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Estate Planning Attorneys

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Training on Standalone IRA Beneficiary Trusts

We are holding one of our most popular technical training teleconferences on the IRA Inheritance Trust® tomorrow with our President, estate planning attorney and IRA Inheritance Trust® creator, Philip Kavesh.  This teleconference is always one of our most well-attended and popular programs for those looking to add this unique and niche area of planning to their estate planning practice.  See below for more information:

The Traps and Tricks of Properly Drafting IRA Trusts
Speaker: Philip Kavesh, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation), CFP®, ChFC, CA State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
Date: Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Time: 9am Pacific Time (12pm Eastern)
Duration: 90 minutes

All attendees will be offered a discount on our IRA Inheritance Trust® products following the teleconference.

To register, click here or call 1-866-754-6477.

This post has been brought to you by The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., providing practical, tested and proven technical and marketing products to help estate planning professionals throughout the country build their practices. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


Saturday, February 01, 2014

Registration is Open to the Next Ultimate Level Program

May 2014 Ultimate Level

Registration for our next Ultimate Level program is now open.  As of today, we have only 10 spots left and you have until February 28th to take advantage of a $500 Early Bird registration discount and 3-month payment plan.  For more information about our Ultimate Level program and to determine if this program is right for you or not, click here.

This post has been brought to you by The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., providing practical, tested and proven technical and marketing products to help estate planning professionals throughout the country build their practices. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


Monday, January 27, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: IRS Issued Rev. Proc. 2014-18, Granting Relief for Some Late Portability Elections

The IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2014-18 today, announcing that it would grant blanket relief for the estates of persons who died in 2011, 2012, and 2013, if the estate was not required to file a return.  The IRS announced that it will allow these estates to file a return to elect portability until December 31, 2014.

Any estates of persons dying after 2013 that don't file a timely return to elect portability can apply for a private letter ruling.

For more information, click here to listen to LISI's 60-Second Planner with nationally renowned CPA, Robert S. Keebler.  Also, see Rev. Proc. 2014-18 for further details.

This post has been brought to you by The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., providing practical, tested and proven technical and marketing products to help estate planning professionals throughout the country build their practices. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Final IRS Form 8960 Released Today

The IRS published the final Form 8960, for computing the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax for individuals, trusts and estates.  To download final Form 8960, click here

Also, don't forget to register for our special 90-minute teleconference with nationally renowned CPA, Robert Keebler on Thursday, February 6th at 9am Pacific Time (12pm Eastern Time) for a detailed walk-through of Form 8960.  For more information and to register, click here.

This post has been brought to you by The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., providing practical, tested and proven technical and marketing products to help estate planning professionals throughout the country build their practices. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


Friday, January 17, 2014

48th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning

The Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning just finished up its final days of its 48th Annual program held in Orlando.

The Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning is the nation's leading conference for estate planners, including attorneys, trust officers, accountants, insurance advisors, and wealth management professionals. Attendees enjoy unparalleled networking and professional development opportunities that make attending the Heckerling Institute a valuable investment for every estate planning professional. 

This year's program offered practical guidance on both planning strategies and practice development in the new wealth transfer tax environment. The program included expanded coverage of the increasingly important areas of elder law, asset protection, and income tax planning without sacrificing coverage of traditional core estate planning topics such as GRATS, FLPs, life insurance, planning with trusts, and fiduciary administration. Attendees can either explore a broad range of topics in our general session lectures and afternoon panel programs, or can customize their educational experience by taking advantage of one of our specialized program tracks. Some of the highlights of this year's program included:

  • Recent Developments: The recent developments panel on Monday afternoon, featuring three of the nation's leading estate planning experts, will guide you through the most significant legislative, regulatory and case law developments of 2013.
  • Focus Series: This series will provide practical insights and guidance on the planning challenges and opportunities available to estate planners and their clients in a post-ATRA environment. Topics will include portability, evolving issues in planning with trusts, planning for clients who may not be subject to the federal estate tax, planning for larger estates (including how to maximize income tax savings), charitable giving, and the impact of the 3.8% health care surtax on both trusts and individuals.
  • Planning with Financial Assets: Our financial assets series will examine how to manage tax basis to maximize the "step-up" at death, provide an update on current developments involving life insurance, explore how fiduciaries across the country have applied the Uniform Principal and Income Act (UPIA), and focus on the applicability of UPIA to trust-owned life insurance.
  • Litigation and Tax Controversies: This series will provide useful tips on preparing gift tax returns and handling a gift tax audit, explore the litigation issues associated with funding unfunded trusts, address current transfer tax audit and appeals issues, and consider the ethical problems that arise in estate and trust disputes.
  • Fundamentals: This year's fundamentals programs will begin with a look at how contemporary estate planning techniques have impacted traditional trust law, provide an overview of the important income tax issues involved in estate planning, and cover the essentials of asset protection planning.
  • Networking and Practice Development: The Institute is the national gathering place for estate planning professionals, offering a unique opportunity to exchange ideas and network with colleagues from around the country. Attendees can also review the latest in technology, products, and services displayed by nearly 150 vendors in an exhibit hall dedicated entirely to the estate planning industry.

Every year, the ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law releases reports summarizing the key talks at the program.  To view the 2014 Heckerling Reports (and prior years), click here.

Also, for more information about Heckerling and how to attend next year's conference, go to their website at http://www.law.miami.edu/heckerling/.

This post has been brought to you by The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., providing practical, tested and proven technical and marketing products to help estate planning professionals throughout the country build their practices. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


Thursday, January 09, 2014

Robert Keebler's 2014 Tax Planning Success Kit

More and more, you’re seeing clients (and prospects) turning their attention away from traditional estate tax and financial planning and toward income tax reduction and asset protection. 

Why? Because of ATRA’s higher ordinary and income tax rates, higher capital gains tax rates, deduction phase-outs and higher estate tax exemption, Obamacare’s “net investment income “surtax”, a higher estate tax exemption, and an increasingly lawsuit-happy society!

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to re-tool your practice to meet this new demand for income tax and asset protection planning.  You just need to “tweak” how you use many of the techniques already in your bag of tricks (and maybe add a few others).

Regardless of whether you’re a financial advisor, life insurance agent, CPA or estate planning attorney (and regardless of your level of expertise), you need to have the necessary planning tools and techniques at your finger tips - - so you can show them to your clients and prospects before your competitors do!

We have collaborated with one of the nation's leading experts in tax planning - - Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, AEP (Distinguished) - - and are pleased to announce the release of...

Robert Keebler's 2014 Tax Planning Success Kit

Every estate planner of every designation and level of experience and expertise should have this in their arsenal of resources and tools to use this year!


What's included in the 2014 Tax Planning Success Kit?
Robert Keebler's 2014 Tax Planning Success Kit comes complete with the following items:

  • The Advisor's Guide to The Top 25 Tax Planning Ideas for 2014 which includes a printed 100+ page manual with valuable information about strategies that are going to be key this year for your clients, including: Bracket Management Strategies, Income Smoothing Strategies, Income Shifting Strategies, Reducing Taxable Income Strategies, Specific Net Investment Income Tax Strategies and Wealth Transfer Strategies.  You will receive a printed version of this guide, plus a PDF copy of this on CD (so that you can easily print multiple copies for everyone in your office!).  PLUS, Bob has thrown in a special bonus for The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc. edition, that even we don't know about!
  • Planning Checklists for the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) and the Top 25 Planning Ideas, in a modifiable format* so that you can brand and customize these checklists to suit your practice needs and strategies.
  • The Top 10 Tax Planning Ideas for 2014 Chart, which includes a full-size (11 inches by 17 inches), full-color and laminated version, as well as a printable PDF version on CD for you to have a quick reference when meeting with your client, prospects and referral sources about the top ten strategies for 2014.
  • The Applying the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax Chart, which includes a full-size (11 inches by 17 inches), full-color and laminated version, as well as a printable PDF version on CD for you to be able to quickly and easily discuss the 3.8% NIIT with your clients and prospects.
  • The Capital Gains Harvesting Chart, which includes a full-size (11 inches by 17 inches), full-color and laminated version, as well as a printable PDF version on CD.
  • The Roth IRA Conversion Decision Chart, which includes a full-size (11 inches by 17 inches), full-color and laminated version, as well as a printable PDF version on CD, so you can quickly and easily help make the decision with your clients and prospects about whether a Roth IRA conversion makes sense for them or not.
  • The Bracket Management Chart, which includes a full-size (11 inches by 17 inches), full-color and laminated version, as well as a printable PDF version on CD.
  • Sample Client Letters for both existing clients and prospective clients in a modifiable format* so that you can customize and brand the letters to you and your firm!

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This product includes items that will not be available until January 24, 2014.  All product orders placed prior to January 24th will be shipped out no later than January 31, 2014 via U.S. Priority Mail. 

*All modifiable checklists and letters are in Microsoft Word.

For your convenience, you can purchase Robert Keebler's 2014 Tax Planning Success Kit from one of the following two ways:

Online: It's fast, safe and convenient!

cart

By Phone: Call us at 1-866-754-6477

NOTE: Sales tax is only applicable to California purchasers. Some LA and Orange County attorneys may be sold portions of this package.  For more information, call 1-866-754-6477.

This post has been brought to you by The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., providing practical, tested and proven technical and marketing products to help estate planning professionals throughout the country build their practices. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Image Courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Steve Oshins Releases Decanting State Rankings Chart

1st Annual Dynasty Trust State Rankings Chart Steve Oshins

Thanks to generosity of Leimberg Information Services, we are pleased to provide to you a recently published article on LISI, where nationally renowned estate and asset protection attorney, Steve Oshins, discusses the creation and release of his 1st Annual Trust Decanting State Rankings Chart.

The 1st Annual Trust Decanting State Rankings Chart was created to serve as a single page guide to various states’ differences among their decanting statutes.  The states are ranked based on the ease of use and amount of flexibility provided by their statutes, not based on the public policy issues that may exist based on one’s opinion that the statutes give the trustee too much flexibility. 

Many lower-ranked state statutes have flexibilities that higher-ranked state statutes lack and therefore are often better in certain situations.  So the reader should not necessarily conclude that a higher-ranked state is always better.  The chart provides a simple guide for an estate planner who can use it to quickly analyze which states might be used to accomplish the decanting goals for a particular client situation.  Regardless, as decanting has become so important in the estate planner’s playbook, it is important to understand the differences among the states.”

Now, Steve has expanded his rankings charts to include the 1st Annual Trust Decanting State Rankings Chart.  The chart has a burgundy and champagne color scheme. 

Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished) is an attorney at the Law Offices of Oshins & Associates, LLC in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Steve is a nationally known attorney who is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® and has been named one of the Top 100 Attorneys in Worth magazine.  He was inducted into the NAEPC Estate Planning Hall of Fame® in 2011.  He has written some of Nevada's most important estate planning and creditor protection laws, including the law making the charging order the exclusive remedy of a judgment creditor of a Nevada LLC and LP (in 2001, 2003 and 2011), the law changing the Nevada rule against perpetuities to 365 years (in 2005) and the law making Nevada the first and only state to allow a Restricted LLC and a Restricted LP, creating larger valuation discounts than any other state allows (in 2009).  His law firm's web site is http://www.oshins.com

Before we get to Steve's commentary, members should take note that Bob Keebler and Steve Oshins are co-presenting a teleseminar for the The Ultimate Estate Planner on January 29th titled "Decanting an Irrevocable Trust: The Ultimate Do-Over." To learn more or to register, enter this link in your web browser: http://ultimateestateplanner.com/lawyer/Teleconference-Registration_cp10308.htm 

Now, here is Steve Oshins' commentary:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
Trust decanting is the act of distributing assets from one trust to a new trust with different terms.  Just as one can decant wine by pouring it from its original bottle into a new bottle, leaving the unwanted sediment in the original bottle, one can pour the assets from one trust into a new trust, leaving the unwanted terms in the original trust.

For many years, practitioners have struggled to find ways to change the terms of an irrevocable trust.  However, through common law and through the decanting statutes that have been enacted in many jurisdictions, it is now possible to modify an irrevocable trust.  The rationale for allowing such a modification is that a trustee who has the power to distribute the trust property to or for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries should be able to make the distribution to them in trust and dictate the terms of that trust.  Decanting is essentially a “do-over”.

COMMENT:

The Chart
The 1st Annual Trust Decanting State Rankings Chart (click here to download chart) was created to serve as a single page guide to various states’ differences among their decanting statutes.  The states are ranked based on the ease of use and amount of flexibility provided by their statutes, not based on the public policy issues that may exist based on one’s opinion that the statutes give the trustee too much flexibility. 

Many lower-ranked state statutes have flexibilities that higher-ranked state statutes lack and therefore are often better in certain situations.  So the reader should not necessarily conclude that a higher-ranked state is always better.  The chart provides a simple guide for an estate planner who can use it to quickly analyze which states might be used to accomplish the decanting goals for a particular client situation.  Regardless, as decanting has become so important in the estate planner’s playbook, it is important to understand the differences among the states. 

The Variables and Weights Applied
No single-page chart can include every possible variable.  However, the goal of the Chart is to include the most material variables that one would consider in selecting an appropriate jurisdiction.  The Chart uses the following seven variables to create the rankings: 

  1. Does the state have a decanting statute?  [55% weight]
    In order to be listed on the Chart, the state must have a statute authorizing decanting.  This starts each state with 55 points and thus sets the baseline for the scoring on the Chart.  Although it is possible to decant under the common law authority, no state without a decanting statute is eligible for the Chart.

  2. Does the state statute allow a trust with an ascertainable standard to be decanted?  [10% weight]
    Many trusts are drafted with an ascertainable standard for distributions.  The most common ascertainable standard is for health, education, maintenance and support.  Since there are so many existing irrevocable trusts with an ascertainable standard, in order to decant these trusts, the estate planner must first move the trust to a jurisdiction that allows this prior to decanting it.  Otherwise no modifications can be made.

  3. Does the state statute require the trustee to send notice to the beneficiaries of the trust?  [10% weight]
    Although public policy might dictate that in many situations the beneficiaries should be given notice, the requirement that notice be given, including copies of the existing trust and future trust, is generally not desired by our clients who want privacy of their affairs.  Many states that allow decanting require that such notice and disclosure be given and thus are docked points because of this.

  4. Does the state statute allow a trust with an ascertainable standard to be decanted into a discretionary trust?  Does the state statute allow the trustee to remove a mandatory income interest?  [7.5% weight]
    A discretionary trust generally provides greater creditor protection than does a trust with an ascertainable standard such as for health, education, maintenance and support.  Thus, many estate planners would like to enhance the creditor protection by decanting the ascertainable standard trust into a discretionary trust. 

    The same philosophy applies with respect to a trust that contains a mandatory distribution.  Unless the tax laws require a mandatory distribution, such as to qualify for the marital deduction, many people would like to decant a trust with a mandatory distribution of income to remove that mandatory distribution so as not to subject that distribution to the creditors of the beneficiary who is receiving the distribution. 

    The ability to enhance the creditor protection through decanting likely deserves more than a 7.5% weight.  However, since a 10% weight was already applied to the ability, in general, to decant a trust with an ascertainable standard, in order to avoid over-weighting ascertainable standard trusts in the Chart, a 7.5% weight was applied to this element.

  5. Does the state statute allow the trustee to decant into a trust that gives a beneficiary the power to appoint assets to someone who isn’t a beneficiary of the first trust?  [7.5% weight]
    No state’s decanting laws allow the new trust to include beneficiaries who weren’t beneficiaries of the first trust.  However, as circumstances change, people often change their mind and want to add a beneficiary.  Although this can’t directly be done with decanting, many decanting jurisdictions specifically allow a beneficiary to be given a broad power of appointment that allows appointments to people who were not beneficiaries of the initial trust.  Thus, through multiple steps, a person who wasn’t a beneficiary of the first trust can benefit. 

  6. Is the state a favorable Dynasty Trust jurisdiction?  [7.5% weight]
    Many people have irrevocable trusts that were established in strong Dynasty Trust jurisdictions (whether or not the trusts were drafted to take advantage of the Dynasty Trust laws), so they will often want to take advantage of a new Dynasty trust jurisdiction that has more flexible decanting statutes.  The Chart applies a 7.5% weight to help separate the better Dynasty Trust jurisdictions from other jurisdictions.  This weight also (indirectly) helps enhance the score of the states with no state income tax or fiduciary income tax since those states have high Dynasty Trust rankings.

  7. Is the state a favorable Domestic Asset Protection Trust jurisdiction?  [2.5% weight]
    Since many of the irrevocable trusts that might be decanted include the settlor as a discretionary beneficiary, the Chart gives the Domestic Asset Protection Trust states a 2.5% weight towards their score.  This is the lowest-weighted variable simply because the primary focus of the Chart is the decanting and only a small percentage of irrevocable trusts are self-settled.

Summary
Decanting has become very popular as a means of modifying an irrevocable trust.  There are so many irrevocable trusts where the settlor and/or the beneficiaries would like a “do-over”.  Decanting allows this to be done.  The new Chart provides a guide for the estate planner who is considering using the current trust jurisdiction or considering moving the trust to a jurisdiction with more flexible decanting statutes.

CITE AS: LISI Estate Planning Newsletter #2179 (January 7, 2014) at http://www.leimbergservices.com  Copyright 2014 Leimberg Information Services, Inc. (LISI). Reproduction in Any Form or Forwarding to Any Person Prohibited – Without Express Permission.

CITES: The author recommends Susan Bart’s state decanting summaries at http://www.sidley.com/state-decanting-statutes/ and M. Patricia Culler’s list of “State Decanting Statutes Passed or Proposed at http://www.actec.org/public/Documents/Studies/Culler_Decanting_Statutes_11_15_2013.pdf

This post has been brought to you by The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., providing practical, tested and proven technical and marketing products to help estate planning professionals throughout the country build their practices. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Year in Review—2013

Reproduced with the expressed written consent and permission from Robert L. Moshman, Esq., author of the The Estate Analyst. To contact Bob Moshman to be included on his distribution list of his monthly newsletter, e-mail Bob at bmoshman@optonline.net.

Friends, counsel, and certified public accountants, lend me your eyes for the last interruption of billable hours in 2013, so that we may collectively tiptoe across the finish line of another spectacularly dysfunctional year.

Editor’s Note: Please, no tweaking, tweeting, or texting, and definitely no twerking…seriously, don’t do it! Or as the Oxford Dictionary would now say, “srsly.” In the wake of news coverage of Miley Cyrus’s performance at MTV’s VMAs, the Oxford Dictionary also added “twerk” to its official list of words, along with “selfie.” President Obama famously posed for a selfie with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the memorial for Nelson Mandela. And Paris Hilton dressed as Miley Cyrus for Halloween. Does that qualify as life imitating art or the reverse? Srsly!

Let’s review the year’s highs and lows from Congress, the Supreme Court, celebrity estates, and the grand conglomeration of things you just can’t make up.

Legislative Free Fall
We entered 2013 in free fall, having plunged over the fiscal cliff. Thus, we began the January issue of this newsletter with a resolution for 2013: “Never invite Congress to a New Year’s Eve party again. They fight all night, they won’t go home, and what a mess they leave behind!”

After a 20-hour marathon of debate, Congress adopted the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA). The good news was that the transfer tax system was stabilized with a unified estate and gift tax, a stepped-up tax basis for assets owned at death, and a significant lifetime exemption. The bad news was that a higher top tax rate and capital gains tax rate under ATRA, combined with the 3.8% Medicare surtax from the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, resulted in excessively high tax rates on some relatively small personal trusts.

The Congressional dysfunction of 2013 then manifested itself with a complete shutdown of government when terms of raising the national debt ceiling were disputed. Then came the rollout of healthcare.gov to implement the Affordable Health Care Act, and the chaos and fallout from that will accompany us into the new year. One brighter note is that Congress achieved a bipartisan agreement to avoid the next budget crisis. The negative ramifications from this, however, are that deficit spending and the servicing of the national debt are not sustainable. Barring substantive reforms, an economic day of reckoning must follow.

Top Story of 2013
The recognition of same-sex marriage by the IRS is arguably the biggest financial planning development of 2013 (if not the entire decade). Allow us to make that case right here.

Notwithstanding the sea change of public opinion in the United States in favor of same-sex marriage, only 15 state jurisdictions currently permit it. Yes, there are a number of states that recognize legal same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions or permit civil unions. Yes, there are pending proposals in many states. Yes, there are eight Native American tribes that allow it. Yes, there are at least 15 countries that allow same-sex marriage and many others that are on the way there. And, yes, no less than eight Federal Court decisions found the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in a variety of contexts.

In, Windsor v. United States, the plaintiff sought a refund of $363,000 of estate tax that resulted when a widow was not permitted to utilize an estate tax deduction for her same-sex spouse. Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer were New Yorkers who entered into a committed relationship in 1963. The couple married in Canada in 2007; Spyer died in 2009. In her Will, Spyer left her estate to Windsor, who filed suit in her capacity as executor of the estate. In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court found that DOMA violated principles of equal protection and due process by depriving same-sex couples of the benefits and responsibilities that come with the federal recognition of their marriages.

The net result of the Supreme Court ruling is that the Federal government no longer defines marriage as between a man and a woman, but it does not require states to allow same-sex marriages or even recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. The majority of American states do not currently allow or recognize same-sex marriages. How will residents of those states be treated with regard to the 1,138 laws that determine benefits, rights, or privileges based on marital status (as determined by the Congressional Budget Office in a 2004 study)?  

On August 29, 2013, the IRS issued a press release, IR-2013-72 to announce a new policy:

“The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage. The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26 Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Under the ruling, same-sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes. The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.”

Who knew the ultimate conservative bureaucracy, the grim, gray, faceless, monolithic personification of Big Brother itself would embrace the rainbow? This permanently changes the entire landscape for same-sex couples for estate and financial planning.

Celebrity Estates
Did Ryan O’Neal steal an Andy Warhol painting
of Farrah Fawcett from Fawcett’s condominium after her death? The University of Texas at Austin is suing O’Neal for possession of the painting that they claim the late actress donated to the University. O’Neal claims the painting, one of two that Fawcett possessed, was given to him by Andy Warhol for arranging the portrait session for Warhol in 1980. O’Neal is suing reality television producer Craig Nevius for defamation for alleging that he stole the painting.

Harry Belafonte sued the estate of Martin Luther King Jr. to establish ownership of three documents that the estate had prevented him from auctioning in 2008. The documents consist of an outline of a Vietnam War speech that King had worked on and left in Belafonte’s apartment in 1967, notes to a speech found in King’s suit on the day he was assassinated for a speech he would have delivered in Memphis (and which Coretta Scott King gave to Belafonte in 1979), and a condolence letter from President Lyndon B. Johnson to Coretta Scott King, which she gave to Belafonte about a decade ago.

“Blurred Lines,” by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and Clifford Harris, Jr., was one of the big hits of 2013 and was admittedly based on the 1977 hit “Got To Give It Up,” by Marvin Gaye, who died in 1984. Thicke, Williams, and Harris, Jr., preemptively filed a lawsuit this past summer to show that “Blurred Lines” is derivative only and did not illegally infringe on Gaye’s song (or Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways”) and that the intent was simply to evoke an era. The threesome also offered Gaye’s estate a six-figure payment. Gaye’s family not only turned down the offer but has now sued Thicke for copyright infringement. And, as long as they were going to court, they claimed that Thicke’s “Love After War” is a rip-off of Gaye’s “After the Dance.”

Nina Simone’s 1965 hit “Sinnerman” was allegedly used by The Harrisonville Telephone Company without permission, prompting a lawsuit for $1 million by Nina Simone’s daughter on behalf of her mother’s estate. Nina Simone died in 2003. A separate lawsuit for professional malpractice was filed against Simone’s former attorneys for failing to establish whether Simone was domiciled in France at the time of her death or whether the estate was probated in California (and extended for the past decade) to generate higher fees to the estate planning firm.

Celebrity Follow-ups
Michael Jackson
died with debts exceeding assets on hand by about $385 million. However, he owned a lot of intellectual property, such as rights to music and his own name and image. The estate and the IRS clearly do not agree on what those intellectual properties are worth. For example, the estate thinks the artist’s likeness and image are worth $2.1 million. The IRS thinks those assets are worth $434 million. In 2013, the IRS issued an overall tax deficiency notice of $505.1 million in taxes and $196.9 million in penalties for a total of $702 million. The estate notes that it has already paid $100 million in taxes earlier this year.  The Jackson estate is also being sued for child molestation allegedly committed during the singer’s lifetime by an individual who once testified on Jackson’s behalf at one of his previous molestation trials.

Anthony Marshall, 89, a former Broadway producer, diplomat, and the son of the New York philanthropist Brooke Astor, was convicted in 2009 of stealing artwork and millions of dollars from his mother using his power of attorney. In 2013, with his appeals exhausted, Marshall was ordered to start serving a one- to three-year sentence. His lawyers then submitted 900 pages of health records indicating that Marshall could not walk, stand, clean himself, dress himself, and had serious trouble swallowing. The New York State Parole Board then ruled that Marshall could not receive adequate healthcare in prison and ordered his medical parole. He had served two months of his sentence.

Ronald Perelman has been accused of burning through his daughter’s inheritance to seek revenge upon his former in-laws. Perelman, with an estimated wealth of $12 billion, was named as executor to the $68 million estate of his former wife, Claudia Cohen. The estate allegedly paid $30 million in taxes and may have spent another $20 million or more on four lawsuits directed at Cohen’s father and brother over the past five years. Perelman’s suits allege that Cohen’s father promised to leave half of his estate to his daughter but that he instead sold an $800 million company to his son for $15 million.

In 2009, Perelman lost part of one case alleging that Cohen’s father was incompetent when he revised his Will. In that case, Judge Ellen Koblitz assessed damages of $2 million on Perelman for frivolous litigation. In 2013, the Appellate Division ruled that, although the claims were frivolous, the damage award was excessive and remanded the case.

Meanwhile, a separate trial continues in Hackensack Superior Court with claims that Claudia Cohen’s brother pressured his father to modify the Will and managed the Hudson News in a manner to reduce the cash in the father’s estate, which Claudia Cohen’s daughter, Samantha, could then have inherited.

Uncool Trusts & Estates
Australia’s richest person
Gina Rinehart offered to resolve conflicts with her children over a $19 billion family trust by appointing a co-trustee. “If only it were that simple,” said one of the children. The trust was established by the late Lang Hancock for his four grandchildren in 1988 and was to hold 23.4% of Hancock Prospecting until the youngest grandchild turned 25 in 2011. But days before the payout, Gina Rinehart delayed the payout until 2068 to avoid a large tax consequence.

Washington State adopted retroactive estate tax changes in response to a loophole that was opened by a state court ruling that certain families had avoided the estate tax by using a certain type of trust. Observers predict that the retroactive impact on 70 or more estates, which includes a tax rate increase on the largest estates, will be found unconstitutional. Facing a $1.2 billion budget shortfall, the $160 million of refunds avoided by the new legislation is significant.

It turns out that you can’t adopt your girlfriend for trust purposes. Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals reversed a 2011 trial court ruling that allowed Florida polo tycoon John Goodman to adopt his adult girlfriend. The maneuver made her a beneficiary of the 1991 trust for his children and preserved part of his fortune for her while he negotiated a civil wrongful death settlement. A contract provided her with $16.75 million from the trust over time. Judge Alan R. Schwartz concluded that adoption of a lover was so contrary to the beneficent purposes of adoption that it could not be confirmed.

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal sued Forbes magazine for libel because of the magazine’s annual listing of the wealthy had him at $20 billion and allegedly undervalued his wealth by $9.6 billion. Not cool, billionaire Prince.

Notable Briefs
HRH Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, born to Kate Middleton and Prince William this year, stands to inherit wealth on the order of $1 billion from Queen Elizabeth (who is worth an estimated $660 million), Prince Charles (worth an estimated $370 million), and Prince William (worth about $20 million), not to mention the crown jewels.

Richie Havens, who was the opening act at the 1969 Woodstock concert, died this year at the age of 72, and his ashes were scattered from a plane as it flew over the Woodstock site.

Longest Divorces
Asset protection is needed for estates threatened by potential creditors and liability, but divorce remains a potent threat to wealth as well. Harold Hamm, the CEO of oil giant Continental Resources, may be sharing his $11.3 billion fortune with his ex-wife if the prenuptial agreement that was drafted was never signed.

A $5+ billion divorce settlement would surpass the $1.7 billion settlement Rupert Murdoch paid in 1999 or the reported $2.5 billion upfront payment and $100 million annual payment for 13 years to be paid by Alec Wildenstein to Jocelyn Wildenstein, the infamous “Bride of Wildenstein,” aka, “Catwoman,” who is known for having $4 million of plastic surgery to enhance her cat-like facial features.

However, big settlements are only one aspect of divorce. Legal battles can also take their toll. In 2013, the Ashton Kutcher/Demi Moore breakup was referred to as “the longest divorce,” after taking more than two years from their separation and one year from the filing of divorce papers.

That’s a mere trifle compared to the 10-year, 600-motion war of attrition waged between David Zilkha and Karen Kaiser in Stamford, Connecticut. “There are some cases that for whatever reason ... sort of spin out of control,” said Judge Michal Shay at one hearing. “It’s been soul-destroying. It’s been life-destroying,” said one of the litigants. This case was filed in 2003, and the divorce was granted in 2005, but disputes and motions have continued ever since.

Which brings us to the endless battle of Lassiter in Cincinnati, Ohio,  which involved the divorce of  two law professors. Their divorce and related disputes are now in their 17th year—10 years longer than their . The original divorce action took five years. That action, plus ongoing disputes, have a combined 1,400 entries.

“Both (parties) should be thoroughly embarrassed and ashamed,” said Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Leslie Ghiz during a 2013 hearing.

So, that just happened…

  • On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the wedding ring of the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was auctioned for $118,000. The ring had been in a Fort Worth attorney’s files for nearly 50 years before being returned to Oswald’s widow, Marina, who wrote: “At this time of my life I don’t wish to have Lee’s ring in my possession because symbolically I want to let go of my past that is connecting with November 22, 1963.”
  • In Matter of Stafford, A New York Appeals Court upheld a Surrogate court decision that a woman’s $100,000 bequest for the care of “Kissie Meouw” was valid and so was her disinheritance of three nephews.
  • J&D Foods announced the first bacon-themed casket for $2,999.95. It is painted to look like bacon and has gold handles. “Yes, this is really real,” states the company’s press release.
  • Michigan woman Evie Branon awoke in a nursing home after five years in a coma, asked to see a Bob Seger concert, and the staff arranged it for her. Seger, 68, has been performing for the Silver Bullet Band since 1973.

“Just take those old records off the shelf
I’ll sit and listen to ’em by m’self
Today’s music ain’t got the same soul
I like that old time rock and roll.”

This post has been brought to you by The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., providing practical, tested and proven technical and marketing products to help estate planning professionals throughout the country build their practices. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


Thursday, December 05, 2013

8th Annual Meeting of The Academy of Special Needs Planners

Earlier today, The Academy of Special Needs Planner announced their 8th Annual Meeting to be held on March 27-29, 2014 in Denver. View the agenda

Check out this video:

This year's topics include:

  • The Latest and Greatest on Special Needs Planning and the Affordable Care Act
    - Scott Solkoff, Ann Koerner, and Scott MacDonald
    Moderator: Kevin Urbatsch
  • Special Needs Planning, DOMA and Other Marriage-Related Issues
    - Cynthia Barrett
  • Special Needs Planning for Housing, Food Assistance, Employment and Other Benefits
    - Blaine Brockman & Patricia E. Kefalas Dudek
  • Latest SSI Updates and Understanding and Using SSI Regional Counsel Options
    - By Deputy Commissioner of Social Security
    Moderator: Theresa Varnett

>>MORE INFO

This post has been brought to you by The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., providing practical, tested and proven technical and marketing products to help estate planning professionals throughout the country build their practices. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

December 2013 Newsletter

December 2013 Ultimate Estate Planner Newsletter

Earlier this year, we released our premier issue of our free monthly estate planning newsletter.  This is a newsletter unlike any others out there for estate planning professionals.  Not only is it intended for estate planning professionals of all designations - - including estate planning attorneys, CPAs, financial advisors, life insurance agents, and even administrative staff - - but it is intended to be practical, timely and provide useful technical, legal and practice-management strategies that professionals can actually use in their practice.

IN THE DECEMBER 2013 ISSUE (RELEASED TODAY):

  • PRACTICE-MANAGEMENT: Conduct a Successful 2014 “Kick-Off” Meeting with Your Firm by Philip J. Kavesh, J.D., LL.M. (Tax), CFP®, ChFC, California State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
  • TAX PLANNING: 2013 Year-End Tax Planning Ideas (Part 3) by Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, AEP (Distinguished)
  • ADVANCED-LEVEL PLANNING: Top Ten Reasons to Decant an Irrevocable Trust by Steven J. Oshins, J.D., AEP (Distinguished)
  • SUPPORT STAFF & EXECUTIVE ASSISTANTS: Kick-Start Your Boss’ Calendar in the Right Direction for 2014 by Kristina Schneider and Megan DeLaGarza, Executive Assistants

CLICK HERE to read December's newsletter

Click the "Subscribe Now" icon below and make sure that you're signed up to receive our free monthly newsletter so you don't miss out!

This post has been brought to you by The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., providing practical, tested and proven technical and marketing products to help estate planning professionals throughout the country build their practices. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


Monday, December 02, 2013

Teleconferences on Final 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax Regulations

As previously announced on November 26th, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the IRS released the final regulations for the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (or "NIIT").  Nationally renowned CPA, Robert S. Keebler, is putting together a number of educational teleconferences on this topic to help practitioners navigate through this complex area of tax planning and to better understand its impact on the planning we do for our clients.

Please join us for one of the following dates for his special 90-minute presentation entitled, "Understanding the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax and Its Effect on Individuals, Trusts & Estates, and Closely Held Entities - - After the Final Regs":

Tuesday, December 3rd at 9am Pacific Time

Tuesday, December 10th at 9am Pacific Time

Tuesday, December 17th at 2pm Pacific Time

Thursday, December 19th at 11am Pacific Time

Friday, December 20th at 9am Pacific Time

REGISTER NOW

This post has been brought to you by The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., providing practical, tested and proven technical and marketing products to help estate planning professionals throughout the country build their practices. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


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