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Effects of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 on Estate Planning

Unless you have been living on a tropical island with no television, cell service, or internet for the past few days, you have probably heard that the Federal government passed a new law this week, averting the “fiscal cliff” by the skin of their teeth (well, at least with respect to tax reform, it remains to be seen what will happen with spending cuts). While there are many portions of the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012” (the “2012 Act”) that may apply to you (for example, see our prior post on the effects of the 2012 Act on charitable gifting), our focus now is on how the new law affects your estate planning.

The New Law

Since 2001, the transfer tax laws have been in a state of flux, with ever-changing exemptions, rates, expirations and sunsets. Now, for the first time in over a decade, the 2012 Act

IRS Releases New Private Letter Ruling Relating to Gift and Generation-Skipping Transfer Taxes

With guest co-blogger, Washington University School of Law student, Anne Jump.

The IRS recently released Private Letter Ruling 201233008 (the “PLR”), in which the IRS ruled that a proposed partial termination and modification of a trust pursuant to state law will not (1) cause the trust to be includible in the grantor’s estate under Internal Revenue Code sections 2036 or 2038, (2) result in a transfer by settlor of trust assets pursuant to Code section 2501, and (3) will not cause the trust to lose its exempt status for purposes of chapter 13 of the Code.

The Uniform Trust Code (UTC) provides that an irrevocable noncharitable inter vivos trust may be modified or terminated upon consent of the settlor and all of the beneficiaries. U.T.C. § 411(a). From the facts set forth in the PLR, the proposed partial termination and modification of the trust at issue was likely being

Summary of New Provisions in IRS Draft Instructions for Form 706 for Decedents Dying in 2012

As we told you last week, the IRS recently released Draft Instructions for Form 706 for decedents dying in 2012, which can be found here. If you don’t feel like reading all 52 pages yourself, here are some of the highlights:

• The new Form 706 includes a new Part 6—Portability of Deceased Spousal Unused Exclusion (DSUE). This new Part 6 allows the taxpayer to (1) opt out of electing to transfer the decedent’s DSUE to his or her surviving spouse, (2) calculate the amount of DSUE that can be transferred to the surviving spouse if so elected, and/or (3) account for any DSUE amount received by the decedent from his or her predeceased spouse.

IRS Releases New Draft Form 706 for 2012 Decedents

August 18, 2012


The IRS has released a new draft Form 706 for estates of decedents dying in 2012.   It is important to note the IRS’ caution at the beginning of the draft Form:

“This is an early release draft of an IRS tax form, instructions, or publication, which the IRS is providing for your information as a courtesy. Do no file draft forms. Also, do not rely on draft instructions and publications for filing. ”


When a Woman Loves a Woman (With Apologies to Percy Sledge…): Another Federal Judge Strikes Down DOMA

The year was 1963, the restaurant Portofino – an eclectic restaurant in Greenwich Village, a part of New York City known as one of the centers of the gay and lesbian liberal movement. It was this night that Edie Windsor met Thea Spyer. “We immediately just fit,” said Thea, in the award-winning 2009 documentary film, Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement by Susan Muska and Greta Olafsdotir. After sharing their lives together as a couple in New York City for 44 years, the two women wed in Canada, where same-sex marriage was legal. Two years later, Thea died of complications of multiple sclerosis. At that time the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), a 1996 federal statute, took effect, transforming Edie’s story from a personal tragedy to a public

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.


Are Inherited IRAs Protected in Bankruptcy?

Whether post-death creditor protection is available to inherited IRAs under the 2005 Bankruptcy Act has been the subject of a number of cases decided in the last several years. The argument made by bankruptcy trustees is that, on the death of the IRA owner, the IRA ceases to be “retirement funds” as it is not the retirement funds of the beneficiary. Consequently, the bankruptcy trustees argue that the inherited IRA ceases to have the protection afforded to IRAs under the Bankruptcy Code.

In Re Stephenson, U.S. District Court, E.D. Mich., No. 4:11-cv-10848-MAG-MAR, December 12, 2011 is the latest in a long line of cases that have been decided in the last several years under the 2005 Bankruptcy Code. While the Bankruptcy Court in this case agreed with the Trustee that the inherited IRA was not exempt from the bankrupts’ estate, the District Court did not agree.

In this case, Janet

Planning for Same-Sex Couples

Planning for Same-Sex Couples

March 22, 2012

Authored by: Stacie J. Rottenstreich and Karin Barkhorn

Same-sex marriage is currently permitted in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington, D.C. and Washington. The individuals who marry in these states have the ability to enjoy state level rights based on their marital status. Rights granted under state law to married couples who divorce are available to same-sex couples who marry. Examples of such rights include spousal maintenance or alimony and equitable distribution of marital property. Similarly, rights granted under state law to married couples upon the death of one of the parties are also available to same-sex couples who marry. Examples of such rights include rights regarding intestate succession (the distribution of a decedent’s property when he or she dies without leaving a valid Will), the right to receive an elective share (many states

Tax Patents Banned

Tax Patents Banned

October 7, 2011

Authored by: Kathy Sherby and Stephanie Moll

Under the American Invents Act passed by Congress on September 8 of this year and signed into law by President Obama, among the many patent reforms is a ban on patenting any strategy for reducing, avoiding, or deferring tax liability, whether known or unknown at the time of the alleged invention or patent application (with certain limited exclusions related to software technology).  This type of patent application will no longer be able to be filed or prosecuted with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In essence, this legislation stated that tax strategies are indistinguishable from prior strategies and therefore cannot be patented as a novel or non-obvious invention.

It is important to note that this legislation does not invalidate any patents that have already been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which continued to issue such patents as late as the week immediately prior to the passage of

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