Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Daughter’s Hilarious Obituary Unravels her Father’s Mysterious Life

WalshRick Stein's obituary ran last week in Delaware Online. The article was written by his daughter Alex Walsh who claims that her father had a healthy appetite for humor as well as life itself. The tale speaks of a man who disappeared in a single-engine plane over the Atlantic Ocean after learning he had cancer. "Security footage shows Stein leaving the building at approximately 3:30 Thursday afternoon, but then the video feed mysteriously cuts off."

Walsh, 45, a former television news writer in Washington, D.C., wrote that, “It seems no one in his life knew his exact occupation.” Stein's brother is sure that he did not know how to pilot and that they owned a jewelry and Oriental rug gallery together. His sister says she thought Stein was a cartoonist and freelance television critic for the New Yorker. The rest of the family seemed at odds of what their patriarch did with his time, as well.

His wife of 14 years and Walsh's stepmother, Susan Stein, could not be interviewed about her husband's disappearance. "[N]eighbors say they witnessed her leaving the home the couple shared wearing dark sunglasses and a fedora, loading multiple suitcases into her car. FAA records show she purchased a pair of one-way tickets to Rome which was Mr. Stein’s favorite city. An anonymous source with the airline reports the name used to book the other ticket was Juan Morefore DeRoad, which, according to the FBI, was an alias Stein used for many years.”

Alex Walsh then finished the obituary with, “That is one story. Another story is that Rick never left the hospital and died peacefully with his wife and his daughter holding tightly to his hands.”

See Allison Klein, A Daughter’s Hilarious Obituary Unravels her Father’s Mysterious Life. You Have to Read to the End to Get it, Washington Post, October 11, 2018.

October 15, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Unconscionability, Constructive Trusts and Proprietary Estoppel Culliford v Thorpe

EstoppelSukhninder Panesar recently published an Article entitled, Unconscionability, Constructive Trusts and Proprietary Estoppel Culliford v Thorpe, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Recently, there has been much academic and judicial discourse on the relationship between the doctrines of proprietary estoppel and the common intention constructive trust. In particular, the debate has centred on the question whether there is any real difference between the two doctrines when applied in the context of establishing proprietary interests in land, particularly where the land is shared between two or more individuals but the legal title is only taken in the name of one of them. In the recent High Court decision in Culliford v Thorpe the court had to consider, inter alia, whether the doctrines of proprietary estoppel and the common intention constructive trust were mutually exclusive or whether they could be applied contemporaneously to the same set of facts to reach the same remedial response. This case note examines the decision in Culliford v Thorpe and explains that the two doctrines demonstrate the wider notion of unconscionability which lies at the heart of equitable intervention.

October 15, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Millennial Heirs to Change Investment Landscape

StockUS Trust, a private bank, estimated that $12 trillion worth of assets are slated to change hands in the next decade as money passes from the baby-boomer generation, many of whom became rich by creating companies in the postwar years, to their heirs. This will be the largest transfer of wealth in history, plus an estimated $24 trillion estimated to be bequeathed to spouses and others that are in the same generation over the next 15 years.

But will the recipients have the same goals and expectations as the previous generation? The sense of economic fragility may have changed after the postwar time and the younger Americans seem less driven by the narrow definition of wealth of their elders. US Trust found that 75% of wealthy millennials “consider the social and environmental impact of the companies they invest in to be an important part of investment decision-making," while two-thirds of them “view their investment decisions as a way to express their social, political, or environmental values.”

Professionals may seem surprised or confused by the shifting priorities, but the truth is that financial advisors should recognize and be aware of what their younger clients are more likely to invest in. Impact investing projects are on the rise, with many avoiding stock that are not associated with social or environmental advancements.

See Gillian Tett, Millennial Heirs to Change Investment Landscape, Financial Times, September 20, 2018.

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

October 15, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to Incorporate Philanthropic Giving into Your Estate Plan

Charity2Philanthropy is often considered in estate planning for tax purposes, but it does not have to be. Philanthropic giving can be a great marker for your legacy, and a guiding light for your children and other generations.

The first step is deciding which cause or set of causes is meaningful to you and your family and knowing how many causes or organizations you can afford to donate to. What issues in your community concern you? What do you worry about for future generations? And, how do you wish to be remembered?

Once you and your family realize the causes that are most dear, the next step is to identify the type of assets they you are willing to donate. All organization typically accept cash donations, some more-sophisticated charities can accept other financial and physical assets, such as privately-held securities, real estate and even artwork.

The final step is to identify the method of donation. You can make charitable gifts in your will but you may not realize all of the tax benefits that other methods potentially provide. Donor-advised funds and community foundations allow many options in terms of the assets you can donate and the charities you can support, but you may have to give up part of the control of dictating how your gifts are directed.

No matter your motivations for giving, philanthropy can be simultaneously personally fulfilling and financially beneficial, while allowing you and your family to leave a legacy that reflects your passions, values and priorities.

See Catherine Schnaubelt, How to Incorporate Philanthropic Giving into Your Estate Plan, Forbes, October 11, 2018.

October 15, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Gift Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Lawyer’s Guide to 199A

Ragano  RyanThe following post entitled A Lawyer's Guide to 199A was provided as a courtesy to this blog by Ryan Ragano CPA, the founding member of Ragano, CPA PLLC in New York.

When reading through the new proposed regulations under Section 199A, the tax rate disparities between different professions become apparent. After the IRS Regulation Rules release on August 8th, many professional services firms are crying foul as to what they perceive as unfair treatment for their profession. The new statutes address who will qualify as a Specified Service Trade or Business, or SSTB. Professions such as medicine, law, accounting, consulting, athletes, performers, and financial service companies are not able to take the 199A deduction if their personal Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, exceeds $207,500 and filing single, or $415,000 and filing jointly.

 If you are a self-employed lawyer with an annual of $150,000 in income and filing single, you will receive the full 20% passthrough-deduction. If you are a lawyer who files jointly, and your combined household AGI is at or below $315,000, you will receive the full 20% passthrough-deduction. The occupational discrimination does not occur unless your AGI exceeds these amounts. Every self-employed individual receiving passthrough income will qualify for the full 20% passthrough-deduction if their AGI falls below $157,500 filing single or $357,500 filing jointly. Self-employed lawyers frequently report income above these thresholds, and they will be at a significant occupational advantage as a result. Section 199A explicitly lists the following legal-related occupations as SSTBs: lawyers, paralegals, legal arbitrators, and mediators. In most states mediators do not need to be licensed lawyers. They will still be deemed SSTB due to the nature of their work.

 One must understand that the determination of what qualifies as SSTB income is based upon whether unique and specialized skills are leveraged in order to perform a particular service. Some individuals who work within the legal field but are not considered to be leveraging specialized skills include printing, delivery services, and stenography services. Individuals who are self-employed and generate income from these activities would potentially be able to take advantage of the full 20% passthrough deduction regardless of their AGI. If a law firm provides both specialized legal services and non-specialized services, it may be in their interest to separately structure these parts of their businesses.

 For example, Robert Lawyer may wish to establish a separate management company that provides stenography, billing, and printing services, for his legal firm. This income-generating management company can be owned by separate trusts for his two children, who each earn under $157,500. “Section 678” trusts, which are treated as being owned by the children for income tax purposes may be an optimal tax setup given the circumstances. There is no mention within the released rules as to whether trustee, executor, title insurance, and other services that do not usually require a legal license are classified as SSTB.

Many are curious as to why the government would provide professions such as engineering and architecture with far greater opportunity to take advantage of the pass-through deduction than lawyers, doctors, and other professional services. I often hear vague suggestions/complaints that they have stronger lobbies. Proponents of the law argue that they are giving advantages to industries that “produce capital that is most beneficial to society”. This is to say that working to design new technologies, agriculture, and building infrastructure are more societally productive uses of human capital than doing legal work, being a doctor, or accounting. This concept may be an uncomfortable one, and has been discussed infrequently.

 

October 15, 2018 in Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Article on Farewell Downton Abbey, Adieu Primogeniture and Entail: Britain's Brief Encounter with Forced Heirship

UnionLloyd Bonfield recently published an Article entitled, Farewell Downton Abbey, Adieu Primogeniture and Entail: Britain's Brief Encounter with Forced Heirship, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This article observes a little-noted proposal (the Landed Property of Intestates Bill) introduced into the British Parliament in 1836. It considers the debate upon it that ensued, and the accompanying pamphlet literature. The Bill proposed to alter the inheritance custom of primogeniture that directed the pattern of descent of freehold land in the absence of directions by settlement or will, and the dialogue is used as a lens to view the nexus between inheritance customs and broader political, economic and social concerns. The intensity of the dispute over primogeniture suggests that more was at stake than simply the devolution of land. The controversy in the Commons over the proposed legislation encompassed a discussion on the variety of purposes that succession law should serve. Lurking in the background in the debate over the proposed bill was a more abstract conundrum: should succession laws primarily be crafted to serve political ends, the constitution; or was it more appropriate to calibrate them to foster desirable social, economic or familial goals? In short, the debate put into sharp focus the question of what interests drive inheritance law, and how attempts can be made to modify it, if and when such concerns alter over time. The bill failed, and it would be for another century for Parliament to abolish primogeniture.

 

October 14, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

CLE on Estate Planning: The Ultimate Guide

CLEThe National Business Institute is holding a webcast entitled, Estate Planning: The Ultimate Guide, on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Program Description

Grow a Successful Estate Planning Practice

Are you ready to grow your own successful estate planning practice or looking for a practical refresher? This program will become your go-to guide. From client intake through will, trust and tax planning, you will receive tips, sample forms and answers to your most pressing questions to help you excel. Gain insight on everyday issues estate planning attorneys face - register today!

  • Learn how to clarify client goals and develop a sound estate planning strategy.
  • Get practical will and trust drafting skills to speed up the process and give the testator's last wishes power.
  • Explore the functions and mechanics of major trust structures - and make certain you choose the right tool for each job.
  • Walk through the basics of tax planning with simple and useful tips.
  • Give each provision full power with precise word choices - get sample forms to speed up the process.
  • Help your clients make the tough medical decisions regarding long-term care, end-of-life and organ donation.
  • Stave off conflicts of interest with a clear determination of who your client is from the start.

Who Should Attend

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

Course Content

  1. CLIENT SCREENING AND INTAKE
  2. KEY ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE WILLS
  3. BASIC TAX PLANNING
  4. DOCUMENTING LONG-TERM CARE, INCAPACITY AND END-OF-LIFE DECISIONS
  5. TRUSTS 101
  6. WHO IS THE FIDUCIARY?
  7. ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Continuing Education Credit

Continuing Legal Education

Credit Hrs State
CLE 6.00 -  AK*
CLE 6.00 -  AL*
CLE 6.00 -  AR*
CLE 6.00 -  AZ*
CLE 6.00 -  CA*
CLE 7.00 -  CO*
CLE 6.00 -  CT*
CLE 6.00 -  DE*
CLE 7.00 -  FL*
CLE 6.00 -  GA*
CLE 6.00 -  HI*
CLE 6.00 -  IA*
CLE 6.00 -  ID*
CLE 6.00 -  IL*
CLE 6.00 -  IN*
CLE 7.00 -  KS*
CLE 6.00 -  KY*
CLE 6.00 -  LA*
CLE 6.00 -  ME*
CLE 6.00 -  MN*
CLE 7.20 -  MO*
CLE 6.00 -  MP
CLE 6.00 -  MS*
CLE 6.00 -  MT*
CLE 6.00 -  NC*
CLE 6.00 -  ND*
CLE 6.00 -  NE*
CLE 6.00 -  NH*
CLE 7.20 -  NJ*
CLE 6.00 -  NM*
CLE 6.00 -  NV*
CLE 7.00 -  NY*
CLE 6.00 -  OH*
CLE 7.00 -  OK*
CLE 6.00 -  OR
CLE 6.00 -  PA*
CLE 7.00 -  RI*
CLE 6.00 -  SC*
CLE 6.00 -  TN*
CLE 6.00 -  TX*
CLE 6.00 -  UT*
CLE 6.00 -  VA*
CLE 6.00 -  VT*
CLE 6.00 -  WA*
CLE 7.00 -  WI*
CLE 7.20 -  WV*
CLE 6.00 -  WY*

Continuing Professional Education for Accountants

Credit Hrs State
CPE for Accountants 7.00 -  AZ
CPE for Accountants 7.00 -  NY*
CPE for Accountants 7.00 -  WA
CPE for Accountants 7.00 -  WI

 * denotes specialty credits

October 13, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Doing More for Children with Less: Multidisciplinary Representation of Poor Children in Family Court and Probate Court

ProbateRobert Noel Jacobs & Christina Riehl published an Article entitled, Doing More for Children with Less: Multidisciplinary Representation of Poor Children in Family Court and Probate Court, Social & Political Philosophy eJournal (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

Family court and probate court are Barmecide feasts for too many children, especially poor children with special needs. "Multidisciplinary representation" of children enables the courts to address needs and risks that cannot be resolved by fine-tuning a custody schedule, frequently at little or no additional cost to the taxpayers. Since most children cannot identify the salient issues in their cases, and do not have standing in family court or probate court much less lawyers to represent them, it becomes the court's responsibility in every case to identify the issues most relevant to children's interests and decide whether multidisciplinary representation is indispensable to justice.

October 13, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 12, 2018

'Can Let me Down One Last Time...'

BuffalobillsLee Markel, 88, was known to be a devout fan and lifelong season ticket owner of the NFL's Buffalo Bills, even though he later moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. According to his son Mark, Lee never lost hope of his grandchildren seeing his beloved team win a much desired Super Bowl.

Lee passed away this last Sunday, and his obituary read in The Observer-Dispatch that “Lee has requested six Buffalo Bills players as pallbearers so they can let him down one last time.”

He was described as a “sports enthusiast” with a “religious-like devotion to the Syracuse Orange and his beloved Buffalo Bills.” An Army veteran, Lee will reportedly be buried in a T-shirt that reads, “Just one before I die.”

See Paulina Dedaj, Buffalo Bill Fan Takes Jab From the Grave, Requests Six Players as Pallbearers so They 'Can Let me Down One Last Time,' Fox, October 11, 2018.

Special thanks to Stephen Sanders (Austin, Texas Estate Planning and Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

October 12, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Reforming the Law of Will Execution: The Real Property Commissioners’ Reports

Will and testamentLloyd Bonfield recently published an Article entitled, Reforming the Law of Will Execution: The Real Property Commissioners’ Reports, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

The paper is an introductory chapter of a book length study on the Wills Act of 1837. It focuses on the discussion of wills in the First Report made to by the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Law of England respecting Real Property (1829) and the Fourth Report made to His Majesty by the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Law of England respecting Real Property (1833). The Report demonstrates wide-spread disquiet over the substantive law of wills and significant dissatisfaction with the process of probate. But the enquiry also looks to other issues on inheritance, the exercise of ‘illusory appointments’ and the problem of proof of death, areas which have hither to been ignored by historians

October 12, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)