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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

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

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

Your Estate Planning New Year’s Resolution Checklist

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Need a New Year’s resolutions to kick start 2015? Here is an idea you probably hadn’t considered: review your estate planning documents.

If you are like most people, you are probably thinking that reading legal documents does not sound like an even remotely enjoyable way to start a new year. But, it doesn’t have to be as unpleasant as it sounds. Reviewing your documents does not mean you have to read them cover to cover. If you know what are the most important elements, it is easy to review your will, trust, and powers of attorney regularly to ensure they still comply with your wishes. These documents not only determine who will receive your property when you die, but also likely determine who has the right to make financial and major medical decisions

Good Faith & Probable Cause Defeat Forfeiture Under No Contest Clause

177855670When a will contains a so-called no contest clause or in terrorem clause that would cause a beneficiary to lose his or her interest in the deceased’s estate in the event the beneficiary contests the validity of the will, the court is often called upon to determine whether to enforce the forfeiture against the beneficiary if he or she loses the will contest. Just such an issue faced the Mississippi Supreme Court in Parker v. Benoist.

In this case, Bronwyn Benoist Parker (“Parker”) filed a will contest, contesting the validity of her father’s 2010 will. The 2010 will changed the disposition of the father’s estate from an equal division between Parker and her brother, William Benoist (“Benoist”), to a disposition where Benoist received a significantly greater portion of their father’s estate and Parker

Time to Give Thanks and Review Your Goals

Happy Thanksgiving from the Private Client group at Bryan Cave!  

Now is the time everyone comes together to remember what they’re thankful for this year.  In conjunction with being thankful for the blessings in our lives, it also is a good time to review your estate planning goals, such as the following:

  • Have you retained enough cash flow for you (and your spouse) in order to maintain your standard of living and provide you with security for your lifetimes?
  • Have you provided for your surviving spouse so he or she will be taken care of after you’re gone?
  • Have you prepared a prenuptial agreement to protect your assets upon divorce?  See our post on Prenuptial Agreements.
  • Have you protected your children (or other beneficiaries) by protecting their inheritance from creditors? See our post on Creditor’s Rights.
  • Have you protected your children (or other beneficiaries) by reducing

Law Meets Science

Law Meets Science

November 24, 2014

Authored by: Stacie J. Rottenstreich and Karin Barkhorn

451428613Advances in medical technology have made it possible for a child to be conceived after the death of one or both of his or her genetic parents with the use of stored sperm or ova. Recently, the New York State Legislature has sent a bill to Governor Coumo which clarifies when a child born after the death of his or her genetic parents, a so called posthumously conceived child, will be deemed a child of such parents for the purpose of inheritance and intestacy law. This issue may arise when a genetic parent who will ultimately have a posthumously conceived child dies without a Will or with a Will using the generic term child or issue. Does the posthumously conceived child take a share

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