Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Article on Who May Inspect a Will [South Australia]

WilltestamentSylvia Villios & David Plater recently published an Article entitled, Who May Inspect a Will, Wills, Trusts & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

The Attorney-General of South Australia, the Hon John Rau MP, invited the South Australian Law Reform Institute to identify the areas of succession law that were most in need of review in South Australia, to review each area and to recommend reforms. The Institute identified seven topics for review. This Report examines who may look at a will.

February 2, 2019 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senate Republicans Reintroduce Bill to Repeal the Estate Tax

TaxcalcThis past Monday, the Senate Republicans reiterated their tax priorities with introducing - again - a bill to completely repeal the estate tax. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act significantly decreased the amount of estates that the tax would be applicable to by doubling the exemption amount, but Republicans want to take the issue even further.

The legislation was presented by Senator John Thune of South Dakota, who has reportedly introduced repealing the estate tax numerous times. Senate Republicans argued that repealing the estate tax, which they often call the "death tax," would be beneficial to owners of small businesses and family farms. The bill is unlikely to pass, however, because of the Democratic party controlling the House.

“Oftentimes, family-owned farms and ranches bear the brunt of this tax, which threatens families’ agricultural legacies and makes it difficult and costly to pass these businesses down to future generations," Thune said. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimated that only about 80 small farms and small closely-held businesses paid the estate tax in 2017, and likely none of those farm will be liable for the tax in 2018 due to the newest tax-law changes.

See Naomi Jagoda, Senate Republicans Reintroduce Bill to Repeal the Estate Tax, The Hill, January 28, 2019.

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

February 2, 2019 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 1, 2019

CLE on How Trusts Affect Medicaid Eligibility and Estate Recovery

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a webinar entitled, How Trusts Affect Medicaid Eligibility and Estate Recovery, on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 10:00 AM - 1:15 PM Central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Program Description

Don't Let Your Wealth Planning Practices Harm Your Client

Medicaid eligibility and estate recovery rules are complicated, and it's not always clear what impact planning techniques may have on a client's benefits and interests in the long run. In this legal program, our knowledgeable faculty will teach you how various trusts and other planning tools impact Medicaid eligibility and estate recovery so you can confidently safeguard your client's assets without fear of accidentally disqualifying them for Medicaid or putting their assets at risk of recovery. Register today!
Know the eligibility requirements for Medicaid - and which services and assets are subject to estate recovery.
Learn how you can capitalize on the benefits of revocable trusts - and other trusts - without interfering with your client's Medicaid eligibility.
Examine the advantages and disadvantages of gifting, life insurance and other alternatives to trusts in wealth planning.

Who Should Attend
This essential program is for attorneys. Accountants, financial planners, nursing home administrators, trust administrators/officers, and paralegals may also benefit.

Course Content
Who is Eligible for Medicaid?
Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trust Considerations
How Revocable Trusts Can Interfere with Medicaid Eligibility
Income-Only Trusts in Medicaid Planning
Special Needs Trusts
Medicaid Estate Recovery Summary and Trust Recoverability

February 1, 2019 in Conferences & CLE, Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The ‘Golden Girls’ Trend Could be a Golden Opportunity for Retirees Facing Isolation

GoldengirlsInstead of living with their younger family members such as children and grandchildren, retirees are deciding to become roommates with fellow individuals in similar circumstances. "I found myself getting increasingly depressed because I didn’t have any contact with people my own age,” Jane Callahan-Moore, 69, said after she moved in with Stefanie Clark, 75.

The neighborhood they reside in has easily accessible restaurants and stores, so the fact that neither own a car is no issue. As older people lose the ability to drive, many find themselves trapped in their homes, unable to run errands or meet with friends. This unfortunate situation can lead to isolation, loneliness, and depression.

Living with a roommate or housemate can also lower the burden of bills while on a fixed income. “In the broader population, shared living in the last decade has exploded, especially in cities where housing costs are quite high,” said Gary Painter, professor in the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. With the older population growing rapidly, so is the number of older individuals sharing homes. According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies this number increased by an amazing 88%, making the 'Golden Girls' lifestyle more and more commonplace. 

See Adina Solomon, The ‘Golden Girls’ Trend Could be a Golden Opportunity for Retirees Facing Isolation, Washington Post, January 24, 2019.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

January 31, 2019 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Technology Tools for Real Property and Trusts and Estates Lawyers

DigitalThe integration of technology into the practice of law has been a double-edged sword for most practitioners. On one hand, technology has made some things easier and faster. On the other hand, it can generate a lot of frustration, delay, and expense. When tech began impacting our profession in the early 1990s, the conventional wisdom was for lawyers to focus on doing what only lawyers could do and let the support staff deal with the new technology tools. Of course, it has now become nearly impossible for a lawyer to do his or her job without using technology directly. To make matters worse, the technology tools change at a dizzying pace, and there is often no one around to ask for help. As a result of all of this, lawyers often feel behind the curve and wonder where they should focus their efforts to improve efficiency and profitability. Here are some ideas.

See Barron K. Henley, Technology Tools for Real Property and Trusts and Estates Lawyers, Probate & Property Magazine, Vol. 32, No. 8, November/December 2018.

January 31, 2019 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

New York City Woman Sues Hospital After Reported Confusion Over End of Life Support

HospitalShirell Powell is suing St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx after she authorized doctors to cut off the life support of a man she was led to believe was her brother. In fact it was another man with the same name, but Powell and her family had already started to grieve the lost of their family member.

Freddy Clarence Williams was admitted to the hospital on July 15 after being found unconscious with brain damage following a drug overdose. The staff searched their records and saw that a Frederick Williams had been a previous patient and contacted that man's next of kin. Though there were questions of identity by another sibling, Powell said that it was hard to determine if the man was positively her brother because the man laying on the hospital bed had a tube in his mouth and his face was severely swollen.

The family eventually decided that the man's facial features were similar enough that it was their loved one, even having on of their brother's teenage daughters come to the hospital to say goodbye. Powell consented to ending the man's life support on July 29, and she was told a month later by the medical examiner that there had been a mistake of identity. 

The real Frederick Williams was alive and in jail, which the family had not known at the time. Powell is seeking an unspecified amount of compensation for severe emotional harm.

See Paulina Dedaj, New York City Woman Sues Hospital After Reported Confusion Over End of Life Support, Fox News, January 30, 2019.

January 31, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Johnny Cash's Property Selling for $3.95 Million

JohnnycashFans of the Man in Black may be excited to buy the four-and-a-half acre land in Tennessee that he had owned, but the 14,000 square foot mansion will not be accompanying it. Johnny and June Carter Cash's house of 35 years unfortunately burned down in 2007 during renovations brought by a new owner. A cabin that measures 546 square feet still remains, which was used as June Carter Cash's wardrobe closet, as well as a pool, a guardhouse, a tennis court, and a large garage. The property also sits right next to Lake Hickory - complete with a dock.

The property has only had a handful of owner's since Cash's death in 2003. At the time of its last listing in 2016, the property was appraised at $1.14 million. It is currently listed for $3.95 million.

See Michael Bartiromo, Johnny Cash's Former Tennessee Property Selling for $3.95 Million, Fox News, January 29, 2019.

January 30, 2019 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elizabeth Warren to Propose New ‘Wealth Tax’ on Very Rich Americans, Economist says

WarrenMassachusetts' Senator and Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is set to propose a new "wealth tax" for citizens with more than $50 million in assets. The 2% tax (3% for those worth $1 billion or more) is an attempt to resolve the intense wealth inequality in the country.

The tax on the wealthy would bring the federal government $2.75 trillion over the course of a decade from 75,000 families, which would be 0.1% of American households, says Emmanuel Saez, an economist from the University of California who is advising Senator Warren.

Though Warren's campaign declined to comment on the details of the plan, a person close to campaign provided a few of the intricacies. These including increasing the funding to the Internal Revenue Service significantly, requiring a certain number of taxpayers that subject to the wealth tax to be audited every year, and a one-time tax penalty for those that have more than $50 million in assets and attempt to renounce their American citizenship.

Combined with the marginal tax increase proposed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of 70% for those making $10 million or more, the ideas being put forth by many Democrats show how the economic goals of the party are shifting.

See Jeff Stein & Christopher Ingraham, Elizabeth Warren to Propose New ‘Wealth Tax’ on Very Rich Americans, Economist says, Washington Post, January 24, 2019.

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

January 30, 2019 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Neuropsychologist’s Take on Mental Capacity Evaluation [California]

AlzJonathan Canick, Ph.D., who spoke last year at the Sacramento Estate Planning Council on the subject of “Aging, Cognition and Capacity," has practiced neuropsychology for over 30 years. He has assisted attorneys and family members when there is an issue of a person's mental and testamentary capacity, even when the assessment is performed posthumously.

Dr. Canick says that, contrary to popular belief, " significant changes in cognitive and mental functioning are not a normal part of aging." If a change or decline does occur, it usually involves the beginnings of a disorder or disease or other negative influence. Though instances of dementia increase once a person is past their seventh decade, it has been noted that those that live into their 90s do not suffer from major cognitive disorders. "Aging is not a neurodegenerative disease," and the ability to generate new brain cells and learn new things occur throughout a person's life.

The California Probate Code specifies that determination of mental capacity does not rest solely on a diagnosis, but on the amount of ability a person has for effective information processing. Thus, a person with a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's may still retain testamentary capacity while a person without a diagnosis does not have that capacity. A neuropsychological evaluation can identify deficits and strengths in mental functioning and helps determine whether a person has or lacks sufficient cognitive function to perform a given act.

See Jeffrey S. Galvin, A Neuropsychologist’s Take on Mental Capacity Evaluation, Trust on Trial, January 22, 2019.

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

January 30, 2019 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Article on Sustainable Trusts and Estates and Real Property Practices: Building a Law Firm that Will Thrive Now and in the Future

TreearrowMany lawyers are concerned with how their practices can remain relevant and profitable as the legal industry changes. There are many reasons for such concern. Although the legal industry is changing, however, it is possible to design a law firm that will sustain itself both today and in the future. To achieve a solution requires mindful attention to the current state of one's law firm and the industry as a whole. In addition to changes in the industry, changes in the workforces must be considered.

See Mary E. Vandenack, Sustainable Trusts and Estates and Real Property Practices: Building a Law Firm that Will Thrive Now and in the Future, Probate & Property Magazine, Vol. 32, No. 8, November/December 2018.

January 29, 2019 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Professional Responsibility | Permalink | Comments (0)