Monday, December 1, 2014

177855670When a will contains a so-called no contest clause or in terrorem clause that would cause a beneficiary to lose his or her interest in the deceased’s estate in the event the beneficiary contests the validity of the will, the court is often called upon to determine whether to enforce the forfeiture against the beneficiary if he or she loses the will contest. Just such an issue faced the Mississippi Supreme Court in Parker v. Benoist.

In this case, Bronwyn Benoist Parker (“Parker”) filed a will contest, contesting the validity of her father’s 2010 will. The 2010 will changed the disposition of the father’s estate from an equal division between Parker and her brother, William Benoist (“Benoist”), to a disposition where Benoist received a significantly greater portion of their father’s estate and Parker received a significantly lesser portion of the estate. (more…)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from the Private Client group at Bryan Cave!  

Now is the time everyone comes together to remember what they’re thankful for this year.  In conjunction with being thankful for the blessings in our lives, it also is a good time to review your estate planning goals, such as the following:

  • Have you retained enough cash flow for you (and your spouse) in order to maintain your standard of living and provide you with security for your lifetimes?
  • Have you provided for your surviving spouse so he or she will be taken care of after you’re gone?
  • Have you prepared a prenuptial agreement to protect your assets upon divorce?  See our post on Prenuptial Agreements.
  • Have you protected your children (or other beneficiaries) by protecting their inheritance from creditors? See our post on Creditor’s Rights.
  • Have you protected your children (or other beneficiaries) by reducing your taxable estate and, ultimately, any estate tax due at your death, which will increase the amount ultimately passing to your beneficiaries?
  • Have you protected any special needs child by creating a special needs trust that will not affect the child’s eligibility for any necessary government assistance he or she may need? See our post on Planning For Special Needs.
  • Have you provided enough liquidity in your estate to pay any estate taxes that are due at your death?
  • Have you protected your grandchildren (and more remote descendants) by providing for the passage of assets from generation-to-generation without transfer tax, ultimately increasing the amount available for future generations?
  • Have you made provision for any charitable gifts you wish to make?  See our post on Deduction Rules for Charitable Gifts.
  • Have you assisted your loved-ones in finding both your physical and digital assets?  See our post on Treasure Maps.
  • Have you named someone to make your financial and healthcare decisions should you be unable to make them for yourself?  See our post on Planning the End that you Want.
  • Have you specified your healthcare treatment preferences if you are in a terminal condition or state of unconsciousness? See our post on Planning with POLST.
  • Have you named a guardian for your children should you be unable to care for them?

If any of these goals apply to you, but you feel they haven’t been addressed in your current estate planning documents (or you don’t have any current estate planning documents) be sure to contact your attorney to make the necessary changes to make sure your goals are addressed!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

451428613Advances in medical technology have made it possible for a child to be conceived after the death of one or both of his or her genetic parents with the use of stored sperm or ova. Recently, the New York State Legislature has sent a bill to Governor Coumo which clarifies when a child born after the death of his or her genetic parents, a so called posthumously conceived child, will be deemed a child of such parents for the purpose of inheritance and intestacy law. This issue may arise when a genetic parent who will ultimately have a posthumously conceived child dies without a Will or with a Will using the generic term child or issue. Does the posthumously conceived child take a share of his or her genetic parent’s estate? (more…)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

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U.S. News and Best Lawyers have joined to rank more than 12,000 firms in the U.S. in 120 practice areas in 174 metropolitan areas and 8 states.

Bryan Cave’s Trust and Estates Practice Group (“Private Client CSG”) received National First Tier Ranking and the Atlanta, Kansas City, Orange County, and St. Louis offices all received First Tier Rankings in metropolitan cities.

Congratulations to the Private Client Group!

The 2015 report of more than 12,000 firms by practice area is based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. Results were combined into an overall “Best Law Firms” score for each firm.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

180197523There is much confusion about what a trust protector can and cannot do with respect to a trust for which the trust protector is serving. First and foremost, the trust protector’s powers provided by state statute are often limited to the powers authorized in the trust instrument, as reflected by the Court in Schwartz v. Wellin, 2014 WL 1572767 (D.S.C., April 17, 2014).

Keith Wellin created the Wellin Family 2009 Irrevocable Trust (“Trust”), a dynasty trust for the benefit of his three children and their respective lineal descendants, with his children and the South Dakota Trust Company as the Trustees. After creating this Trust, Milton sold his interest in the Friendship Partners LP (“FLP”) to the Trust, taking back a promissory note for $50 Million. Apparently in 2013, a dispute arose between Keith and his children, when his daughter, Cynthia, as manager of the LLC that was the general partner of the FLP, proposed to sell all of the assets of the FLP, liquidate the FLP, set aside $50 Million to pay the promissory note and distribute the remaining $95 Million to the three children.

In order to prevent such actions, Keith appointed Schwartz as the Trust Protector. The same day, Schwartz amended the Trust to give the trust protector “the power to represent the Trust with respect to any litigation brought by or against the Trust if any Trustee is a party to such litigation”, and “to prosecute or defend such litigation for the protection of trust assets” (“Litigation Provision”). Schwartz also immediately removed the corporate trustee, and the individual Trustees completed the sales and distributions as proposed. The individual Trustees believed their actions were justified to avoid a $40 Million tax liability that would be incurred when Keith turned off the Trust’s grantor trust status. (more…)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

82980840In the case, In re Indenture of Trust dated January 13, 1964, the Settlor’s grandson Milton learned that, just like on the playground, there are no take backs, even when the trust for his benefit contained a spendthrift provision that prohibited voluntary and involuntary transfer of his interest. As the blog, Dumb Little Man Tips for Life, describes the rule, “Once you give something, you can’t ask for it back. Whether it’s a physical gift, a gift of money, or a gift of time, asking for a takeback is pointless. It shows bad faith and makes you untrustworthy.”

While it may seem counter-intuitive to the purpose of a spendthrift provision, in certain circumstances, it may be desirable for a beneficiary of a spendthrift trust to make an assignment of his or her interest in the trust to accomplish other estate planning goals.

The trust at issue was created for the benefit of the Settlor’s three grandchildren, Milton, Steven and Carrie, and included a spendthrift provision prohibiting voluntary and involuntary transfer of a beneficiary’s interest in the trust. In 2000, Milton assigned his entire interest in the trust to his siblings, as trustees of a continuing trust for the benefit of their children, and the trustee distributed $75,000 to Milton in return for this assignment. (more…)

Friday, October 10, 2014

samesexmarriageIn light of all of the changes in same-sex marriage laws happening over the past couple of weeks, we thought we’d share some of the information presented by our attorneys at the CLE presentation in our St. Louis office on Wednesday morning, “Same Sex, Different Day:  Estate Planning for Same Sex Married Couples (Post Windsor decision), co-sponsored by the Bryan Cave LGBT Affinity Group.  Presenters were Kimberly Civins, Stephen Daiker, and Douglas Stanley, along with Tony Rothert from the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.

Get income tax advice regarding amending returns and filing returns going forward

The sooner the better, as there is a 3 year statute of limitations for amending returns if filing as married achieves a better tax result!

Get estate documents reviewed/updated to take advantage of spousal tax reduction opportunities

Double-check beneficiary designations for retirement plans

Remember–spouses have to consent on some retirement plans to someone else being named as beneficiary!

Review any marital or co-habitation agreements regarding income tax benefits affecting property rights

Thursday, October 9, 2014

guysheartsIn light of all of the changes in same-sex marriage laws happening over the past couple of weeks, we thought we’d share some of the information presented by our attorneys at the CLE presentation in our St. Louis office on Wednesday morning, “Same Sex, Different Day:  Estate Planning for Same Sex Married Couples (Post Windsor decision), co-sponsored by the Bryan Cave LGBT Affinity Group.  Presenters were Kimberly Civins, Stephen Daiker, and Douglas Stanley, along with Tony Rothert from the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.

Plan, plan, plan:

  • Will/Living Trust
  • Healthcare Directives
  • Pre-nuptial Agreement
  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Asset re-titling

Consider income tax consequences

Consider whether various federal agencies will honor marriage based on residence state

Consider state of residence laws regarding other family issues such as adoption and divorce

Consider ceremony jurisdiction (California, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Minnesota and Vermont are favored because of favorable divorce laws)

  • These states will issue divorces for couples married in the state even if they don’t reside there at the time of the divorce, which could be important if your state of residence doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage and, therefore, may not issue you a divorce
Friday, October 3, 2014

conservationThe increasingly popular conservation easement charitable deduction allows a landowner to deduct a portion of the value of a piece of land by limiting the land’s use.  In a typical scenario, a landowner records a conservation easement on the land and then donates the conservation easement to a conservation organization.  The landowner receives an appraisal of the value of (i) the developable land and (ii) the land once the conservation easement has been recorded.  The landowner then deducts the difference as a charitable contribution.  In such a scenario, Section 170 of the tax code allows a deduction as long as the easement is perpetual, made to a qualified organization, and for a valid conservation purpose.

The typical scenario is changing, however, as more and more landowners are holding their property in trust.  When the land is held in trust, it is more difficult to deduct a conservation easement. (more…)

Thursday, September 18, 2014