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Why Do I Need a Will?

August 9, 2011

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Why Do I Need a Will?

August 9, 2011

Authored by: Kim Civins

A friend of mine (in the industry) recently asked how to respond to this question. My friend’s clients are a young wealthy couple with a new child. That is all I know about these people, but I thought I would share my answer with you:

The three main reasons for having estate planning documents for this couple are (1) naming a guardian for their child, (2) establishing a credit shelter trust structure to save the first-spouse-to-die’s estate tax exemption, and (3) establishing a trust for minors to avoid a conservatorship.

Here’s a little more on each of these:

Draft Form 706 for 2010 Decedents Reflects Law and Other Changes

August 8, 2011

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The IRS has released drafts of Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return for estates of decedents dying after Dec. 31, 2009 and before Jan. 1, 2011, and its instructions. They reflect law changes made by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (2010 Tax Relief Act), as well as indexing and other changes. Form 706 must be filed by the executor of any estate of a decedent dying in 2010 whose gross estate, plus adjusted taxable gifts and specific exemption is more than $5,000,000. Alternatively, for decedents dying in 2010, the estate may elect not have the estate tax apply, but rather to apply modified carryover basis treatment to property acquired or passing from the decedent. If such election is made, the executor would not file a Form 706, but rather the IRS has indicated that such election will be made

2011 Amendments to Delaware Trust Laws

August 8, 2011

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Effective August 1, 2011, a number of new changes went into effect changing Delaware trust law.  While the amendments make a lot of changes to the Delaware trust laws, below are some of the changes that are likely to have the biggest impact on litigation concerning Delaware trusts.

Wrongdoing: The amendments have added a definition of “wrongdoing” to clarify its meaning within the definition of “wilful misconduct.”  For purposes of Delaware trust law, “wilful misconduct,” means “intentional wrongdoing, not mere negligence, gross negligence or recklessness.”  Apparently, there was some confusion over the meaning of “wrongdoing,” and, therefore, “wrongdoing” is now defined as “malicious conduct or conduct designed to defraud or seek an unconscionable advantage.”  To the extent that previously there was a benign interpretation of “wrongdoing,” the Delaware Code is now clear that the threshold for a fiduciary to commit “intentional wrongdoing” is quite high.

IRS Extends Form 8939 Deadline

August 5, 2011

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IRS Extends Form 8939 Deadline

August 5, 2011

Authored by: Stephanie Moll

The Internal Revenue Service issued guidance today on the treatment of basis for certain estates of decedents who died in 2010. The guidance assists executors who are making the choice to opt out of the estate tax and have the carryover basis rules apply. Form 8939, the basis allocation form required to be filed by executors opting out of the estate tax, is due Nov. 15, 2011.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished?

When Christian Lopez caught Derek Jeter’s historic 3,000th hit on July 9, he most likely thought that he was just being a nice guy by giving it back to the Yankee shortstop. In that moment, Lopez probably didn’t realize that his incredibly selfless gesture could lead to potentially negative tax consequences.

Did Lopez give the ball to Jeter as a gift? That could mean that Lopez made a taxable gift equal to the fair market value of the ball. How much is that ball actually worth? Fair market value is defined as the price a willing buyer would pay a willing seller for the ball. You can buy an official Rawlings MLB baseball on amazon.com for $17.30. Chump change. However, some people are estimating that Lopez could have sold Jeter’s ball for up to $250,000. Now we’re talking

I am the parent of a child with special needs…

I am the parent of a child with special needs.  Should I give money to a relative to care for my child with special needs after my death instead of giving the money directly to my child?

No.

Your expressed desires to your relative about the money create only a moral obligation on your relative and are not legally binding obligations that can be enforced. Further, if the relative dies, divorces or has financial problems, your child’s lifestyle could be negatively affected. Specifically, in a divorce, your child’s monies may be considered part of the marital property and part or all may be awarded to your relative’s spouse. If the relative dies, the money passes into the relative’s estate and goes to his or her beneficiaries or heirs, which might not be your child. Also, if your relative has to declare bankruptcy, creditors could put a lien on your child’s monies.

Georgia Court of Appeals Enforces ‘Unambiguous’ Language of Deed

August 2, 2011

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In Greene v. Greene, the Georgia Court of Appeals considered the effect of a deed that provided that an executrix and her husband took real property “as tenants in common, for and during their joint lives, and, upon the death of either of them, then to the survivor of them, in fee simple, together with every contingent remainder and right of reversion, and to the heirs and assigns of said survivor.”  The trial court had determined that the deed conveyed to the executrix and her husband a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship and, the husband having died, further determined that the executrix was the “sole owner” of the property.  The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part.

New Georgia Trust Code Turns One; Reflections on the First Year

On July 1, 2010, the provisions of a completely revised Georgia trust code became effective. This month we celebrate its first anniversary, so it seemed to be a good time to reflect on what were the top “attention-getters” of the new code. In thinking about this “top three” list, we’re reminded of the last time we trained a new puppy. The theme was: reward the good behavior, ignore the bad. Fortunately, the new code will help you take care of your dog and rewards good trustee behavior, but there could be serious consequences for a trustee not complying with some of the new provisions.

New Georgia Trust Code Turns One; Reflections on the First Year

July 26, 2011

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On July 1, 2010, the provisions of a completely revised Georgia trust code became effective. This month we celebrate its first anniversary, so it seemed to be a good time to reflect on what were the top “attention-getters” of the new code. In thinking about this “top three” list, we’re reminded of the last time we trained a new puppy. The theme was: reward the good behavior, ignore the bad. Fortunately, the new code will help you take care of your dog and rewards good trustee behavior, but there could be serious consequences for a trustee not complying with some of the new provisions.

1. The Dog: By far and away, for better or for worse, most attention has been focused on the new provisions allowing pet trusts. In the past, we were able to (somewhat) accommodate people’s wishes to provide for their pets upon their deaths by naming an

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