Last Week in Estate Planning (July 10 to July 16, 2010)

July 20, 2011
3423469127 02fe855a62 m1 Last Week in Estate Planning (July 10 to July 16, 2010)

Image by Center for Jewish History, NYC via Flickr

When the best in online reading on estate planning involves traditional Jewish stews, baseball, and a lawsuit involving the inability of an apparently dead person to refinance her mortgage, you know it’s going to be a fun week.

Enjoy these posts and articles that I thought were the most interesting and helpful during the week of July 10 to July 16, 2011.

Top Posts and Articles of the Week

Post of the Week

“Proposed Updated 4th Amendment for the Information Age”, Stephan M. Asbel, Esq., Legal Cholent.

  • Mr. Asbel suggests that the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not adequately protect the modern individual’s privacy rights due to the advent of the internet and other similar technologies.  He proposes that the 4th Amendment be expanded to enable people to be secure in their data and information.
  • By the way, “Cholent” is a traditional Jewish stew.  It is includes ingredients that can be slow-cooked for over 12 hours (but the recipe long predates the slow-cooker), and enables families to share a warm meal during the Sabbath.  The concepts included by Mr. Asbel in his blog posts are similarly introduced and simmered over long periods of time.

Honorable Mentions

“Foreigners and the Gift Tax”, Beth D. Tractenberg and Kathryn von Matthiessen, Financial Advisor — cited by “Non-Citizens and the Gift Tax”, William Alan Nelson II, Wealth Strategies Journal 2.0.

  • A summary of the rules for non-U.S. citizens regarding how domicile is determined, which assets are subject to gift tax, and establishing non-domiciliary status.

“How to Cut State Death Taxes – Without Moving”, Hani Sarji, Estate of Confusion,

  • The recent repeal of the Ohio state estate tax (effective beginning in 2013) has triggered a lot of discussion of the effects of these taxes throughout all U.S. states.  With this in mind, Mr. Sarji summarizes the available methods of gifting large sums during one’s lifetime without “forum shopping” (i.e. choosing a state to live in on the basis of its tax laws).

“Rewards from the Grave:  Keeping Loyalty Program Benefits in the Family”, Prof. Gerry W. Beyer & Mikela Bryant, Estate Planning Developments for Texas Professionals.

  • Prof. Beyer and Ms. Bryant detail different programs regarding whether “points” or other benefits can be transferred to others after death.  The analysis includes Frequent Flier Programs, Credit and Bank Cards, and Loyalty Benefits.

Top Stories of the Week

State Developments

In Colorado:  “Colorado Adopts the Uniform Disclaimer of Property Interest Act”, Prof. Gerry W. Beyer, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog.

  • A beneficiary is not under an obligation to receive a gift given under a will.  The beneficiary may “disclaim” her rights to the property within a certain period of time after the death.
  • As part of the effort to standardize trust and probate law throughout every state, the Uniform CCJEA created the Uniform Disclaimer of Property Interests Act in 1999.  Colorado becomes the 17thstate to adopt some form of this Act.

In Iowa:  Basu:  “Eviction of elderly man by DHS leaves questions”, Rekha Basu, – cited by Estate of Denial.

  • A story about how the Iowa Department of Human Services is trying to evict 71-year-old Harold Sondrol from the home his mother willed to him since his deceased mother owed $670,000 to the IRS.
  • However, what is also fascinating about this story is the response to Ms. Basu’s article by Anne Salamon, Mr. Sondrol’s neighbor.  Which version of events is to be believed?  Do we assume the accuracy of the traditional media’s story or can Ms. Salamon be taken seriously as well in this social media era?

In New Jersey:  “Failure To Provide ‘Clear And Convincing Proof’ of Decedent’s Intent Mandates Denial Of Action To Reform Trust”, Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq., Vanarelli Law Office Blog.

  • Summarizes a recent case from the Superior Court of New Jersey that reflects how courts will respond to estate planning documents that are not frequently reviewed or updated.
  • Here, the decedent’s estate plan did not consider the current $5 million estate tax exemption or a pending divorce.

Federal Developments

“Taxpayer Advocate”, Mitchell A. Port, Esq., California Tax Attorney Blog.

  • Link to a report of the National Taxpayer Advocate presented to Congress several weeks ago, which includes concerns about certain IRS collection techniques.

“IRS Requests Comments Regarding Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust and Charitable Remainder Unitrust Safe Harbor For Surviving Spouses”, Brian Spring, Wealth Strategies Journal 2.0.

Entertainment and Human Interest

“Family Battles U.S. over 10 Coins Worth Millions”, John Schwartz, The New York Times – cited by Estate of Denial.

“Customer Sues After Bank Declares Her Dead”, Anika Anand, – cited in “JPMorgan Chase Declares a Living Customer as Dead”,  Gerry W. Beyer, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog.

“Will Derek Jeter’s 3000th Hit Result in Gift Taxes or Income Taxes?”, Julie Garber, Esq.,

  • A nice summary of the tax debate triggered by a Yankees fan returning Jeter’s home run ball to the team in exchange for season tickets and other amenities.


“Managing Digital Assets”, Gerry W. Beyer, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog – citing “Postmortem Life On-Line”, Prof. Naomi R. Cahn, George Washington University Law School, Prob. & Prop. 36 (Jul./Aug. 2011).

“’Gen Silent’:  Advocating for LGBT Elders”, Prof. Nancy J. Knauer, Temple University.

 Last Week in Estate Planning (July 10 to July 16, 2010)
 Last Week in Estate Planning (July 10 to July 16, 2010)


Scott R. Zucker, Esq. is the owner of The Zucker Law Firm PLLC, located just outside the Capital Beltway in Annandale, within five miles of the City of Fairfax, the county seat of beautiful Fairfax County, Virginia. The firm focuses mainly on estate planning services for Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania clientele, and seeks to do so in an affordable and approachable way. People interested in learning more can contact Scott by phone or email.

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