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

Friday, August 22, 2014

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Originally posted on August 18, 2011 here.

It’s back to school time, and if you have college-age children, you’re probably busy helping them get organized to leave home.  While most packing lists include extra-long twin sheets and expressly forbid hotplates, there’s something else your budding intellectual shouldn’t leave home without: basic financial and medical estate planning documents.  If your children are over 18, federal privacy laws protect their financial and medical information.  Three basic estate planning documents will authorize you to act on behalf of your child, in the event that your child cannot make such decisions for him- or herself.

A Durable Power of Attorney for financial purposes designates an attorney-in-fact to act on your child’s behalf in all financial, tax, legal, investment, and insurance matters if your child becomes incapacitated and is no longer able to make decisions for him- or herself relating to those matters.  (more…)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

453779831 (1)In our previous posts, Estate Planning for Digital Assets and Bitcoins and other Hidden Assets, we discussed how to protect online assets with a digital estate plan.  Administering an estate with digital assets such as e-mail, online accounts, social media accounts, and online photo albums is an ever-growing issue among estate planners. As the digital age continues to grow, a client’s online presence has become another asset of value, but how such assets pass remains elusive to many. Although digital assets are a form of personal property, ownership rights and privacy controls are governed by a myriad of federal laws, state laws, privacy laws, copyright laws and intellectual property laws. (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…)