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In Georgia, The Time To File A Caveat May Be Short And Unforgiving

August 27, 2014

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A recent case decided by the Georgia Court of Appeals serves as a reminder that probate court litigation often differs procedurally from other types of litigation.  So, when faced with a will contest or other probate proceeding, it’s often best to consult with someone who specializes in that type of fiduciary litigation.

In In re: Estate of Loyd, one of the heirs of Virginia Childs Loyd, Jack, tried to object to a petition to probate the will on the grounds of undue influence.  The trial court dismissed Jack’s caveat as untimely and the appellate court agreed.

After the petition to probate the will was filed, the probate court entered an order requiring certain of the heirs, including Jack, to file any objections to

Give the Gift of Education . . . Tax Free!

Originally posted on December 2, 2011 here.

You are allowed to give the gift of tuition to your children and grandchildren. More specifically, you can pay tuition to an educational institution on behalf of a loved one without triggering any gift tax or generation skipping transfer tax.

With the costs of education skyrocketing, more and more tuition bills are ringing in upwards of $20,000 or even $30,000 per year. Making gifts of that magnitude during life through tuition can save thousands down the road. At the end of a four year college education, the student graduates with a college degree, with less student debt, or perhaps even debt free, and you have gifted as much as $120,000 for the benefit of that student without paying any gift tax

Estate Planning Tips for College-Bound Children


Originally posted on August 18, 2011 here.

It’s back to school time, and if you have college-age children, you’re probably busy helping them get organized to leave home.  While most packing lists include extra-long twin sheets and expressly forbid hotplates, there’s something else your budding intellectual shouldn’t leave home without: basic financial and medical estate planning documents.  If your children are over 18, federal privacy laws protect their financial and medical information.  Three basic estate planning documents will authorize you to act on behalf of your child, in the event that your child cannot make such decisions for him- or herself.

A Durable Power of Attorney for financial purposes designates an attorney-in-fact to act on your child’s behalf in all financial, tax, legal, investment, and insurance matters if your child becomes

Uniform Law Commission Approves Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

453779831 (1)In our previous posts, Estate Planning for Digital Assets and Bitcoins and other Hidden Assets, we discussed how to protect online assets with a digital estate plan.  Administering an estate with digital assets such as e-mail, online accounts, social media accounts, and online photo albums is an ever-growing issue among estate planners. As the digital age continues to grow, a client’s online presence has become another asset of value, but how such assets pass remains elusive to many. Although digital assets are a form of personal property, ownership rights and privacy controls are governed by a myriad of federal laws, state laws, privacy laws, copyright laws and intellectual property laws.

More Authority For Trust Decanting?

August 19, 2014

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More Authority For Trust Decanting?

August 19, 2014

Authored by: Luke Lantta

Does the settlor’s grant of a broader power to a trustee necessarily, by implication, include the grant of the lesser power?  Practitioners have often answered “yes” to this question when it comes to justify so-called ‘common law’ trust decanting.  So, for example, if the settlor gave the trustee the discretionary authority to distribute the entirety of the corpus without regard to any standard, the argument is that the grant of that broad power would necessarily include the lesser power to decant.

In a different context, in an unpublished opinion in Leonard v. Maher (2014 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 885) (Rule 1:28 decision), the Appeals Court of Massachusetts used similar logic to conclude that where the settlors, trustees, grantors and beneficiaries of a trust are the same people, the power to

Kathy Sherby Named 2015 Best Lawyers in America “Lawyer of the Year”

August 18, 2014


krsCongratulations to our own, Kathy Sherby, on being named “Lawyer of the Year” for her specialty in Trusts and Estates by Best Lawyers in America, the oldest lawyer-rating publication in the U.S.

Best Lawyers names a single lawyer in each specialty in each community as ‘Lawyer of the Year.’  Those honored have received particularly outstanding ratings in the surveys by earning a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism and integrity.

Casey Kasem: The Countdown (of Estate Planning Lessons) Rolls On

casey-kasem-reuters-208x300More than a month after his death at age 82, Casey Kasem’s body still has not been buried and now is missing from the Washington state funeral home where it was being held, according to a recent statement from the publicist for his daughter, Kerri Kasem.

Kasem’s body disappeared around the same time that Kerri Kasem was granted a temporary restraining order she sought to prevent Casey Kasem’s second wife (and the step mother of three of his four children, including Kerri), Jean Kasem, from cremating Casey’s remains or removing them from cold storage. Kerri was seeking a court order allowing Kerri to obtain an autopsy of her father’s body. Kerri has stated that in light of threats by Jean to sue Kerri for elder abuse and wrongful death she is concerned about how the results of any autopsy that

The Family Settlement Doctrine Is Alive And Well

August 7, 2014

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The testator’s intent as set out in a will is usually sacrosanct.  Key emphasis on “usually.”  Assuming that the will isn’t invalid for any number of reasons such as incapacity, undue influence, fraud, etc., the property should be distributed according to the testator’s intent.  But, sometimes family members disagree with how the testator wanted to devise the property, and – shockingly – sometimes family members can even agree to an alternate division of property.  Why shouldn’t such an agreement be enforceable?  Well, in many jurisdictions it is under the family settlement doctrine.

The family settlement doctrine is a doctrine that allows the heirs of an estate to come up with a valid, enforceable agreement to deviate from the terms of a will when it comes to the distribution of division of property.  Here’s how

Reducing A Beneficiary’s Share Of An Estate Is Going To Require Some Backup

August 5, 2014

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It can be frustrating to an executor and other beneficiaries of an estate when one of the beneficiaries causes unnecessary cost to the estate.  Wills and some state statutes sometimes provide a way to reduce that beneficiary’s testamentary share of the estate.  These provisions are often couched in terms of the executor having “discretion” to reduce a beneficiary’s share.  But, as the Georgia Court of Appeals explained in In re: Estate of Hazel Williams Helms, discretion doesn’t mean that an executor can arbitrarily reduce a difficult beneficiary’s testamentary share of an estate.  As we have previously seen in the context of a court applying the doctrine of set off, if someone is going to get less than that to which they are entitled under an estate, there needs to be specific evidence

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