Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Index Groups Face Fight Over Controversial Weapons

Church englandIndex providers face pressure from a global coalition of investors that is demanding they strip out controversial weapons manufacturers from mainstream benchmarks. Candriam, the European asset manager, ING, the Dutch financial services group, and the Church of England are among the latest to sign up for the coalition.

According to the group of investors that have more than $3 trillion in assets, Companies involved in cluster munitions, anti-personnel mines and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons should be excluded from main benchmarks. No specific companies have been named, but there are several companies worldwide that are already sidelined. Many active managers screen out weapon makers, but passive investors, whose strategies replicate traditional indices, typically cannot.

Eric Borremans at Pictet Asset Management said the index providers and Index Industry Association, the trade body, would be formally contacted in coming weeks to make the changes.“ Index providers need to reflect investor practices and expectations,” he said. “We are not talking about environmental, social and governance indices but mainstream indices.”

“Responsible asset owners do not want their passive investments forced to hold companies operating in violation of international treaties nor for such companies to be included in benchmarks and index-based derivatives,” said Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at the Church Commissioners of England.

See Peter Smith, Index Groups Face Fight Over Controversial Weapons, Financial Times, December 8, 2018.

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

December 15, 2018 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Sign on the [Electronic] Dotted Line: The Rise of the Electronic Will

ElecGerry W. Beyer & Katherine Peters recently published an Article entitled, Sign on the [Electronic] Dotted Line: The Rise of the Electronic Will, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

The electronic will is here… almost. The last two years have seen rapid development in the area of electronic wills. As of September 2018, several states either have enacted electronic will statutes or are in the process of considering such legislation. This article provides the history of e-wills and reviews e-will statutes, both enacted and proposed, along with the Summer 2018 draft of the Electronic Wills Act.

December 15, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

New Law Allows Pets to be Buried Alongside Their Humans at Cemeteries

PetsNew York is changing up things for avid pet lovers. A new law now allows pets to be buried with their owners in a traditional cemetery, and the law is not limited to simply cats and dogs. The only legal choice previously for pet owners was to be buried with the furry loved ones in a pet cemetery.

There are a few exemptions, however. Cemeteries of religious facilities can refuse to comply, and individual cemeteries have the option to not allow any animals within their grounds.

For those that choose to care for an animal within their home and within their hearts, that animal can become family. New York is finally allowing pet owners to rest in peace next to the living creatures who provided so much comfort, companionship, and happiness during their time on earth. 

See New Law Allows Pets to be Buried Alongside Their Humans at Cemeteries, The Animal Rescue Site, December 12, 2018.

Special thanks to Richard E. Mattersdorff for bringing this article to my attention.

December 13, 2018 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Lady Bird Deeds and Transfer on Death Deeds

DeedGerry W. Beyer recently published an Article entitled, Lady Bird Deeds and Transfer on Death Deeds, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

A carefully prepared estate plan often contains personal property which passes outside of the probate process such as beneficiary designations on bank accounts, life insurance, and retirement accounts. With regard to real property (often the family home), inter vivos trusts serve as the traditional non-probate transfer mechanism. Although this technique has many advantages, it adds complexity and cost to the estate planning process, especially for individuals with limited resources. Alternatively, estate planners may decide to use a life estate deed where the client retains a life estate and transfers the remainder interest to the desired recipient. A life estate deed, however, can not be changed after execution, creating problems if the client later wishes to undo the action or change the remainder beneficiary. Modern law now provides two alternatives to inter vivos trusts and life estate deeds: Lady Bird Deeds and Transfer on Death Deeds.

December 13, 2018 in Articles, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

ACTEC 2018 Fall Meeting Musings

ActecSteve Akers wrote a summary of his observations while attending the ACTEC 2018 Fall Meeting. Provided below is his introduction to the material. 

The 2018 ACTEC Fall Meeting seminars were held in Washington D.C., on October 26‑27, 2018.

The program on one day addressed various Washington‑centric topics including, (i) the IRS and legislative committee staffs, (ii) the Tax Court, and (ii) lessons from wills of the Presidents.

The program on the following day addressed (i) divorce tax‑related issues in light of tax reform, (ii) the qualified business income deduction under Section 199A, and (iii) professionalism in attorney communications.

Special thanks to Scott M. Deke for bringing this information to my attention.

December 13, 2018 in Articles, Conferences & CLE, Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, New Legislation, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

In U.S., Instant Wealth Spawns Philanthropy Boom

MoneyhandsAccording to a survey released by BMO Wealth Management of 1,004 United States residents over the age of 35, if they suddenly received a large financial windfall, 53% said that sharing the wealth with their family, friends, and charities would be a primary goal.

The next popular goals were paying off debts at 51%, investing at 49%, and 43% claim that their financial goals would remain stationary. 29% of those surveyed were concerned with helping others at it pertained to their estate and legacy, and 15% were honest in that they would be worried about avoiding family conflicts over the money.

“Receiving an unexpected amount of money or assets can bring feelings of relief, joy and responsibilty, so it’s critical to take time to consider all the options,” said Tania Slade, national head of wealth planning at BMO Wealth Management (U.S.). Lotteries may be an obvious source of sudden income or wealth, but it may not be the most relevant. More than $12 trillion in assets are in the process of being transferred from the Greatest Generation to baby boomers, and more than twice that are expected to be transferred to their heirs in the next few decades. 

"At the peak, between 2013 and 2045, 10 percent of the total wealth in the United States will be changing hands every five years," the report said

See Raymond Fazzi, In U.S., Instant Wealth Spawns Philanthropy Boom, Financial Advisor, December 10, 2018.

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

December 13, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

This Retirement Strategy Creates Steady Income if You Don’t Have a Pension

StoolThe “legs” of the commonly referred to stool of retirement planning were the three traditional income streams: Social Security; pensions and personal savings. In this day and age this analogy may be outdated.

Financial planners and other investment professionals are looking to diversify income beyond the old three-legged stool approach to more effectively meet retiree's needs. A recent study found that close to two in five U.S. retirees are spending more than they expected, and 49% of pre-retired consumers believe planning for retirement is more difficult for them than it was for their parents. While the typical non-retired U.S. consumer over the age of 40 spends $2,993 a month, the average retiree spends about a third less than that, $2,008 a month. Retirees tend to reduce spending once they realize they are unprepared for how quickly expenses add up.

The average retiree with a pension spends 39% more that those without one, suggesting that predictable income instills greater freedom and confidence in their security. Without pensions, individuals can achieve similar outcomes with annuities. They do no have to make as many sacrifices in spending and are able to enjoy a more fulfilling retirement. Retirement savers, especially those lacking a pension, should look for ways to diversify their income streams and ultimately maintain the lifestyles they worked so hard to achieve.

See Paula Nelson, This Retirement Strategy Creates Steady Income if You Don’t Have a Pension, Barron's, December 8, 2018.

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

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

Article on Disregarding Donors and Tinkering with Texas Trusts: Judicial Modification of Restricted Charitable Gifts

TtMatthew Roland recently published an Article entitled, Disregarding Donors and Tinkering with Texas Trusts: Judicial Modification of Restricted Charitable Gifts, 10 Tex. Tech Est. Plan. & Cmty. Prop. L. J. 375-394 (Summer 2018). Provided below is an introduction to the Article.

Founded in 1881, the University of Texas at Austin has since outgrown its famed "Forty Acres" and flourished into one of the nation's largest universities. As far back as the turn of the nineteenth century, University officials foresaw enrollment inevitably exceeding the limits of the school's original campus. Colonel George W. Brackenridge served on the University of Texas System's Board of Regents at the time and devoted considerable energy and wealth towards fostering a first-class state university.

December 12, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Man Who Claimed Howard Hughes Inheritance Dies in Nevada

HughesMelvin Dummar, whose tale of rescuing eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes on a desert road was portrayed in the 1980 movie, "Melvin and Howard," died Sunday under hospice care in rural Nevada at the age of 74. His brother, Ray, said that Melvin had battled with cancer for years, and had not mentioned the story or the will in 10 years.

Dummar claimed that he found the billionaire in 1967 on a dusty road outside of Las Vegas near a brothel, bloody, unshaven, and face-down. He did not believe Hughes when said who he was as Dummar gave him a ride into the city. Eight years later, a handwritten document was delivered to the gas station Dummar owned, addressed to the president of the Mormon church.

The so-called "Mormon will" allegedly also named The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as beneficiary of $156 million, the same amount Dummar claimed Hughes bequeathed him when he died in 1976. A U.S. appeals court in 2008 disagreed when it affirmed a Nevada state court jury's decision 30 years earlier that found the will was a fake.

See Ken Ritter, Man Who Claimed Howard Hughes Inheritance Dies in Nevada, Yahoo News, December 10, 2018.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

Special thanks to Logan Underwood for bringing this article to my attention.

December 12, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

CLE on Taxes in Estate Administration

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a teleconference entitled, Taxes in Estate Administration, on Thursday, December 27, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Program Description
Discover how to reduce tax burdens in estate administration
Gain practical tools for managing the tax liability of the decedent and the estate and learn how to accurately complete and properly file all the necessary returns to make certain the estate closing is on time. Clarify all deadlines and request extensions. Enhance your estate administration practices - register today!
Get an update on the current tax rates, exemptions and deductions.
Understand when and how to report the tax basis of assets in estate administration.
Learn when asset valuation is needed and how to conduct it properly.
Get practical tips for completing the decedent's and estate's income tax returns.
Find out how to claim portability for clients and tackle other estate, gift and GST tax issues.

Who Should Attend
This tax course is designed for attorneys. It will also benefit accountants, tax professionals, trust officers, estate planners, and paralegals.

Course Content

  • Current Tax Rates and Exemptions
  • Understanding Tax Basis and Step-Up at Administration
  • Tax Issues in Distribution to Minors and Trusts
  • Accurate and Inclusive Valuation of Assets
  • Decedent's Final Income Tax Returns: Forms, Deadlines, Filing, Supporting Docs
  • Estate's Income Tax Returns: Forms, Deadlines, Filing, Supporting Docs
  • Tax on Income Earned by Estate After Decedent's Death
  • Estate Tax: Portability, Elective Share, Disclaimers and More
  • How the Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Affects the Estate and the Heirs
  • Sales of Real Property

December 11, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)