Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning Updates

Read Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning updates, articles, and legal commentary from leading lawyers and law firms:
News & Analysis as of

2015 Year-End Estate Planning Advisory

In 2015, we continued to experience a period of relative stability in our federal transfer tax system and have been able to plan without expecting imminent significant changes to the system. Under the American Taxpayer Relief...more

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

End of the Line – Part II: Year End Tax Planning Strategies

This article is Part II in a series of tax planning strategies for year-end tax planning for the 2015 tax series. The article addresses the Pooled Income Fund (PIF) which as this article demonstrates, has surprising planning...more

The End of the Line – Part I: Year End Tax Planning Strategies

This article is designed to provide an overview of a technique that might allow taxpayers to accomplish significant income tax savings at the end of the 2015 tax year. This planning can be accomplished regardless of whether...more

Year-End Gift Opportunities

As 2015 comes to a close, we remind you to consider making gifts to minimize your potential tax liability and to maximize your use of available exemptions in order to reduce your ultimate estate tax liability. As you may...more

Is the Charitable Deduction for Trusts Limited to Adjusted Basis?

No, says a U.S District Court. An irrevocable trust received distributions from a partnership in one year and purchased property. In a later year it contributed the property to a qualified charity, after the property...more

Privacy Tip #10 – What are digital assets and why should I care?

Your digital life and assets can include online music, photos, social media accounts, gaming winnings, and the like. But most of us don’t look at these items as assets that we should think about and plan for when we pass...more

Exemption Portability - What is it, and how does it work?

The term "portability" is used in many contexts, but in the estate planning context portability describes the way a surviving spouse can use the remainder of a deceased spouse's unused exclusion amount to further shield her...more

Can Correction of a Scrivener’s Error Retroactively Fix a Tax Problem with a Trust?

Yes, in a recently released Private Letter Ruling in regard to an irrevocable trust. There were actually two problems with the trust. First, the settlors retained powers to change the beneficial interests of the trust,...more

Prepaying Tuition Payments To Qualified Educational Organizations

It is becoming more common for wealthy individuals to prepay the tuition expenses (which do not include books, supplies, dormitory fees, board or other similar expenses), on an annual basis or for multiple years, for family...more

Estate Planning Considerations for Millennials

I am a millennial. I grew up in the age of the Internet, computers, and text messaging. I had my first cell phone in late elementary school, where I mastered the game of Snake on a one-inch square screen. My generation then...more

CFPB Releases Retirement Tool

On November 12th, 2015 the CFPB released “Planning for Retirement,” an interactive, online tool designed to help consumers decide when to claim social security....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

IRS Proposed Regs Redefine the Terms “Husband” and “Wife”

The Supreme Court has recently struck down state bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 US ___ (2015), after previously striking down the federal exclusion of same-sex couples from...more

Pennsylvania Superior Court Affirms Striking of 24-Year-Old Default Judgment, and Holds That Leasing Is Not Enough to Claim...

The development of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania has led to a number of disputes about historical judgments that purportedly divested reserved oil and gas rights from their owners. During the 20th century, surface...more

Exculpatory Clauses In Trust Documents Are “Somewhat” Enforceable In Texas

It is common for settlors to execute trust documents that contain exculpatory clauses. An exculpatory clause is one that forgives the trustee for some action or inaction. For example, a common exculpatory clause may state...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

Inflation Adjustments for 2016

On October 21, 2015, the IRS released the annual inflation adjustments which will apply to tax year 2016. These adjustments will help determine a taxpayer's tax bracket and available deductions, credits, exclusions, and...more

New Rules Will Make It Harder to Qualify for Long-Term Care Help From the VA

The Veteran's Administration (VA) offers a pension benefit to low-income veterans (or their spouses) who are in nursing homes or who need help at home with everyday tasks like dressing or bathing. The pension, called Aid and...more

New IRS Procedure for Issuance of Federal Estate Tax Closing Letters

Effective for all federal estate tax returns filed on or after June 1, 2015, federal estate tax closing letters will be issued only upon request. The process for making a request: Timing – no earlier than four months after...more

“Is Better Late Than Never” Really Better?

Many may be unaware that tax provisions which expired at the end of 2014 may be retroactively renewed as a result of budget talks in Congress. Those talks, the handling of expired tax provisions, and the ever increasing...more

Do Frequent Flier Miles Expire When You Do?

Accumulated frequent flier miles can be valuable assets, but what happens to those miles after somene dies? Can a spouse or other heirs inherit them, or do the miles simply evaporate like a contrail? The answer to...more

What Is Cost Basis and How Do You Prove It?

Knowing the "cost basis" of your property is important for tax purposes, but proving cost basis can be difficult. Cost basis adjusts at death, so it is a good idea to appraise property when a joint owner dies. Cost basis...more

Goodbye TEFRA, Hello New Partnership Audit Rules

Last week, President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. As I mentioned in a prior post, the budget bill contained a proposal to revamp how partnerships are audited. Specifically, TEFRA (the 1982 Tax...more

Succession Planning: “If I get hit by a bus tomorrow…”

Let’s face reality. We are all going to pass on someday, so we might as well be prepared and lessen the burden for those following behind us. One of the first steps in effective succession planning is to gather in one place...more

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