Probate is the legal process that takes place after a person passes away.  It typically involves submitting a valid will to the surrogacy court in New York state, taking inventory of the deceased’s estate’s assets, paying off the estate’s liabilities and distributing the estate assets to the beneficiaries designated in the will. What assets go through probate though are not always what the deceased or the future beneficiaries expect. Only certain assets are considered probate assets and pass ownership through New York probate proceedings.

Probate Assets

Probate assets are those who are owned individually by the decedent or person who has passed away. These assets are a part of the decedent’s estate because they have not been disposed of through other testamentary instruments like a trust or been passed on through a survivorship right or named beneficiary designation. Typical examples of a probate asset is all the property left in a person’s residence, the residence itself, bank accounts and cars.

A Recent Private Letter Ruling By The IRS Concluded That A Modification To A Faulty Fiduciary Provision Did Not Result In A Loss Of The Trust’s Grandfathered Generation Skipping Transfer Exempt Status

The taxpayer who submitted the modifications to the inter vivos trust for an IRS private letter ruling found himself bound a set of unfortunate circumstances. Due to the requirements of the successor trustee and appointment provisions and distribution requirements under the terms of trust, future trustees could not be appointed and distributions could not be made to the beneficiaries of the trust. Essentially the terms of the trust had frustrated the purpose of the trust. The beneficiaries were not benefiting from the corpus of the trust and the future of the trust was at risk.

Satisfying Treasury Regulations

The Inheritance Left To University of New Hampshire By A Long Time Library Employee Was Spent In A Way That Raised A Few Eyebrows

Longtime University of New Hampshire library cataloguer died last year at the age 77. As his final wish to the world he left the entirety of his estate to the university where he graduated from and worked for most of his life. What shocked many though is the size of the humble librarian’s estate: four million dollars accumulated over a lifetime working for the university and living frugally.

But while many at the University of New Hampshire are thankful for the gift, the way the administration has decided to spend it has many asking if the university is honoring the librarian’s memory. One million dollars is being used to install a new video scoreboard at a new University of New Hampshire football stadium. Many students, alumni and community members wonder if this is the best way to use the funds considering the librarian’s occupation and passion for literature.  

New Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service Final Regulations Now Reflect Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges and Windsor v. United States Rulings

On September 2nd, the final regulations that reflect the holdings of the Supreme Court rulings that upheld same-sex marriage laws around the country as well as Revenue Ruling 2013-173 were released to the public. The new terms in the regulations reflect the new descriptions of marital status of taxpayers for federal tax purposes.

A Brief History Lesson

One of the more unique present day aspects of estate planning comes from the very mobile and connected nature that many people who need estate planning have. Many people will not just move across countries for their jobs but across borders. Globalization has brought the world closer together but added another layer of complexity for when it comes to protecting and planning for assets. A citizen of the United States needs to know what law governs taxation and their estate for their income, assets and holdings both in the United States and abroad.

Taxation Is Everywhere

Despite what many may believe, U.S. citizens and resident aliens are subject to U.S. income and estate tax on their worldwide assets. It does not matter what country those assets might be in, the income and assets must be reported. In fact, U.S. Citizens working overseas and foreign citizens considered residents of the United States must file reports with the IRS if the total value of their foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the year. U.S. citizens who are officers or directors in a foreign corporation who own more than 10 percent of the foreign corporation must also report ownership.

2016 will undoubtedly go down as an infamous year of celebrity deaths and the unfortunate passing of celebrities continue. The world lost one of its funniest men this past August: Gene Wilder, star of Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein and The Producers. He continued to be active later in his life, penning short stories and novellas while contributing to his charity work. Mr. Wilder passed at age 83 from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Past Spouses Must Be Accounted For

While details of Mr. Wilder’s estate remain sparse at the moment, there are no rumblings or rumors of will contests or estate disputes despite the estimated value of Mr. Wilder’s $20,000,000 estate. This is impressive, especially considering that Mr. Wilder was married four times during his lifetime. Having previous divorces can bring numerous complications to estate planning as we have covered before. Considerations for past divorce decrees as well as keeping up to date estate planning documents must be made to prevent a legal mess after a person’s passing.

More and more Americans are getting married multiple times. As multiple marriages become more common, proper estate planning becomes more important. Tools such as prenuptial agreements can create an additional level of protection for you and your loved ones.

Protecting Family Heirlooms: Dave & Mary

Prenuptial agreements can be especially helpful if you or your spouse have children from prior marriages. Many people who remarry would like all or part of their estate to go to their children. Heirlooms or even family homes are often passed on the children. However, without proper estate planning these wishes could be ignored.

The first time you meet with your estate planning attorney can be stressful and emotional. Many people go into the meeting not knowing what to expect. In order to make your first meeting as painless and hassle free as possible, here are a few things to consider ahead of time

Think About Your Wishes Beforehand

Come to the meeting prepared. During this meeting, you will be making decisions that will affect your future and your family for generations to come. Estate planning decisions should not be made lightly. The size of your estate and the unique makeup of your family can determine aspects of your plan. Consider your specific needs.

The first presidential debate of 2016 was the most watched debate in United States’ history. The two candidates hold very different positions from each other and no more so than on the topic of the federal estate tax. The federal estate tax has a very checkered history in American politics, often serving as a talking point between the two biggest parties in Congress to emphasize how different each party is from the other and what purpose the federal estate tax should serve. No matter which candidate wins the office of the president, the federal estate tax is likely to change in the future.

Up and Down and Sometimes Not At All

Of course if any changes are made to the federal estate tax, it will be in line with its history. The only constant of the federal estate tax is that it is constantly changing. The federal estate tax was an early part of our nation’s history, but was repealed and implemented again over the decades. It was not until 1916 that the modern federal estate tax takes root and has been with us ever since.

Your estate plan exists to make sure that your wishes are known and fulfilled. In particular, you have a will to make sure that your family is provided for and that your assets go to the people you want to care for and believe are deserving. However, failure to keep your will up to date or not managing your assets while keeping your will in mind can cause major problems with ademption.

Ademption and Your Will

Ademption occurs when the property that the Will leaves to someone is not present in the Testator’s estate when the Testator dies. Ademption only applies to specific bequests which are particular pieces of personal or real property.

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