Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, October 3, 2019

CLE on 45th Annual Trust and Estate Conference at USC Gould School of Law

CLEThe University of Southern California Gould School of Law is holding a conference entitled, 45th Annual Trust and Estate Conference, on Friday, November 22, 2019 at The Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Provided below is a description of the event.

why attend?

High-Quality Education

For over 40 years, USC Gould’s Trust and Estate Conference has provided high-quality continuing education customized for trust, estate planning, probate and elder law professionals.

Practical and Realistic Solutions

The Conference has a proven track record of teaching practical and realistic solutions to everyday and unexpected problems in estate planning, trust administration, probate, trust and estate litigation, elder law and client relationships. Speakers often share “howto” techniques and forms used in their practices.

Unrivaled Networking

Over 500 of your peers registered for the Conference last year for an unrivaled networking and learning opportunity from both the speakers and your professional colleagues.

who should attend?

The Conference is specially tailored for trust, estate planning, probate and elder law professionals including attorneys, paralegals, trust officers, accountants, financial institution executives, private professional fiduciaries, wealth management professionals, fiduciary officers, underwriters and insurance advisors.

what’s included?

Registration includes all sessions, continental breakfast, networking breaks, luncheon presentation, continuing education credit, and print and downloadable copies of the practical Conference Syllabus including the popular Resource Guide, a Trust and Estate Professional Directory covering Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.

Free WiFi and an Event App will also be available for attendees at the Conference!

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

October 3, 2019 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, New Cases, New Legislation, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

In with a Bang and Out with a Whimper: Second Circuit Challenge to Popular Withdrawal Liability Calculation Method Settles

PensionA case that was watched by many employers and pension plan members alike went out with little drama, as the Second Circuit docket sheet of New York Times Company v. Newspaper and Mail Deliverers' Publishers' Pension Fund pinged to life with a stipulation withdrawing the case with prejudice on last Monday.

The issue that was the great importance to its many followers was that of the challenge to the Segal Blend discount rate assumption, used by many multiemployer pension plans to calculate employer withdrawal liability. Any variation to this discount rate assumption can have a massive effect on the liability. ERISA requires actuaries to select a discount rate for withdrawal liability and an interest rate for minimum funding purposes that reflect the actuary's "best estimate of anticipated plan experience."

The New York Times argued that the Fund's 7.5% interest rate reflected the actuary's best estimate, the 6.5% Segal Blend rate did not, and the Fund must employ a higher rate, thus decreasing the withdrawal liability of the employer. The arbitrator upheld the use of the Segal Blend rate and the case went to trial, where the Southern District of New York reversed the arbitrator, finding that the Segal Blend runs afoul of the statutory requirement to use a discount rate that reflects the actuary's best estimate of anticipated plan experience. The Fund appealed, but the case was dismissed with prejudice due to an obvious settlement.

The dismissal of the case means that the Southern District of New York's opinion still stands, but the opinion will not be binding authority for many employer withdrawals. The opinion can be useful for employers to challenge the use of the Segal Blend, while the District of New Jersey’s decision upholding the use of the Segal Blend in Manhattan Ford Lincoln, Inc. v. UAW Local 259 Pension Fund will assist funds defending their use of the Segal Blend. That case was also settled before it made it to the next level of appellate court.

See Gregory J. Ossi & Christopher R. Williams, In with a Bang and Out with a Whimper: Second Circuit Challenge to Popular Withdrawal Liability Calculation Method Settles, National Law Review, September 18, 2019.

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

September 24, 2019 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Dynasty Trusts: Best Way to Protect Family Wealth

RussiandollsAn irrevocable trust ensures a smooth, usually drama-free transfer of assets than a will, while also offering significant tax advantages, asset protection, privacy, and control. Dynasty trusts, which can last hundreds of years when they are allowed to do so, can provide the greatest benefit of all trusts.

Many states have laws against perpetuities, so it is important to take into account the location of the trust. Five states allow perpetual trusts, while six states allow trusts to last up to 360 years. If you are in a jurisdiction that is not one of these 11 states, a financial advisor well coursed in dynasty trusts can walk you through how to set one up in a state that does.

The estate tax is only assessed to dynasty trusts once, even though it can endure for several generations and increase in value exponentially. As a nice little bonus, trust assets are not subject to generation-skipping transfer tax (GSTT), which are notorious for complication bequests to grandchildren. Furthermore, a dynasty trust can expand a settlor's control over the trust assets for many generations, ensuring the family's legacy.

As with many trusts, a dynasty trust can also protect assets from creditors, including ex-spouses of family members. Because the assets are owned by the trust - not the beneficiaries - those assets cannot be included in jointly held estate. There is also increased privacy with trusts, keeping distribution of property out of the public eye, whether it be during a person's life or at the time of death.

See Harvey Bezozi, Dynasty Trusts: Best Way to Protect Family Wealth, News Max, September 16, 2019.

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

September 18, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

CLE on Probate Process, Procedures and Documents: All the Forms and Checklists in One Place

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a webcast entitled, Probate Process, Procedures and Documents: All the Forms and Checklists in One, on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM Central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Navigate Probate with Confidence

When the client is no longer there to make his or her voice heard, the task of interpreting his/her wishes to accurately settle the estate falls on your shoulders. Do you have all the tools you will need? This program will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the probate process, equipping you with the checklists, forms and documents you will need to guide your clients through each time-sensitive procedure. Learn what to do and when to do it, from the initial petition to the final accounting. Register today!

    • Don't miss a step - learn how to map out the entire probate process by utilizing a master checklist.
    • Examine the essential content of the initial petition and understand the procedure for filing it.
    • Receive practical tips on valuing and recording assets to be included in the estate inventory.
    • Handle creditor notices and responses.
    • Understand key provisions of trusts and their impact on the probate process.
    • Learn what must be included in the final accounting and review sample tax returns.

Who Should Attend

This program is designed for attorneys. It will also benefit accountants and CPAs, trust officers, and paralegals.

Course Content

    • Probate Process and Executor Duties: The Master Checklist with Deadlines
    • Wills: Key Provisions, Validity, Interpreting Unique Instructions
    • Initial Petition and Letters of Authority: Content and Procedure
    • Estate Inventory: Valuing and Recording Assets
    • Creditor Notices and Responses
    • Trusts: Key Provisions, Trustee Duties, and the Trust's Impact on Probate
    • Final Accounting: What Must and Should Be Included
    • TAX Returns and Schedules for the Estate and the Decedent: Forms, Deadlines, Exentions (With Sample Returns)
    • Estate Closing and Distributions: Notices of Proposed Action, Petition to Discharge the Fiduciary, and Other Key Documents
    • Ethical Practice Considerations and Concerns in Probate

September 17, 2019 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Non-Probate Assets, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 13, 2019

Rubens and Hirst Artworks go to British Museums in Tax Deals

3808In 1910, United Kingdom chancellor David Lloyd George introduced a way for citizens to offset inheritance tax bills by donating works of art to the government. In 2013, the government added cultural gift schemes to allow people to donate art during their lives. Judging from the eclectic pieces collected this year, the bundled system is beneficial for both the government and the taxpayers.

Arts Council England (ACE) on Thursday published details of 46 objects and collections worth £58.6 million that will go to UK museums and galleries in lieu of tax. The total value of the objects more than doubled the previous financial year and the highest since the two schemes were bundled together in 2013. Sir Nicholas Serota, the chair of ACE, said that “It is also heartening to see that, in line with last year, around 86% of the total tax settled has been for items allocated outside London.”

One piece, Rubens portrait of Charles V in his full imperial armor, is a painting that the artist kept until his death in 1640. A sculpture of a decapitated, flayed pregnant woman, entitled Wretched War, has been given by the artist’s former business manager Frank Dunphy, settling £90,000 of tax.

Organizations and museums are then allocated the items, either on loan or permanently. A first-time recipient was the Royal College of Physicians, which was permanently given one of the oddest collections in the list: 450 antique medical and self-care objects which include nipple shields made from ivory, silver, glass, wood, leather and lead. The most valuable item on the list is a Bernardo Bellotto painting of Venice on Ascension Day, which settles £7m of tax and was allocated to Audley End house in Essex.

See Mark Brown, Rubens and Hirst Artworks go to British Museums in Tax Deals, Guardian, September 11, 2019.

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

September 13, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 9, 2019

Estate Planning and Millennials

MillennialsNo matter the debate among other generations, millennials are legal adults. As such, they need all the same documents any other adult would need, including a will, a durable power of attorney and a living will. A Durable Power of Attorney names an agent to act on your behalf with respect to financial and other decisions in the event of incapacitation, which could happen to anyone, no matter their age. Depending on their personal circumstances, they may even need more intensive planning.

If a millennial's only assets are joint owned or already have designated beneficiaries (such as a bank account), there may be no need for a will; of course, always confer with an estate planning attorney. 

As the most digitalized generation that was essentially raised online, a millennial may want extra care with their digital assets. Maybe they want their Facebook page memorialized or a financially successful blog continued or even photos that have no physical medium to be distributed. A consice list of user names and passwords should be compiled along with instructions for the corresponding account, or utilize a reputable service to do so.

Millennials commonly adopt pets before (or even instead of) having children, so putting together a pet trust may be necessary. Without one, a cherished fur baby may end up with a caregiver that does not provide for the pet as the owner would have intended. 

See Rebecca Wrock, Estate Planning and Millennials, Varnumlaw, September 9, 2019.

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

September 9, 2019 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on How Savings and Retirement Benefit Distributions May Prudently Be Used to Make Charitable Gifts

Charity2Albert Feuer recently published an Article entitled, How Savings and Retirement Benefit Distributions May Prudently Be Used to Make Charitable Gifts, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2019). Provided below is an abstract of the Article. 

Individuals often fund charitable gifts with their savings or retirement benefits. Such benefits, other than those from a Roth individual retirement account or annuity, are generally included in the individual’s gross income when received. However, individuals may not be able to deduct for federal income-tax purposes any of the charitable contributions they make during the period 2018 to 2025 because the 2017 tax act substantially limited the deductibility of state and local taxes, eliminated miscellaneous itemized deductions, and dramatically increased the applicable standard deductions. On the other hand, distributions from individual retirement accounts or annuities may be eligible for the favorable tax treatment applicable to qualified charitable distributions (QCDs). This article explains the QCD requirements. The article also discusses when it is prudent to use those provisions and when it is prudent to do otherwise if savings or retirement benefits fund charitable contributions, and when it is prudent to use other funding sources, such as appreciated publicly traded securities, for charitable contributions.

September 9, 2019 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Estate Planning in Tennessee: Could You Benefit From a Community Property Trust?

TNA common goal of estate planning is avoiding the federal estate tax as well as a state estate tax, if applicable. Historically, the federal estate tax was set at a very low level, consequently making proper  asset protection a necessity. But now the federal estate tax exemption amount is set at $11.4 million for an individual and $22.8 million for a married couple, and since 2016 Tennessee no longer has an inheritance tax. However, there are other tax oriented goals of proper estate planning.

Tennessee is one of the 41 states that are not community property states. Instead, it is a common law state. In 2010, the Tennessee legislature enacted the Tennessee Community Property Trust Act which allows assets in the trust to be treated as if they were in a community property state. Upon the death of the first spouse, both spouses’ interests receive a basis increase to the current fair market value.

If a lower tax bill is not appealing enough, additional advantages of a community property trust include:

  • It is revocable so assets can be pulled out of the trust at any time.
  • At both the first and second death, trust assets avoid probate and any associated costs while keeping all financial information private.
  • The trust can hold all types of assets including developed or undeveloped real estate, business interests, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and many other investments.
  • A community property trust can protect an asset from becoming a marital asset in a second (or third, etc.) marriage.

See Cliff Taylor, Estate Planning in Tennessee: Could You Benefit From a Community Property Trust?, Biz Journal, September 4, 2019.

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

September 4, 2019 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Article on Recent Cases: Intestacy, Wills, Probate, and Trusts

WillGerry W. Beyer recently published an Article entitled, Recent Cases: Intestacy, Wills, Probate, and Trusts, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2019). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

This article discusses judicial developments (mid-2018 to mid-2019) relating to the Texas law of intestacy, wills, estate administration, trusts, and other estate planning matters. The discussion of each case concludes with a moral, i.e., the important lesson to be learned from the case. By recognizing situations that have led to time consuming and costly appeals in the past, probate judges can reduce the likelihood of appeals and their success and estate planners can reduce the likelihood of the same situations arising with their clients.

September 3, 2019 in Articles, Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, New Cases, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Legal Dangers of Living Together

WeddingcakeAccording to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of unmarried couples who 50 and over shot up 75% between 2007 and 2016. For many it is because they have already experienced one difficult divorce and are nervous to entangle themselves and their possessions again. But simply living together can end up being complex because estate planning laws were written to favor married couples.

If one partner has a medical emergency and has not executed a health care power of attorney, the other partner cannot make any decisions for them. They would be considered "legal strangers." If they were married, however, not having the document would not hinder the healthy partner from making appropriate choices. Unmarried couples also need to get signed HIPAA releases so medical information can be released to them. Death of one partner can also create more woes. Without the proper legal documents, the surviving partner won’t be entitled to make decisions regarding the donation of the deceased’s organs or arrange for the person’s burial or cremation.

When there is a financial imbalance and one partner has promised to take care of the other, with no trust or will in place can cause serious problems for an unmarried couple. If the wealthier one dies intestate, their assets will be distributed according to the intestacy laws of their state and an unmarried partner is not recognized as an heir. On the other hand, if they were married and died intestate in a community property state, the surviving spouse is automatically entitled to inherit as much as half the value of the deceased’s assets.

See Brad Wiewel, The Legal Dangers of Living Together, Next Avenue, August 28, 2019.

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

August 31, 2019 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Non-Probate Assets, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)