Saturday, April 18, 2015
Medicare beneficiaries typically purchase “Medigap” insurance, which pays for most of Medicare’s deductibles and copayments. However, Congress recently passed legislation that will no longer allow Medigap plans to offer coverage of the Medicare Part B deductible, beginning in 2020. Current Medigap policyholders and those buying policies before 2020 will still be eligible for the deductible coverage after that date.
This new change is to help pay for the “doc fix” legislation that overhauls the way Medicare pays doctors and that is expected to cost $200 billion over 10 years. The reasoning behind making Medicare beneficiaries pay the deductible themselves is that it will make them rethink the decision to go to a doctor and perhaps costing the Medicare system superfluous expenses.
See Congress Schedules End to Insurance Coverage of Medicare Part B Deductible, Elder Law Answers, Apr. 17, 2015.
Elizabeth R. Carter (Louisiana State University) recently published an article entitled, Tipping the Scales in Favor of Charitable Bequests: A Critique, 34 Pace L. Rev. 983-1040 (2014). Provided below is the article’s abstract:
The public policy favoring testamentary bequests to charities is well established in the law. However, that public policy can, and does, conflict with other equally well-founded public policies. When confronted with this conflict, courts are often dismissive or even hostile towards the parties seeking to challenge a testamentary bequest to a charity. I argue that the policy favoring charitable giving has gone too far and has, in some instances, undermined other important public policies. Specifically, courts and legislators have strengthened the charitable bequest policy without giving enough consideration to other, equally important public policies. This problem is not new. History shows that similar policy conflicts have arisen periodically since late antiquity, if not earlier. The parameters of the problem, however, are somewhat new. The governing law, available technologies, and familial relationships have certainly evolved since the time of late antiquity. This article examines how the public policy favoring charitable bequests conflicts with various aspects of the equally important public policies of testamentary freedom and family protection.
Part II considers the competing public policies of testamentary freedom, family protection, and charitable bequests, as well as the existing legal doctrines aimed at furthering these policies. Part III examines the social and legal origins of charitable bequests and the periodic attempts to balance charitable bequests with other important policy considerations. Part IV examines the role of the non-profit sector in America today. Specifically, Part IV considers the size and scope of the nonprofit industry, the legal and economic benefits the nonprofit industry enjoys, and the manner in which nonprofits solicit charitable bequests. Part V illustrates how the current law fails to strike the appropriate balance between the competing policies, as the current law is too favorable to charities and reform is needed. Part VI concludes.
Powers of Attorney are often drafted using boilerplate language. However, with the now $5.43 million Federal estate tax exemption, many Powers of Attorney may need to be revised in the way they address gifts made by agents. Prior to the increased exemption gifting by agents was more beneficial, but now it is likely not needed or can be exploited as has been seen by the increase in financial elder abuse. Even for individuals that still need estate tax considerations included in their Powers of Attorney, reviewing and individualizing the directions for how gifts should be made can be beneficial.
See Martin Shenkman, Do Powers of Attorney Need New Gifting Rules?, Financial Planning, Apr. 14, 2015.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.
Revocable Trust Trustor, Trustee, Beneficiary Allowed to Recover from Arizona's Residential Contractors’ Recovery Fund
After problems with the construction of Krishna Pinnamaneni's home he filed a complaint under the Residential Contractors’ Recovery Fund requesting compensation. The Fund created by Arizona statute allows a "person injured" to recover when a contractor performs deficient work.
The work performed by the contractor was determined to be deficient by an administrative judge, but the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC) denied Pinnamaneni's claim based on it being filed by someone that was not an "injured person." The real property that is the site of the home is owned by a revocable trust, which Pinnamaneni is the trustor, trustee, and beneficiary. The contract with the contractor was made by Pinnamaneni through his LLC, Pioneer Family Investments. The denial of Pinnamaneni's claim was affirmed by a superior court, and Pinnamaneni appealed.
In Pinnamaneni v. ROC, an Arizona appeals court reversed the superior court, and held that Pinnamaneni met the required definition of an "injured person" and that the "statute does not require contractual privity between an owner of property and the residential contractor as a prerequisite to recovery from the Fund."
Special thanks to Ike Devji for bringing this case to my attention.
Friday, April 17, 2015
On Wednesday a Jerusalem court held a preliminary hearing to determine who owns Schindler’s list. This document contains the names of 801 Jewish workers who German industrialist, Oskar Schindler, saved from extermination by asking the Nazi authorities to allow them to work at his factories.
Both Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial centre and Erika Rosenberg, who is a beneficiary and executor to the estate of Oskar’s wife, Emilie Schindler, claim the rights to this document. The two sides differ on who held the rightful claim to the documents prior to their arrival in Israel.
Yad Vashem claims it obtained the documents legally, contending that it had never belonged to Emilie. “We will hold our debate with Rosenberg in court to ensure these documents do not reach the private hands of those who are not their legal owners and whose interests are unclear,” said Yad Vashem. However, Rosenberg says she only wants to “preserve, protect and restore the historical data.”
See Sarah Leduc, Legal Battle for ‘Schindler’s List’ Begins in Jerusalem, France 24, Apr. 15, 2015.
After Helen Lurene Elias told her friends she received an inheritance but needed help in paying off the estate’s tax and liens, she scammed them out of $300,00. According to prosecutors, Helen promised her friends big returns in exchange for their loans and used her ruse to get between $3,000 and $105,000 from at least ten people.
When victims asked Helen for their money back, she told them she needed more money to pay additional expenses. “If they did not have more money, she urged them to reach out to family and friends for financial assistance so the encumbrances could be lifted and everyone could be paid.” Helen even signed IOUs promising repayment. Helen was arraigned Monday on fraud and grand larceny.
See Josh Saul, Woman Busted in $300K Inheritance Scam: DA, New York Post, Apr. 14, 2015.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.
Manhattan real estate fortune heir, Irving Bender, squandered millions of dollars that was meant to go to a Jewish charity. Bender went on a spending spree that included fancy cars and expensive hotels with money the United Jewish Appeal claims it was supposed to get by the remainder of a trust established by building mogul Bill Gottlieb, who died in 1999. Gottlieb’s late sister’s husband, Bender, eventually became the beneficiary of the trust, and allegedly blew a total of $3.5 million according to court documents. UJA has filed a lawsuit to recoup the money.
See Julia Marsh and Bruce Golding, Real-Estate Heir Blows $3.5M Meant for Charity on Cars, Hotels: Suit, New York Post, Apr. 7, 2015.
Last year 92-year-old William Collins was found dead; and on Wednesday, a six-person jury ruled the cause of death a homicide. Collins was killed by blunt force trauma to the head and his caretaker, Judith Marc, was found to be responsible. “He had a will naming her the executor and all the inheritance of the house and a bunch of other things of his. She also had two other people she had also taken care of in the past that were also dead,” coroner Robert Allen said.
See Monroe County Coroner’s Inquest Finds Caregiver Responsible For Death, 69 News, Apr. 15, 2015.
In an opinion piece Rep. Bill Flores and Sen. John Thune argue that it is time for the abolishment of the estate tax. The two congressman assert that it is small business owners and farmers that are penalized by this tax not the handful of super wealthy that are more commonly associated with the legislation. They also argue that the tax creates a drag on the economy and would create 139,000 new jobs if repealed. However, none of their predictions will likely be tested soon as there exist significant opposition from the White House which could scuttle the bill.
See Bill Flores & John Thune, Time For The Estate Tax To Die, USA Today, Apr. 16, 2015.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.
An Ohio lawyer who has been charged with multiple felonies now faces ethics charges as well. Paul Kormanik is accused of misappropriation of funds and incompetent representation from his guardianship of several state appointed wards. Allegedly, he made his clients out to be indigent in order to take taxpayer money and was stealing from a trust for which he was trustee. This case goes to show that courts and the public must carefully scrutinize any attorney that will be granted a fiduciary duty.
See Lucas Sullivan, Lawyer’s Work as Guardian Prompts Ethics-Violation Case, The Columbus Dispatch, Apr. 16, 2015.