Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Covid Forcing Wealthy To Speed Up Business Succession Plans, Retirement

COVIDThe Covid crisis had a significant impact on all sorts of businesses. Many of us heard of and witnessed firsthand the negative impact Covid had on small businesses, and even wealthy businesses.

One positive consequence that was created out of the Covid crisis was the push for wealthy business owners to "hasten retirement and speed up succession plans."

The "Success and Succession" study, "which looked at the impacts of Covid on business decision making among high-and ultra-high-net-worth business owners, found that two-thirds reported that the pandemic accelerated plans to retire or sell their business." 

The Ipsos study surveyed 150 business owners with 2,500 employees, a net worth of about $2 million to $10 million and investable assets of more than $5 million. 

The research indicated that "21% of wealthy business owners applied for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, 21% closed branches or satellite offices, 19% laid off employees and half of wealthy business owners planned to sell their businesses." 

Also, the research showed that 34% of respondents retired early and 35% accelerated their succession plans. 

Most of the business owners (88%) plan to leave their businesses to a family member, including spouses, children and grandchildren. Many are confident (89%) that the next generation will be a successful steward of their business, the survey found.

It is clear, based on the research, that the Covid crisis forced wealthy business owners to weather challenges that they may not have seen coming. Uncertain times are a great reminder of why it is always a good thing to have a plan, along with an advisor to help you create that plan and adhere to it in times of stress. 

See Jacqueline Sergeant, Covid Forcing Wealthy To Speed Up Business Succession Plans, Retirement, Financial Advisor Magazine, September 17, 2021. 

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

October 6, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Louisiana morns passing of Max Nathan, an Estate Planning Titan

NathanAlthough a never had the honor of meeting Max Nathan, his reputation as Louisiana's estate planning expert was widespread. It is with great sadness that I report of his passing on August 22, 2021.

To read about the career of this amazing lawyer, scholar, and teacher, I commend to you John Pope, Max Nathan, lawyer, Shakespeare scholar who found error in Louisiana law, dies at 86, Times-Picayune (Aug. 24, 2021). 

August 25, 2021 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 14, 2021

ACTEC Shares Useful Resources

Request for State Issuance of Electronic Apostilles (e-APP) - On August 10, 2021, ACTEC submitted a letter of request to members of the Business Service Committee of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) seeking state issuance of electronic apostilles (e-APP).

ACTEC Trust and Estate Talk  

Proving a Will in the Age of COVID - The COVID pandemic caused many states to accelerate their laws regarding electronic wills. ACTEC Fellows discuss the UTC Electronic Will Act, share an overview of how states are dealing with electronic wills and notarizations and comment on what’s working and what’s not in Florida.

August 14, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Passing of Ramsay H. Slugg

SluggIt is with great sadness that I post about the death of my friend, Ramsay Slugg. Our attendance at The Ohio State University College of Law overlapped with Ramsay graduating one year before me. After being out-of-touch for many years, we reconnected in the late 1990's when we realized we both ended up in Texas working in the estate planning area. Since then, we had many interactions including most recently when he spoke for our Estate Planning & Community Property Law Journal Seminar in February on Practical Planning for Art and Collectibles.

Here is a brief obituary provided by ACTEC:

It is with great sadness that we share the death of ACTEC Fellow Ramsay H. Slugg, who passed away August 2.

Ramsay began his career specializing in corporate, securities and tax law at the firm Gandy, Michener, Swindle, Whitaker & Pratt, P.C. in Fort Worth, Texas. Most recently, he served as Managing Director in the National Wealth Strategies group within the Chief Investment Office and as the national head of art planning for the Bank of America Private Bank Art Services Group in Fort Worth for 14 years.

Ramsay was elected to the College in 2018 as a Fiduciary Counsel Fellow and served as a frequent committee and program speaker at College’s national meetings since that time. He joined the Charitable Planning and Exempt Organizations Committee in March 2021, as his Committee colleagues eagerly anticipated his participation.

In addition to being a respected member of the College, Ramsay held leadership positions in the American Bar Association and the local Texas Bar.

The College joins Texas Fellows in mourning Ramsay’s loss. His funeral will be held Saturday, August 14, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. Central at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Further information, including his obituary, is available online.

I will miss Ramsay and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

August 11, 2021 in Current Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 5, 2021

Britney Spears' petition to remove father from conservatorship denied by judge

SpearsA Judge signed a formal order denying Britney Spears' petition to remove her father from her conservatorship. 

The request was filed in November 2020 when Britney Spears' lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III, "said that the pop star was afraid of her father and she would not perform again if he was involved in the conservatorship."

In the ruling last week, the Judge approved Bessemer Trust as co-conservator but rejected the request to remove her father, Jamie Spears, from involvement. 

According to the papers signed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda J. Penney, "The conservatee’s request to suspend JAMES P. SPEARS immediately upon the appointment of BESSEMER TRUST COMPANY OF CALIFORNIA, N.A. as sole conservator of estate is denied without prejudice."

The ruling was signed a week after Britney Spears' shocking and compelling testimony about the trauma she has experienced over the years, allegedly at the hands of her father. 

See Andrea Dresdale & Lesley Messer, Britney Spears' petition to remove father from conservatorship denied by judge, Good Morning America: Culture, June 30, 2021. 

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.  

July 5, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Minnesota farmer concerned tax proposals could fundamentally change structure of family farms

Estate planningKirby Hettver, a fifth-generation farmer from DeGraff, Minnesota, expressed concerns about proposed changes to the estate tax. Hettver believes that the proposed changes could "fundamentally change the way family farms are structured. 

Hettver stated, “Obviously we don’t want to make any decisions without knowing a little more about what exactly they are going to end up with.”

President Biden's proposed changes, which include elimination of the stepped-up basis, will affect a lot of families, farm families included. The elimination of stepped-up basis would cause "inherited assets, like land, to be taxed upon the previous owner's death, and lower the estate tax threshold from $11.7 million to $500,000.

Hettver further stated, “In order for us to maintain (the farm) and pass it onto the sixth generation, based on the new policies if we need to make changes we’ll have to figure out what rules we’re playing by and play by them.”

See Mark Dorenkamp, Minnesota farmer concerned tax proposals could fundamentally change structure of family farms, Brownfield Ag News, June 25, 2021. 

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

June 27, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Britney Spears: ‘I Just Want My Life Back’

SpearsBritney Spears opened up to a Los Angeles Judge on Wednesday. She told the judge that "she had been drugged compelled to work against her will and prevented from removing her birth control device over the past 13 years. . ." 

Britney Spears further plead, “I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized. . . .I just want my life back.”

Wednesday was the first time Britney Spears had addressed the Court and the World in such a detailed manner, outlining the struggles she has faced for years. Britney Spears asked for the conservatorship arrangement with her father, Jamie Spears, to end without her having to be evaluated. “I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship if I can work. The laws need to change,” she added. “I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive. I don’t feel like I can live a full life.”

The "Free Britney" Movement has continued to gain traction and has imploded following Britney Spears' statements in court on Wednesday.

Britney Spears also said, “It’s embarrassing and demoralizing what I’ve been through, and that’s the main reason I didn’t say it openly,” Ms. Spears said. “I didn’t think anybody would believe me.” Ms. Spears said she had been previously unaware that she could petition to end the arrangement. “I’m sorry for my ignorance,” she said, “but I didn’t know that.”

See Joe Coscarelli, Britney Spears: ‘I Just Want My Life Back’, N.Y. Times, June 24, 2021. 

June 24, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Music, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Robert Indiana’s Estate Has Reached an Agreement With His Longtime Financial Backer After a Bitter Three-Year Legal Fight

Estate planningA three-year long legal dispute involving the legacy and estate of Pop artist Robert Indiana has finally come to an end. According to artnet news:

The artist's estate, the Star of Hope Foundation, which the artist established before his death, and the Morgan Art Foundation, which holds the copyright to some of Indiana's most famous works, have agreed to drop their overlapping claims and counterclaims. 

However, the parties did not end at dismissing their claims. The parties have also agreed to "mint a partnership in order to jointly promote the artist's work and foster growth in his market."

The dispute began in May 2018, which is the month Robert Indiana died. The Morgan Art Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against art seller Michael McKenzie and a number of other parties claiming that they "had isolated Indiana, taken advantage of him, and produced unauthorized reproductions of his work." 

Luckily, after three years the parties involved were able to come to an agreement and resolve the issues. 

See Eileen Kinsella, Robert Indiana’s Estate Has Reached an Agreement With His Longtime Financial Backer After a Bitter Three-Year Legal Fight, artnet news, June 14, 2021. 

Special thanks to Glen Yale for bringing this article to my attention.

June 23, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 21, 2021

Article: Organ Transplantation

David Orentlicher and Joaquin Cayon De Las Cuevas recently published an article entitled, Organ Transplantation, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Estate planning

It is commonplace to say that the success of transplantation therapies has led inexorably to their generalisation. Far from the experimental nature of the first interventions carried out in the middle of the 20th century, new technologies have produced an increase in survival and a substantial improvement in the quality of life. This new scenario has made transplants a therapeutic alternative that is increasingly demanded and used. Indeed organ transplantations may mean the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. No doubt that transplants are often the most cost-effective treatment, and sometimes the only way to treat liver, lung, or heart failure.

However, it should not be forgotten that the transplantation process is characterised by a series of factors that make it different from any other therapy. The most important is the persistent gap between the need for transplants and the availability of organs. The shortage of organs affects all countries. Official figures show that there is no country where the availability of organs is sufficient to meet the existing demand. In the United States, more than 100,000 people are on a waiting list for an organ, but only about 40,000 transplants were performed in 2019. In the case of the European Union, approximately 34,000 transplants were carried out in 2019, while ten patients died every day waiting for a transplant and nearly 60,000 patients remained on the waiting list at the end of the year. The existence of the organ shortage is inevitable, absent breakthroughs in synthetic organs or xenotransplantation.

Furthermore, there is enormous variability in the donation and transplant activity among different countries. The access to transplant therapies for patients varies depending on where they are in the world. These disparities in access reflect factors that are highly complex and sensitive, including legal (type of legislation and consent systems in place in the country), organisational (performance of national transplant programmes and teams), and cultural (such as the awareness in the general population, the health literacy or religious beliefs). Thus, for example, organ transplants are mostly carried out in countries that have reached a certain degree of development and have promoted the implementation of the systems that make them possible.

Still, as indicated, the shortage of organs is a global problem that affects all countries, both those that have implemented effective donation and transplant systems and those that still lack them. Accordingly, in the regulation of organ transplantation, considerable attention is paid to strategies for increasing the organ supply and policies for allocating the organs that are available.

June 21, 2021 in Articles, Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Article: IRS Guidance About the SECURE Act's Beneficiary Provisions Requires Revision

Albert Feuer recently published an article entitled, IRS Guidance About the SECURE Act's Beneficiary Provisions Requires Revision, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Estate planning

The IRS has presented its first and only guidance about how the SECURE Act changed the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) Rules. This was done in a detailed IRS guide for preparing 2020 returns, and an IRS FAQ web site that referenced the guide that had been released a day earlier. The SECURE Act limited the set of individual beneficiaries permitted to use their own life expectancy to stretch out the benefit distributions after the death of participant. Non-favored individual beneficiaries became subject to a 10-year rule similar to the 5-year rule upon which it is based. The 5-year rule does not require any benefit distributions before the end of the 5-year period, but requires distribution on or before the final day of the period. The 5-year rule is applicable to an estate or trust not treated as a pass-through entity when the participant died before attaining the participant’s required beginning date.

The IRS correctly treats the 10-year rule as replacing a disfavored individual beneficiary’s ability to use the beneficiary’s life expectancy to determine annual RMDs. The return guidance incorrectly describes the 10-year rule as requiring annual distributions in each year following the participant’s death even though the 5-year rule has no such requirement. Furthermore, if the participant dies after attaining the participant’s required beginning date, the IRS guidance prevents a disfavored individual beneficiary from continuing to use the participant’s life expectancy to determine annual minimum required distributions. The IRS does this even though such continuation would result in no further stretch-out of the benefit distributions, and an estate or trust not treated as a pass-through entity may so use the participant’s life expectancy. These limitations are not consistent with the stated purpose of the SECURE Act RMD provisions, the long-standing IRS regulations interpreting the RMD rules, or the amended RMD statute as a whole. Moreover, they may be readily avoided by well-advised participants.

June 19, 2021 in Articles, Current Events, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)