teitell, Charitable Gifts: Date of Delivery Rules, Wealth Management, Nov. 24, 2014.

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

November 27, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving_5 Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope you, your family, and friends have much for which to be thankful this year!!

November 27, 2014 in About This Blog | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Article on the Estate Tax Charitable Deduction

Edward Zelinsky

Edward A. Zelinsky (Yeshiva University, Benjamin Cardozo School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Why the Buffett-Gates Giving Pledge Requires Limitation of the Estate Tax Charitable Deduction, Florida Tax Review, Vol. 16, No. 7, 2014.  Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

The Buffett-Gates Giving Pledge, under which wealthy individuals promise to leave a majority of their assets to charity, is an admirable effort to encourage philanthropy. However, the Pledge requires us to confront the paradox that the federal estate tax charitable deduction is unlimited while the federal income tax charitable deduction is capped. If a Giving Pledger leaves his wealth to charity, the federal fisc loses significant revenue since the Pledger thereby avoids federal estate taxation as charitable bequests are deductible without limit for federal estate tax purposes. Despite its laudable qualities, the Giving Pledge is a systematic (albeit inadvertent) threat to the estate tax base. 

The Giving Pledge requires the amendment of the federal estate tax to restrict an estate’s charitable deduction to a percentage of the estate, just as the income tax charitable deduction is limited to a percentage of the taxpayer’s income. In this fashion, the sensible compromise embedded in the income tax charitable deduction would be carried over to the federal estate tax to simultaneously encourage charitable giving while ensuring that all large estates pay some federal estate tax. 

The Giving Pledge need not be the death knell of the estate tax. It should instead be the catalyst to reform the tax by limiting the estate tax charitable deduction.

November 26, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)