One of the most commonly used vehicles for non-testamentary estate planning (that’s a term I just made up) is the revocable (“living”) trust. Non-testamentary estate planning refers to any estate planning method that doesn’t rely on a will. Perhaps a better term (one that I didn’t make up) is non-probate estate planning. That includes any method of transferring assets owned by a deceased individual outside of an estate administration (that’s what’s commonly referred to as “probate”).
The revocable trust is widely used as a vehicle for non-probate estate planning, but it doesn’t actually allow you to avoid probate unless it’s “funded.” What is “funding” a trust? And what are some other ways to leave things to people without using a will, or in other words, what are some other methods of non-testamentary estate planning? Find out by reading my Estate Planning Law Report for August, 2018, now available for your enjoyment, and hopefully edification, in the publications section of deconcinimcdonald.com. It’s also linked on the home page.
A superficial treatment is better than none at all, but an article I read on Fox Business really didn’t tell me much of any substance, even though it was loaded with quotes from authoritative-sounding lawyers.
Oh, the subject was valuation discounts for family limited partnership interests. Apparently, the IRS has proposed new regulations that would narrow the circumstances in which the IRS will allow those discounts to be applied.
Those valuation discounts are, as the Fox Business article indicates, a method to reduce the value of, and hence the estate tax on the transfer of, family limited partnership interests when an owner dies. It’s not a new idea.
Having advised clients on handling their loved ones' estates for almost thirty years, I have seen numerous situations in which someone's attempt to direct the disposition of their estate, i.e. to create a valid will, was ineffective. Don't let this happen to you. Read about the Arizona rules for how to make a will in the May edition of my Estate Planning Law Report.
I have talked to several people recently with questions about whether or not a particular writing (document) qualifies as a will. The questions usually come up, unfortunately, in this context: my family member died, this is the what they wrote down about what happens to their property, is it enforceable?
I’ll have new report on this subject soon, since it comes up frequently. In the meantime, you can read what I wrote about it in 2016, in my newsletter archive.
When I last wrote about it nearly a year and a half ago, 19 states, including Arizona, had enacted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA for you acronym mavens). I pointed out at the time that California had not adopted the RUFADAA, and that unless California adopts the RUFADAA or something like it, its adoption in other states may not do much good. That’s because California is where many of the companies holding your digital assets (e.g. Google and Facebook) are located.
Another whole aspect of handling digital assets involves platforms like Github, that are designed for individuals and companies to develop and store code. Those are digital assets that have real value.
As of this writing, 37 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have adopted the RUFADAA, but California still hasn’t adopted it. Perhaps California has similar legislation, but if not, I don’t know how Google and Facebook, not to mention Github, are going to react to fiduciaries’ attempts to retrieve digital assets in their control.
The fact that the RUFADAA has been adopted in Arizona but not in California is another reason to use (Arizona based) GoDaddy for email, domain registration, and web hosting.
ESTATE PLANNING LAW REPORT FOR JANUARY 2018: HOW DO YOU MAKE AN ORGAN DONATION AS PART OF YOUR ESTATE PLAN?
My January newsletter, Estate Planning Law Report, has been posted for your edification. It’s about the always-timely topic of organ and tissue donations, and how to incorporate such a donation (the legal term is “anatomical gift”) into your estate plan.
The newsletter is posted in the publications section of my firm’s web site. If you would like to receive my newsletter (with useful information on estate planning, tax, and real estate questions) via snail mail each and every month, please send me an email, using the email on my main page.
A post on a blog that I do not frequent, but that I look at occasionally because other blogs I do frequent link to it from time to time, got me thinking about what’s often the trickiest question for families doing estate planning: who would be responsible for your children if you aren’t around?
The post that got me thinking about that question was one about some survey suggesting that grandparents aren’t up on all the latest parenting tips. My reaction is, why would they be, and so what? Does that make grandparents any less important?
That made me think about the estate planning question because in the wills I draft for parents of minor children, grandparents are probably nominated as guardians more often than anyone else. I doubt that the parents who have made those nominations gave too much thought to whether or not their parents are up on all the latest parenting tips.
You didn’t include the birthday check from your grandmother on your income tax return, so why would you have to include the money you receive from her estate? That question and a few others are answered in my latest Estate Planning Law Report. You’ll find it in the same place where it’s posted every month: in the publications section at deconcinimcdonald.com.
Your comments are welcome, as always.
End of life care is a subject I have addressed before, most recently in my June, 2017, Estate Planning Law Report. Charlie Gard was an infant born in England who died recently after living for only a few months. The case attracted international attention when a court in the United Kingdom denied the child’s parents the opportunity to seek experimental treatment for Charlie in the United States. It’s a difficult situation with no easy answers, and I know this is controversial, but I found it pretty appalling that a court would deny the child’s parents the opportunity to seek experimental treatment for him at their own expense. There’s a brief commentary at The American Interest that sums it up pretty well.
If you are concerned about who will have the ability to make decisions for you, consider a health care power of attorney.
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.