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I Want My Exemption Back! Reconsidering Gift Splitting after The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

In 2012, the federal estate and gift tax exemption, which is the amount a person can give in life or pass at death before having to pay estate and gift tax, was $5,120,000 per individual. As the infamous “fiscal cliff” approached, the federal exemption was set to drop back to $1,000,000 per individual on January 1, 2013 if Congress did not pass new tax legislation. At that time, most commentators believed that Congress would compromise by lowering the exemption to $3,500,000, which was part of the Obama Administration’s tax plan.

Based on these assumptions, many clients entered into gifting plans in 2012, the primary goal of which was to use as much of the $5,120,000 exemption, or combined exemption of $10,240,000 for married couples, as possible before it was lost. Many married couples who could not give $10,240,00, transferred assets to a single spouse to allow that spouse to give

A Cautionary Tale About Trustees Picking Sides Between Beneficiaries

February 7, 2013

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When trust beneficiaries fight, the trustee usually ends up stuck in the middle.  The trustee is often then forced into taking a position in the dispute.  Not surprisingly, judges tend to be very interested in what the trustee thinks, especially if the trustee is a corporate fiduciary.  Chances are that the trustee’s position in the litigation is aligned with one set of beneficiaries but is adverse to the positions being advocated by another set of beneficiaries.  So, how far can or should a trustee force the issue of upholding the settlor’s intent as expressed in the trust instrument?  In Shelton v. Tamposi, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire gives us some thoughts under the Uniform Trust Code in a case involving an in terrorem clause, and the court suggests that there is a bright line the trustee shouldn’t cross.

Private Client Lawyers Named Best in America 2013

The Best Lawyers in America, the oldest lawyer-rating publication in the U.S., has selected 156 Bryan Cave lawyers for inclusion in the 2013 edition. Selection is based on a peer-review survey in which leading attorneys cast almost 4.4 million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their specialties.

Included in the rankings are the following attorneys from the Private Client group:

Atlanta:

William Linkous Jr.

Frank S. McGaughey

St. Louis:

Lawrence Brody

Michael N. Newmark

John D. Schaperkotter

Kathleen R. Sherby

Franklin F. Wallis

 

Iowa Weighs In On Fiduciary Duty To Account To Beneficiaries Of Revocable Trusts

February 4, 2013

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There is a surprising but growing split of authority on the extent of fiduciary duties a trustee owes to beneficiaries of a revocable trust other than the settlor.  Remarkably, state appellate courts are dealing with these issues for the first time now.  We previously took a look at this issue when a Missouri appellate court ruled in In re Stephen M. Gunther Revocable Living Trust that “[b]ecause the trustee owed no duty to the beneficiaries prior to the settlor’s death, they are not entitled to an accounting of trust transactions prior to that date.”  In ruling this way, Missouri joined other states, such as Louisiana, in reaching this conclusion.  We also looked at an Arizona appellate court apply Michigan law to reach the same conclusion.  Seemed to make sense.

But, in late 2012, a closely

Steve Daiker in Ladue News

Steve Daiker in Ladue News

February 1, 2013

Authored by: Stephanie Moll

St. Louis Partner Steve Daiker was quoted at length Jan. 25 by the Ladue News concerning when, why and how to modify life insurance policies in order to protect yourself and your family. Life insurance should be obtained at a young, healthy age to qualify for a lower premium, then policy holders should be mindful of when to update policies, Daiker said. Marriage, the birth of a child, divorce, retirement, even changes in the growth of a business all are events that may warrant a change in life insurance, he said.

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