Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Arizonans Pay Less for Funeral Services Compared To Rest of Nation

Cremated Angel - "Cremated, eh? Well, just try not to get all over everything."Including burial and viewing services, the median cost of a funeral in the U.S. is $7,360. The average cost in Arizona is $6,681. Judith Stapley, executive director of the Arizona Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, believes these lower costs are related to the higher-than-average use of cremation services. Stapley noted that Arizona has a cremation rate of 68%, significantly higher than the national rate of 50%. The average cost of cremation is about $600, which can be thousands of dollars fewer than traditional services. Stapley also commented on the lower cost of cremation in Arizona compared to surrounding states: “Talking to some of the people from Southern states where they have low rates of cremation, their normal basic cremation is closer to $3,000 where in Arizona, you’re looking at around $600. The rate of cremation is going to continue to go up. It just is. [This] will keep us below average until the rest of the nation catches up.”

See Maddy Ryan, Arizonans Pay Less for Funeral Services Compared To Rest of Nation, Cronkite News, December 25, 2017.

December 28, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Las Vegas Gunman Was Rich. Will His Wealth Go To the Victims?

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-12-28/b5a7afda-841e-450e-bf22-30078ec1803a.pngDuring a recent hearing, Judge Gloria Sturman told lawyers to come up with a plan to preserve the estate of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock. Though Paddock died with an estate worth nearly $5 million, this sum is nowhere near enough to satisfy all the claims of those who were killed or injured during his murderous rampage. One possible option is to roll the estate into an already-existing fund for shooting victims that holds around $22 million. Jeff Dion, the National Center for Victims of Crime’s deputy executive director noted that this course may have mixed results: “The good thing is that it is a way to distribute those funds outside of litigation so there would not be legal fees. The drawbacks and reasons that might make it incompatible is that those not eligible under our protocols would be shut out.”

See Serge F. Kovaleski, The Las Vegas Gunman Was Rich. Will His Wealth Go To the Victims?, The New York Times, December 23, 2017.

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

December 28, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Book on Embracing the End of Life: A Journey into Dying & Awakening

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-12-25/01b5a6c5-ea07-458b-9545-8650142ad363.pngPatt Lind-Kyle published a book entitled: Embracing the End of Life: A Journey Into Dying & Awakening (2017). Provided below is a summary of the book:

Explore the Resistance to Death, and Awaken More Fully to Life

Death is simply one more aspect of being a human being, but in our culture, we’ve made it a taboo. As a result, most of us walk through life with conscious or unconscious fears that prevent us from experiencing true contentment. Embracing the End of Life invites you to lean into your beliefs and questions about death and dying, helping you release tense or fearful energy and awaken to a more vital life now.

Preparing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for this inevitable transition provides improved clarity and strength. This book shares the idea of death as a journey of three steps—resistance, letting go, and transcendence. With dozens of exercises, practices, and meditations, author Patt Lind-Kyle helps you experience your truest, most expansive self. Exploring multiple aspects of life and death—with everything from chakras and the Enneagram to living wills and health care directives—this book is meant to help you unwind the challenge of death and discover the truth of your own path to inner freedom.

 

December 27, 2017 in Books, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE on Probate Inventory and Final Accounting

0000000 CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Probate Inventory and Final Accounting, which will take place on Tuesday, January 23, 2018, at the Hyatt Place Baltimore/BWI in Linthicum Heights, MD. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Keys to an Impeccable Final Accounting and Indisputable Probate in Every Case

The estate inventory is the beginning, and the fiduciary accounting is the grand finale when probating an estate. The two are indelibly linked, and to complete them correctly and thoroughly means to avoid needless delays, disputes and possible re-openings. This practical legal program will help you uncover all estate assets, and record and distribute them efficiently, without error. Register today!

  • Compile a master list of all documents to collect to ensure a complete inventory.
  • Learn what forms of appraisal exist and how to use them to your client's advantage.
  • Don't miss key elements that must be included in the final accounting.
  • Get practical ethical tips for protecting your professional reputation in daily probate practice.
  • Ensure that final estate disbursements will not generate any beneficiary objections.
  • Discuss the key issues in determining fair executor compensation.

Who Should Attend

This basic level probate program is for:

  • Attorneys
  • Accountants
  • Paralegals
  • Trust Officers

Course Content

  1. Probate Process and Timeline Overview
  2. Generating Estate Inventory: Starting the Final Accounting at the Outset
  3. Asset Valuation in Probate: Minimizing Tax and Ensuring Fair Distribution
  4. Preparing for the Final Accounting
  5. Final Accounting: Final Distributions and Petition for Discharge
  6. Final Accounting: What to Include and How to Organize it (w/ Sample Review)
  7. Legal Ethics in Probate Practice

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 7.00 *

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.70

National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. – NALA: 6.50 *

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy – CPE for Accountants/NASBA: 8.00 *

National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. – NFPA

Professional Achievement in Continuing Education – PACE: 8.00

* denotes specialty credits

December 27, 2017 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)

Opinion Today: The End of Inheritance

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-12-25/1f294047-44b5-4651-96b0-4e5846ffed5b.pngThe cost of caring for aging populations in western nations is becoming an ever-increasing concern. As health and elder care costs rise, it becomes more and more of a struggle for individuals to afford end-of-life care. With this, the middle-class dream of leaving something behind for children and loved ones seems less realistic. A reasonable and balanced political conversation regarding elder care is woefully overdue.

See Sebastian Payne, Opinion Today: The End of Inheritance, Financial Times, December 23, 2017.

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

December 27, 2017 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

‘I Hope I Can Quit Working in a Few Years’: A Preview of the U.S. Without Pensions

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-12-25/09526f21-f034-4dc4-b7e4-0875ebdc9daf.pngThe pension plans that grew in popularity in the U.S. toward the mid-20th century now seem destined to become an artifact of American labor history. American Express offered some of the first pensions in 1875 when it was primarily a stagecoach delivery service. The implementation of pension for workers did not become widespread until union pressure forced companies to adopt the plans. By the ‘80s, the increasing number of pensions had profoundly reshaped the retirement landscape for many American workers. But, as union power waned and U.S. life expectancies continued to rise, executives at many large companies started looking at pension plans as a means to reduce costs and maximize stock prices. This trend is most clearly reflected in McDonnell Douglas’s plant closures in the early ‘90s that forced many of its workers near retirement into unemployment. While employees successfully sued the company for targeting plant closures at older employees close to earning their full pensions, the meager settlement left many looking for work. Even now, over two decades later, many former employees toil in their seventies because social security is simply not enough.

See Peter Whoriskey, ‘I Hope I Can Quit Working in a Few Years’: A Preview of the U.S. Without Pensions, The Washington Post, December 23, 2017.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

December 27, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

George Michael Headstone Bare…One Year After Death

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-12-25/5a5cc6f2-1687-42af-9efc-6606819426d4.pngGeorge Michael, after a long history of substance abuse, died almost exactly one year ago from heart failure. He was buried next to his mother at the Highgate Cemetery in North London, but his gravestone remains unmarked. It is still unknown who has authority over the gravesite.

See George Michael Headstone Bare…One Year After Death, TMZ, December 24, 2017.

December 26, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

CLE on Water Rights in California

0000000 CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Water Rights in California, which will take place on Tuesday, January 23, 2018, at the Courtyard by Marriott San Luis Obispo in San Luis Obispo, CA. Provided below is a description of the event:

Program Description

Get the Tools You Need to Successfully Tackle Challenging Water Law Cases

The fight for "liquid gold" is getting ugly. With developers, government officials, energy companies, tribal leaders, utility companies, farmers and others putting water in their crosshairs, more and more attorneys are taking on these complicated cases. This focused legal program is packed with the latest and greatest legal strategies for protecting your client's water rights and use. Whether you're an experienced water law attorney or new to the practice area, this program will provide you with practical tools to tackle water law cases. Register today!

  • Gain the tools you need to handle evaluation, development, adjudication, legislation and acquisition of water rights.
  • Get the fundamentals of water law down, learn critical terminology and find out how to simplify the adjudication process.
  • Learn how to evaluate water rights, what evidence you need to look for, where to get it and how to apply it to litigation.
  • Discover real-world techniques for handling leasing, modification, exchange, transfer, purchase and sale of water rights.
  • Find out practical strategies for handling ownership and lease disputes, condemnation disputes, easement challenges and application disputes from experienced attorney faculty.
  • Examine emerging hydraulic fracturing, tribal and geothermal water law issues.
  • Overcome ethical challenges of representing more than one client in a river system.

Who Should Attend

This basic-to-intermediate level seminar is designed for those who are involved in water right disputes and transactions, use, regulation and protection of water resources. The following should attend:

  • Attorneys
  • Government Officials
  • Engineers
  • Regulators
  • Energy Companies
  • Water Management Specialists
  • Real Estate Developers
  • Landmen
  • Paralegals

Course Content

  1. Prior Appropriation Water Law Made Simple
  2. Water Rights Evaluations
  3. Handling the Application, Lease, Transfer and Sale of Water Rights
  4. Handling Water Rights Disputes: Adjudication Procedures and Litigation Tips
  5. Current Issues, Legal Challenges and Recent Trends
  6. Ethics and Water Law

Continuing Education Credit

American Association of Professional Landmen – AAPL: 6.00 *

American Institute of Certified Planners – AICP: 6.00 *

Continuing Legal Education – CLE: 6.00 *

International Association for Continuing Education Training – IACET: 0.60

* denotes specialty credits

December 26, 2017 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Gift from the New Tax Act: Kill That Trust

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-12-25/ccddccc0-eac1-49ce-97a6-a800d27ce870.pngThe increase in the estate tax exemption threshold renders some trusts obsolete. For those planning in the late ‘90s, when the exemption limits were significantly lower, shielding assets in a trust was an excellent planning decision. But now, with the exemption limit for couples at $22.4 million, these planning vehicles are unnecessary for many who previously benefited from their application. If a trust is part of your current estate plan and is now unwarranted, it is important to clear that language out as soon as possible.

See George, A Gift from the New Tax Act: Kill That Trust, Fox & Mattson, P.C., December 22, 2017.

December 26, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Rules, New Opportunities: What Financial Advisors Need to Know About the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-12-25/b6d7b11e-cf57-4ccd-96ed-f96d0e047d8f.pngThe passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) represents a veritable overhaul of almost every aspect of the U.S. tax code. The bill will take effect at the start of the year, raising the estate tax exemption, lowering the corporate tax rate, eliminating many itemized deductions, and creating a new deduction for pass-through income. The sheer size of the bill and the haste with which it was passed likely means the implications of its passage will not be fully realized for quite some time. Regardless, the impact of the new law on the economy and the stock market is sure to be substantial. A number of companies, AT&T and Wells Fargo among them, have already announced they will increase wages and bonuses for their employees in response to the law.

For wealth planners and advisors, the TCJA offers a number of opportunities. First, the 20% deduction for pass-through entities may make it worthwhile to reclassify income as deriving from a stake in a pass-through business structure. Next, the increased threshold for the federal estate tax exemption creates a window of opportunity for creating dynasty trusts. Finally, tax planning has an increased sense of urgency as taxpayers may now only deduct $10,000 in local and state taxes. In high-tax states, utilizing trusts to decrease tax liability is much more appealing and worthwhile.

See Jennifer Kelly, New Rules, New Opportunities: What Financial Advisors Need to Know About the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Wealth Advisor, December 21, 2017.

Special thanks to Jerry Cooper for bringing this article to my attention.

December 26, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)