Civil Procedure Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning

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Bank of America as Trustee v. Commissioner of Revenue: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Will Hear Case in 2016

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) will hear the appeal of Bank of America against the Massachusetts Commissioner of Revenue in 2016. The SJC accepted Bank of America’s application for Direct Appellate Review on...more

Donald Sterling Loses Appeal of Clippers Sale: Court of Appeal Rejects Bid To Regain Team’s Ownership

The California Court of Appeal today affirmed the sale in August 2014 of the Los Angeles Clippers for a record-shattering price of $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. In a unanimous decision, the three justices...more

Wealth Management Update - November 2015

November Interest Rates for GRATs, Sales to Defective Grantor Trusts, Intra-Family Loans and Split Interest Charitable Trusts - The November § 7520 rate for use with estate planning techniques such as CRTs, CLTs, QPRTs...more

The Bank of America Case: May Massachusetts Tax the Trust Fund Income of Non-Resident Families with Unborn and/or Unascertained...

Background - Before addressing the Bank of America case, it is necessary to understand the Massachusetts taxation of trustees and their beneficiaries, which is described in 830 CMR 62.20.1: Income Tax on Estates and...more

Florida Supreme Court Holds for Extended Claims Period for Known or Ascertainable Creditor Claims [Florida]

In 2013 I wrote about the Golden case which ruled that a known or reasonably ascertainable creditor who did not receive a Notice to Creditors in a probate proceeding could file a claim against the estate up to 2 years after...more

A permissible beneficiary's equitable property interest under an irrevocable discretionary trust is contingent, not vested, the...

A permissible beneficiary’s equitable property interest under a discretionary trust is contingent, not vested. The critical condition precedent that renders the interest contingent is that the trustee must exercise his...more

Appellate Court Notes

Supreme Court Advance Release Opinions: SC19359 - Persels & Associates, LLC v. Banking Commissioner - Noting that it has generally been the policy of the Courts to defer to the Legislature, especially as to the...more

No Charitable Set Aside Deduction for Estate Due to Litigation

Under Code Section 642(c)(2) an estate may claim a current charitable contribution deduction for income tax purposes, notwithstanding that the income earned will not be paid or used for a charitable purpose until sometime in...more

Court Finds That Plan Administrator Should Comply With Qualified Domestic Relations Order Issued After Retirement Plan...

A recent opinion from the Second Circuit puts retirement plan administrators on notice that adjustments to benefits may be necessary to account for retroactively effective qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs). In...more

Perpetual Motion for the Rule Against Perpetuities

The court giveth, and the court taketh away. In Sefton v Sefton (2015) 236 CA4th 159, the court of appeal reaffirmed its earlier decision that the former common law presumption in favor of nonexclusive powers would...more

The Fiduciary Exception to the Attorney-Client Privilege: Whose Privilege is it in Litigation?

The attorney-client privilege is a cornerstone of the legal practice. The privilege protects the confidentiality of communications between a client and an attorney from disclosure to a third party when the communications are...more

New Duty of Consistency and Basis Reporting Requirement

Under IRC §1014(a), the income tax basis of property acquired from a decedent is generally its fair market value on the date of death, or alternate valuation date if the executor makes an election under IRC §2032. Under Treas...more

Does a Class Gift to Children Include Adult Adoptees?

The Probate Code says no, in most cases, but a recent court decision said yes. Here’s what happened in Sanders v Yanez (July 30, 2015, H041578) 2015 Cal App Lexis 662....more

Connecticut Increases Probate Court Fees for Certain Estates

Connecticut recently enacted legislation that substantially increases probate court fees for certain estates of Connecticut residents dying on or after January 1, 2015. Given that several of you have asked how these changes...more

Ray Charles Foundation v. Robinson - USCA, Ninth Circuit, July 31, 2015

Ninth Circuit reverses lower court’s dismissal for lack of standing of action brought by Ray Charles Foundation, finding that Foundation, sole beneficiary of music legend’s estate, had standing to challenge validity of...more

Recent Cases of Interest to Fiduciaries

In re Estate of House, 2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 3006 (Wash. Ct. App. 2014) - A release waiving any and all claims that the parties may have or may acquire, bars recovery for unknown claims existing at the time the release...more

"Duke" Blazes a New Trail in Estate Law - California Supreme Court Reverses Course, Changing 50 Years of Precedent

The California Supreme Court issued its long-anticipated decision in Estate of Duke July 27, 2015, changing the way in which all state courts evaluate wills prospectively. At issue was a rule established by the Supreme Court...more

New Developments in Estate and Gift Tax Valuation Cases

A number of recent cases highlight particular issues in valuation of assets for purposes of the estate and gift tax. On July 6, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service settled Estate of Davidson v. Commissioner, T.C. Docket No....more

How Far Back Can a Back Tax Go? Petition for Certiorari in Hambleton Asks Supreme Court to Right Unjust Retroactivity

Retroactivity is an endemic problem in the state tax world. In this year alone, we have seen retroactive repeal of the Multistate Tax Compact (MTC) in Michigan, as well as significant retroactivity issues in New York, New...more

Virginia Supreme Court Issues New Ruling Regarding Missing Wills

The Virginia Supreme Court recently issued a ruling relating to missing wills and the legal standard courts must apply when an original will cannot be found and therefore an executor seeks to probate a copy of the will. While...more

Court Warns That Marriage Does Not Render A Spouse Automatically Entitled To Preexisting Life Insurance Policies

In a recent unpublished decision, the New Jersey Appellate Division has again stressed the importance of complying with the beneficiary designation requirements contained in life insurance policies. See Fox v. Lincoln...more

Supreme Court Hits Home Run for 401(K) Plan Beneficiaries

This week’s decision by the United States Supreme Court in Tibble v. Edison International, 2015 U.S. LEXIS 3171 (May 18, 2015), is expected to trigger an increase in lawsuits against 401(k) plan fiduciaries....more

Supreme Court Decides Wellness International Network, Ltd. v. Sharif

On May 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Wellness International Network, Ltd. v. Sharif, (No. 13-935), holding that Article III does not prevent bankruptcy judges from entering final judgment on claims that seek only...more

Partition Me? Unmarried Joint Tenants with Full Rights of Survivorship Fail to State a Claim

In the recent case of Hrit v McKeon, No 317988, 2015 WL 447474 (Mich Ct App Feb 3, 2015), the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a plaintiff failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted when she filed an action...more

Supreme Court Ruling Heightens Pressure on Fiduciaries to Monitor 401(k) Plan Investments

On May 18th, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held in Tibble et al. v. Edison International et al., No. 13-550 (S. Ct. May 18, 2015) that ordinary principles of trust law impose on ERISA fiduciaries a duty to continually...more

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