Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Campbell University Seeks T&E Professor

Campbell University School of Law invites applications for up to three Faculty Positions to begin in August 2021.  Primary areas of interest are: property law; wills, trusts, and estates; tax; civil procedure; corporate finance; and health law.  Other areas of interest include: mergers and acquisitions; securities regulation; law and technology; environmental law; and conflicts of law.  The position(s) will be full-time, tenure track appointment(s).  All applicants should have excellent academic credentials and demonstrated skill in teaching and mentoring students.  We welcome applications from candidates whose background will contribute to excellence through institutional diversity.  Cover letters must explain how the candidate is able and willing to support each of the five distinctives set forth below.  Candidates should be prepared to discuss and demonstrate their approach to remote-teaching. Designation of Assistant Professor or Associate Professor title commensurate with experience.

Located in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, Campbell University School of Law is a highly demanding, purposely small community of faculty and students whose aim, guided by transcendent values, is to develop lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion and professional competence, and who view the practice of law as a calling to serve others and to create a more just society.  To that end, the law school has adopted the following distinctives: (1) we offer an academic program that is highly demanding; (2) we bring together the theoretical and practical to produce thoughtful and talented lawyers; (3) we utilize the talents of a faculty that is profoundly committed to students and teaching; (4) we view the practice of law as a calling to serve others; and (5) we offer a Christian perspective on law and justice.

Direct questions to Professor Tuneen Chisolm tchisolm@campbell.edu.  Submit cover letter, transcript, C.V. with references, and research agenda or publication for application online at https://chp.tbe.taleo.net/chp01/ats/careers/v2/viewRequisition?org=CAMPUNIV&cws=37&rid=2149

[Originally posted on The Faculty Lounge.]

July 29, 2020 in Faculty Positions -- Permanent | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Blended Families and Intestacy Laws with Step-Children

BlendedEstate administration was significantly changed when the Massachusetts Probate Code (MUPC) went into effect on March 31, 2012. One of the major changes was that "blended families" were taken into account for the first time. 

Blended families are becoming more and more normalized as family structures evolve. That being said, it is critical to draft an estate plan that is tailored to each family's unique circumstances. 

Blended families make it a bit more difficult to decide who gets what and how much. Do you give your step-children as much as your children, what about if you get divorced? If one of the spouses in a blended family dies without having children or having adopted the children of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse will receive the entire estate. 

However, there are certain situations in which the surviving spouses's share is reduced in order to benefit the decedent's surviving children. 

Essentially, the law "protects the decedent's children by giving a portion of the decedent's probate assets directly to them." This will ensure that the surviving spouse does not receive all of the decedent's assets and burn them on themselves or their children. 

See, Ann Hetherwick Cahill, Blended Families and Intestacy Laws with Step-Children, June 25, 2020.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 28, 2020 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

What To Do After The Loss Of A Loved One: Ten Important Things To Consider

Checklist-1024x681Tishya M. Signorelli recently published an article discussing steps that should be taken after losing a loved one. They discussed steps are provided below. 


  1. First and foremost, take care of yourself and your family.
  2. Do not make any hasty decisions or major changes immediately.
  3. Know that if you held a power of attorney while your loved one was alive; this document is no longer valid after death. The only person permitted to act on behalf of an estate following a death is the personal representative or executor appointed by the court.
  4. Determine if a Will exists.  When it is appropriate, the family should search for an original Will.  Keep in mind that a Will may not be acted upon until the court admits the Will to probate.  Do not assume that just because your loved one may not have had a lot of assets when they died that they do not need to probate the Will or have someone appointed if there is no Will.
  5. Address whether you need to contact the Social Security Office and inquire about lump sum benefits or monthly benefits.
  6. Familiarize yourself with what assets your loved one owned, how were they titled, how to locate and value them.
  7. You will want to know about your loved one’s debts, particularly in what amounts and to whom they are owed.
  8. Be prepared to deal with banks, credit card companies, and any automatic payment plans.
  9. Make sure all appropriate creditors are paid first prior to making distribution to any beneficiaries. It is normal to need advice on how this is handled.  Many families have questions, especially if there are insufficient assets in the estate to satisfy all the debts or tax obligations.
  10. Ensure you are aware of any upcoming estate/inheritance or income tax filing deadlines.

See, Tishya M. Signorelli, What To Do After The Loss Of A Loved One: Ten Important Things To Consider, Cole Schotz P.C., July 7, 2020.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 28, 2020 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Illusory Trust Doctrine: Formal or Substantive?

Mark J. Bennett recently published an article entitled, Article on The Illusory Trust Doctrine: Formal or Substantive?, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2020). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Images

This paper argues that the illusory trust doctrine is an exercise in formal reasoning according to principles of trusts law, rather than a substantive flight to substance.

July 28, 2020 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 27, 2020

Remote Notarization and Witnessing Extended in New York

VirtualOn July 6, 2020, Governor Cuomo (N.Y.) signed Executive Order 202.48, which extends the option for individuals to use remote procedures to execute estate planning documents in order to practice social distancing. Individuals will be able to execute documents through video conferencing through August 5th, unless further extended. 

Executive Order 202.7 allows individuals to have documents notarized virtually through video conferencing, while Executive Order 202.14 allowed for the use of video conferencing for witnessing. 

Although the Executive Orders allow for individuals to execute documents from a distance, the formality itself is no more relaxed than before. Therefore, it is important to be informed of the necessary requirements to properly executed documents through these procedures. 

See, Remote Notarization and Witnessing Extended in New York, Hodgson Russ L.L.P., Jul 21, 2020.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 27, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ownership Registration of Different Types of Legal Structures From an International Comparative Perspective. State of Play of Beneficial Ownership - Update 2020

Moran Harari, Andres Knobel, Markus Meinzer, and Miroslav Palanský recently published an article entitled, Ownership Registration of Different Types of Legal Structures From an International Comparative Perspective. State of Play of Beneficial Ownership - Update 2020, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2020). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Images

This paper comparatively examines the registration and disclosure requirements of the ownership of legal entities (such as companies) and arrangements (such as trusts) across 133 jurisdictions, including all OECD and EU member states as of April 2020. Beneficial ownership transparency is widely considered to be a key policy for tackling illicit financial flows that encompass cross-border financial transactions for money laundering, tax evasion, corruption and the financing of terrorism. By identifying, registering and disclosing the identities of natural persons who ultimately own or control legal vehicles, the abuse of corporate secrecy can be prevented. Yet, for the verification of beneficial ownership data in cross-border settings, and for successfully tackling investment and hedge fund opacity, it is increasingly acknowledged that beneficial ownership information alone is not enough. Rather, registration of all legal owners is a prerequisite for the integrity of ownership data. Furthermore, ownership registration is arguably a crucial prerequisite for a straightforward functioning of the automatic exchange of information under the Common Reporting Standard, especially for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals. This paper provides the most comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the current state of play of both legal and beneficial ownership registration across the planet.

July 27, 2020 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Charitable Giving Increases As Congress Looks To Boost Donations

Glass-jar-full-of-cois-with-donate-written-on-it-charity-donation-philanthropy_largeAmericans gave nearly $450 billion to charity last year, which is one of the highest amounts ever recorded. This number comes as lawmakers have been looking for ways to expand tax breaks for donors amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Charitable donations rose 2.4 percent in 2019 according to an annual survey by Giving USA. Individual giving accounted for about 69% of all donations, but the biggest jump came from the generosity of corporations. In 2019, businesses gave about $21 million, an increase of 11.4% from 2018. Also, giving by foundations reached a record high of $75.7 billion. 

"In March, lawmakers included a measure in the coronavirus economic rescue bill that allows individuals to write off as much as $300 in donations for 2020 even off they don't itemize their taxes."

Typically, deductions for charitable donations are only afforded to those who itemize their tax returns or add up all of their individual tax breaks, which is only about 10% of taxpayers.

See Laura Davison, Charitable Giving Increases As Congress Looks To Boost Donations, Bloomberg News, June 16, 2020.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 25, 2020 in Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 24, 2020

Boom Time for Death Planning

_93044604_death_thinkstockphotos-96098610"The coronavirus pandemic has drawn new business start-ups that provide end-of-life service, from estate planning to a final tweet."

One day in April, Isabelle Rodriguez, a 24-year-old from New York City, composed a tweet "from the grave" as the coronavirus took its hold of NYC. 

She wasn't dying, nor was she sick, as her chances of contracting Covid-19 significantly decreased after she was furloughed from her job. However, when she stumbled upon the poem "Lady Lazarus" by Sylvia Path, Ms. Rodriguez knew she had found the perfect words to "mark her digital legacy."

The excerpt from the poem read:

Herr God, Herr Lucifer



Ms. Rodriguez logged on to Cake, a free service that catalogues users' end-of-life wishes, instructions and documents, and specified she wanted the verse posted on her twitter account upon her death. Ms. Rodriguez asserted that the excerpt was the best was to put her personality out there one last time. 

Ms. Rodriguez also appointed her younger sister to call the shots (if she were to end up capacitated) through a form that Cake offers called an"trusted decision maker" form. 

Other decisions included, whether she should be buried or cremated; and if she were cremated, if her ashes would be dispersed or pressurized into a diamond. Also, what music would be played at her funeral?

Ms. Rodriguez admitted that all of this may sound weird given her youthfulness and great potential for life, however, young people all over the world were getting "incredibly sick, incredibly fast."

Due to the pandemic, end-of-life start-ups have become increasingly popular and has created a "boom" in business. 

See Jennifer Miller, Boom Time for Death Planning, N.Y. Times Magazine, July 21, 2020.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.), Mark J. Bade (CPA, GCMA, St. Louis, Missouri & Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention. 

July 24, 2020 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Michael Jackson's former manager no longer in legal battle with his estate

MJA judge's ruling has ended Michael Jackson's former manager with the late King of Pop's estate. The judge ruled that the manager is owed $3 million.

The ruling ended a feud that had been going on since 2012, when Tohme Tohme first sued the estate claiming he was owed 15 percent commission on compensation the singer received in the last year of his life as well as the concert film, "This is It."

A news outlet stated that the feud appeared that it would end in May 2019, but the parties were unable to reach an agreement. 

Tohme will get the $3 million, however, only under the condition that he does not bring the estate back into litigation. 

The news outlet also reported that the lawsuit followed a written draft that Tohme received that detailed the settlement agreement which included terms he had not agreed to. Tohme moved for summary judgment, but the estate made it clear that nothing would be final until they executed a written agreement. 

See Tyler McCarthy, Michael Jackson's former manager no longer in legal battle with his estate, Fox News, July 18, 2020.


July 24, 2020 in Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

L.A. School Union Says New Taxes On The Rich Are Needed To Reopen City Schools

F58d7407-73e8-4873-9e6f-6ac2c2f50fe8The leading Los Angeles teachers union is calling for new wealth taxes aimed at the rich, especially millionaires and billionaires, as a condition to reopen city schools in September. 

"The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) called for California to implement both a wealth tax on unrealized capital gains for the state's billionaires, and surtaxes on state residents who earn more than $1 million as year, to offset safety measures needed to safely reopen the city's schools."

According to UTLA, these combined measures would result in $14.5 billion a year in tax revenues. UTLA has recommended keeping the schools closed and continuing to focus on distance learning resources until these conditions are met. 

“It is time to take a stand against Trump’s dangerous, anti-science agenda that puts the lives of our members, our students and our families at risk,” said United Teachers Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz in a statement.

The union estimated the costs to implement the necessary safety measures could surpass $250 million, funds the union say would be available if "federal, state, and local governments are willing to finally prioritize pupils over plutocrats."

On the other side, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urged school systems to reopen in September, arguing that keeping children at home is a greater health risk than the coronavirus. Children are less likely to become infected with Covid-19, and if they do, they’re less likely to become symptomatic and spread the virus, the AAP argued in a statement in late June.

UTLA also called for a moratorium on new charter schools and accused charter schools operating in the city of “double-dipping” by accepting federal CARES act funding while also receiving state funding, which was not impacted by the pandemic.

See Tracey Longo, L.A. School Union Says New Taxes On The Rich Are Needed To Reopen City Schools, Financial Advisor Magazine, July 14, 2020. 

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

July 23, 2020 in Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)