Surviving Spouse

News & Analysis as of

The Obergefell Decision and Property Considerations for Married Same-Sex Couples

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion, determined that prohibitions on same-sex marriage are an unconstitutional infringement of Fourteenth Amendment rights. This decision throws the doors...more

U.S. Supreme Court Holds Same-Sex Marriage To Be a Fundamental Right

The United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015) on June 26, 2015. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage...more

Update on Estate and Gift Tax Proposals

Congressional Proposals: H.R. 1105, Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, was passed by the House, as amended, on Apr. 16, 2015. The bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to repeal the estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes...more

Alabama Homestead and Personal Property Exemptions Increased

On June 11, 2016, Governor Bentley (Alabama) signed into law ACT No. 2015-484 which became effective that same day. The law increases the personal property exemption available to individual debtors and surviving spouses to...more

Supreme Court Approves Same-Sex Marriage: Tax and Legal Implications for Same-Sex Spouses

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges. The Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires all states to license a...more

Real Property 101 for Community Bankers in the Spilman Footprint

What is the difference between a Deed of Trust and a Mortgage? The terms “Deed of Trust” and “mortgage” are often used by people interchangeably. Both serve to give the lender a lien as collateral for a loan but, these...more

Tax Law Blog: Legislature Passes Bill Affecting Iowa Trusts and Estates

The Iowa Legislature just passed House File 661, which was proposed by the Probate and Trust Law Section of the Iowa State Bar Association and supported by the Iowa Academy of Trusts and Estates Lawyers. ...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In a recent unpublished decision, the New Jersey Appellate Division has again stressed the importance of complying with the beneficiary designation requirements contained in life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

Construction Case Law Update - April 2015

The fraud statute of repose does not bar fraud claims when the jury finds no evidence of the plaintiff’s reliance during the repose period, because it is the defendant’s last action or omission that triggers the fraud repose...more

Why it is Crucial to Designate a HSA Beneficiary?

As high deductible health insurance plans are becoming more popular, an important component is health savings accounts (HSA). In addition to having current tax advantages, there is specific tax treatment of HSA accounts upon...more

Surviving Spouse Not Obligated To Refile Homestead Exemption–Martin County's $283,070 Tax Bill Voided [Florida]

Florida taxpayers that apply for and receive a homestead exemption receive a reduction on their ad valorem taxes. Perhaps more importantly, the homestead become subject to the "Save Our Homes" annual 3% limit on increases in...more

New HECM Rules For Surviving Spouses Fall Short

The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently published Mortgagee Letter 2015-03, which provides servicers of FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages a way to proceed after a borrower dies and is survived by a...more

Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses Eligible for Work Authorization USCIS Will Accept Filings on May 2015

In May 2014, DHS issued a proposed rule to amend current immigration regulations to allow for the employment authorization of certain H-4 dependent spouses. DHS accepted comments on the proposed rule until mid-July. ...more

HUD Issues New Rules about Surviving Spouses Following Death of Reverse Mortgage Borrower

For the past year and a half, mortgagees of FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (“HECMs”), commonly referred to as reverse mortgages, have had to grapple with issues related to the foreclosure of homes occupied by...more

“Copyright and Marriage Equality Act” Bills Introduced in both the House and Senate

On January 6, 2015, Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced Senate bill 23 entitled the “Copyright and Marriage Equality Act.” The bill would amend Section 101 of title 17 of the United States Code by striking the current definitions...more

Financing the Business Buyout – Part II (Investors)

Last month, Part I on this topic discussed the problem facing a Remaining Spouse when the Departing Spouse rejects a buyout offer of a modest down payment and a long installment note: How to raise sufficient cash to avoid a...more

Death After Divorce: Who Gets the Proceeds?

Under the common law of some states, if an individual names his or her spouse as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy, gets divorced, and then dies without changing the beneficiary designation, the mere fact of a...more

Addressing Portability

As we have discussed in previous newsletters, the concept of “portability” introduced in 2012 allows a surviving spouse to use the unused federal estate tax exemption of the first spouse to die, but only if a federal estate...more

Waiver of Florida Spousal Homestead Rights by Deed Upheld

A recent Florida appellate decision finds that the joinder of a spouse on a deed of homestead property to a trust constitutes a valid waiver of homestead rights, even though the deed contains no waiver language....more

Wealth Management Update - November 2014

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

Report From Counsel: Insights and Developments in the Law - Fall 2014

In this Report: - Homeowners’ Insurance: The Devil Resides in the Details - “Cybersmear” Lawsuits - Age Discrimination in Employment - The Marital Deduction: A Valuable Estate Planning...more

Homestead Status Without Current Use Or Possession; Interaction Of Homestead Successor Rights With Terms Of Marital Settlement...

Under Florida law, a decedent will be restricted in devising his or her homestead property at death. If those restrictions apply, surviving spouses and heirs received the interests they would receive under intestacy law. For...more

Tales of Hoffman: Postmortem Planning for Actor’s Estate

The tragic death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has given us an opportunity to consider his estate planning, with lessons and strategies for the rest of us....more

New Statutory Elective Share for Surviving Spouses in Rhode Island

A surviving spouse’s rights and interests to assets of a deceased spouse have been clarified and expanded by a new spousal “elective share” statute in Rhode Island (R.I.G.L. § 33-28-1 et. seq.). ...more

HUD To Insure Reverse Mortgages Protecting Non-Borrowing Spouses; Senators Seek Protections For Surviving Heirs

On April 25, HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2014-07, which states that effective August 4, 2014, HUD will apply an alternative interpretation of Subsection 255(j) of the National Housing Act, which HUD has interpreted to limit...more

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