Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Factoring Pets Into An Estate Plan

Family petFor many people their pet is like a member of the family.  People will want to make sure that their beloved animal companion is taken care of after they pass away.  Most states allow people to set up pet trusts to provide for their pet if something were to happen to them.  This article discusses some of the important items that people should remember when setting up a pet trust.  A pet trust that is put together well would be an important part of the estate plan.  The pet owner should provide detailed instructions in the trust instrument about how they want their pet to be taken care of.  It is a good idea to seek out the assistance of an estate planning professional who is familiar with the process of setting up pet trusts. 

See Catherine F. Scott Murray, Caring for Pets As Part of Your Estate Plan, The National Law Review, April 21, 2016.

Special thanks to Donna Turley for bringing this article to my attention.

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

Why The Government Will Get Over Half Of Prince’s Estate

Prince2As I have previously mentioned the late legendary Prince passed away without a will.  This article discusses how over half of his estate may likely go to the government.  “Both the federal government and Minnesota’s state government will assess so-called “death taxes” or estate taxes on Prince’s assets, taking away more than half his estate.”  With more estate planning Prince might have been able to take steps to reduce the amount of taxes that would have been taken from his estate.  As this article mentions, he leaves behind a massive estate that could be worth anywhere between $300 and $500 million.  Because there was no will the Prince estate will be distributed in accordance with Minnesota intestacy laws.

See Rachel Grezler, Why Over Half of Prince’s Estate Will Go to the Government, The Daily Signal, April 29, 2016.

April 30, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, Intestate Succession, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court Challenge Puts Klingon Language In Copyright Crosshairs

KlingonKlingon has entered the pop culture collective conscience as the true mark of a hardcore Trekkie with the most diehard fans becoming fluent in the surprisingly developed language. But a copyright battle between Paramount and a group of fans who produced a high budget movie based on the Trek universe has put control of Klingon at center stage. Paramount, the owner of the franchise rights, is seeking to enforce a copyright over the language which could potentially give the studio the right to restrict it's use at any time. However, opponents of the power grab have filed amicus briefs seeking to restrict Paramount from exercising complete control while drawing comparisons to the Academie Francaise which regulates the French language. So, for the time being, the future of Klingon is in doubt but at least the battle will be fought with a ferocity that would make a warrior of the empire (well, the lawyer warriors at least) proud.

QaStaHvIS yIn tlhIngan wo'!!!!

See Ed Krayewski, Paramount Copyright Claim on Klingon Language Challenged in Klingon Language, Reason Magazine, April 28, 2016.

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

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

CLE On Skills Training For Estate Planners

CLEThe American Bar Association is sponsoring a CLE entitled, Skills Training for Estate Planners, which will take place from July 17-22, 2016 in at the New York Law School in New York City. Provided below are some details about the upcoming CLE:

This is the ideal estate planning CLE program for both new and experienced lawyers. Young or transitioning lawyers new to the practice will receive a strong educational experience focused on the “how to” of estate planning in the program’s Fundamentals course; while more experienced lawyers will appreciate the opportunity to further expand their knowledge in the program’s Advanced Topics course. The outstanding faculty includes experts in all aspects of estate planning and will cover a wide range of topics.

April 30, 2016 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Are All The Good Social Security Strategies Gone?

Social security mythsCongress has recently made many changes to Social Security.  This article wonders if there are any good Social Security strategies left that people can still use.  The file and suspend technique was done away with at the end of this month of April.  Another loophole being done away with is the “deemed filing” loophole which “allowed married couples to claim just a spousal benefit at their full retirement age, while allowing their own benefit to grow and accumulate delayed retirement credits until age 70.”  This article discusses some alternative Social Security strategies that married couples might be able to use.  “One strategy that could work well for married couples is to have the lower earner apply for benefits on time, while the higher-earning spouse waits and lets their own retirement benefit grow.”  There are also more policy changes that will likely be made in the future as congress attempts to fix Social Security funding issues. 

See Matthew Frankel, Did Congress Kill All the Good Social Security Strategies?, My San Antonio, April 29, 2016.

April 29, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Minnesota Is The Only State Left That Still Does not Allow Pet Trusts

Pet trustsIt has become standard practice for states to permit pet trusts to be included in an estate plan.  Minnesota is the only state left that does not allow pet trusts.  There are lawmakers in Minnesota who would like to change the law and permit these kinds of trusts.  “It seems that Rep. Dennis Smith, most likely along with his dog Reagan, planned to make the case to Smith's colleagues that it was time for Minnesota to end this unique designation.”  In the State of Minnesota people can make gifts to their pets in their wills, but there is no legal requirement that money be spent on those pets.  With a pet trust the cash must be spent on the animal as a matter of law.  In every other state besides Minnesota people can set up a pet trust with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney.

See Kyle E. Krull, How Many States Allow “Pet Trusts” as Part of an Estate Plan?, The Law Offices of Kyle E. Krull P.A., April 28, 2016.

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

April 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Should People Do If They Missed The File And Suspend Deadline?

Social securityThe file and suspend strategy that spouses use with Social Security was done away with in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.  Today is the last day that file and suspend will be available as an option.  “This option allows filers to apply for their benefits and then immediately suspend them and allow them to grow into a larger benefit in the future and collect spousal or other family benefits in the meantime.”  Those who have been caught unprepared and failed to use the file and suspend strategy by today’s April 29 deadline may still be able to use a Form 795 to buy an extra six months to get the actual filing done.  In order to qualify the person should be at least 66 years old and must file the Protective Filing Statement using Form 795 by today. 

See Mark P. Cussen, Late to File and Suspend? File Form 795 for an Extension, Investopedia, April 28, 2016.

April 29, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Living With Friends In Retirement

Senior housingThis article examines the growing trend of senior citizens living with friends in their old age.  There are two events coming up that this article mentions.  “April 30 is National Cohousing Open House Day, when more than 90 cohousing communities around the country will welcome visitors for tours and Q&A sessions. Then on May 20 and 21, a national cohousing conference, Aging Better Together, will take place in Salt Lake City.”  Cohousing is becoming a more attractive and affordable option for senior citizens who are looking to cut down on expenses.  This is a new developing industry that will likely expand in the upcoming decades.  This article attempts to provide accurate information to dispel many of the popular misconceptions that people have about cohousing. 

See Denise Logeland, The Pros And Cons Of Living With Friends In Older Age, Forbes, April 29, 2016.

April 29, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article On Inheritance Penalties For Children In Nontraditional Families

Pen and PaperDanaya C. Wright (Professor, Levin College of Law) recently published an article entitled, Inheritance Equity: Reforming The Inheritance Penalties Facing Children In Nontraditional Families, Cornell J.L. & Pub. Pol'y Vol. 25, No. 1 (Fall 2015). Provided below is an abstract of the article:

This Article examines how more than 50% of children living today may be disadvantaged by 1950s era inheritance laws that privilege and protect only those children living in nuclear families with their biological parents. Because so many children today are living in blended families—single-parent families, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning (LGBTQ) families, or are living with relatives—their right to inherit from the persons who function as their parents is severely limited by most state probate codes, even though they would likely be entitled to child support under the parent-child definitions of most of those states’ family law codes.

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

Did Prince Have A Child After All?

PrinceSince the unexpected death of music legend Prince from what now appears to be an overdose of prescription pain killers the issue of who his estate will pass to has been a question asked by many. A recent filing in probate court by his full sister indicates that the family knows of no children with a host of siblings being the heirs presumptive at this point. However, a genealogical service is coming forward stating to have been contacted by an individual who claims to be Prince's child from a short lived relationship in the 80's. The service indicates that they think the claim has genuine merit but have not revealed any additional details about who the suspected child might be. Due to Prince dying without a will, any children would inherit the entire estate under Minnesota intestacy laws and completely exclude any other family members. But until the claim has been confirmed with a DNA test there is nothing to do but speculate on the existence of hidden heirs.

See Ryan Parry, Minnesota man is claiming to be Prince's 'love child' from a fling with his mom in the '80s as the music legend’s sister asks to be in charge of his $300 million estate, The Daily Mail, April 28, 2016.

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

April 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)