Monday, August 22, 2016

 

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Michael Covak/ Getty Images

People.com is reporting that Amber Heard, who received a $7 million settlement in her divorce from Johnny Depp this week, is donating the entire $7 million settlement to charities with “a particular focus to stop violence against women” as well as the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

In light of this newsworthy charitable donation, we thought now would be a good time to remind everyone of some of the basic income tax deductions available for gifts to charities. (more…)

Monday, May 2, 2016

34997441Update: According to media sources, a lawyer for Bremer Bank and Trust, the corporate fiduciary appointed to administerPrince’s estate,  said the bank is continuing to search for a will and the judge in the Court, Judge Kevin W. Eidge, stated “We are not finding that there’s no will, but that no will has yet been found.”

The following was originally published on April 28, 2016.

As we’ve all seen in the news, musician Prince passed away on April 21, 2016 at the age of 57.  According to news sources, on April 26, just five days later, one of Prince’s six siblings, his sister Tyka Nelson, filed documents with the Carver County probate court stating “I do not know of the existence of a Will and have no reason to believe that the Decedent executed testamentary documents in any form.”  News sources have gone crazy, announcing that Prince died without a Will directing who should inherit his estate and therefore his six siblings will inherit everything.  But is this actually true?  Maybe, maybe not.

We don’t know about you, but, except for the fact that this is what we do for a living, our brothers (we each only have one sibling) would probably have no idea if we have a Will (or other estate planning) in place.  Maybe he would get around to going through all of our files to see if we have one stored somewhere or find the name of our lawyer in six days, but that’s pretty unlikely, given all of the things that typically take place immediately after someone dies (think, funeral, grieving, etc.).  Tyka may be absolutely correct – We’re not saying she’s not, but we don’t think that her statement that she doesn’t know of a Will conclusively means there isn’t one.  As of yesterday, TIME Magazine online reported that Bremer Trust Company was appointed by a judge to temporarily oversee Prince’s estate for six, which indicates that the court is not closing on the door on a possible Will being produced. (more…)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Photo from: http://dcgazette.com/2016/breaking-prince-found-dead-home-paisley-park/

Photo from: http://dcgazette.com/2016/breaking-prince-found-dead-home-paisley-park/

You may not have produced over 30 albums, accrued over $300 million and an equivalent amount of fans as Prince, but, like the recent pop star, you too have a legacy that could impact many individuals around you. (more…)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The trailers for the newest installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise, Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, are being released and, as always when we see actors performing daredevil stunts, it makes us think about life insurance.  Hazard (I use the term loosely, in light of what these guys do) of the job, I guess.  So, once again, we thought we’d remind everyone about the use of life insurance trusts to reduce estate tax by re-posting the blog we wrote in after seeing his stunts for Ghost Protocol.

And, for your viewing pleasure, share another video of Mr. Cruise’s stunts.  (I’m starting to think Tom Cruise or Mission: Impossible should start sponsoring our blog!)

It’s true, it is possible to transfer life insurance proceeds to your beneficiaries without having to pay estate tax on those proceeds.  An insured can create an irrevocable trust that is designed to be the owner and beneficiary of a life insurance policy on the insured’s life.  The only amount that the insured would end up paying transfer tax on (or allocating unified credit to) would be the amount the insured transfers to the insurance trust to pay the premiums on the policy.  If the amount contributed to the trust does not exceed the annual exclusion amount allowable to each of the beneficiaries of the trust, and if the trust is designed to give the beneficiaries crummey withdrawal rights (the right to withdraw any such contributions to the trust over the period of 30-45 days after the transfer), the insured/grantor would not have to use any of his or her unified credit or pay any gift tax on these transfers, either. (more…)

Monday, February 16, 2015

GTY_whitney_houston_bobbi_kristina_brown_sk_140325_16x9_992It’s true. Even if you don’t have a will, your state has written one for you, and it serves as the default plan for individuals who die without a will (aka “intestate”). Your local Probate Code will have all the juicy details. For the most part, intestacy statutes try to mimic what the average person would have done with their assets if they had a will. For instance, if you’re single and without children, it generally reverts to your parents. If you’re married with minor children, it would generally go to the spouse with whom you had the children, and in some states (like Georgia), a spouse shares with the children. The people who receive your assets under such a statute are generally referred to as your “heirs at law”. (more…)

Friday, February 6, 2015

The untimely death of Robin Williams shocked and distressed many of his admirers. Now six months after his death many of his admirers are further distressed by the legal battle between Williams’s widow and his children from prior marriages.

Mr. Williams seems to have gone to great lengths to care for and protect his three children from two different marriages. Yet, he also made provisions for his wife. His home in Tiburon, California, along with its contents, subject to certain reservations, was to pass to his wife on his death. However, the trust which, according to news sources, disposes of this home and its contents also provides that his children are to receive his clothing, jewelry and personal photos taken prior to his last marriage as well as his “memorabilia and awards in the entertainment industry”.

Williams’s widow contends that his children came into her home soon after the suicide and wrongfully took property that should belong to her from the home. The children counter that the trustees acted within their authority in granting them access to the home and these items. What does the word memorabilia cover? (more…)

Monday, August 11, 2014

casey-kasem-reuters-208x300More than a month after his death at age 82, Casey Kasem’s body still has not been buried and now is missing from the Washington state funeral home where it was being held, according to a recent statement from the publicist for his daughter, Kerri Kasem.

Kasem’s body disappeared around the same time that Kerri Kasem was granted a temporary restraining order she sought to prevent Casey Kasem’s second wife (and the step mother of three of his four children, including Kerri), Jean Kasem, from cremating Casey’s remains or removing them from cold storage. Kerri was seeking a court order allowing Kerri to obtain an autopsy of her father’s body. Kerri has stated that in light of threats by Jean to sue Kerri for elder abuse and wrongful death she is concerned about how the results of any autopsy that Jean may have commissioned might be used.

According to news reports, Casey’s three older children believe Jean had his body moved to a funeral home in Canada, but do not know if his remains have been disposed of. (more…)

Monday, July 14, 2014

ClintonSenateWhile constant attention is being given to Hillary Clinton’s potential decision to run for the presidency in 2016 and the release of her latest book, Hard Choices, last month, news sources recently reported that she and former President Bill Clinton have taken advantage of several of the estate planning techniques recommended by trusts and estates attorneys for high net worth individuals.

This is interesting, in part, because the Clintons support the estate tax and have not been in support of its repeal.

According to reported sources, each of the Clintons created a qualified personal residence trust and each contributed his or her 50% ownership interest in their Chappaqua, New York house to his or her respective trust. A qualified personal residence trust, commonly called by its acronym QPRT, is an IRS sanctioned estate planning technique.  The creator of the trust places a residence or interest in a residence in the trust, retains the right to live in the trust for a term of years, and after the term the trust asset or the residence passes to a beneficiary.

The Internal Revenue Code has special rules which help calculate the value of the “gift” made by the creator to the QPRT. The gift portion, which could offset some of the $5,340,000 exemption allotted to individuals in 2014 is not the entire value of the residence, but the value of the residence when transferred reduced by the value of the retained use by the creator for the trust term.

By having each of the Clintons create a separate QPRT with only a 50% interest in the residence, the value of such interest may also be eligible for a discount for owning less than a majority interest.

In order for a QPRT to work, the creator of the trust must outlive the trust term.  But for a relatively healthy individual, it is quite likely for this to happen.

(more…)

Monday, July 29, 2013

baby-cambridge-1-660On July 22, 2013, the question everyone wanted answered, boy or girl, was answered when Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to the royal baby, a baby boy, who is now third in line to the throne, after his grandfather, Prince Charles, and his father, Prince William.

On July 24, the next question everyone wanted answered, what’s his name, was answered with the announcement that the baby prince’s name is George Alexander Louis, and that he will be known as Prince George of Cambridge.

Now, the question that we’re sure is burning in everyone’s mind is, are Will’s and Kate’s estate planning documents up-to-date so that Prince George will be properly taken care of in the event something happens to his parents? (more…)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gandolfini

The terms of James Gandolfini’s December 2012 Last Will and Testament were made public last week when it was filed in New York County Surrogate’s Court. There are a series of specific bequests to his teenage son by his first marriage and some friends and relatives, but the bulk of his probate assets is disposed of as his “residuary estate” and is divided among his sisters, his wife and his baby daughter.

The tax clause of his Will directs that all estate taxes are to be paid from his residuary estate. What does that mean to his beneficiaries? And what does that mean to the IRS and to the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance? Only the 20% of the estate that passes to James Gandolfini’s widow will qualify for the Federal and NYS estate tax marital deduction. (For a more detailed discussion of the federal marital deduction, see our prior post in anticipation of a ruling in the recently decided Windsor case, Will SCOTUS Eviscerate DOMA? What Effects Could That Have on Tax Planning?)  As a result, his estate could be subject to taxes at a combined rate of about 50% over his unused lifetime exemption, which is $1M for NYS and $5.25M for the IRS.

It is rumored that Mr. Gandolfini’s estate is worth approximately $70M. The total estate tax due is likely be over $25M and will be due a mere nine months after Mr. Gandolfini’s untimely death. In all likelihood, assets will need to be sold to generate liquidity to meet this estate tax bill. (more…)