Here’s our round up of the past month’s developments in estate planning and elder law. We touch on elder law issues from assisted suicide to income taxation of trusts and beyond. See an item that might be of interest? Let us know what you think.
Another State OKs Assisted Suicide
Maine became the latest state to legalize assisted suicide, and the second to do so this year, following New Jersey. Like other similar laws, the circumstances under which the right can be exercised are very narrow. Among other qualifications, a person must 1) be terminally ill, 2) have less than six months to live 3) request lethal medication three times – twice verbally and once in writing, and 4) have the physical capability to take the medication him or herself. The other states with statutes: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia. In addition, it’s legal in Montana and California by court ruling.
Higher Taxes Up for Debate
As Democrats duke it out to see who will get the presidential nomination, some of them have floated plans to adjust taxes to deal with income inequality. Elizabeth Warren wants to tax overall wealth, others want to increase the estate tax. Here’s a roundup of proposals and the problems they might face.
Supremes Weigh in on Trust Income Tax
The U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t take up estate planning matters very often. But this month it did, in an even rarer (these days) unanimous 9-0 decision. The court sided with the taxpayer in North Carolina Department of Revenue v. The Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust. The state attempted to tax trust income to a North Carolina trust beneficiary, but the trust had no other North Carolina ties, the beneficiary received no distribution, had no right to demand a distribution, and had no certainty of ever receiving a distribution. The court said the state had insufficient contacts to impose the tax. The ruling is very narrow, meaning of any one of those factors were different, the result also might be different. Fodder for future cases.
What Is a Trustee Supposed to Do?
Fleming & Curti serves as trustee, and we also represent family members and others who serve as trustee and estate planning clients who grapple with naming a trustee in their trusts. We are often on the lookout for resources that can help clients consider whether to accept the job (always optional) or who to nominate. This article is geared toward accountants, but it’s a pretty thorough and fairly accurate general primer.
Elders Are at Risk, Reporting System Isn’t Working
The U.S. Office of the Inspector General shared a report this month reflecting that incidents of suspected abuse and neglect among Medicare patients are seriously underreported. Finding a solution is surprisingly complicated (most of the OIG’s recommendations were shot down), due to the complex reporting rules, timing of Medicare claims, and competing government interests. Don’t rely the government to protect your loved ones.
A Decade Without King of Pop
It has been 10 years since Michael Jackson’s death. One of his attorneys shares what it has been like to help administer the estate, which continues to be the most lucrative estate of deceased celebrities, grossing more than $1.3 billion through the end of 2016.