Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, January 17, 2019

CLE on The Probate Process From Start to Finish

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, The Probate Process From Start to Finish, on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Portland, Maine. Provided below is a description of the event.

Program Description
Your Fundamental Guide to Probate
So your client wants you to handle a probate case - do you know where to start? Do you know the proper procedures to use, as well as the law? At this seminar, our experienced faculty will give you detailed, step-by-step information to confidently and ably navigate the system. Gain the confidence you need to reach a favorable outcome for your client when litigating in probate court. Enroll today!
Get a step-by-step walkthrough of a probate case complete with practice tips from seasoned practitioners.
Implement a complete estate timetable in order to know what needs to be done - and when.
Effectively guide the executor and the administrator through their various duties.
Avoid problems arising from creditors' claims and insolvency with our powerful strategies.
Know the secrets to confidently handling a spouse's elective share.
Forestall disagreements between beneficiaries: adhere to the guidelines of precedence in case of intestacy.
Get results for your client! Explore successful strategies for litigating in probate court.
Follow thorough closing procedures so accounting is complete before distribution takes place.

Who Should Attend
This basic level seminar will provide those who have limited probate experience with tips on successfully handling a probate case. This comprehensive seminar will benefit:
Attorneys
Paralegals
Accountants
Tax preparers
Trust officers
Financial planners
Estate planners

Course Content
Taking the First Step: Filing an Estate in Probate Court
Understanding the Role of the Personal Representative in Probate
Managing the Inventory
Administering the Estate Effectively
Maintaining an Ethical Balance in Probate Practice
Determining if Spouse's Elective Share is a Reasonable Option
Uncovering the Laws of Intestacy and How They May Apply
Litigating the Case in Probate Court
Putting the Case to Rest: Closing the Estate

January 17, 2019 in Conferences & CLE, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Spinning Straw into Gold: Modifying Irrevocable Trusts

TrustsIrrevocable trusts have been part of estate planning for years. They have been used for a variety of purposes, such as to remove assets from a person's estate in order to reduce taxes, to protect assets from creditors, and to provide management of assets for beneficiaries. Historically, these trusts could run for perhaps 100 years or so, but often terminated much earlier than that. More recently, many states have eliminated or modified their laws so as to allow trusts to run forever, or at least for periods that are, for all practical purposes, forever. In addition, creditor protection has become much more important to some persons given the litigious nature of our society. The larger generation-skipping tax exemption has also fueled an increased interest in keeping assets in trust to avoid future taxes. Thus, there are now many more trusts that will run for very long periods than used to be the case.

Many clients wish to have the benefits of an irrevocable trust but do not like the idea that the trust is actually irrevocable. Estate planners have also sought ways to modify trusts that are irrevocable as a result of changed circumstances or because the planner's client is the beneficiary who objects to the terms of the trust. In response to this, state laws have been evolving over time to permit changes to what were once instruments that could not be modified. These changes raise several issues, both legal and otherwise.

For fiduciaries, this brave new world can be a minefield, exposing the fiduciary to possible litigation for making, or perhaps for not making, a change that state law now permits.

See Sarah Change & Scott Bieber, Spinning Straw into Gold: Modifying Irrevocable Trusts, ThompsonCoburn.com, January 8, 2019.

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

January 15, 2019 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Article on Fiduciary Litigation in Louisiana: Litigation Against the Mandatary (Agent), Executor, and Trustee

LsuElizabeth Ruth Carter recently published an Article entitled, Fiduciary Litigation in Louisiana: Litigation Against the Mandatary (Agent), Executor, and Trustee, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article. 

These materials were created and presented in connection with LSU's annual Estate Planning Seminar. The paper explores the various types of fiduciary litigation in Louisiana that arises in the estate planning and administration setting. The paper considers the various types of actions and remedies available, the types of proceedings, and the parties with standing.

January 11, 2019 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

George Steinbrenner’s Estate Gets a Big Tax Break

YankeesOn October 9, 2018, Manhattan Surrogate Court Judge Rita M. Mella ruled that a QTIP (qualified terminable interest property) marital trust does not fall under New York estate taxation if the surviving spouse was pre-deceased by a spouse who died in 2010. The New York State Department had 30 days after being served with the judgement and notice of settlement, and according to court records the Department decided not to appeal.

The ruling will have broad implications, especially for larger estates such as that of George Steinbrenner, long-time principal owner of the New York Yankees. His will set aside an undisclosed portion of his $1.1 billion fortune into a QTIP trust for his widow, Joan, who died in December of 2018. It was tasked to Steinbrenner's attorney, Robert Banker, to determine when the trust would pay the estate tax, or to wait until Joan's passing. Based on the court ruling, it looks like Joan Steinbrenner's estate won't pay a QTIP tax at all.

A big question is on what legal grounds the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance could appeal the decision, if it chose to do so. “They could appeal … on the ground that the surrogate did not apply the law correctly to the facts of this case, [but] the facts were undisputed,” the law firm that represented the estate that the opinion was in reference to.

See Joyce Blay, George Steinbrenner’s Estate Gets a Big Tax Break, Financial Advisor, December 26, 2018.

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

January 11, 2019 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, New Cases, Sports, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Big Changes in Tax Law: New Rates Likely to Affect Everyone

TaxesThough having to pay taxes is a constant of life, the particulars of the tax law changes with every year. 

“The biggest tax law change in 30 years is in effect for 2018. Everyone, whether their tax situation is simple or complex will be impacted,” says ENJ Financial Tax Manager Whitney Gum, CPA. The major changes are larger brackets and a drop in rates, meaning the same taxable income last year will be at a lower rate.

Some itemized deductions may be limited, but could include medical expenses, state and local taxes, mortgage interest and donations to charities. The local and state tax deductions have a cap at $10,000, and corporate tax rate has decreased to a flat 21%.

“Another huge change, is the implementation of the Qualified Business Income Deduction (QBID),” Gum said. “This is a 20% deduction equal to the amount of qualified business income of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations. This is an area where planning is very important to make sure the taxpayer is receiving the maximum benefit of this deduction.”

See Dawnita Fogleman, Big Changes in Tax Law: New Rates Likely to Affect Everyone, Woodward News, January 1, 2019.

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

January 6, 2019 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Estate Tax Easing

IRAWith the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increasing the gift and estate tax exemption to $11 million per person, advisors are focusing more on the income concerns of heirs rather than decedents. One of those major concerns is taking the required minimum distribution (RMD) from an IRA for the year of the decedent's death.

Overlooking taking the full RMD for the last year of a person can incur a costly penalty, 50% of the remaining RMD that was not withdrawn. This often incurs when the decedent passes away late in a year and the beneficiary does not discover the shortfall until the next tax year. 

However, if this does occur, there is a way for a beneficiary to properly explain the shortfall to the IRS: Form 5329 waiver request. This form should be filed as soon as the shortfall is discovered and explain the circumstances on why the shortfall happened. If the beneficiary is a surviving spouse, the RMD is not eligible for a rollover. "In addition, the first monies taken out during a given year from the traditional IRA are considered to be applied toward the RMD amount for that year."

See Seymour Goldberg, Ed Slott's IRA Advisor: Tax & Estate Planning for Your Retirement Savings, January, 2019.

 

January 3, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

10 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Will

WilltestamentEvery person should have a document that explains how they want their assets to be transferred after their inevitable death, but many people can make the error of either over complicating or over simplifying things. Here are 10 mistakes that are commonly made in will preparation. Note that although this article is from a South African publication, the advice is equally applicable in the United States.

  • Don't use overly complicated wording
    • This will decrease the likelihood of heirs contesting the validity of your will.
  • Avoid overly complicated structures
    • A simple but properly drafted will is usually sufficient to ensure a speedy and cost-efficient transfer.
  • Don't become obsessed with tax savings
    • The proper needs of heirs and loved ones are often set aside for tax benefits, which are not always appropriate.
  • Don't create a burden for your executor or trustees
    • Example: trusts that are set up to last in perpetuity can be tricky to handle in the face of changing legislation.
  • Allow for flexibility
    • Restricting the transfer or movements of assets may have more negatives for your heirs than intended.
  • Choose your executor carefully
    • You can achieve substantial tax savings in the estate administration process by choosing your own executor.
  • Your freedom of testation has limits
    • Claims for maintenance from dependents, a surviving spouse or claims in terms of the accrual system created by the Matrimonial Property Act [or, in the U.S., forced share statutes in common law marital property states and community property in community property states] will take precedence.
  • Ask your children what they want
    • This can better create organic transfers of your assets. Consider if there are already any trusts in place for your children.
  • Include your will as part of your financial plan
    • Your financial adviser and estate planners should be aware of each other's work to limit misunderstandings.
  • Don't put it off
    • Death waits for no one, and the impact of having no will can be an intense impact on your family.

See 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Will, Fin 24, December 28, 2018.

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

January 2, 2019 in Death Event Planning, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 27, 2018

CLE on Planning Techniques for Larges Estates

CLEThe American Law Institute is holding a conference entitled, Planning Techniques for Larges Estates, on Wednesday - ‎Friday, ‎April ‎3 - ‎5, 2019 at the Hilton Resort & Villas in Scottsdale, Arizona. Provided below is a description of the event.

Why You Should Attend
A successful planning strategy for high-net-worth clients involves advanced estate planning techniques that minimizes taxes, protects assets and preserves wealth. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to keep up to date on the most innovative wealth transfer strategies from a faculty of leading large estate planners and tax experts!

Here’s what past course attendees have said:

"Very good speakers and content. The lunches provided easy networking opportunities."

"Excellent and substantive as usual, thank you for a great program!"

"Very well presented and the written materials will be useful."

"Wonderful program. Learned a lot. Will take it again in the future."

What You Will Learn
Attend this highly-rated course and get the latest sophisticated planning strategies specifically for large estates. Learn, network, and strategize with your peers and a highly experienced faculty of trust and estate practitioners from across the country. Each panel provides real examples and practical applications that will help you develop a plan for your clients to efficiently transfer wealth to their heirs and favorite charities, protect their family and businesses, grow assets, and minimize taxes.

This year’s estate planning and strategic wealth transfer topics include:

Sales to IDITs, GRATs, etc.
Life Insurance as a integral part of a well thought-out estate plan
Best way to pass assets using GST
Incorporating trusts into retirement plans
Advantages of charitable giving
Using entitites in estate planning

December 27, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 24, 2018

CLE on Estate Planning and Administration: The Complete Guide

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a conference entitled, Estate Planning and Administration: The Complete Guide, on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - Thursday, January 24, 2019, at the Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Mission Valley/Stadium in San Diego, California. Provided below is a description of the event.

Program Description
Find Out How Key Estate Planning Tools are Drafted and Implemented


Every client's estate is unique in its assets composition, family dynamics and future needs, but all are ruled by the same principles and are subject to the same tax and legal limitations. In this comprehensive legal guide, experienced attorney faculty will guide you through the process of estate planning and administration and show you how to select the best trust instruments and wield them skillfully to avoid mistakes at probate. They will also teach you how to properly administer the estate and tackle potential mistakes of improperly drafted documents, changed circumstances and newly arising conflicts. Become fully prepared to protect your client's legacies - register today!


Get an update on the current tax regime and other key regulations.
Get the case off on the right foot with a thorough and thoughtful client intake.
Compare key trust structures and their effect on the grantor and beneficiary tax future burdens.
Help clients plan for and fund long-term care.
Ensure confidentiality before and after the client's death.
Get useful checklists for key dates and tasks in estate administration.
Clarify what can be distributed through non-probate transfers and how to do it correctly.
Explore creditor issues in estate administration and get trouble-shooting tips from the pros.
Find out how much planning can still be done after the client's passing.
Discuss the duties and powers of fiduciaries, their limits and real-life application.
Get tips for closing the estate to prevent future disputes.

Who Should Attend
This basic-to-intermediate level seminar on estate planning and administration is designed for:
Attorneys
Accountants and CPAs
Paralegals
Tax Managers
Trust Officers
Certified Financial Planners
Investment Advisers

Course Content
DAY 1: ESTATE PLANNING AND TRUST BASICS
Key Laws and Client Intake/Goal Setting
Planning for Long-Term Care and End-of-Life Decisions
Testamentary Documents - Drafting Do's and Don'ts
Common Trust Structures and When They're Used
Transfers During Life and Inter-Vivos Trusts
Tax Consequences of Trusts


DAY 2: PROBATE AND ESTATE ADMINISTRATION
Probate Process Overview
Marshalling Assets and Dealing with Creditors
Post-Mortem Tax Planning Options
Legal Ethics in Estate Practice
Trust Administration and Termination Basics
Closing the Estate

December 24, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Current Events, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 22, 2018

CLE on Advanced Estate Planning Practice Update: Winter 2019

CLEThe American Law Institute is holding a webcast entitled, Advanced Estate Planning Practice Update: Winter 2019, on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Provided below is a description of the event.

Why You Should Attend
Join us in February to see why attorneys across the country tune in for this must-attend program three times a year!

This popular, advanced program covers significant recent developments and how they affect estate planning practice. Featuring a nationally renowned faculty of estate planning lawyers, as well as Professor Jeffrey N. Pennell, this webcast is designed for sophisticated practitioners who need to stay up-to-date on changes in the field!

What You Will Learn
This unique program captures late-breaking important opinions and legislative and regulatory developments, as determined by the faculty at the time of the presentation. Check back here in January for a list of the topics we anticipate addressing.

In addition to superb teaching, a favorite feature of past registrants is the comprehensive outline that all registrants get ahead of the program. It provides summaries written by the faculty on every topic discussed during the program, in the order in which it is addressed!

Who Should Attend
Experienced estate planning attorneys, trust administrators, and financial and tax professionals who provide guidance and strategies for transferring wealth and reducing estate taxes should attend this accredited CLE on advanced estate planning developments.

December 22, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)