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Wins for Assisted Suicide and at Least One Taxpayer

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Assisted suicide

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.



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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.