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Your Estate Planning New Year’s Resolution Checklist

(This is an updated post from December 2015)

Need a New Year’s resolutions to kick start 2017? Here is an idea you probably hadn’t considered: review your estate planning documents.

If you are like most people, you are probably thinking that reading legal documents does not sound like an even remotely enjoyable way to start a new year. But, it doesn’t have to be as unpleasant as it sounds. Reviewing your documents does not mean you have to read them cover to cover. If you know what are the most important elements, it is easy to review your will, trust, and powers of attorney regularly to ensure they still comply with your wishes. These documents not only determine who will receive your property when you die, but also likely determine who has the right to make financial and major medical decisions during your lifetime. Needless to say, it is important



October 6, 2016

Authored by: Kathy Sherby and Charles Lin

Rev. Proc. 2016-49

The recent issuance of Rev. Proc. 2016-49, which modifies and supersedes Rev. Proc. 2001-38, now puts the taxpayer in the driver’s seat. Recall that in Rev. Proc. 2001-38, the Service was providing relief for the surviving spouse when an unnecessary QTIP election was made, by treating such a QTIP election as though it had not been made. Practitioners began to question whether Rev. Proc. 2001-38 would render a QTIP election a nullity when made in order to qualify for a state marital deduction where such an election was not needed to reduce the Federal estate tax liability to zero. Then when portability came into the picture, the enhanced concern about basis adjustment at death drove practitioners to want to make a QTIP election even though not needed to reduce the estate tax liability, to permit the surviving spouse to make larger gifts that would not

Recent Tax Court Case Rules on Treatment of Madoff Account

Recent Tax Court Case Rules on Treatment of Madoff Account

October 3, 2016

Authored by: Stacie J. Rottenstreich and Karin Barkhorn

In a recent Tax Court decision, Harry H. Falk, and Steven P. Heller, Co-Executors, v. Commissioner of the Internal Revenue, the United States Tax Court ruled that in the case of the Madoff Ponzi scheme, an estate which paid estate tax on Madoff assets which subsequently have become worthless can claim a theft deduction.

James Heller, a New York state decedent, died in January 2008 owning a 99% interest in James Heller Family, LLC (the “LLC”).  The only asset held by the LLC was an account with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC.  In November of 2008, the Executors of Mr. Heller’s estate withdrew some money from the LLC’s Madoff account in order to pay estate taxes and other administrative expenses.  Shortly thereafter, the news of the Madoff Ponzi scheme became public. Suddenly, the LLC’s interest and the estate’s interest in the LLC became worthless.

In April 2009, the Executors

Where do our Presidential Candidates Stand on Estate Tax?

Where do our Presidential Candidates Stand on Estate Tax?

September 27, 2016

Authored by: Stacie J. Rottenstreich and Stephanie Moll




Both presidential candidates have proposed changes to the estate tax regime.  Coming as a surprise to nobody, the proposals are quite different.

Projected Inflation-Adjusted Estate, Gift and GST Tax Exclusion Amounts for 2017 Now Available



Based on the Consumer Price Index for the 12-month period ending August 31, 2016, Thompson Reuters Checkpoint has released their projected inflation-adjusted Estate, Gift, GST tax, and other exclusion amounts for 2017, as follows:

IRS Provides Sample Language for “Qualified Contingency” to Meet “Probability of Exhaustion Test”

One of the many requirements that a trust must meet in order for it to qualify as a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (“CRAT”) is the “Probability of Exhaustion Test”.  This test applies to CRATs whose annuity term is based on one or more lifetimes, and requires the likelihood that the charitable remainder beneficiary will not receive its interest in the trust be 5% or less.  If a trust fails the test, then the charitable remainder interest does not qualify for income, gift, or estate tax charitable deductions, and the trust is not exempt from income tax.



Divorce decree, gavel and folder shot on warm wooden surface


At a minimum, we recommend that our clients review their existing estate planning documents every few years, and also when big life changes are happening.  Going through a divorce is one of those times.  Here are some things to consider when you are considering divorce or separation, and after your divorce is final:


When the taxpayer in PLR 201547010 decided to invest his IRA assets in a partnership, he forgot to check whether his IRA provider was able to hold an interest in a partnership as an investment in the IRAs for which it served as custodian.  While all IRA accounts are able to hold investments in publicly traded securities, i.e. stocks, bonds and mutual funds, not all IRA custodians are set up to handle alternative investments, such as direct ownership of a business, real estate, partnership interests and LLC member interests, in their IRA accounts managed pursuant to their IRA account agreements.  In fact, some IRA account agreements specifically preclude ownership of such alternative assets in the IRA accounts covered by the IRA custodian’s account agreement.

In this PLR, Taxpayer A instructed the IRA Custodian to invest his IRA assets in a percentage partnership interest of Partnership C.  The IRA Custodian issued

Prince: Is His Legacy Really Untold?

34997441Update: According to media sources, a lawyer for Bremer Bank and Trust, the corporate fiduciary appointed to administerPrince’s estate,  said the bank is continuing to search for a will and the judge in the Court, Judge Kevin W. Eidge, stated “We are not finding that there’s no will, but that no will has yet been found.”

The following was originally published on April 28, 2016.

As we’ve all seen in the news, musician Prince passed away on April 21, 2016 at the age of 57.  According to news sources, on April 26, just five days later, one of Prince’s six siblings, his sister Tyka Nelson, filed documents with the Carver County probate court stating “I do not know of the existence of a Will and have no reason to believe that the Decedent

Prince: The Lost Legacy of an Estate Plan Untold

You may not have produced over 30 albums, accrued over $300 million and an equivalent amount of fans as Prince, but, like the recent pop star, you too have a legacy that could impact many individuals around you.

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