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April Review: Politics, Dead Celebs, and Dogs

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April Review

At the end of each month, we like to survey the elder law landscape and share items we found interesting or newsworthy. The April review is heavy on politics and dead celebrities, but there’s a literal pet project, too:

April Review: Politics

  • Infrastructure: We learned this month that “infrastructure” can mean long-term care. Yes, President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes $400 billion, tossed in with repairing roads, rebuilding the drinking water system, and building high-speed internet. The plan calls for raising wages and benefits for home-care workers and expanding access to long-term care at home under Medicaid. Reaction has been somewhat positive. Most acknowledge that the care economy needs reform and that Americans generally wish to grow old at home. But the challenges are significant. Some worry that the effort will siphon dollars from facilities, which will be left even less equipped to care for the seriously ill.
  • Taxes: Biden’s expected tax plans also continue to create a stir. If you are just now starting to pay attention, here’s a primer on the two big potential changes – lowering the exemption and trimming the basis step-up — that could be coming to “death taxes.” And there could be more; this piece discusses those options plus boosts in income and capital gains tax, and stepped-up enforcement. Notable quote: “At this point, taxes are not getting any lower. They are only going to go up from here. The question is how?” One strategy that seems to have fallen by the wayside: the wealth tax. Here’s why.

Closer to Home

  • Aid in Dying: Our neighbor to the east became the 11th state to legalize medical-assisted suicide. The New Mexico law takes effect June 18. New Mexico residents with six months or less to live would be able to request lethal medication. They will need to pass a mental competency screening, wait 48 hours, and take the lethal prescription themselves. Other jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal: California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Montana (by court ruling, not statute).
  • In Arizona: Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 1390, which tweaks the law regarding the appointment of  guardians ad litem (a/k/a GALs) under Title 14, Trusts, Estates, and Protective Proceedings.

Planning Pointers

  • If and when the estate tax exemption gets slashed,  trusts can be an important tax-avoidance tool.
  • If the word “irrevocable” makes you squeamish, this Kiplinger piece might help.
  • April 16 was National Health Care Decisions Day. If you haven’t made your health-care preferences clear, celebrate NHDD and do it. Your estate planning attorney can help, and here are some Arizona resources.

April Review: Celeb Estates

  • Kobe Bryant: His estate has parted ways with Nike, and widow Vanessa may have other big plans.
  • Prince: A ‘lost’ album, “Welcome 2 America,” is set to be released in July.
  • Prince Philip: The estate of the late British monarch is expected to pass to Queen Elizabeth tax-free.
  • Larry King: As expected, the broadcasters widow, Shawn, filed to become executor of his estate.
  • Robert Indiana: The artist’s estate paid $8.43 million in legal fees. Now the Attorney General of Maine (looking out for the charity beneficiary) wants $3.7 million returned.

Aging in America

Researchers at seven universities are stepping up the effort to unravel the mysteries of aging – in dogs. Especially in demand: Large breeds (between 70-100 pounds); giant breeds (more than 100 pounds); hound dogs; bulldogs; pit bulls (purebred and mixed); and working dogs, such as herding, K9 and service dogs. Sign up.

That’s it for the April review. Wonder what was going on this time last year? Check out the April 2020 roundup, it’s almost Covid-free.


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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.