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Highest Court in the State of Maryland Recognizes Valid Out-Of-State Marriages

In a recent decision, Port v. Cowan, 2012 Md. Lexis 283 (May 18, 2012), the Maryland Court of Appeals held that Maryland courts will recognize a valid same-sex marriage entered into in another state for purposes of granting a divorce to such same-sex spouses who otherwise meet the criteria for divorce under the laws of Maryland. In support of its unanimous decision, the court cited the the general rule that Maryland courts will honor marriages entered into in another state, as long as the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed. Further, that court determined that recognition of a validly-performed out-of-state same-sex marriage is not repugnant to, but is actually consistent with Maryland public policy, in light of several currently enacted Maryland laws that protect and support same-sex couples.

As discussed in a recent article on CNN.com, Port v. Cowan highlights the challenge faced by

Treasury Guidance Regarding Making a Portability Election

As discussed previously on this blog, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the “2010 Act”), signed into law on December 17, 2010, authorized portability of a married decedent’s unused estate tax exclusion to the decedent’s surviving spouse. The Treasury issued proposed and temporary regulations providing guidance on the requirements for electing portability and on the applicable rules for a surviving spouse’s use of the deceased spousal unused exclusion amount (“DSUE amount”) on Friday, June 15, 2012. (This date of issuance is relevant, as June 15, 2012 marked the latest possible date on which Treasury could file these temporary regulations so that they would apply retroactively to estates of decedents who died before they were issued.) What follows is a brief summary (in question and answer format) of some of the guidance provided by these new regulations.

Facebook’s New “If I Die” App

“If I Die”, a new app for Facebook, has generated a great deal of media attention lately.

For those of you who have not yet heard of it, “If I Die” allows people who download the app to create their own video or text message that is stored on a secured server until he or she passes away, at which time “If I Die” posts the video or text message to his or her Facebook page. To prevent premature posting to the user’s Facebook profile, “If I Die” requires users to appoint three “trustees” who will be responsible for verifying the user’s death.

By offering people a unique opportunity to send a meaningful final message to the people they leave behind, “If I Die” allows users to put a modern spin on the practice of creating an ethical will, which practice dates back to the biblical era. Throughout history, people

List of Things To Do Before Initial Meeting with Estate Administration Attorney

For those of you who are named as Executor or Personal Representative under the Last Will and Testament of a friend or loved one who recently passed away, below is a simple “to do” list that lays out steps you should take in preparation for your initial meeting with an estate planning attorney. Please realize that this list is not exhaustive! Rather, it is intended to help you gather necessary materials and take actions that may enable you and the estate administration attorney to streamline the estate administration process.

  • Cancel any club memberships in the decedent’s name.
  • Prepare a list of all assets owned by the decedent and indicate whether those assets were held in the decedent’s sole name, in the name of the decedent’s revocable trust (if applicable), or held jointly with another person.
  • Determine whether the decedent had any safe deposit boxes and, if so, prepare an

Estate Planning for Digital Assets

What are digital assets? Generally speaking, “digital assets” are any type of data in which a person has some right or proprietary interest.  A person’s digital assets may include (but are not limited to) information in his or her email accounts, information saved on his or her Smartphones, his or her computer files, picture files, video files, music files, social networking accounts, blogs, websites, word processing documents, and spreadsheets. 

Do digital assets have value?  Many digital assets have value.  Like tangible assets, digital assets can have monetary value (for example, blogs that generate revenue, or intellectual property rights, which – in some cases – may be extremely valuable), or sentimental value (family photos or video files, for example).  For this reason, it is important to establish a plan for what should happen to your digital assets in the event of your death or incapacity.  It may be necessary to access the digital

The Elusive Insurable Interest Requirement

Life insurance is an important estate planning tool that many people buy to provide financial support for loved ones and to ensure that their estate will be able to pay estate taxes when they pass away.

The “Insurable Interest Requirement”. In the U.S., a life insurance policy can only be acquired by a person (or entity) who has an “insurable interest” in the life of the insured. This means the person who acquires the policy must have some reason to wish for the insured’s continued life. This requirement for an insurable interest originated in England in the 18th century when Parliament enacted a law requiring an insurable interest to stop the popular practice of wealth investors purchasing life insurance policies on elderly persons and persons accused of capital crimes so they could reap the profits when the person died (by natural or unnatural causes). This law remains in effect in

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