Trust BCLP

Trust BCLP

Other Posts

Main Content

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.

Bitcoins and Other Hidden Assets

treasuremapYears ago, my grandparents were robbed.  While going through the house and noting the missing items, my grandmother told my mother she was grateful they did not find the family silverware hidden in the attic staircase.  This was the first time my mother had heard of the hiding place and told my grandmother, “I would have sold this house having never found the silverware.”

Nearly everyone has a hiding place for a few special, tangible items, and increasingly many individuals have assets that are not easy to identify or locate.  After the death of the owner of such assets, it can be very difficult for the personal representative of the estate to locate and take possession of all of the decedent’s assets.

$5 Million Federal Estate Tax Exemption Doesn’t Mean You’re Safe From Tax at Death

Written with assistance from our Spring Extern Debra Faulkner

When the American Taxpayer Relief Act was enacted in early January, for many Americans, it all but eliminated the concern over the estate and gift taxes by making the $5,000,000 exemption (indexed for inflation) permanent. While the new law provides clarity and a sense of permanency, beware of becoming too complacent: 21 states and the District of Columbia still have estate or inheritance taxes. Two states – Maryland and New Jersey – have both.

The state estate and inheritance tax legislation, much like the federal estate tax legislation, has been notoriously volatile. In 2001, all 50 states had some form of death-time transfer tax, either an estate or an inheritance tax. In 2013, only 21 states have an estate or inheritance tax and in two of those states – Delaware and Tennessee – the taxes are set to expire. The exemption

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

Death, Taxes and Miles: Where do your frequent flyer miles go when you’re gone?

When someone passes away, usually their next of kin, agent or fiduciary will begin to compile a list of the decedent’s assets.  Rarely will such a list include the decedent’s frequent flyer miles.  However, depending upon how many miles have been accrued during the decedent’s life, frequent flyer miles can be worth hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars.  In such cases, heirs or beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate may wish to benefit from the value the decedent has amassed in frequent flyer miles.

Transferring Miles

Most airlines allow for mileage transfer among the living, but it is usually an expensive task to accomplish, often accompanied by fees and yearly limits.  The transferability of frequent flyer miles upon death is no more simple.  Susan Stellin, the author of a New York Times article entitled “The Afterlife of Your Frequent Flyer Miles,” stated “I asked six airlines if they allow transfers

New Illinois Directed Trusts Statute

Typically, a Trustee is an individual or entity who is responsible for all of the duties necessary to administer a trust, but, in this new statute, the Illinois legislature has created new roles to assist the Trustee in the performance of his or its duties.

On May 16, a bill entitled “Directed Trusts” passed both houses of the Illinois legislature. According to the synopsis of the bill, the amendment to the Illinois Trusts and Trustees Act “adds provisions establishing a directed trust as a type of trust and establishes responsibilities among” different directing parties.  The bill was sent to the governor for signature on June 14.  If the governor does not veto the bill, or sign it before then, the bill will become law on August 13.

The bill creates three types of directing parties: (1) an investment trust advisor, (2) a distribution trust advisor, and (3) a trust protector.

The Silver Lining – Transferring Assets in a Down Economy

The current economy has created a great opportunity for individuals to transfer assets, and future appreciation of such assets, with little to no transfer tax. This opportunity is created by the depressed asset values and historic low applicable federal interest rates (“AFRs”), which are the minimum interest rates, set monthly, permitted by the IRS. (The current AFR for a loan with a term under three years is 0.19%, three to nine years is 1.17% and over nine years is 2.63%.)

The federal gift tax is imposed on all lifetime gifts that exceed the annual exclusion from gift tax (currently $13,000 per person), and the federal estate tax is imposed on the value of all assets and property that an individual owns at the time of death. Each individual, however, has an exemption of $5,120,000 against the gift and estate tax.

A gift during life of an appreciating asset can reap

“But I don’t want it!” — Even small estates require probate.

A Georgia court in a recent case, Villas at Stone Mountain Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Blair (Ga. App., 2011), No. A11A0912 (the “Blair Case”), held that the children and heirs of a decedent owed the homeowner association fees on the decedent’s condominium despite the fact none of the heirs wanted the condominium. The fees accrued between the decedent’s death and foreclosure of the condominium by the mortgage company.

In the Blair Case, the decedent died without a Will and the decedent’s children (also her heirs under Georgia law) never opened an estate administration with the probate court nor signed any documentation to disclaim ownership of the condominium. When a Georgia resident dies without a Will, which is known as an intestacy, title to real property automatically vests in the decedent’s heirs effective as of date of death subject to an administration of the estate. An heir may decline an inheritance

Advance Directives, Preparing for Your Incapacity

A doctor must obtain informed consent from you before providing medical care or performing any type of medical treatment. If you are unable to communicate your wishes, state laws determine with whom the doctor should consult regarding these decisions and the decisions would be made with the medical preferences of the family member(s) and the doctor. However, you can direct who should make these decisions and establish your preference with an advance directive for healthcare.

An advance directive is a document authorized by state law that combines a living will with a healthcare power of attorney. This document is typically referred to as an advance directive because it allows you to provide your directions in advance of your incapacity, but the exact name of the document will vary from state to state. Most people have heard of a living will, which allows you to state end-of-life treatment preferences when you

The attorneys of Bryan Cave LLP make this site available to you only for the educational purposes of imparting general information and a general understanding of the law. This site does not offer specific legal advice. Your use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Bryan Cave LLP or any of its attorneys. Do not use this site as a substitute for specific legal advice from a licensed attorney. Much of the information on this site is based upon preliminary discussions in the absence of definitive advice or policy statements and therefore may change as soon as more definitive advice is available. Please review our full disclaimer.