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Do You Really Want To Serve As A Guardian Ad Litem?

July 28, 2015

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Guardians ad litem serve an important purpose.  They are officers of the court appointed to look after the interests of those who cannot look after their own interests, such as minors or the incapacitated.  Though they may be lawyers, they are not the lawyers for their wards.  This distinction is meaningful.

In trust and estate disputes, a non-litigating estate planning lawyer often gets appointed as guardian ad litem for minor beneficiaries or the unborn, unknown descendants.   That guardian ad litem also often makes a written report to the court.  Those who have experienced them know that trust and estate disputes can be incredibly contentious.  Is that guardian ad litem – who may have spent a career trying to avoid being in a courtroom – ready to get put on the witness stand?

Many guardians ad litem may say, “wait, I didn’t sign up to be

Virtual Adoption Requires Intestacy

July 15, 2015

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For the second time this year, the Georgia Supreme Court has addressed the equitable doctrine of virtual adoption.  Here’s how we previously described the doctrine:

In a virtual adoption, the ‘adopting parent’ orally agrees to adopt the child of another as his or her own without actually legally adopting the child and all parties act on the oral agreement to adopt.   Virtual adoption is not legal or statutory adoption.  It is an equitable remedy that is applied only upon the death of the ‘adopting parent’ to avoid an unfair result to the ‘adopted child’ by the application of intestacy laws.

In Johnson v. Rogers, the Georgia Supreme Court reaffirmed that this equitable doctrine can only be applied where the ‘adoptive parent’ dies intestate.  In other words, the equitable doctrine of virtual adoption has no application

Changes in the Final Portability Regulations

Changes in the Final Portability Regulations

July 10, 2015

Authored by: Andrew Bleyer and Doug Stanley

ThinkstockPhotos-176603977The IRS issued final regulations for electing portability and use of a deceased spousal unused exclusion amount (DSUE) on June 12, 2015. Though the final regulations are fairly technical, they are worth understanding as applying them correctly can mean a $5,430,000 difference in the amount that passes through an estate tax free. The final regulations adopt the temporary regulations that were issued in 2012, with several changes and clarifications:

1. Upon request, the proposed regulations allowed for an extension of time to elect portability for those estates that did not meet the requirements for an automatic extension. It was unclear whether estates that exceed the basic exclusion amount (currently $5,430,000 indexed for inflation) could request such an extension because the filing deadline for such estates is prescribed by statute and thus cannot be modified

Same-Sex Married Couples: What to Do Now?

samesexmarriageIn light of the recent Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, we are re-posting this blog, which was originally posted on October 10, 2014.

We thought we’d share some of the information presented by our attorneys at the CLE presentation in our St. Louis office on Wednesday morning, “Same Sex, Different Day:  Estate Planning for Same Sex Married Couples (Post Windsor decision), co-sponsored by the Bryan Cave LGBT Affinity Group.  Presenters were Kimberly Civins, Stephen Daiker, and Douglas Stanley, along with Tony Rothert from the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.

Get income tax advice regarding amending returns and filing returns going forward

The sooner the better, as there is a 3 year statute of limitations for amending returns if filing as married achieves a better tax result!

Do You Need Testimony From Subscribing Witnesses To Admit A Will To Probate In Georgia?

July 8, 2015

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The question of when subscribing witnesses are necessary to admit a will to probate can sometimes be a tricky one.  So tricky that it may even trip up a probate court.  The issues mainly seem to arise when dealing with shifting burdens when a will is challenged.

In a recent Georgia case, Reeves v. Webb (consolidated with Groenenboom v. Webb), there was a petition to probate the decedent’s will in solemn form, and an objection and caveat were filed on the grounds that there was a breach of fiduciary duty to the decedent, fraud, undue influence, and lack of testamentary capacity.  The probate court dismissed the petition by finding that the propounder did not make out a prima facie case to admit the will to probate because the propounder failed to produce the subscribing witnesses and

Could Trust Protector Amend Procedure For Removing Himself?

July 2, 2015

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We have looked at a number of chapters of the Wellin trust disputes in South Carolina and how they are shaping trust protector law.  A recent district court opinion in one of the cases, McDevitt v. Wellin, digs a little deeper into the authority of the trust protector, namely if the trust protector had the authority to amend the procedure for his own removal.  Not surprisingly, the opinion turned on the language used by the trustor in the trust when describing the trust protector’s powers.

The trust protector purported to amend the trust and to change the procedure for his own removal.  It was argued that the amendment was invalid because, through the amendment, the trust protector was increasing his own power and this increase in power was impermissible under the trust instrument.  The court turned to two

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