Last Week in Estate Planning (September 4 to September 10, 2011)

September 13, 2011
3331262255 39955fb9ba m1 Last Week in Estate Planning (September 4 to September 10, 2011)

Image by digitalrob70 via Flickr

So I just saw “Contagion”, the movie released last week about the effects of a global pandemic.  While it certainly had a “could this really happen” feel to it, it also produced skeptical “who is going to profit from scaring the public due to the depicted realism” thoughts as well.

For obvious reasons, I personally found it interesting how the film took plenty of shots at blogging (for example, Elliott Gould’s character spoke this one-liner spoiler:  “Blogging is not writing; it’s just graffiti with punctuation”).  There was a whole subplot centered around a blogger (played by Jude Law) that seemed incongruent with the rest of the movie, but that’s a topic for another time.

Instead, I again attempt to give you ten links to the very best in estate planning blogging and writing last week, and hope that you find the authors’ efforts the exact opposite of the “outbreak” of blogging that “Contagion” seemingly finds so offensive.

Top Posts and Articles of the Week

Post of the Week

Hidden Perils of Refinancing, Roger Billings, Esq., Placer Estate Planning Blog.

  • Most discussions on estate planning involve the need to do it as well as summaries of specific techniques to help you best plan your estate.
  • However, Mr. Billings instead discusses some difficulties experienced by one of his clients after her revocable trust was drafted.  Here, he discusses the scenario where a mortgage lender refuses to lend money to the revocable trust.
  • In contradiction to the warnings in “Contagion”, Mr. Billings does a great service for his readers of this post by sharing his war story and suggesting the best courses of action.
  • For your own situation, keep in mind that states have differing rules on this question — be sure to do your homework.

Honorable Mentions

Can Simon Cowell Really Have His Body Frozen After He Dies?, Danielle Mayoras, Esq. & Andrew Mayoras, Esq., The Probate Lawyer Blog:  Famous Fortune Fights!

  • I always enjoy how the Mayoras team is able to turn celebrity “fluff” pieces into intelligent and readable discourse.

Caution on Interest Free Demand Loans to Family Members, Patti Spencer, Esq., Pennsylvania Trusts and Estates Blog.

  • Lending money to your kids without requiring interest?  Ms. Spencer’s post discusses the gift and income tax implications of doing so.
  • Do not avoid educating yourself on these issues, as you may end up owing taxes due to your generosity. The IRS is really starting to crack down on this, including searches through recent real estate transactions of young buyers for their sources of funds.

Could a Lower Lifetime Gift Exclusion Mean Additional Estate Taxes?, Prof. Gerry Beyer, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog – citing Clawback of the Gift Tax, Marvin D. Hills, CPA/PFS, CLU, ChFC, The Tax Advisor,

  • The term “clawback” describes where the government takes back benefits it has granted under a previous law.  For example, if a tax credit is permitted for a certain item in 2011, but then the government later revokes the credit for 2011, a clawback has occurred.
  • Some commentators are concerned that a clawback will occur if the current $5 million gift tax exemption is reduced to $1 million in 2013, because any gift given in 2011 or 2012 will be subject to additional estate tax.  Mr. Hills’ article describes and illustrates this effect through several scenarios.   

Creating a Succession Plan for the Vacation Home, Prof. Gerry Beyer, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog – citing Create a Plan to Pass On the Family Cottage, Rachel Louise Ensign, The Wall Street Journal.

Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning is Dangerous, Jamie Held, Esq.,

  • Yes, I know I harp on this issue often in this blog.  Yes, the advice may have more impact if it came from a non-estate planning attorney.
  • However, despite such “ad hominem” thoughts, Ms. Held’s post does a nice job of addressing 10 issues to consider if you are thinking of going down the DIY route.

IRS Makes Bereaved Families Wait, Then Hurry Up, Hani Sarji, Esq., Estate of Confusion,

  • In most years, a decedent’s estate must file the IRS Form 706 (U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer)) Tax Return within 9 months of death.
  • Likely because the rules for estate taxes for persons who died in 2010 are quite unusual, the IRS did not release Form 706 for 2010 until last week.  Upon the form’s release, the IRS appeared to require that estates file it by next Monday, September 19th, or just 11 days after its publication.
  • Mr. Sarji’s post gives full details of the controversy and the options available for executors, including filing for an extension.

When a Power of Attorney isn’t Enough a Guardianship may be Needed, Deirdre Wheatley-Liss, Esq., New Jersey Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog.

  • Ms. Wheatley-Liss explains several situations where a guardianship may still be required, despite the presence of a power of attorney.  While the post has a New Jersey focus, the issue is certainly applicable in most states.

Professional / Scholarly

Capital Letter No. 29 by Ronald D. Aucutt – Carryover Basis, GST Tax, and Portability, Ronald D. Aucutt, Esq., The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

  • Mr. Aucutt’s “Capital Letter” series is excellent reading for those interested in important and recent estate tax developments.

Fed Up with the QTIP Trust? Tax Results of Terminating QTIP Trust, Robert J. Naberhaus III, Esq., Florida Trusts & Estates Blog.

  • Mr. Naberhaus uses several scenarios to summarize the current law regarding the gift and income tax impact of terminating a QTIP trust.

Please feel free to share any top estate planning posts or articles for the week of September 11 to September 17, 2011 in the Comments section.  Enjoy the week!

 Last Week in Estate Planning (September 4 to September 10, 2011)
 Last Week in Estate Planning (September 4 to September 10, 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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