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  • Posts by John Cummins
    Partner

    John is a partner in the firm's Estate Planning Department. He focuses his practice on estates, trusts, family business and disability planning, and the administration of estates and trusts. John also has an active health law ...

Posted in Estate Planning

The South Dakota Supreme Court recently decided a unique case which may be persuasive to jurists in many other states that have adopted the Uniform Trust Code, particularly as it relates to literal compliance with shortened time frames for beneficiaries to take action under the Code. In doing so, the Court ruled that an informal objection to a revocable trust did not constitute an effective contest of the trust’s validity under their trust law, because it was not a timely filed suit. 

Posted in Estate Planning

It is becoming increasingly common for beneficiaries to want to create a power to remove trustees of their trusts, when the trust agreement does not grant them this power. 

In states which have adopted it, the Uniform Trust Code does grant a statutory power of removal to the trust beneficiaries, even when the governing trust document does not bestow such removal power itself.  However, such statutory powers generally require court approval and compliance with certain criteria. 

Posted in Estate Planning

In Private Letter Ruling 201737008, issued by the IRS on September 15, 2017, the Service gave retroactive tax effect to a court modification of the power of appointment held by the donor’s spouse over the donor’s trust.  Based on the retroactive County Court modification in this ruling, the surviving spouse’s power of appointment over the trust was held to be a special power of appointment for tax purposes from the trust’s inception, thereby avoiding estate taxation on the trust assets in the taxable estate of the spouse at her later death. 

Posted in Estate Planning

The U. S. Tax Court recently upheld the right of the IRS to adjust the amount of the unused estate tax exemption left by the predeceased spouse, when computing the federal estate tax owed by the estate of the surviving spouse.

Posted in Estate Planning

In Heisinger v. Cleary, 150 A.3d 1136 (2016), the Supreme Court of Connecticut upheld the Co-Executors’ engagement of Management Professional Planning, Inc. ("MPI") to appraise the decedent’s stock in a closely held business.

Posted in Estate Planning

In the Matter of Frei Irrevocable Trust dated October 29, 1996, 390 P.3d 646, is a 2017 decision by the Supreme Court of Nevada holding that a beneficiary’s interest in a trust is subject to the claims of his creditors, notwithstanding a trust spendthrift clause, where the beneficiary had a full right of withdrawal with respect to his trust interest. 

Posted in Estate Planning

In response to a flood of IRS Private Letter Ruling requests to extend the time for making the gift and estate tax exemption portability election for the estate of the first spouse to die, the IRS has issued Revenue Procedure 2017-34 granting limited relief on a blanket basis.

Posted in Estate Planning

Kentuckian John G. Stoll was, among other things, a well-regarded philanthropist and the former owner of the Lexington Herald Newspaper. When he died in 1959, he left behind a significant fortune, and dozens of heirs. By 2013, approximately 55 years after Mr. Stoll’s death, the two trusts he settled for his heirs were valued at over $100 million, and had 151 beneficiaries.

Posted in Estate Planning

In a departure from their previously announced position, the IRS recently ruled that trusts which were decanted into new trusts on slightly different terms preserved their favorable grandfathered status against the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax (see IRS Private Letter Ruling 201711002).

Posted in Estate Planning

Earlier this year, the IRS issued Notice 2017-15 giving same-sex married couples some retroactive relief from the application of the gift, estate and generation-skipping taxes to transfers between the spouses. 

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