Surviving Spouse

News & Analysis as of

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

The Unlimited Marital Deduction & Non-Citizen Spouses

Especially if you have significant wealth, planning carefully for your future and the future of your loved ones is vital. Although many people are familiar with the basics of estate planning, from drawing up a will to naming...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

New 252 Percent Estate Tax Bracket and Other Tax Changes Affect Wealthy New Yorkers

The revenue portion of the recently passed Executive Budget for 2014–2015 significantly changes New York’s estate tax and the way in which New York taxes the income of certain trusts. ...more

Minnesota Passes Gift Tax Repeal And Estate Tax Revisions

On March 21, Minnesota made multiple gift tax and estate tax revisions. Those include: - Retroactively repealing the Minnesota gift tax that had been imposed since July 1, 2013...more

It’s Not Too Late to Use Your Spouse’s Unused Estate Tax Exclusion

In Revenue Procedure 2014-18 the IRS provided an extension of time to those who wished to be sure that a decedent’s surviving spouse could benefit from the concept known as “portability”. In the Procedure, the IRS provides...more

Employee Benefits Developments - January 2014

CASES - Court Finds Former NFL Player’s First Wife Is Surviving Spouse - A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit demonstrates once again the importance of divorcing your first spouse...more

Same-Gender Marriage Implications for Employee Benefit Plans

In the summer of 2013, the Supreme Court issued a decision in U.S. v. Windsor, striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and eliminating the requirement that federal law recognize only marriages...more

Marriage and Taxes in 2013

Two significant events in 2013 underscored the nexus of marriage and taxes that make it possible for many couples to radically simplify their estate planning. ...more

“Magic” Words To Ensure an Ex-Spouse Remains in Will

Attorneys often encounter situations in which someone makes a will or designates a beneficiary naming their spouse as the heir or beneficiary, separates from their spouse, fails to make changes to their will or beneficiary...more

Income Tax Cost Basis Planning

Prior to the recent and significant increases in the federal estate tax exemption amount, many clients engaged in planning the purpose of which was to ensure the use of both spouses’ exemption amount through the use of a...more

Elective Share Changes May Require Estate Planning Updates

Effective October 1, 2013, the elective share rules for persons who die domiciled in North Carolina have been simplified, but for many married couples the simplification will mean a substantial change in the property rights...more

Federal District Court Invalidates Application Of HUD Regulation Requiring Full Payment Of Reverse Mortgage From Surviving Spouses

On September 30, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that a HUD regulation defining conditions under which it would insure a reverse mortgage agreement, which would have made it easier for lenders to...more

The Benefits of Marital Deduction Planning — Even with Portability

As discussed in a prior post, one of the helpful provisions recently added to federal estate tax law allows a surviving spouse to use any “leftover” or “unused” federal estate tax exclusion amount of a deceased spouse. The...more

Florida Homestead Planning and Irrevocable Trusts

Florida law prohibits the devise of a homestead if the owner is survived by a minor child or children. For purposes of this prohibition, the term “devise” extends to both gifts under a will and transfers by way of a revocable...more

Illinois Supreme Court to Debate Pensions for Firefighters' Spouses

Our previews of the oral arguments on the Illinois Supreme Court’s September docket begin with Hooker v. Retirement Fund of the Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, which is set for argument this morning, September...more

Citing Windsor, Two Courts Extend Spousal Rights To Same-Sex Couples Who Reside In States That Do Not Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

As we previously reported, the decision overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) left open many questions, including the impact of the decision on states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. Recent decisions...more

Two Federal Courts Recognize Same-Sex Spousal Rights for Residents of States Not Permitting Same-Sex Marriage

Obergefell v. Kasich and Cozen O’Connor v. Tobits may reflect a growing trend of courts and other bodies to recognize same-sex marriages validly celebrated elsewhere even if the couple’s current state of residence does not...more

First Post-Windsor ERISA Decision

In the first reported ERISA decision post-Windsor, the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held (in Cozen O’Connor, P.C. v. Jennifer Tobits) that a same-sex spouse is to be treated as the decedent’s...more

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