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The Kentucky Court of Appeals recently ruled that Kentucky does not recognize the cause of action known as tortious interference with inheritance or gift.  This ruling confirms a previous line of several unpublished opinions which previously ruled that Kentucky does not recognize such a tort.  In this case, the daughter of the settlor of a trust argued that her mother had intentionally interfered with the daughter’s inheritance from her late father’s trust, by placing a bequest to the daughter in the mother’s own estate plan to cover any shortfall in a large specific bequest made to the daughter in the father’s trust.

A recent published decision from the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled on several issues in a long-running dispute between the corporate Trustee of a Trust and a minority of the Trust beneficiaries. The opinion noted that the beneficiaries had filed no less than four (4) lawsuits in Federal and Kentucky Courts since the dispute originally arose in 1998.  In this case, the minority beneficiaries lost again. However, the lower court’s award of approximately $2.7 million dollars in attorney fees and costs to the Trustee was set aside pending further review by the trial court of the legal bills incurred by the Trustee. 

In February, the IRS issued both final and additional proposed regulations detailing how estates, trusts and their beneficiaries can qualify for the 20% income tax deduction for qualified business income received from partnerships, S corporations and proprietorships under Section 199A of the Internal Revenue Code. 

In an unpublished Opinion rendered in late 2018 by the Court of Appeals of Minnesota, the Court rejected in their entirety the claims asserted by a grandchild of the Settlors of a 2007 Irrevocable Trust.  The grandchild, a minor acting through his father with no legal counsel, asserted a variety of strong claims against the Trustee of the Trust, a prominent bank.  The dispute arose after the Settlors made a decision to cease funding the Trust further after doing so for nine (9) years. 

Posted in Estate Planning

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted in 2017 increased the federal estate and gift tax exemption to $11.18 million per person, effective for the period of 2018 through the end of 2025.  This same law provides that, starting in 2026, the gift and estate tax exemption will decrease to $5 million per person, plus inflation adjustments. 

Posted in Estate Planning

You might have heard before that the sins of the father shall be visited upon the sons.  This was certainly the case in a decision recently handed down by the Wyoming Supreme Court.  

In E.G.W. v. First Federal Savings Bank of Wyoming, 413 P.3d 106 (3/15/18), the Court upheld and enforced a “no-contest” clause in a grandfather’s Revocable Trust, which resulted in two minor grandchildren forfeiting their shares of the Trust due to their father filing a trust contest.   

Posted in Estate Planning

A recent Rhode Island case illustrates the need to carefully exercise any power of appointment retained by a grantor over a trust.  Jaffe v. Pournaras, 178 A.3d 978 (2/23/18).

In this case, the Grantor had created an irrevocable trust in 2003, naming his son as the Trustee.  Under the terms of the Trust, the Grantor retained a power to appoint its assets to or for the benefit of his descendants, in any shares and amounts he would direct. 

Posted in Estate Planning

The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) allows each individual to exempt $11,180,000 from federal estate tax in 2018 ($11,400,000 in 2019). A married couple would need over $22,000,000 in assets before their estate would be subject to federal estate tax. With less individuals owing federal estate tax, you may wonder, “Do I need an estate plan if my estate will not be taxed?” The answer is yes, you do need an estate plan because your estate plan is much more than a tool to reduce federal estate taxes. Regardless of the size of your estate, below are five reasons why you need an estate plan.

Posted in Estate Planning

Use of a Pay on Death (“POD”) beneficiary designation is often touted as a way to simplify transfers of assets at your death.  If a bank account or CD is put in the name of “Father POD Son,” then the asset will transfer automatically to Son at the death of Father.

Posted in Estate Planning

In a recent Florida Appeals decision, Landau v. Landau, a trustee who failed to file proper and complete trust accountings for two years, and to file trust income tax returns for the same two years, was hit with a freeze of the trust assets by the Court. Because the trustee was also the lifetime income beneficiary of the trust, this freeze effectually prevented the trustee from using the trust for his own support.

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