Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

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)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Planning for a Hobby that Costs Almost as Much as Children

HorsesThere is an estimated 2 million horse owners in America, and millions more are affiliated in the equestrian industry as employees, volunteers, and service providers. These clients have a special set of financial needs. The hobby may be expensive, but any horse lover will tell you that it is worth it and there is no going back.

How to build a plan for a horse enthusiast without scrimping on the client’s own long-term care, retirement, family and other needs? One must consider the expenses of riding lessons, purchasing a horse, boarding, vet bills, farrier bills, dentist bills and show costs, among many others. Clients can spend between $6,000 and $25,000 per year, per horse depending on depending on circumstances. “Horses can live 30 years, and depending on the kind of owner, they could be making a longer financial commitment than to a child," says California-based advisor Brooke Salvini of Salvini Financial, who is also an equestrian.

Like children, horse take a considerable amount of time and expense. They require regular dental check-up, medical appointments, and re-shoeing for developing hooves - the horses, not the children. “Some [clients] can easily afford the activities, while others need to prioritize and plan to be able to meet their retirement goals," says California-based Wells Fargo advisor Sandra McPeak.

Avid horse owners also need to be aware of changes in the tax code that could effect their expenses year-to-year as well as the transfer of their precious animals at the end of their life. For the first time ever, an owner’s qualified business income from a pass-through is allowed a 20% deduction. Additionally, the modified estate tax will reduce the number of family businesses that are susceptible to it.

See Amanda Schiavo, Planning for a Hobby that Costs Almost as Much as Children, Financial Planning, September 11, 2018.

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

November 26, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Income Tax, New Legislation, Sports, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Dies of Cancer at 65

PaPaul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, died from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on Monday afternoon. Allen was 65 years old and revealed earlier this month that he was receiving treatment for the disease, the same disease he had fought and conquered in 2009.

Allen ranked among the world’s wealthiest individuals. As of Monday afternoon, he ranked 44th on Forbes’ 2018 list of billionaires with an estimated net worth of more than $20 billion. He was also the owner of the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers. He was an avid electric guitarist who enjoyed jamming with celebrity musicians such as Mick Jagger and Bono, and he funded the Experience Music Project in Seattle (now dubbed the Museum of Pop Culture), devoted to the history of rock music and dedicated to his musical hero Jimi Hendrix.

Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said, “All of us who had the honor of working with Paul feel inexpressible loss today.” Vulcan is a network of philanthropic efforts and organizations that Allen utilized to support research in artificial intelligence and new frontier technologies. The group also invested in Seattle’s cultural institutions and the revitalization of parts of the city.

Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft with Allen, said that “personal computing would not have existed without him.”

See Christine Wang, Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Dies of Cancer at Age 65, CNBC, October 15, 2018.

October 16, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Sports, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Michael Jordan's 56,000-Square-Foot Mansion has been on the Market for Six Years

JordanFamed basketball player Michael Jordan put his 56,000 square foot mansion in Chicago up for sale 6 years ago at a price of $29 million, and even though he has slashed the price in half to less than $15 million, it remains on the market. The "G.O.A.T." is still cashing out over $100,000 per year on the property for taxes, even though only staff members reside in it.

Experts say one reason the mansion hasn't sold is because the home is too customized. True, the amenities are amazing - wine cellar, stocked gym, piano room, outdoor pool, putting green, 9 bedrooms, 19 bathrooms, and a 3 bedroom guest house - but the feature of the house is a full-size basketball court. There was an attempt to sell the house to basketball crazed fans from China, but the mansion remains for sale. Another potential reason there is a lack of interest is that the house is not on Lake Michigan. Most homes within its price range are closer to the lake, which is a few miles east of the home.

But it is possible that Jordan thought he could sell the home at a premium because basically, it was his. But people do not always pay more for something just because a celebrity touched it or use to own it. "But you know who tends to think a property is worth more because a celebrity lived there? The celebrity trying to sell it," said Stephen Shapiro, of the Westside Agency, a Los Angeles-based luxury brokerage.

See Cork Gaines, Take a Tour of Michael Jordan's 56,000-Square-Foot House in Chicago, and Why it's Still on the Market After 6 Years, Business Insider, August 13, 2018.

October 9, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Estate Planning for Equine Owners: You Need an Expert

JustifyWith American Pharaoh and this year Justify winning the prestigious and elusive Triple Crown, Thoroughbred horse ownership has been propelled to the forefront of the public. But in relation to estate planning, it must be acknowledged that there is no one-size-fits-all for horses and horse owners.

If the bloodstock is quite large, some owners will opt to sell them off at a dispersal sale after their passing. Smaller horse operations could also benefit from a public auction unless their is a potential heir that shares in your love of horses.

"Horses that cannot be sold due to age or physical condition may require alternate arrangements. Thus, you may need to provide for the costs of aftercare or leave instructions for the delivery of retired horses to good homes."

See Shannon Bishop Arvin and Sarah Sloan Reeves, Estate Planning for Equine Owners: You Need an Expert, Insider Louisville, July 8, 2018.

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

July 10, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Sports, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Lost Skill Among the Elderly: How to Have Fun

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-06-13/fbe70167-be93-4098-8afb-b6a531393e22.pngWhen one thinks of elder law it usually brings to mind nursing homes, finances, age-related diseases, insurance policies, etc. But what about things to do with the often abundant amount of leisure time? Older adults have much more time on their hands for fun - 7½ hours of leisure a day compared with 35-to-44-year-olds, who have only around 4 hours, according to a 2016 study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, a consulting firm specializing in age-related issues. Often, 48 hours of the week are spent in front of the television for retired adults because they have lost the skill to simple have fun and enjoy themselves.

The idea of an activity being "fun" depends on the person. It could be involves well thought out plans like traveling to a new locale or a smaller, spontaneous adventure like a sudden pick up game of softball.

Psychologist Elizabeth Skibinski-Bortman, 71, asks each client at their first session: “What do you do for fun?” Many do not have a response at all, while others take a minute to think of an answer. This does not mean they are glum or down, but simply that they have spent the last few decades of their lives working 40 hours a week and playing around always seemed to slip their mind.

Brenda Spradlin, 62, moved to Kentucky to be closer to her only grandchild and now plays pickleball 3 times a week at a local gym with other retirees. She said she did not have time to play and have fun while she was busy raising her children and succeeding at a rewarding career. "Now I do."

See Clare Ansberry, An Overlooked Skill in Aging: How to Have Fun, Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2018.

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


June 13, 2018 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Sports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Professional Athletes With Inconsistent Income Stills Needs Consistent Planning

BballProfessional sports players and Hollywood play-makers may be among those lucky few that receive hefty paychecks for their rare talents, but those checks may not always be consistent or the time-span of their careers are knowingly short-lived. Having the ability to plan for when those checks stop or are sparse is still highly important even when the numbers on those checks are significant.

Klay Thompson, the Golden Warriors star that is playing in his fourth finals appearance in a row, is well aware that his basketball career is finite. “I’m in my seventh year,” he said, “but I’ll be done in another seven years. I’ll have a whole life to live with this wealth.” The professional sports world is rife with stories of millionaire players filling for bankruptcy, including that of Antoine Walker who had to do it in 2010. Thompson understands enough of the dangers of undisciplined spending that he leaves money, planning, and financial decisions to that of his advisor. “I know basketball,” Mr. Thompson said. “I’m trying to learn more about the business world.”

See Paul Sullivan, Why Inconsistent Income Needs Consistent Planning, New York Times, June 1, 2018.

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

June 3, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Article on They're Watching You: How the NCAA Infringes on the Freedom of Families

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-15/0efeade7-e73c-4b0e-8f7a-57b182a24301.pngLouis D. Brandeis recently published an Article entitled, They're Watching You: How the NCAA Infringes on the Freedom of Families, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The NCAA’s surveillance of the family and enforcement of its rules amounts to a consumption restraint on the families of talented NCAA athletes. In order to keep its cartel in place, the NCAA must ensure that not only an athlete but anyone in his family does not extract any value from his talent. These rules disproportionately disadvantage poor individuals of color. This underscores the inherent unjust nature of the college sports system and the complicity courts and legislators required to keep it in place.

May 15, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Tax Reform’s Impact on Professional Sports

Money ballProfessional sports teams often use the 1031 Exchange for Like-Kind Property to defer tax liability on any trades or sales of property outside the current reporting period. This includes the most likely property trades: player contracts. Under prior law, tax payments for the contracts could be deferred to future tax years and in theory, indefinitely. The effect of tax reform makes this deferral no longer available to sports franchises.

The new tax law alters the 1031 Exchange. It is now only applicable real estate transactions, primarily the sales of real estate held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment. This means that every trade of property that is not real estate must have its tax burden carefully calculated and reported, even if the properties traded are highly similar.

Even with the change, sports teams still have quite an arsenal for tax breaks even without the 1031 Exchange. Tax reform did not alter the benefits of using depreciation of tangible assets, amortization of intangible assets, and the Roster Depreciation Allowance (specifically for player contracts).

See Harvey Bezozi, Tax Reform’s Impact on Professonial Sports, Wealth Management.com, April 30, 2018


May 2, 2018 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, New Legislation, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Rashaan Salaam’s Heisman Sells for Record $399,608; Money to Aid CTE Research

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-01-29/4597b8b8-f1f2-4dbb-ad8a-0755808585a6.pngRashaan Salaam passed away at the age of 42 in December 2016 from what was eventually ruled a suicide. Two years prior to his death, Salaam sold his Heisman Trophy to a memorabilia dealer who later sold the award to a Denver real-estate investor. On Saturday, the trophy went up for auction and garnered $399,608, the highest recorded price for such an award. A portion of the proceeds will go to help support CTE-related research in honor of Salaam’s memory.

See Darren Rovell, Rashaan Salaam’s Heisman Sells for Record $399,608; Money to Aid CTE Research, ESPN, January 21, 2018.

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

January 29, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)