Estate & Trust Blog

Informing and Updating

The Basics - Estate Planning

Basics, that is, of asset titling. There's a whole lot more to the estate planning process, of course, but it is crucial to always keep in mind asset title and the effect of each. The form of title to each asset dictates how, and to whom, each asset passes upon death. >> Assets in decedent's sole name. These pass in accordance with the decedent's Will; these are probate assets. The probate process applies only to assets titled in the decedent's sole name... unless an "operation of law" exception applies. >> "Operation of law" exceptions to assets tiled in decedent's joint name. >>> Assets with a named beneficiary, such as life insurance or retirement accounts. It is possible, although g

DSUE (di-sue-ee) Revisited (by the IRS)

The Internal Revenue Code provides each taxpayer's estate with an estate tax exemption of $5,490,000 (adjusted annually), and allows the estate of a taxpayer whose spouse has survived to elect to "transfer" or "port" (subject, of course, to limitations and exceptions in certain circumstances). In Estate of Minnie Lynn Sower, the US Tax Court upheld - under the facts of this case - the IRS' statutory authority to re-visit the estate tax return of the pre-deceased spouse and adjust the calculation of the amount of exemption ported to the surviving spouse's estate. The Court noted that the IRS may not be able to "audit" the pre-deceased spouse's return to change the tax due, but can change the

You can, but only if they let you.

It is extremely important that a person's fiduciaries (executor, trustee, or attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney) have access to your digital information - photos, emails, bank accounts, financially valuable websites, blogs, Twitter accounts, etc, etc, etc. Under the federal "Secure Communication Act" service providers (like Gmail, Facebook, banks) cannot (ie, are forbidden to) provide account content to anyone, unless one of the act's exceptions apply. The SCA focusses on privacy, and prohibits anyone from accessing a person's accounts. It may seen obvious that a fiduciary would inherently have authority to access her principal's on-line data. It's not. Service providers are wary

We Meet Again - Property Settlements and Estates

Property division agreements in divorce proceedings often include provisions relating to life insurance, which can be used, for example, to fund financial obligations remaining at the insured ex-spouse's death. Life insurance can be deceptively simple. Unless the agreement and the life insurance design are co-ordinated and tailored to accomplish the intended purpose, difficulties can result. In a recent Washington State Appeals Court opinion, the correct result was reached, at what was had to be an emotional and financial cost. In Sun Life Assurance Company v Lee, the Property Settlement obligated the former husband to pay, at his death, any remaining alimony; and called for a life insuran

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