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30 Rock, Oysters, and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax



Billionaire David Rockefeller, the grandson of John D. Rockefeller, passed away recently at the age of 101.  In 2017, Forbes estimated that his fortune, investments in real estate, share of family trusts, and other holdings were worth $3.3 billion.  However, because of his family history, it is quite possible that a large portion of that $3.3 billion will not be subject to the estate tax upon his death.

It’s Income Tax Time Again . . . But Don’t Forget About the Gift Tax Return

474603253It’s that time of the year again…tax time! Like it or not, when tax season rolls around it is time for most Americans to add “do taxes” to the “to do” list. Chances are you have already started gathering the documents that you or your accountant will need to complete your income tax return. Or, if you are ahead of the game, your income tax return is already filed and your refund (if you are lucky) is in your pocket.

Planning For the End You Want

Planning For the End You Want

February 10, 2014

Authored by: Steve Dawson and Anne Jump


Recent news stories such as that of Marlise Muñoz in Texas and auto racing star Michael Schumacher serve as a reminder of the importance of discussing your wishes with others regarding end-of-life care. Select someone you trust to make those decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated, and sign the documents required to empower that person to act for you if necessary.

Most Americans say they want to die at home, surrounded by family and friends. But data from Medicare shows only about a third of elderly patients die this way. Taking a few small steps now can go a long way toward ensuring that your wishes are respected when the time comes.

You can start by talking to your family, your friends, and your doctors about

FEGLIA: Wife Can’t Enjoy Fruits of Husband’s Labor

With guest co-blogger, Washington University School of Law student and Bryan Cave summer intern, Mike Gallagher.

As is the case for everyone (and as we previously discussed in our prior post, Rock, Paper, Scissors: Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation Beats Will), based on the United States Supreme Court decision in Hillman v. Maretta, if you are a federal employee, you should carefully consider who is listed as beneficiary of your life insurance policy. In Hillman, the Court favored Warren Hillman’s ex-wife, Judy Maretta, over his widow, Jacqueline Hillman, and not because the former was more deserving or the marriage to the latter was overly capricious. $124,558 of life insurance benefits accrued to the ex-wife because the husband neglected to send the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management the necessary documentation to change his beneficiary designation before his death.

How is an Illinois Trust Now Like a Fine Wine? It Can Be Decanted: A Summary of the New Illinois Decanting Statute

decanterEffective January 1, 2013, Illinois statute authorizes “decanting” of irrevocable trusts. What is decanting, you ask? Isn’t that something you do with a bottle of wine? Yes, it is, and just like you decant wine from one bottle into a new container to remove sediment and to allow the wine to breathe, when you decant a trust, you pour the trust assets from one trust into another trust, allowing flexibility in the terms of an otherwise irrevocable trust.

Illinois recently enacted a new Section 16.4 of the Trust and Trustees Act, entitled “Distribution of trust principal in further trust” (the “Decanting Statute”). The Decanting Statute allows the trustees of an irrevocable trust (the first trust), acting pursuant to their fiduciary duty (and assuming certain conditions are met), to distribute all or part of

Court Dismisses Widow’s Action for Damages Against Trustees for Filing Fraudulent Information Return

Right now we are all in the peak of tax return filing season. As part of the tax return process, many tax practitioners file information returns for the entities they represent. Any person, including a corporation, partnership, individual, estate, and trust, who makes a payment (such for as rent, wages, salaries, and annuities) must file an information return with the IRS to report the payment. But what happens if a false information return is filed with the IRS?

In 1996, Congress enacted 26 U.S.C. § 7434(a), which gives victims of fraudulent filing activities a damage remedy against the perpetrators. The provision applies whenever “any person willfully files a fraudulent information return with respect to payments purported to be made to any other person.” It allows the subject of the false information return to recover from the person filing the return the greater of $5,000 or actual damages flowing “as a

First-Time Father at 94? Illinois Court Calls Foul

It is no secret that when it comes to inheriting money, people have been known to dream up some creative schemes to get rich. Recently, however, an Illinois Appellate Court nixed the idea that marrying a man and persuading him to adopt—at the age of 94—your 50-plus year-old children could be a successful means to that end.

In November, the court in Dixon v. Weitekamp-Diller held that to allow the four adult adoptees, at least one of whom was a grandmother, to inherit under several trusts created to benefit descendants of the settlor would be to give judicial approval to an act of “subterfuge.” Where an adult adoption is undertaken solely to make the adoptee an heir or a beneficiary of a trust, the court ruled, the adoptee will not be permitted to inherit.

At issue in the case were three trusts created by ancestors of William Hughes Diller,

Almost Final Isn’t Final: The Fact That Divorce Was Nearly Final Does Not Prevent Spouse From Inheriting in Illinois Case

The Illinois Appellate Court in In re Estate of Doman issued a ruling on October 11, 2012 that once more clarifies why it is important to have a Will and, depending on circumstances, potentially a revocable trust. (See our prior posts on Why Do I Need a Will? (Part 1 and Part 2) and Why Do I Need a Trust?)

Trial Court Proceedings:

In the Doman case, Sara and Mark Doman were in the home stretch of their divorce when Mark died on July 4, 2011. On June 10, the trial court had issued a written dissolution judgment and reserved ruling on the ancillary issues, with a status hearing set for July 11. Sara’s attorney called the court on July 5 to inform the trial court of Mark’s death and the trial court entered a docket entry that stated, “Cause set for 7/11/11 is

More on Astrue v. Capato

More on Astrue v. Capato

May 31, 2012

Authored by: Stephanie Moll and Steve Dawson

As we told you a couple of weeks ago, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Astrue v. Capato, ruling that Robert Capato’s posthumously-born twins were not entitled to receive Social Security survivors benefits as his children. Now that you’ve had a chance to read the case, we thought we’d delve a little more deeply into the Court’s ruling.

Karen Capato gave birth to twins eighteen months after her husband, Robert Capato died of esophageal cancer. Prior to undergoing treatment, Robert froze some of his sperm in case the chemotherapy rendered him sterile. Despite aggressive treatment, Robert died in March 2002, a resident of Florida. Shortly after his death, Karen began in vitro fertilization using Robert’s sperm and conceived, giving birth to twins in September 2003.

Karen attempted

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Regarding Social Security Benefits for Children Conceived after Parent’s Death

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled in the case of Astrue v. Capato, No. 11-159, holding that children conceived after a parent’s death through the use of in vitro fertilization are not automatically entitled to survivor benefits under the Social Security law, depending, in part, on whether applicable state law would allow posthumously conceived children to inherit from a parent’s intestate estate (that is, who would inherit under state law if the parent does not have a Will).

New reproductive technology is changing the landscape of determining who qualifies as a child or descendant under the laws of inheritance.  For a more detailed explanation about how this evolving technology could affect your estate planning, see our blog post from September 6, 2011, How Reproductive Technology Can Affect Your Estate Plan in Unforeseen Ways.

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