Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

CLE On Same-Sex Marriage and Estate Planning

CLEThe American Bar Association is presenting a CLE entitled, Same-Sex Marriage and Estate Planning: Nope, It’s Not Over Yet!, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 12:00-1:30pm Central, online.  Here is why you should attend:

On June 26th, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the right of same-sex couples to marry is constitutionally protected and thus available on a nationwide basis.

While the ruling provides some clarity, it also raises new questions. It brings new state property rights and responsibilities to couples who may have been married for years. The ruling will be applied retroactively which may result in the reclassification of property that was thought to be separately owned into marital property, including community property and tenancy by the entirety property.

The panelists will discuss the new world of estate planning for same-sex married couples, including how to evaluate current estate plans, changes that may be appropriate, and pitfalls to watch for.

June 30, 2015 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Has Released Proposed ABLE Account Regulations

ABLE1The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released proposed regulations that will serve the purpose of implementing a new law that authorizes states to offer ABLE accounts.  Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts are designed to help people with disabilities and their family save money while reducing or eliminating the tax burden.  This column explains some of the features of ABLE accounts and how they can be a benefit to people who are disabled.  The IRS regulations can be read here.  

See Lewis J. Saret, Guidance Under Section 529A: Qualified ABLE Programs, Wealth Strategies Journal, June 26, 2015.

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

June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Same-Sex Couples Will Now Have Equal Access To Social Security Benefits

Same sex marriageSocial Security is one of the many government programs that will be impacted by the recent Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision.  Because of Friday’s historic decision same-sex couples can now use the same benefit boosting strategies as heterosexual couples.  “In fact, the ruling could add anywhere from $20,000 to more than $250,000 in lifetime benefits to same-sex couples, says Christopher Jones, chief investment officer at Financial Engines.”  Same-sex couples would also be able to use the “file-and-suspend” claiming strategy to boost spousal benefits.  Couples should be aware of the benefits that are available for them and they should plan ahead for the future. 

See Robert Powell, Same-sex couples to get big Social Security bonus, USA Today, June 26, 2015. 

June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kirk Kerkorian Leaves Behind A $2 Billion Estate

Kirk kerkorianI have previously discussed the estate of the late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian.  The casino tycoon Kirk Kerkorian who passed away recently at the age of 98 has left behind an estate that is worth about $2 billion.  Kerkorian’s will, which was filed in Las Angeles superior court, has designated several beneficiaries who will each be receiving millions of dollars.  Anthony Mandekic, the secretary and treasurer of the Tracinda Corp., has been named in the court documents as the executor of Kerkorian’s estate.

See Casino Tycoon Left an Estate Worth More Than $2 Billion, West Side Today, June 29, 2015.

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

June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Estate Planning For A Widow

CoffinThe loss of a spouse is one of the worst traumas a person can endure and will often leave one boggled on how to manage an estate that had traditionally been managed by two. But there are ways to minimize having to make crucial decisions while still in a state of bewilderment and depression by following some of these tips:

  • Before death, spouses should seek professional help to draft wills for each one and clearly express how the estate is expected to pass. Being clear with wishes long before illness or death is the best way to protect the survivor.
  • Make sure each spouse has a bank account in their own name with enough funds to cover expenses after death. If joint bank accounts are frozen in probate then the survivor might find themselves in financial need.
  • Make sure all estate related documents, such as wills and life insurance policies, are updates with the names of the proper beneficiaries. Misnaming a person could lead to costly court cost and large sums of money passing to someone that was never intended.
  • The most important planning technique is to make sure that you have a network of friends and family who may help through a post death crisis. The emotional turmoil from losing a spouse may cause people to make poor decisions that could be avoided if there are trusted people around to advise a better course of action.

See Sandra MacGregor, The Widow's Guide To Estate Planning And Wealth Transfer, Forbes, June 2, 2015.

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

June 30, 2015 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE On 2015 Estate Planning and Probate Drafting

CLEThe Texas Bar Association is presenting a CLE entitled, Estate Planning and Probate Drafting 2015, October 8-9, 2015, at The Westin Houston Memorial City Hotel.  Here is why you should attend:

Topics Include:

  • Top 10 Considerations for Drafting to Avoid Litigation
  • 2015 Texas Estate and Trust Legislative Update
  • Is It Fair to Be Equal? Working with Equalization Provisions
  • Marital Property Issues in Drafting Planning Documents
  • The Agent Can Do WHAT?! Drafting Tips to Empower Agents While Protecting Principals Under a Power of Attorney

Course Amenities

  • Coffee and breakfast provided each morning
  • Lunch provided both days
  • Complimentary wireless connection in the meeting room
  • Convenient access to electrical connections - bring your laptop!
  • Networking Social on Thursday night (Houston site only)

June 30, 2015 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court Ends Conservatorship Of Zsa Zsa Gabor

Article PictureA Los Angeles County judge has ended the conservatorship of Zsa Zsa Gabor by her husband, Prince Von Anhalt, following the death of Gabor's daughter who originally brought suit. In the past, there were mutual accusations between Anhalt and the daughter that each was stealing from Gabor's estate which lead to a bitter feud and several court filings. The estate appears to consist largely of a Bel-Air mansion that is scheduled to be sold in September 2018 in order to allow the actress, who has suffered from severe health complications recently, to likely die in her own home.

See Colleen Park, Judge ends Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband’s conservatorship, My News LA, June 4, 2015.

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

June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Papers: ACTEC Law Journal -- Estate Planning In the 21st Century: Seismic Shifts and Predictions for the Future


The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel announces a Call For Papers on the following topics: 

Estate planning has radically changed in the last several decades.   Statutes such as the Uniform Probate Code and the Uniform Parentage Act altered the presumptive definitions of such terms as "children" and "descendants" to include a much broader range of beneficiaries, including adoptees, out-of-wedlock children, and in some cases foster children and stepchildren.  Some children may now inherit from more than two parents.  Very recent changes have broadened those allowed to marry and thus inherit in intestacy from each other.  The assets dealt with by estate planners have transformed dramatically, with the rise in the acceptance of non-probate forms of title, digital assets, etc.  Perpetual trusts, once allowed only for charities, now exist for families, with attendant issues such as decanting, virtual representation, and non-judicial trust modification.  Advance health care directives have become a common tool in the estate planner's box, and in a few states estate planners may deal with clients opting for physician aid in dying.  Papers will address ways in which estate planning has transformed in the last 20, 30 or 40 years, and how it may continue to change over a comparable time in the future.  

We encourage submissions by co-authors, especially those teaming an experienced estate planning with novices or students.  Articles that delve into one or two changes deeply are preferred over those which skim multiple changes.   Accepted articles will be published in the ACTEC Law Journal, Volume 41 Issue 2. 

Deadline for submissions:  December 1, 2015 to Professor Kris Knaplund, Editor, ACTEC Law Journal, at kris.knaplund@pepperdine.edu.  Footnotes should use conventional Bluebook form.  Early submissions are encouraged and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. 

June 30, 2015 in Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Florida, A Lawyer For A Guardian Vicariously Liable To Ward

GavelKarim Saadeh was an elderly immigrant who had accumulated a sizable fortune when, in his old age, he lost control of his estate after making a series of gifts to a younger women.  The court appointed a guardian for Mr. Saadeh and the guardian in turn hired an attorney of their own who assisted in advising Mr. Saadeh to sign a trust instrument that had negative implications for the estate. As a result, the guardians attorney was sued, among others, for malpractice but the case was initially thrown out for a lack of privity between Saadeh and the attorney.

In Saadeh v. Connors, the Florida District Appeals Court held that the attorney was liable to the ward of a guardian that was a client. The duty of care owed by an attorney, in these situations, extends to a third party that was intended to benefit from any advise offered. The third party may sue for malpractice and the claim will not be barred due to a lack of privity.

See Brian Spiro, Florida Attorney for Emergency Temporary Guardian Owes Duty of Care to Temporary Ward, Clark Skatoff, June 26, 2015.

- See more at: http://www.clarkskatoff.com/news-resources/blog/florida-attorney-for-emergency-temporary-guardian-owes-duty-of-care-to-temporary-ward/#sthash.LV6NvW00.dpuf

June 30, 2015 in Guardianship, Malpractice, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Marilyn Monroe’s Grave Marker Sold For $212,500

MonroeThe grave marker of the late celebrity icon Marilyn Monroe was recently sold at the Hollywood Legends auction for $212,500.  Originally, the grave marker from Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Las Angeles was estimated to be worth $2,000-$4,000 dollars.  The auction also sold off other personal items that were attributed to Marilyn Monroe like the dress that she wore in the movie ‘Something’s Gotta Give.’

See Marilyn Monroe’s grave marker sells for $212,500 at Julien’s Auctions ‘Hollywood Legends’ sale, Art Daily, June 29, 2015.  

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