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Estate Planning for Digital Currencies

bitcoins182way   Over the last 20 years, the growth of digital assets has exploded. Almost everyone has a social media account of some kind, and photographs and music are almost all stored in digital form. Further, digital art is starting to be created, stored and sold online. While there are certain challenges to estate planning for these assets, one can take steps to make sure they are properly transferred to your desired beneficiaries upon your death.

A more difficult estate planning issue for digital assets lies in the form of cryptocurrency, which has also exploded in use in recent years. The most notable cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, which has a market capitalization of upwards of $3.5 billion. (For the sake of accuracy, “bitcoin” is the name of the payment system as well as

Giving The Same Property Twice In A Will

February 25, 2015

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Giving The Same Property Twice In A Will

February 25, 2015

Authored by: Luke Lantta

There are clearer ways to create a life estate than what Hodge King used in his will.  The problem with Mr. King’s will was that he appeared to leave his real property to his wife, Mrs. King, in fee simple but then also appeared to leave that same property to his son and son’s children after Mrs. King’s death.  In Thompson v. Blackwell, the Georgia Supreme Court was tasked with interpreting Mr. King’s will to figure out what happens when you give the same piece of property to people, apparently to both in fee simple, in succession.

Let’s start where we always start: the language within the four corners of the will.  In Item II of his will, Mr. King provided:

I give, devise and bequeath to my wife, Hattie F. King, all my property, both real and personal, wherever located and whenever acquired, either

Treasury Green Book Proposal: GRATs and Other Grantor Trusts

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The Treasury Green Book provides explanations of the President’s budget proposals.  One such proposal (remember…these are just proposals, not actual changes in the law) that may affect your estate planning is found on page 197 of the Green Book and is re-printed here for your convenience:

MODIFY TRANSFER TAX RULES FOR GRANTOR RETAINED ANNUITY TRUSTS (GRATS) AND OTHER GRANTOR TRUSTS

Current Law

Section 2702 provides that, if an interest in a trust is transferred to a family member, any interest retained by the grantor is valued at zero for purposes of determining the transfer tax value of the gift to the family member(s). This rule does not apply if the retained interest is a “qualified interest.”

Treasury Green Book Proposal — Inheriting IRAs

459482489The Treasury Green Book provides explanations of the President’s budget proposals.  One such proposal (remember…these are just proposals, not actual changes in the law) that may affect your estate planning is found on page 165 of the Green Book and is re-printed here for your convenience:

REQUIRE NON-SPOUSE BENEFICIARIES OF DECEASED IRA OWNERS AND RETIREMENT PLAN PARTICIPANTS TO TAKE INHERITED DISTRIBUTIONS OVER NO MORE THAN FIVE YEARS

Current Law Minimum distribution rules apply to employer sponsored tax-favored retirement plans and to IRAs. In general, under these rules, distributions must begin no later than the required beginning date and a minimum amount must be distributed each year. For traditional IRAs, the required beginning date is April 1 following the calendar year

Sometimes, You Might Not Actually Need a Will, and Other Times, You’re Going to Need a Lot More

GTY_whitney_houston_bobbi_kristina_brown_sk_140325_16x9_992It’s true. Even if you don’t have a will, your state has written one for you, and it serves as the default plan for individuals who die without a will (aka “intestate”). Your local Probate Code will have all the juicy details. For the most part, intestacy statutes try to mimic what the average person would have done with their assets if they had a will. For instance, if you’re single and without children, it generally reverts to your parents. If you’re married with minor children, it would generally go to the spouse with whom you had the children, and in some states (like Georgia), a spouse shares with the children. The people who receive your assets under such a statute are generally referred to as your “heirs at law”.

Estate Planning for Digital Assets–Update

February 16, 2015

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Since we originally published our post on planing for digital assets in 2011, Google and Facebook have now created Inactive Account Manager (Google) and Legacy Contact (Facebook) designations so you can name who has control of your digital assets upon your death.  For more information, see the following articles:

Google’s “Inactive Account Manager

Facebook’s “Legacy Contact

The following was originally published on August 17, 2011

What are digital assets? Generally speaking, “digital assets” are any type of data in which a person has some right or proprietary interest.  A person’s digital assets may include (but are not limited to) information in his or her email accounts, information saved on his or her Smartphones, his or her computer files, picture files, video files, music files, social networking accounts, blogs, websites, word processing documents, and spreadsheets.

Do digital assets have value?  Many digital assets have value.  Like tangible assets, digital assets

Differentiating Between Trustee-Level Acts And Corporate-Level Acts

February 11, 2015

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When trustees are put in control of family entities held in trust, it may pay to clearly differentiate the capacity in which the trustee takes an action.  Is the trustee taking a trustee-level action or is the trustee taking a corporate/partnership/entity-level action?

When we last looked at Rollins v. Rollins, the Georgia Supreme Court was holding that where, under the terms of a trust, a trustee is put in control of a corporate entity in which the trust owns a minority interest, the trustee should be held to a corporate level fiduciary standard when it comes to his or her corporate duties or actions.  The Georgia Supreme Court then remanded the case to the Georgia Court of Appeals for further consideration in light of that standard.

In the latest round of Rollins v. Rollins, the Georgia Court of Appeals considered the Georgia Supreme Court’s directives

Celebrity Family at War Over Estate

Celebrity Family at War Over Estate

February 6, 2015

Authored by: Stacie J. Rottenstreich and Karin Barkhorn

The untimely death of Robin Williams shocked and distressed many of his admirers. Now six months after his death many of his admirers are further distressed by the legal battle between Williams’s widow and his children from prior marriages.

Mr. Williams seems to have gone to great lengths to care for and protect his three children from two different marriages. Yet, he also made provisions for his wife. His home in Tiburon, California, along with its contents, subject to certain reservations, was to pass to his wife on his death. However, the trust which, according to news sources, disposes of this home and its contents also provides that his children are to receive his clothing, jewelry and personal photos taken prior to his last marriage as well as his “memorabilia and awards

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