Last Week in Estate Planning (September 18 to September 24, 2011)

September 27, 2011
22281812 96106bb70b m7 Last Week in Estate Planning (September 18 to September 24, 2011)

Image by Everyspoon via Flickr

This past week, there were several posts and articles that provided helpful information in terms of estate administration and the nuts and bolts regarding the transfer of decedent’s property to their rightful heirs.

Top Posts and Articles of the Week

Post of the Week

Estate Auctions Aren’t Just for the Rich and Famous, Julie Garber, Esq., Wills & Estate Planning.

  • I’ve mentioned several times before how I am a big fan of Ms. Garber’s blog.  She has the gift of condensing complex topics into concise, readable and relevant posts, and she does this just about every day.
  • Here, she describes the function of estate auctions and shows how useful they can be during an estate administration, especially where valuations are needed for various obscure items. 
  • This post is a public service, as it provides the reader with a practical alternative to consider when the time comes.

Honorable Mentions

“Complexity” Defined – Estate Planning For Retirement Accounts, Kyle Krull, Esq., Kansas & Missouri Estate Planning – citing Family Feuds: The Battle Over Retirement Accounts, Carolyn T. Geer, The Wall Street Journal.

  • Mr. Krull highlights the most important points from Ms. Geer’s recent article on the “complex labyrinth of rules” surrounding retirement plans.
  • Mr. Krull strongly emphasizes the importance of understanding the difference between the rules for 401(k) and IRA accounts when working on your estate plan.

Dog Eats Inheritance Checks Worth $49,000, Prof. Gerry Beyer, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog.

  • Before I went on a business trip this past January, my black lab chewed up $11. 
  • Perhaps we need to start taking this increasing canine threat against our deposit moneys and currency more seriously.

Tips For Executors, Prof. Gerry Beyer, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog – citing Estate Executors:  An Honor … and a Pain, Arden Dale, The Wall Street Journal.

  • The good professor and Mr. Dale warn about the significant duties that are placed on one’s executor. 
  • Before naming an executor, be sure that your selected individual is up to the task.

Tony Curtis’ Kids Say He Was the Victim of Undue Influence, Andrew Mayoras & Danielle Mayoras, Esq., The Probate Lawyer Blog:  Famous Fortune Fights!

When Should You Make Your $5 Million Gift?, Bryan Howard, Esq., Tennessee Estate Planning Law Blog.

  • The temporary nature of the federal gift tax exemption, President Obama’s efforts to reduce the exemption to 2009 levels, and state gift tax law should all be considerations for people intending to give significant gifts in the near future.
  • The post also references the recent estimate that the federal gift tax exemption will increase to $5.12 million for 2012 for inflation. 

With Proper Planning, Estate Conflicts Can Be Eliminated, Holly Herman, Reading Eagle – cited by Heirs-do-well (PA), Estate of Denial.

  • Ms. Herman’s article examines estate planning and administration in a small town, mainly through the perspective of the Register of Wills of Berks County, PA.
  • It is interesting, and not surprising, how the advice given by those interviewed in this story is quite consistent with recommendations by estate attorneys nationwide.

Professional / Scholarly

Assessing Elderly Clients’ Capacity, Samantha Weissbluth, Esq., and Simon Johnson, Esq., Trusts & Estates.

Ninth Circuit Upholds Wealth Transfer Strategy, Prof. Gerry Beyer, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog – citing IRS Loses a Gift-Tax Battle, Laura Saunders, The Wall Street Journal.

  • Discussion of Estate of Petter vs. Commissioner: 
    • The decedent placed millions of dollars of stock into an LLC during her lifetime.  She later gave and sold shares of the LLC to her children and to two local charitable foundations in hopes of reducing the value of the shares in her own estate.
    • The IRS later claimed that the decedent owed additional gift taxes because the decedent claimed too much of a discount on her LLC shares.
    • However, the LLC also included a “formula clause”, which essentially directed that if the gift of the LLC shares to the children resulted a gift tax, enough shares be transferred to the charities to eliminate any gift tax liability.
    • The Ninth Circuit sided against the IRS.  However, nothing prevents the IRS from changing its regulations to invalidate the strategy.

Overview of Estate and Gift Tax Audits, Jennifer A. Pratt, Maryland Bar Bulletin – cited in Tax and Estate Gift Audits, William Allen Nelson II, Wealth Strategies Journal 2.0.

  • Mr. Nelson briefly summarizes Ms. Pratt’s description of the IRS’ audit procedures, and also lists several potential new audit triggers.

Please feel free to nominate any top estate planning posts or articles for the week of September 25 to October 1, 2011 in the Comments section below.  Have a great week!

 Last Week in Estate Planning (September 18 to September 24, 2011)
 Last Week in Estate Planning (September 18 to September 24, 2011)


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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