Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, May 29, 2015

Estate Tax Repeal Efforts Face Uphill Battle

Estate tax reformThe U.S. of Representatives recently passed a bill to abolish the federal Estate Tax (Death Tax).  In order to become law this bill is going to have to survive a number of hurdles.  The Bill would first need to pass through the Senate with 60 votes to bypass a filibuster.  Republicans currently have a 54 seat majority, so they would need the votes of at least six Democrats to reach the necessary 60 vote threshold.  Even if the bill manages to get through the Senate, it would still need to be signed into law by the President.  Convincing President Obama to sign this bill would be a difficult task given his expressed position in support of maintaining the estate tax.  Given the current political realities, efforts to abolish the estate tax will probably not be successful until at least after the 2016 elections. 

See Tom Nawrocki, The politics of repealing the estate tax, LifeHealthpro, May 27, 2015.

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

May 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Minnesota House Passes Estate Tax Reform Bill

Death taxThe Minnesota House of Representatives has passed a bill that would gradually raise the threshold of wealth subject to State estate taxes over a three year period.  Under current Minnesota law, estates worth more than $2 million are subject to the estate tax, the bill that was passed would raise that threshold to $5 million.  The Heritage Foundation, which is one of the groups advocating for this legislation, would eventually like to see the State estate tax done away with entirely. 

See Warner Todd Huston, Minnesota House Passes Death Tax Reform, May 28, 2015.

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

May 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Expecting An Inheritance? Depends On Country, Which Parent Legacy Is Coming From.

InheritanceA recent survey by HSBC has revealed interesting differences between attitudes of men and women when it comes to inheritance. The study found that women were more concerned about maintaining some assets to hand down to the next generation while men who were more inclined to spend everything before death. The country of residence also played a part in attitudes about inheritance as the people living within an advanced economy were more inclined to spend it all than leave anything to their descendants. This report goes to show that attitudes about inheritance are wide ranging and every estate planner should know if a client wants their last ever check to bounce or pass down a sizable to bequest to loved ones.

See Laura Shin, Survey: Whether To Leave An Inheritance Or Spend It All Varies By Gender, Country, Forbes, May 28, 2015.

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

May 29, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Woman Accused Of Altering Stepfathers Will

WillsA Tamarac, Florida woman has been accused of forging portions of her stepfather's will in addition to forging signatures of family members. The women left herself an expensive recreational vehicle and had her step father sign a quit claim deed to the family homestead. The judge has set bond at $100,000 and would require the wearing of an ankle bracelet upon release.

See Wayne Rouston, Woman stole over $100K by altering stepfather's will, investigators say, Sun Sentinel, May 28, 2015.

May 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article On Law and the Problem of Restricted-Spending Philanthropy

Brian GalleBrian T. Galle (Assistant Professor, Boston College Law School) recently published an article  entitled, Pay It Forward? Law and the Problem of Restricted-Spending Philanthropy, Washington University Law Review, (2016). Provided below is an excerpt from the article:

American foundations and other philanthropic giving entities hold about $1 trillion in investment assets, and that figure continues to grow every year. Even as urgent contemporary needs go unmet, philanthropic organizations spend only a tiny fraction of their wealth each year, mostly due to restrictive terms in contracts between donors and firms limiting the rate at which donations can be distributed. Law has played a critical role in underwriting and encouraging this build-up of philanthropic wealth. For instance, contributors can typically take a full tax deduction for the value of their contribution today, no matter when the foundation spends their money, and pay no tax on the investment earnings the organization reaps in the meantime.

What, if anything, justifies public support for “restricted spending” charity? This Article offers the first comprehensive assessment of that question, and supplies original empirical evidence on several key aspects of it. I argue that restricted spending sacrifices crucial information, introduces unnecessary agency costs, and on average transfers funds to times when they are less useful. While there is a place for large and long-lived philanthropic organizations in American society, that role does not require public support for restricted spending. As long as foundations can demonstrate their value to new donors, they will continue to thrive. I therefore set out a series of policy recommendations aimed at better reconciling nonprofit law and the principles that justify it.

I support my claims with new evidence drawn from a data set of over 200,000 firm-year observations of private foundations. For example, I find that foundations earn about twice as much money per year as in earlier studies funded by foundation-industry lobbyists, and that they are growing three times faster than those earlier studies suggest. This finding implies that law could require a much higher annual “payout” from foundations. I also find that new laws introduced in about a dozen states since 2006 have significantly slowed foundation spending in the enacting states. And I offer simulations of several policy proposals for making foundations more effective at fighting recessions.

May 29, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE Estate Tax Returns & Estate Expense

CLEThe American Bar Association presents a paralegal CLE entitled, Introduction to Estate Tax Returns, Estate Expense, Thursday June 4, 2015, 12:300-1:30 Central online. Here is why you should attend:

Attendees of the Paralegal eLearning Program will learn substantive legal and ethics issues – as well as best practices – from leading industry professionals with in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience in Trust & Estate Law.  The program will offer ten 60-minute eLearning sessions, and attendees can register for the entire series or individual sessions.

As an added bonus, all Paralegal eLearning Program series registrants will receive a complimentary Associate membership in both the ABA and Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law for the 2014-2015 bar year.

May 29, 2015 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Avoid Elder Financial Planning ‘Red Flags’

Red-flagAbout ten thousand people will turn sixty five each day until 2030, and by 2050 more than twenty percent of the U.S. population will be over sixty five.  With a greater share of the population entering into old age, more people are expected to suffer from some type of diminished capacity.  Regulators are applying increasing scrutiny to financial planners in order to protect the elderly from being taken advantage of.  Financial advisers should avoid certain “red flags” when consulting elderly clients.  Planners should avoid making investments that are risky and speculative. Advisers with elderly clients should also avoid promoting certain complex and difficult to explain investment products.

See Miriam Rozen, Elder Financial Abuse: Regulators’ Red Flags, Financial Planning, May 26, 2015. 

May 28, 2015 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Plan Ahead To Avoid Family Heirloom Disputes

HeirloomDisputes over family heirlooms that have both monetary and sentimental value can create tension and divide families.  It is a good idea for a person creating a will to plan ahead about who they will be inheriting the heirlooms.  Clients should be advised to discuss these issues with friends and family ahead of time.  Talk with loved ones about what heirlooms they would like to inherit so that future confusion and conflicts can be avoided. 

See Ray and Dana Brandon, Heirloom Jewelry and Your Heirs, The daily News, May 28, 2015. 

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

May 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Without An Estate Plan Property Might Go To State

RyanI have previously discussed how an unknown descendent of Lizzie Ryan could be eligible to inherit a $788,000 estate.  If an heir is not found in thirty years then the estate will go to the British Crown.  In the United States, if an heir is not found then the property often escheats to the State government after a certain amount of time.  If a person does not want their property to go to the state it is important to have an estate plan. 

See Idaho Estate Planning, Leaving Your Estate To The State?, Wealth Management, May 27, 2015.

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

May 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Audrey Hepburn’s Two Sons Each Claim Belongings

Audrey hepburnAudrey Hepburn’s two sons are currently disputing over ownership of her personal belongings.  The two brothers are feuding over a storage unit “filled with posters, photos, costumes, awards and other memorabilia.”  The “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” star, who passed away more than 22 years ago, never decreed who would take possession of these items.  The two brothers are most likely going to let a judge divide up the property. 

See Derrick Bryson Taylor, Audrey Hepburn’s kids still fighting over her stuff, New York Post, May 27, 2015.  

May 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)