Powers of Attorney can be wonderfully flexible documents. They allow the principal to appoint an agent to do all the things that the principal could do. That seems pretty straightforward. However, it is significantly more complicated than it appears. State laws vary regarding how to interpret silence in a POA on various issues. For example, if the POA simply states that the agent has general authority to do anything that the principal could do, many states find that does not authorize gifting. … [Read more...] about Powers of Attorney and Their Pitfalls
How many times have your clients asked you that? As estate planning attorneys, we know that producing a comprehensive estate plan to meet the unique needs of the client is not as simple as pressing a button. It takes years of legal education and experience to identify and address potential issues. Now, one of the leading providers of interactive legal forms for the public, Legal Zoom, is being sued in a Missouri court for the unauthorized practice of law. The complaint includes reference to a … [Read more...] about Isn’t It Just Some Form?
Estate Planning and Elder Law attorneys often face ethical dilemmas. An all too real concern is: What do you do when your client tells you he or she is planning to commit suicide? Those over age 65 have a higher rate of suicide than any other age group. So, this question is more than an esoteric question for Estate Planning and Elder Law attorneys. Model Rule of Professional Conduct (MRCP)1.6(a) provides that a lawyer may not reveal client information, unless the disclosure is impliedly … [Read more...] about Client Suicide and Attorney Ethics
The are a host of questions swirling around the one-year repeal of the estate tax for 2010 and the scheduled year-end sunset of EGTRRA. We discussed these issues on last month’s Classroom Conference Call for Academy member attorneys and on the members’ list. On that call we discussed that formulas used for the past many years would result in the maximum share of the client’s assets being funded into the Family or Credit Shelter Trust. For the vast majority of clients, this would be consistent … [Read more...] about Some States Consider Overriding Estate Plans
The IRS released Notice 2010-19 clarifying new code section 2511(c). Remember, section 2511(c) became effective on Jan. 1, 2010 and will sunset with EGTRRA on Dec. 31, 2010. Section 2511(c) provides that a transfer in trust is a gift, unless it is made to a grantor trust. Some people had contended, by negative implication, transfers to grantor trusts were not gifts. The IRS has now made it clear: the normal gift tax rules were not repealed and still apply. Section 2511(c) just overrides … [Read more...] about A Gift is Still a Gift in 2010
The clock may be running out for two of the most widely-used advanced estate planning strategies: FLPs and GRATs. The Obama Administration recently announced its FY 2011 budget. As we know, this is important because it signals the direction the Administration intends to head with regulations or legislation. FLPs and GRATs are both under fire in the new budget proposal. Specifically, FLPs would be subject to new valuation rules to be promulgated under code section 2704. It appears these … [Read more...] about Administration Seeks New Rules for FLPs and GRATs