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THE TOM PETTY ESTATE: A CAUTIONARY TALE IN BUSINESS SUCCESSION PLANNING

April 9, 2019

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When a celebrity’s death hits the newswires, it’s often immediately followed by reports of the size of the deceased’s estate and the identity of the beneficiaries.   In addition, not infrequently public battles among the beneficiaries ensue.  Some disputes are the result of the simple (yet, significant) error of dying without an estate plan, as in the Prince estate.  Others provide specific lessons demonstrating the need for attention to detail when creating an estate plan, such as in Tom Petty’s estate.

Tom Petty was a historically-acclaimed singer-songwriter and record producer, who performed as a solo artist and as the lead singer for the Heartbreakers.  Upon his death in October of 2017, his trust directed the trustee, his second wife, to establish an entity to be used to hold and control Petty’s sizable and valuable music catalog.  The terms of the trust ascribing control of the entity provide, as follows:

What Happens to My Digital Assets on Death or Incapacity?

February 6, 2019

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A recent New York case, Estate of Swezey (NYLJ, 1/17/19 at pp. 23, col. 3) highlights the confusion in the laws of many states regarding the administration and distribution of digital assets at a decedent’s death.  In this case, decedent’s executor asked Apple to turn over decedent’s photographs stored in his iTunes and iCloud account.  No provision in decedent’s Will specifically authorized the executor to access decedent’s digital account.  The Court relied on the relatively new section 13-A in the New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (“EPTL”), Administration of Digital Assets which provides for different procedures for the disclosure of electronic communications, in contrast to the digital assets.  To disclose electronic communication specific user consent is required or a specific court order for an identifiable reason.  Other digital assets, such as

Estate Tax Account Transcripts Available on IRS.gov

May 15, 2018

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Estate tax transcripts can now be accessed online through the IRS website.

“The ability to access those transcripts online is a significant milestone in the Internal Revenue Service’s effort to reduce the number of estate tax closing letter requests and lessen its workload,” said Catherine Hughes, of the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy.

Before June 1, 2015, the IRS issued an estate tax closing letter for every estate tax return filed.  For returns filed on or after that date, the IRS issues a closing letter only at the request of the estate.

In Notice 2017-12, issued in January 2017, the IRS stated that in lieu of closing letters, executors, local probate courts, state tax departments, and others can request an account transcript—a computer-generated report that includes the date on which the

Bryan Cave Trusts and Estates Group Recognized as National Tier 1 Firm

March 7, 2018

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Bryan Cave LLP has once again been recognized as a U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” National Tier 1 ranked firm for its work in Trusts & Estates.  Awards are determined using several criteria, including: client evaluations, peer attorney feedback, and, notably, managing partners and practice area chairs’ reviews. Congrats to the Bryan Cave Private Client Group!

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