Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bobbi Brown Files for Guardianship Over Bobbi Kristina's Estate

Bobbi brownJust days after R&B singer Bobby Brown left his comatose daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown to perform in Dallas, Bobby filed for guardianship over her estate. 

A lawyer for Brown has said, “Bobbi Kristina’s condition has changed since moving from Emory University Hospital and there has been improvement.  Doctors have indicated that she will have a long life. However, Bobbi Kristina is presently embarking on a rehabilitation process and the quality of her life will not be known for years to come.”

See Stephanie Webber, Bobby Brown Files for Guardianship Over Bobbi Kristina’s Estate: Report, US News, Apr. 25, 2015. 

April 28, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Retirement Positivity Up

ChartA recent survey on attitudes regarding retirement reveals that positivity is rising.  In Employee Benefit Research Institute's 25th annual Retirement Confidence Survey, twice as many individuals described themselves as "very confident" in reaching a comfortable retirement compared to the 2013 survey. Those very confident individuals made up 37 percent of workers surveyed and an additional 36 percent are "somewhat confident." However, the lack of positive changes in retirement planning and savings, led the survey's research director to conclude that the increase in positive outlooks may be the result of "false optimism."

See Mark Miller, U.S. Retirement Confidence Soars Despite Grim Realities, Reuters, Apr. 21, 215.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

April 28, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Disbarred Estate Planning Attorney Charged With Grand Larceny

TheftA previously disbarred New York attorney is facing charges of third-degree grand larceny and a violation of the judiciary law that could result in up to seven years in prison. The former attorney was disbarred 2007. The charges are the result of allegedly representing himself as an attorney to a couple seeking help with a friend's estate in 2012. The couple allegedly paid $34,247 for various estate planning expenses, but only the deceased's will was filed, which did not accrue any fees.

See Disbarred Attorney Charged With Stealing $34,000 in Funds, Queens Chronicle, Apr. 23, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 28, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Argument for UFTA Including Future Creditors

LawThere is disagreement over whether fraudulent transfer laws include those made against "future creditors." An argument that "future creditors" are included comes from the language of  Section 4 of the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (“UFTA”), which includes "future creditors" in the title and the phrase "whether the creditor’s claim arose before or after the transfer was made or the obligation was incurred" in paragraph (a) of Section 4.

See Jay Adkisson, The Fraudulent Transfer Laws Do Indeed Apply To Future Creditors, Forbes, Apr. 27, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

April 28, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

6th Annual Domestic Asset Protection Trust State Rankings Chart

WinnerSteve Oshins' 6th Annual Domestic Asset Protection Trust State Rankings Chart has been released this month. The chart provides the top 15 states. Provided below are the states that ranked top five:

  1. Nevada
  2. South Dakota
  3. Tennessee
  4. Ohio
  5. Tie - Delaware & Missouri

April 28, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 27, 2015

State Bar Judge Rules To Disbar Lawyer for Misappropriation

Gavel 3When Michael Scott Keck removed $55,000 from the trust fund of a client who was in prison in order to repay a debt to another client, the bar suspended him from practice.  Now, a State Bar Court judge has recommended that a San Francisco attorney be disbarred.  Keck has practiced law since 1986 and had no prior record of misconduct. 

At the disciplinary trial, Keck testified that the fund’s previous financial advisor authorized him to borrow the money in the trust.  However, that testimony lacked credibility since an attorney should know that the adviser would not have the authority to allow a loan from trust assets.  Keck was “dishonest, concealed material facts from [his client] and others, and acted in bad faith,” the judge said in regards to Keck’s case.  Despite Keck’s good record in his practice of law, the judge said misappropriating a client’s funds is grounds four disbarment.

See Bob Egelko, State Bar Court Judge Rules to Disbar S.F. Lawyer for Taking Funds, SF Gate, Apr. 24, 2015.

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

April 27, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Malpractice, Professional Responsibility, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Estate Tax Payers Outnumbered by Moon Walkers

Bill maherOn his April 17th show, Bill Maher made an “out-of-this world” comparison to undermine the argument that the estate tax threatens the livelihoods of “family farmers.”  Of the 5,000 Americans who paid the estate tax in 2013, twenty farmers paid it. Maher compared that number to the twenty-four Americans who have been to the moon.  “More astronauts have been to the moon than farmers who paid the inheritance tax.” 

While seemingly absurd, Maher’s claim is mostly true.  According to the Tax Policy Center, an estimated 20 small farms and small businesses would have had to pay the estate tax in 2013, accounting to a total of $6.9 million of tax with an average tax rate of 4.9 percent. Alan D. Viard, scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, says the estate tax has flaws, but the effect on farmers is “just not the right grounds to criticize this tax.”  He believes Maher’s point was strong. 

See Katie Sanders, Bill Maher Says More Americans Have Been to the Moon Than Farmers Who Paid the Estate Tax in 2013, Politifact, Apr. 23, 2015.

April 27, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Article on Taxpayer Guidance Mitigating Tax Compliance Risks

Jeffrey AnandJeffrey Anand (Hofstra University School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Virtual Economies Virtually Unregulated: How Clear Taxpayer Guidance Can Mitigate Tax Compliance Risks, 43 Hofstra L. Rev. 253-290 (2014).  Provided below is a portion of the article’s introduction:

With the national debt rapidly approaching  $18 trillion, the need for the U.S. government to increase revenue has soared to new heights. In light of this fiscal crisis, the government has consistently sought ways to increase revenue through its taxing power by: increasing marginal tax brackets; implementing new taxes; and imposing additional reporting requirements to foster compliance. Despite these initiatives, the government has failed to provide clear and comprehensive guidance to taxpayers and practitioners regarding tax consequences arising from virtual economies and virtual currencies, multi-billion dollar industries, and growing sources of noncompliance with the existing tax code.

Virtual worlds provide a continuous and growing source of entertainment for individuals, primarily in the form of simulated interactions between characters in constantly changing environments. Scripted virtual worlds provide social havens for players seeking to express themselves in contexts other than everyday life, enabling them to quest, raid, and band together with other players to achieve common goals. On the other hand, unscripted virtual worlds offer minimal guidance to participants, and instead, focus on merely providing a simulated world, leaving the level of interaction purely up to the individual. Regardless of which type of virtual world one chooses to engage in, barter transactions, exchanges, prizes, in-game windfalls, and sales of virtual goods for real currency may give rise to potential tax consequences.

April 27, 2015 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples in 4 Steps

Gay couplesWhen creating an estate plan for same-sex couples, there are 4 important steps that an Estate Planner should follow: 

  • First, make sure to have all of the basic estate planning documents completed. 
  • Second, remember to review all of the designated beneficiaries.  Make a list of accounts and beneficiary designations to put with other estate documents.
  • Third, put into joint ownership property like “cash, investment accounts and real estate assets.” 
  • Finally, think about creating a revocable trust (often called a “living trust”). This would allow assets to be kept in the trust while retaining control. 

See Katie Williams, 4 Key Steps to Creating a Formal Estate Plan for Same-Sex Couples, Nashville Business Journal, April 24, 2015.  

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 27, 2015 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Minnesota Considering Estate Tax Change

Tax CutA big change may be coming to the Minnesota estate tax. Currently, the state's estate tax exemption is set at $1.4 million and will increase to $2 million by 2018. A House bill being considered by Minnesota lawmakers would accelerate the jump to the $2 million exemption to make it happen this year, and bump the scheduled 2018 exemption up to $5 million. Additionally, the bill would change the tax rate from a 9 to 16 percent range, to a flat 16 percent rate.

See Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Lawmakers Poised To Limit Reach Of Estate Tax, Waseca County News, Apr. 23, 2015.

April 27, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)