You can read my Estate Planning Law Report here. It’s about new law on end of life care. I also wrote a short item about the origins of inheritance law.
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Like that’s really a tough task, right? The commentary is obviously supposed to be hilarious, but I don’t find it to be all that humorous, for the most part. What’s surprising about a house in the middle of the desert having a pool?
I can’t help wondering if the outside of the house is really that shade of red, or if the photos have been altered, either intentionally or not.
Some of the colors on the inside of the house are pretty outlandish, too, if the photos show the real colors.
Given the house prices I have seen lately, however, just under a million dollars sounds pretty cheap for that house. Maybe the colors are real, and the price is discounted for the complete repainting the new owner will have to do before moving in.
MORE FIRST AMENDMENT – A GOOD SHORT AND SIMPLE RUNDOWN OF HOW FREE SPEECH LAW WORKS
As a follow-up to my post earlier this week, an op-ed appeared in the L.A. Times recently that gives a good summation of what kinds of expression can and cannot be limited without violating the First Amendment.
The author of that op-ed is a lawyer whose blog, Popehat, I think I have linked to in the past. He occasionally writes posts about First Amendment cases that are worth reading.
THE FIRST AMENDMENT MEANS THAT THE GOVERNMENT CAN’T PROHIBIT SPEECH BASED ON ITS CONTENT
I have been interested in first amendment law since I was in law school. Very few lawyers in private practice get to work on cases involving first amendment law, and I am no exception. I still enjoy reading about first amendment cases, however.
In a recent case decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices unanimously said that under the first amendment the government can’t ban offensive speech. The concept is that the first amendment prohibits restricting speech based on the viewpoint expressed. This statement by Justice Kennedy expresses the idea very clearly:
A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.
My take on it? The logic is pretty easy to see. If the first amendment means that neo-nazis had a right to have a parade in Skokie, Illinois, then it must also mean that the government can’t refuse to allow a racially offensive phrase as a trademark. Allowing the government to prohibit either one would be allowing the government to restrict speech based on its content.
This is the first sentence of the abstract for a paper by some guy at Harvard: “Historically, it is safe to say that very few laws did as much to stoke inequality as laws touching descents and hereditary transmissions.”
What exactly does he mean when he refers to “laws touching descents and hereditary transmissions?” Well, he gives us a hint in the last sentence of the abstract: “Hence, inheritance taxation is most likely necessary from a classical liberal point of view as an instrument of social mobility to counter notable problems of social immobility, say hereditary vocational stratification, which a system of private property rights creates.”
This is what I think he means: modern law allows you to leave your lifetime accumulation of assets to your children, as opposed to when no one but the King could own anything, so commoners couldn’t leave anything to their children (i.e. before the system of private property rights was created). Therefore, it is necessary for the government to take (at least some of) the assets you would otherwise leave to your children, to prevent your children from having an economic advantage over others whose parents didn’t leave them anything.
Via Taxprof Blog.
CUTTING THE $4 TRILLION ANNUAL FEDERAL BUDGET BY 25% WOULD TAKE IT BACK TO WHERE IT WAS ONLY NINE YEARS AGO?
And a cut of 25% would equate to $3,125 for every man, woman and child in the United States? That’s what one commentator says:
A $4 trillion annual budget is about $12,500 for every man, woman, and child in the United States. If the budget could be cut by, say, $1 trillion — taking it back to the 2008 level — how much good could that money do in the hands of families and businesses? How many jobs could be created? How many families could afford a new car, a better school, a down payment on a home?
From a June 9, 2017, post by David Boaz, titled What Do the Subsidy Recipients Think About Cutting Subsidies, at the Cato at Liberty blog.
How is it that cutting the federal budget back to where it was only nine years ago would be the unmitigated disaster that it is portrayed to be?
I found this article in the Arizona Republic interesting. It’s about new assisted living facilities in the Phoenix area that offer reduced rents for people with modest incomes. That could really fill a need, since there are many people who need some assistance but don’t meet the medical criteria for assistance from the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS).
What the article doesn’t say, however, is whether there is an asset test in addition to an income test to qualify for the reduced rent. Many people that I talk to would qualify for benefits from ALTCS based on their income, but have too much in assets to qualify, with the result that they have to use their assets to pay for their care until the assets are all expended, then qualify for benefits because they don’t have enough income to pay for their care.
This kind of planning is often necessary, but is not widely understood. I have been doing it for a long time. The need for it has definitely not decreased.
Some people might not like to hear it, but I think it must be said: making yourself responsible for the actions of someone else is dangerous. Don’t do it unless you either (1) have a contract with the other person, or (2) trust the other person with everything you have.
What made me think of that? I saw an article in the Arizona Republic that talked (very superficially) about joint bank accounts, joint credit cards, joint business ownership, and co-signing for a student loan. If you enter into any of those joint arrangements, you are making yourself responsible for the actions of someone else.
This is a topic that I have touched on in the past, and will undoubtedly address again in the future. If you have any of these joint arrangements, it can be an important consideration in estate planning.
A LESSON ABOUT U.S. HISTORY
Whatever you think of the President’s decision to withdraw the Unites States from the Paris Accord, it’s unbelievable to me that a professor of American studies at Harvard would (a) equate it with the Treaty of Paris in 1783 (Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution says the President can’t enter into a treaty without the consent of the Senate), and worse, (b) assert that the Treaty of Paris “created” the United States (the Treaty of Paris was a bilateral treaty that formally ended the Revolutionary War).
At least the professor provided an opportunity for this history lesson.
According to a report linked to by Instapundit, taxes collected by the federal government on a per capita basis, and after adjusting for inflation, more than doubled between 1961 and 2016. Those figures are from the government itself (the Office of Management and Budget), not some partisan think tank.
So when people say that the income tax cuts in the 1980s are the cause of the federal debt, or that the government just can’t afford to lose the revenue that it receives from the federal estate tax, you might want to take it with a grain of salt.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.