Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, November 19, 2018

Article on Public Wealth Maximization: A New Framework for Fiduciary Duties in Public Funds

FiduciaryPaul Rose recently published an entitled, Article on Public Wealth Maximization: A New Framework for Fiduciary Duties in Public Funds, 2018 U. Ill. L. Rev. 891-923. Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

This Article challenges the standard doctrine that public pension funds should be managed solely for the benefit of plan participants and their beneficiaries. Instead, economic logic suggests that public pension fund trustees owe their duties to the public collectively. This analysis is driven by the fact that, in practice, individual pension fund claimants function more like senior creditors than the residual claimants that are the typical recipients of fiduciary duties, and that the public—and current and future taxpayers specifically—are the true residual risk bearers for public pension funds.

This reframing of fiduciary duties in public funds has dramatic consequences for the investment policies of the funds. Most importantly, a shift in the locus of fiduciary duties to public wealth maximization will require fund managers to more fully consider the externalities accompanying their investments, which should serve to help them fully and accurately price their investments. Private investors might ignore certain negative effects, such as uncompensated harms from pollution or depleted natural resources, because the government absorbs the costs of such externalities. Indeed, a strict fiduciary duty to act in the interests of the fund would obligate a private investor to ignore such externalities, so long as they do not negatively affect the returns of the fund’s investments. The government—and by extension, the public who funds the government—that absorbs the cost of these externalities, however, should view investments differently. They should view it with an eye to minimizing negative externalities, particularly those that are significantly more expensive to remediate than to prevent. Similarly, a strict reading of fiduciary duty would suggest that funds should ignore positive externalities from investments that benefit society but not the plan participants. A focus on public wealth maximization would suggest that positive externalities should also be taken into account in investment decisions, which might, as a consequence, result in more investment in sustainable enterprises and long-term projects.

November 19, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Article on Preparing to Age in Place: The Role of Medicaid Waivers in Elder Abuse Prevention

AgeivismTara Sklar & Rachel Zurew recently published an Article entitled, Preparing to Age in Place: The Role of Medicaid Waivers in Elder Abuse Prevention, Elder Law eJournal (2018) Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

Over the last four decades, there has been a steady movement to increase access to aging in place as the preferred long-term care option across the country. Medicaid has largely led this effort through expansion of state waivers that provide Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) as an alternative to nursing home care. HCBS include the provision of basic health services, personal care, and assistance with household tasks. At the time of this writing, seven states have explicitly tailored their waivers to support aging in place by offering HCBS solely for older adults, individuals aged 65 and over. However, there is growing concern about aging in place contributing to greater risk for social isolation, and with that increased exposure to elder abuse. Abuse, neglect, and unmet need are highly visible in an institutional setting and can be largely invisible in the home without preventative measures to safeguard against maltreatment. This article examines the seven states with Medicaid HCBS waivers that target older adults, over a 36-year period, starting with the first state in 1982 to the present. We conducted qualitative content analysis with each waiver to explore the presence of safeguards that address risk factors associated with elder abuse. We found three broad categories in caregiver selection, quality assurance, and the complaints process where there are notable variations. Drawing on these findings, we outline features where Medicaid HCBS waivers have the potential to mitigate risk of elder abuse to further support successful aging in place.

November 17, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Article on The 2017 Tax Act's Potential on Bank Safety and Capitalization

Tax actMark J. Roe & Michael Troege recently published an Article entitled, The 2017 Tax Act's Potential on Bank Safety and Capitalization, Tax Law: Tax Law & Policy eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

Much has been written and discussed in banking circles about recent rollbacks in prudential regulation, with some seeing the rollbacks as unsafe and others seeing them as allowing stronger financial action. Undiscussed is that the basic taxation of the corporation in the United States — and banks are taxed like ordinary corporations — has a profound impact on the level of debt and equity throughout the economy and in the banking system in particular, and that recent changes to the tax code could affect bank safety, stability, and capitalization levels.

We analyze here how and why the 2017 tax act will incentivize banks to be better capitalized, albeit modestly so. For those worried about regulatory rollbacks that decrease bank safety, this tax incentive — which has been unremarked upon and not analyzed in the academic literature, as far as we can tell — offsets some recent regulatory rollbacks. And, more important analytically and potentially for policy, we show that this tax change, if properly expanded, would have a major beneficial safety impact on banks. Properly reformed, the taxation of banks (1) can substantially improve bank safety, at a level that may well rival the improvements from post-crisis regulation and (2) can be done in a revenue-neutral way.

November 16, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Article on The Rhetoric of Race, Redemption, and Will Contests: Inheritance as Reparations in John Grisham's Sycamore Row

SycamoreTeri A. McMurtry-Chubb recently published an Article entitled, The Rhetoric of Race, Redemption, and Will Contests: Inheritance as Reparations in John Grisham's Sycamore Row, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

When Henry “Seth” Hubbard renounced his formally drawn wills and created a new holographic will on the day of his suicide, one that excluded his children, grandchildren, and ex-wives, and gave the bulk of his estate to his housekeeper and caretaker, a will contest was imminent. That Seth Hubbard was a white man living in rural Mississippi and his housekeeper, a Black woman, made the will contest illustrative of our ongoing national discomfort with slavery, the Confederacy, and the respective obligations of and responsibilities to the descendants of both. This is John Grisham’s Sycamore Row, a novel in which the reader journeys to discover the mysteries behind Seth Hubbard’s will, his intentions, his burden as a witness to a lynching over his ancestor’s land, and the fate of the descendants of the formerly enslaved who worked and settled that land known as Sycamore Row only to see its destruction when they asserted their right to it. Seth’s act of bequeathing the bulk of his estate to a stranger made family through blood spilled over stolen land and stolen, broken Black bodies is an important start to an important discussion: Who bears responsibility to the survivors of domestic terrorism, white supremacy, and for the benefits that white privilege bestows? The will contest encapsulates the rhetoric of race and redemption; in Sycamore Row Hubbard’s estate acts as reparations.

This Article explores the rhetoric of race, redemption, and reparations in Sycamore Row and as it plays out in American jurisprudence in three parts. Part II explores how the will contest in Sycamore Row illustrates arguments for and against reparations. Specifically, it evaluates how Aristotle’s Persuasive Appeals logos (using evidence and epistemology to persuade), pathos (using emotions to persuade), and ethos (using character to persuade) become racialized in the nomos (the normative universe where they function), both in Seth Hubbard’s will and the will contest that follows, and as used as appeals in reparations litigation. Part III uses interdisciplinary narrative theory to interrogate the language of Seth Hubbard’s will as his cultural narrative of race, racism, and redemption. It also considers how Seth’s story is a story of American racism that ends differently from our current American story. Seth’s story is a doorway to hope and a different way of viewing obligations and responsibilities to redress racial wrongs. In the final section, Part IV, the Article turns to the concept and practice of reconciliation, specifically how Seth Hubbard’s actions through his will, the backlash from his family, and the reverberations throughout Clanton, Mississippi provide a glimpse of racial reconciliation in practice. Hubbard’s will and the context for its creation demonstrate that racial reconciliation begins with acknowledgment of harm done, presents a plan to address the harm, and contains an action or action(s) to implement the plan. While Hubbard’s is one will, his will is a roadmap for the nation, as comprised of individual actors, to acknowledge and address racial harms and for racial reconciliation. The Article concludes with a call to disrupt the dangerous racial rhetoric that renders our country brittle and prone to shattering, threatening America with irreparable brokenness.

November 15, 2018 in Articles, Books - Fiction, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Article on Non-Grant of ‘Letters of Administration’ Where ‘Suit for Partition’ is the Efficacious Remedy

TajShivam Goel recently published an Article entitled, Non-Grant of ‘Letters of Administration’ Where ‘Suit for Partition’ is the Efficacious Remedy, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

The scope of an administration suit is to collect the assets of the deceased to pay off the debts and other charges and to find out what is the residue of the estate available for distribution amongst the heirs of the deceased. A suit for partition is distinct from an administration suit. Though administration of the estate may ultimately after accounts are taken also entail ‘partition’, but where it is found that there is no need for administration and what is in effect sought is partition only, the court is entitled in exercise of discretion under Section 298 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘ISA’) to refuse the grant of Letters of Administration and to relegate the parties to the remedy of partition.

November 14, 2018 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Article on Tax as Part of a Broken Budget: Good Taxes Are Good Cause Enough

TreasuryStephanie Hunter McMahon recently published an Article entitled, Tax as Part of a Broken Budget: Good Taxes Are Good Cause Enough, Tax Law: Tax Law & Policy (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

The federal budget is a myth. Despite being a myth, Congress uses the budget to limit its choices by linking its revenue-raising and spending powers under a federal debt ceiling. Through its self-imposed limits, Congress puts tremendous pressure on how it calculates its budget, and that calculation generally assumes any tax provisions will raise revenue when the law becomes effective. However, many tax provisions require additional direction to ensure they operate as the budgetary process expects. That task falls to the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a bureau of the Department. Consequently, limiting the production of tax rules that implement, interpret, and sometimes limit possible interpretations of tax statutes is problematic because their projected revenue is used to balance the budget. Nevertheless, these Treasury Department rules are under attack on the grounds that their issuance fails to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The APA generally requires notice and comment for the promulgation of rules, a costly process in terms of time and agency resources. This Article argues that there should be a wider acceptance of the good cause exception for the speedier issuance of tax regulations and other IRS-level implementing materials in order to satisfy Congress’s revenue expectations.

November 13, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Article on Age, Time, and Discrimination

AgetimeAlexander A. Boni-Saenz recently published an Article entitled, Age, Time, and Discrimination, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

Discrimination scholars have traditionally justified antidiscrimination laws by appealing to the value of equality. Egalitarian theories locate the moral wrong of discrimination in the unfavorable treatment one individual receives as compared to another. However, discrimination theory has neglected to engage seriously with the socio-legal category of age, which poses a challenge to this egalitarian consensus due to its unique temporal character. Unlike other identity categories, an individual’s age inevitably changes over time. Consequently, any age-based legal rule will ultimately yield equal treatment over the lifecourse. This explains the weak constitutional protection for age and the fact that age-based legal rules are commonplace, determining everything from access to health care to criminal sentences to voting rights. The central claim of this Article is that equality can neither adequately describe the moral wrong of age discrimination nor justify the current landscape of statutory age discrimination law. The wrong of age discrimination lies not in a comparison, but instead in the deprivation of some intrinsic interest that extends throughout the lifecourse. Thus, we must turn to non-comparative values, such as liberty or dignity, to flesh out the theoretical foundation of age discrimination law. Exploring this alternative normative foundation generates valuable insights for current debates in discrimination theory and the legal regulation of age.

November 12, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Article on Abandoning Realization and the Transition Tax: Toward a Comprehensive Tax Base

Tax actHenry Ordower recebtly published an Article entitled, Abandoning Realization and the Transition Tax: Toward a Comprehensive Tax Base, Tax Law: Tax Law & Policy eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 imposed a tax, the “transition tax,” on as much as 31 years of undistributed, accumulated corporate income. This article focus on that transition tax as it evaluates the function and constitutionality of the tax and considers whether the transition tax might serve as a model for addressing the broader problem of deferred income in the United States. The article views the transition tax as joining the expatriation tax and other mark to market inclusion provisions in abandoning any pretext that there is continued vitality in the realization principle as something more compelling than any other longstanding and obsolescing tax principle. Recommending that Congress seize the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act moment and discard the general rule deferring the inclusion of gain in income through a realization requirement in favor of the annual marking to market of all the taxpayer’s property, the article models a general mark to market transition tax after the new transition tax on deferred foreign income. The proposal recommends inclusion of the net gain in taxpayers’ incomes at significantly reduced rates of tax, including one rate for liquid assets and a lower rate for illiquid assets and an opportunity to pay the tax in installments. Following the initial inclusion under this transition tax, gain and loss would be included annually consistent with comprehensive tax base definitions under an accrual system of taxation based on marking to market. Growth or decline in the value of taxpayers’ property would be taken into account income annually. In some instances permitting some taxpayers to defer payment of the tax until disposition of the property may be desirable but the continued deferral might incur an interest charge.

November 11, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Article on Testamentary Freedom and Family Protection in Scotland

ScotlandKenneth Reid recently published an Article entitled, Testamentary Freedom and Family Protection in Scotland, Wills, Trusts, & Estate Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

In a sense, testators in Scotland are free to do as they please, for a will is not challengeable on the ground of having failed to provide for children, or a spouse, or some other relative. Yet, regardless of what a will says or does not say, a child or spouse of the deceased is entitled to a fixed share of the deceased’s estate. Since 1964 this has been confined to the deceased’s movable estate and there is no claim in respect of immovable property. Where a deceased is survived by both spouse and children, the movable estate is divided into three – one-third for the spouse, one-third to be shared among the children, and one-third to be disposed of in accordance with the will. Where only a spouse, or only children, survive, the division is into two equal parts and not three. These ‘legal rights’ of the children and surviving spouse are personal rights against the executor of the deceased and are satisfied by payment in money.

This paper considers the history of legal rights in Scotland, their scope and calculation, the rules on discharge, the requirement to collate lifetime advances, and the requirement to choose between legal rights and an express bequest in the will.

Legal rights are of medieval origin, and have survived various attempts to change them. In recent years, the position of children has been seen as especially controversial. On one view, children should have merely a maintenance claim from the deceased’s estate, in cases of proved need. On another view, a child’s position in the family should continue to be recognised by means of a fixed share in their late parent’s estate. In the absence of consensus on this issue, the Scottish Government has recently rejected a package of reforms proposed by the Scottish Law Commission. Uncertain as to what the future should hold, Scotland has chosen to stick with rules developed, unthinkingly, in the distant past.

November 10, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Article on Dealing with RMD Shortfalls

RmdSeymour Goldberg recently published an Article entitled, Dealing with RMD Shortfalls, Ed Slott's IRA Advisor Newsletter (November 2018). Provided below is the introduction to the Article.

The basic required minimum distribution (RMD) rules are well known, by advisors and by many clients. IRA owners must take RMDs once they reach their required beginning date, as per an IRS table, or face a 50% penalty for any shortfall.

That said, many IRA owners in that category fail to take RMDs, or any distributions at all. This might go on for many years, leaving a huge potential tax obligation for the IRA owner, a beneficiary, a trustee, or even an executor.

What should an advisor keep in mind, when faced with RMD noncompliance? Tax professionals must comply with specific rules; advisors who are not tax pros may face difficult decisions.

November 7, 2018 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)