Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Managing Finances During The Golden Years

End of life financesMaking sure that a person has quality end-of-life care during their final years can be difficult, and it is crucial to make sure that their finances are in order.  If a person is a trustee or power of attorney of an elderly individual then it is never too early to start planning ahead on maintaining financial stability.  “Sometimes the trustee or power of attorney (or POA) is conflicted about whether to manage money for the elderly person -- who, if healthy, may never need long-term care -- or the heirs.”  In order to make the money saved up for long-term-care last it is a good idea to put the cost of 5 years in a private facility into liquid investments.  The retirement savings should act like a sort of pension for the elderly individual.  There might be annuity risks involved, so it is important to look for a solid highly-rated company.

See Judy Martel, Managing end-of-life finances, Bankrate, March 30, 2016.

March 30, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article On Trust Protectors

TrustsLawrence A. Frolik (University of Pittsburgh School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Trust Protectors: Why They Have Become ‘The Next Best Thing,’ Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Journal, Vol. 50, P. 267 (December 1, 2015). Provided below is an abstract of the article:

Settlors are increasingly naming trust protectors, particularly for trusts that may endure for many years, because of the possible need to amend the trust in light of changing laws and changing circumstances. Trust protectors have also become popular for trusts with beneficiaries who have an intellectual disability that may prevent them from enforcing their beneficial interest in the trust. The selection of a protector, the powers to be granted the protector and the standard of care required of the protector require thoughtful consideration. This Article also discusses the origin of trust protectors, their current statutory basis, and the few existing cases that analyze the legal status and role of a trust protector.

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

March 30, 2016 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE On Advanced Texas Guardianship Law

CLEThe State Bar of Texas is hosting a CLE entitled, Advanced Guardianship Law 2016, which will take place at the Westin Hotel Galleria on April 14, 2016, live. Provided below are some details on the event:

Course Highlights Include:

  • Guardianship Legislative Update
  • Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Jurisdiction Act
  • Role of the Ad Litem: Expanded Duties of the Ad Litem and the Attorney Ad Litem
  • How 2015 Changes are Affecting Your Practice
  • Mental Illness and the Perception of Mental Illness and Diminished Capacity
  • 4th Hour Ad Litem Certification - Supports and Services
  • Litigation - Recurring Topics, Latest Trends, and Pattern Jury Charges
  • Modification / Restoration
  • Concluding Guardianship Proceedings
  • Conflicts in Representation

March 30, 2016 in Conferences & CLE, Guardianship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article On Life Insurance And Retirement Plan Benefits

Pen and PaperAlbert Feuer (Law Offices of Albert Feuer) recently published an article entitled, Life Insurance and Retirement Plan Benefits: Are Your Clients Achieving Their Intended Goals?, NYSBA J. 28 (March/April 2016). Provided below is an abstract of the article:

A substantial part of the assets of many individuals consists of benefits from life insurance and retirement plans (collectively "plan benefits" and "plans,"respectively). As an individual's family, friends, and preferred charities change, the intended goals of the individual with respect to the disposition of his or her probate assets and his or her plan benefits may change. Individuals, may not rely on many of the traditional rules of construction for probate asset dispositions to conform their designations to their intended goals, particularly as those goals change. This is particularly the case for benefits from ERISA plans and for plans for federal employees that are not governed by those state rules.

March 30, 2016 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Estate Of Michael Jackson Forces Former Manager To Amend Complaint

Michael JacksonDespite the recent good news for the estate of last music icon Michael Jackson, such as the three quarters of a billion dollar deal with Sony, there are still reminders from the dark final years before the singers death. This includes the ongoing lawsuit from his former manager claiming am ongoing percentage of the gross receipts of the sales of Jackson's music as well as from the sale of Neverland Ranch. However, the estate scored a recent victory when it forced the manager's legal team to amend their complaint which follows in the footsteps of it's victory against the manager in front of the of the California Labor Commission over the legality of the terms of a contract. However, these victories may be hollow with recent reports indicating that Jackson's estate faces a huge estate tax bill from the IRS potentially in the hundreds of millions. As of now the trial over the managerial fees is set to begin May 3.

See Ashley Cullins, Judge Allows Michael Jackson's Ex-Manager to Amend Complaint Against Estate, The Hollywood Reporter, March 29, 2016.

March 30, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Research Shows Alzheimer's Can Be Detected As Soon As 40's

DementiaAlzheimer's Disease is an unfortunate fact of life for many retirees and older adults due to its impact on every aspect of a sufferer's life. But much research has been directed towards finding the exact cause of the disorder and a new study may have made an important forward step in that quest. The study showed that arterial stiffness has a negative impact on the brain and is connected to the release of the protein that accumulates in the brain and causes the disease. This stiffening, along with other conditions such as atherosclerosis and strokes, can develop as early as one's early 40's as a result of high systolic blood pressure. Researchers showed some surprise that they were able to identify damage at such an early age and expressed hope that new treatments and prevention methods may be derived from this knowledge. Hopefully this discovery is just the latest forward progress to be made in combating the scourge that is Alzheimer's.

See David DiSalvo, Study: Early Links To Alzheimer's Can Appear In Your 40s, Forbes, March 29, 2016.

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

March 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why Opening A 529 Plan Might Be A Bad Idea

529 planWhen people plan on saving for college 529 Plans can offer some advantages for growing the college savings money tax-free, but there are also some drawbacks that are discussed in this article.  One of the first major downsides is that the money saved with a 529 Plan has to be used for college or else the person who set up the plan could be stuck paying a 10% penalty on investment gains.  The plan creator might also be hit with high fees by whoever is the plan administrator.  The investment choices in a 529 Plan are also limited and might not be diverse enough to help a person reach their investment goals.  A 529 Plan is not always going to be a bad idea and might be beneficial in certain circumstances.  It is important for people to be fully informed about the pros and cons of using such an investment plan.

See Maurie Backman, 3 Reasons Not to Open a 529 Plan, My San Antonio, March 28, 2016.

March 29, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Signs That A Person Might Be Abusing Their Credit Cards

Credit card abuseThis article discusses some of the signs that people should watch out for if they are relying too much on their credit cards.  People should keep up with their credit and take action if their credit score starts to suffer.  If the minimum payment is all that a person can afford when paying down the credit cards then there is a problem.  Shuffling debts around is another sign of a problem that people should be alert about.  It is also a bad sign if a person is maxing out their credit cards and reaching their limit.  People can get control of the situation by reducing the amount of money they spend and consolidating their debt.  It is also a good idea to ask for a lower interest rate and to pay back more than just the minimum required payments. 

See Matthew Frankel, 4 Signs You’re Abusing Your Credit Cards, My San Antonio, March 28, 2016.

March 29, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deadlines For Filing Taxes

Tax dayThis year’s tax day is going to be on April 18, 2016, instead of the usual April 15 date.  The reason for this change in the tax date is because this year April 15 will fall on Emancipation Day which is a federal holiday.  Any person who wants an extension for filing their taxes “must file Form 4868 before April 18.”  The new deadline for anyone who successfully filed for an extension will be October 17, 2016.  People who are owed a tax refund will be given an extra three years to file their taxes to claim it.  It is a good idea for people to stay on top of getting their tax returns filed on time and hopefully this article will be of some assistance to those who need to remember the deadlines. 

See Brian Stoffel, This Is the Absolute Last Day You Can File Your 2015 Taxes, My San Antonio, March 28, 2016.

March 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Important Things People Should Know About Estate Taxes

Estate taxThe vast majority of Americans will not have to worry about federal estate taxes, but they may be liable for estate taxes at the state level.  The estate tax can also be referred to as the “death tax,” and it is a tax which is paid out of the estate when a person passes away.  A married couple can combine their estate tax exemption amount, but they don’t get to share their exemption until one of the spouses dies.  Whatever state a person resides in will impact how much that person pays in state estate taxes.  There are also a handful of states that have a separate inheritance tax which heirs may have to face.  It is important for people to stay educated and informed about their states policies and regulations concerning the estate tax.

See Tracy Craig, 4 Things You Probably Don’t Understand About Estate Taxes, Money, March 28, 2016.

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

March 29, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)