Estate Planning Blog

What does the IRS’ Michael Jackson dispute mean for celebrity estate planning?

Lexology:  “When Michael Jackson died in 2009, he left behind a convoluted legacy that has presented issues for fans and tax collectors alike, and the legal repercussions are ongoing. At the time of his death, Jackson’s reputation had suffered from allegations of child abuse, drug use and erratic behavior. The circumstances of his death, however, heightened fans’ sympathy for the tragic “King of Pop.” Because of this, Jackson’s estate is embroiled in a legal dispute with the IRS over the value of Jackson’s name and likeness.

By | 2018-02-19T09:16:15+00:00 February 23rd, 2018|

Article on Rational Patient Apathy

Wills, Trusts, & Estate Prof Blog:  “Patients with serious or life-threatening illness are frequently asked to make complex, high stakes medical decisions. The impact of anxiety, low health literacy, asymmetric information and inadequate communication between patients and health care providers, family pressures, rational apathy by health care providers, cognitive biases of both patients and health care providers, as well as other factors, make it quite difficult for patients in these circumstances to process and comprehend the strategic uncertainty and resultant risks and benefits of, and alternatives to, whatever therapeutic or life-prolonging treatment physicians are offering.”

By | 2018-02-19T08:42:36+00:00 February 20th, 2018|

More Planning Tips for Individuals Under New Tax Act

JDSupra:  “As Shanna Yonke mentioned in her January 22, 2018 Legal Update The New Tax Law Provides Estate Planning Opportunities, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017.  The Act (officially, Public Law 115-97) is the most sweeping tax legislation to be enacted in decades.  It is broad in scope, complicated, and will impact almost every aspect of tax, estate, retirement, and business planning.”

By | 2018-02-19T08:30:51+00:00 February 19th, 2018|

Common Mistakes With Retirement Plans and Estate Planning

The Legal Intelligencer: “Do you have an estate plan? If not, you are not alone. Fewer than half of Americans have an estate plan—the percentage varies between 55 percent and 70 percent, depending on which survey you rely upon. For those of you with an estate plan, there are mistakes that can be easily avoided. In this article, I will specifically address the issue of retirement plans and beneficiary designation forms.”

By | 2018-02-12T14:09:45+00:00 February 15th, 2018|

Student, 21, Flushed Her ‘Emotional Support’ HAMSTER Pebbles Down the Toilet and Drowned It After Spirit Airlines Banned It from Traveling with Her (and Now She’s Suing)

DailyMail: “A student who flushed her hamster down the toilet when Spirit told her she couldn’t fly home with it, is now attempting to sue the airline for causing emotional distress. Belen Aldecosea claims she didn’t have any other options but to kill her pet Pebbles rather than miss her flight back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in November after staff informed her that rodents were not allowed aboard.”


By | 2018-02-12T14:04:37+00:00 February 14th, 2018|

What’s Going to Happen to Ikea Founder’s Billions?

Bloomberg: When Ikea’s Ingvar Kamprad died Saturday at age 91, he was ranked No. 8 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index thanks to his control of a global retail fortune valued at $58.7 billion. His wealth will now be dissipated because of a unique structure put in place by Kamprad to secure the long-term independence and survival of the Ikea concept. Kamprad disputed his status as one of the richest men on the planet, having decades earlier placed control of the world’s largest furniture seller into a network of foundations and holding companies.”

By | 2018-02-12T13:56:12+00:00 February 13th, 2018|

Estate of Grey Gardens Socialite Sues for the Return of a Long-lost Portrait of 19-year-old Jackie Kennedy That Was Found Hidden Away in a Hamptons Art Gallery

Wills, Trusts, and Estates Prof Blog:Jackie Kennedy’s father commissioned a portrait of his daughter after a horse-riding accident that left the then-19-year-old unconscious for several days. The painting was commissioned in 1950 but was only recently discovered. It is believed the portrait was stolen from Grey Gardens, a now-dilapidated estate belonging to Kennedy’s cousin and aunt.”

By | 2018-02-12T13:50:51+00:00 February 12th, 2018|

These 2 States Killed Their Estate Tax in 2018

Yahoo Finance: “The successful passage of the new tax reform laws will make a big difference for Americans across the nation in early 2019 when they file their income tax returns for the 2018 tax year. Among the many provisions of the bill were measures that doubled the exemption amount for the federal estate tax, effectively leaving Americans beyond the reach of the death tax until their net worth hits eight figures.”

By | 2018-01-30T08:39:45+00:00 February 2nd, 2018|

This Time Is Different: You Really Do Need to Update Your Will and Durable Power of Attorney

Davis Wright Tremaine LLPP: “With the advent of higher exemptions with respect to the Federal Gift, Estate, and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax passed last December (referred to as the 2017 Tax Act), it really is necessary to review your estate tax planning and it would also be a good time to review your durable power of attorney in light of the recent adoption of the Washington Uniform Power of Attorney Act, effective January 1, 2017.”

By | 2018-01-31T08:08:19+00:00 January 31st, 2018|

Estate Planning Opportunities and Considerations Beginning in 2018

Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP:  “An Act to Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Titles II and V of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2018” (“Act”) was enacted in December 2017 and implements a wide range of changes to existing tax laws. The Act temporarily increases (from Jan. 1, 2018 until Dec. 31, 2025) the federal estate, gift and GST tax exemption amounts from $5.6 million to approximately $11.2 million.”

By | 2018-01-16T15:13:39+00:00 January 16th, 2018|

Should Doctors Honor a DNR Tattoo?

American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys:  “A 70-year old man arrived at a Miami hospital. He was alone and unconscious, with no ID, a high blood-alcohol level and multiple chronic conditions. He also had a tattoo on his chest that read Do Not Resuscitate,” along with his (assumed) signature. Despite treatment by hospital staff, the man continued to be incapable of making his own medical decisions. Should the doctors honor the man’s Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) tattoo when it became clear that he would die without treatment?”

By | 2017-12-28T15:25:01+00:00 December 29th, 2017|

Hugh Hefner Estate Planning Role Model

Trial & Heirs:  “When most people think of Hugh Hefner, they picture the famous Playboy bunny logo, young and buxom blonde women by his side, and his ever-present robe and captain’s hat.  But people should also think of his smart business and planning sense.  After all, Hefner started a unique business with $8,000 in 1953 and grew it into a massive global enterprise.  How Hefner used the resulting wealth to plan for his golden years and beyond was as unique and innovative as the way he lived his life.  It certainly isn’t a road-map for everyone, but it worked out well for him.”

By | 2017-12-28T10:26:12+00:00 December 28th, 2017|

Woman Leaves $50,000 to Her Nail Technician, Hairstylist & Doorman

Daily Mail:  “A wealthy heiress from New York City bequeathed thousands of dollars to her hairdresser, housekeeper, doorman and nail technician after she died of natural causes. Kaaren Parker Gray, 72, died of a heart attack on August 24 in her Upper East Side home, less three weeks after she wrote ten-page handwritten will without a witness. Since then, the people who she employed to help her get through her daily life have received handwritten letters explaining the funds she has bestowed upon them.”

By | 2015-09-26T17:02:30+00:00 September 26th, 2015|

Millionaire Leaves $100,000 to Pets

Daily Mail:  “A deceased New York City entrepreneur with a $4 million East Hamptons property left behind a $100,000 pet fund for her 32 cockatiels and detailed instructions in her will about how the birds should be treated.  Leslie Ann Mandel, 69, wrote in her will that she wanted the 32 birds to ‘continue to live in the aviary’ in the Hamptons or be taken to ‘a protected place of similar size’ for ‘the rest of their natural lives’.”

By | 2015-09-06T07:58:32+00:00 September 6th, 2015|

The Aaron Spelling Estate

Aaron Spelling died leaving an estate valued at over $500 million dollars.  Spelling left the vast majority of his fortune to his wife and left a little less than a million dollars to each of his children.  Despite the fortune he left behind and the small value left to each child, there was no contest over the value of Spelling’s estate between his family.  This illustrates the value that can be found in having an estate plan prepared by an estate planning lawyer.

By | 2016-12-13T20:33:22+00:00 July 22nd, 2015|

Whitney Houston’s Sad Estate Legacy

Billboard:  “Since Jan. 31, the day that Bobbi Kristina Brown was found face-down in the bathtub of her Roswell, Ga., townhouse, the world has focused on what led up to the tragedy, which eerily paralleled her mother Whitney Houston’s drowning in 2012. Less attention has been focused on what becomes of the singer’s estate.  Unconfirmed reports point to a battle between the Houston family and Whitney’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown, over whether to remove Bobbi Kristina, 22, from life ­support — framed as a clash over religious values and the sanctity of life. Beyond moral ­considerations, ­however, there are tens of millions of dollars playing a behind-the-scenes role in the conflict.”

By | 2015-06-20T08:45:44+00:00 June 20th, 2015|

Personal Record Retention Top Ten

National Law Review:  “If you were to become incapacitated or die, would your agents, trustees or personal representatives know where to find the key to your safe deposit box? The title to your car? Or, your account numbers and passwords? If not, it is time to start compiling your personal records. By compiling this information in a central, secure location, you can better ensure that your estate plan will be carried out efficiently. For some people, this will mean compiling mostly paper files. For others, it will mean keeping a detailed list of digital assets and passwords. Below is a list of the top ten types of records you should print out or save in digital format. These items should be kept in a secure location separate from your computer, but in a place that can be accessed by your representative upon your death or incapacity.

By | 2016-12-13T20:33:22+00:00 March 26th, 2015|

AICPA Asks IRS for Portability Relief for Surviving Spouses

Journal of Accountancy:  “In a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and other IRS officials on March 19, Troy Lewis, chair of the AICPA Tax Executive Committee, requested that the IRS provide relief to surviving spouses who want to elect portability of the deceased spouse’s unused estate tax exemption (DSUE) amount.  Sec. 2010(c) allows the surviving spouse of a decedent who dies after Dec. 31, 2010, to elect to use any amount of the deceased spouse’s estate tax exemption that was unused by the deceased spouse. This is commonly referred to as the portability election. The election must be made on a timely filed Form 706,  United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, and must be made by the executor of the deceased spouse’s estate.”

By | 2016-12-13T20:33:26+00:00 March 25th, 2015|

Can Robert Durst Lose His $100 Million Inheritance?

Trust Advisor:  “NYC real estate heir may go straight from easy street to death row after surprise arrest for long-unsolved murder. The case raises tough questions about what happens to the funds when trust fund babies go far astray.  Robert Durst just moved into a world where the interest on his share of a billion-dollar Manhattan commercial real estate empire no longer amounts to much.  He’s in a Louisiana prison now waiting to be sent back to California to face charges he killed a friend who might have figured out why his first wife vanished 30 years ago. . . . And he’s going to turn 72 in a few weeks, so whether he rates the death penalty or not, the question now is really where all that money’s going to go.

By | 2015-03-26T07:48:53+00:00 March 23rd, 2015|

The New Grave Robbers: Identity Thieves

Huffington Post:  “Take your driver’s license out of your wallet. Flip it over. Now look carefully at the back of it. There’s no box to check for “Identity Donor.” Yet when it comes to identity-related crimes, one of the greatest times of vulnerability is immediately after you die.  You can do everything right. You can use long and strong passwords and account-unique user names. You can check your financial accounts and monitor your credit on a regular basis, you can set up transaction alerts on your credit cards — even order a credit freeze — and then you die. Well, not entirely.  Include Identity in Your Estate Planning.

By | 2016-12-13T20:33:26+00:00 March 19th, 2015|