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July Review: Taxes, Dementia, and Beer

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July revew

Yes, that’s August right around the corner. So here’s our July review of developments in elder law:

July Review of Planning & Taxes

The IRS is now allowing surviving spouses five years to elect “portability” instead of just two. Survivors can claim their deceased spouse’s unused estate tax exemption without fancy planning up to five years after the date of death. They just need to file a simplified estate tax return. The deadline is usually 9 months after date of death (but can be extended). To take advantage of more time, state at the top of the Form 706 that it is “filed pursuant to Rev. Proc. 2022-32 to elect portability under Sec. 2010(c)(5)(A).”

Speaking of widows and widowers, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney if you’ve recently lost a spouse. Especially if you have complicated assets or your family is fighting.

In other IRS news, proposed regulations have landed providing advice on estate deductions of expenses and claims.

Most estate planning is downstream — wealth moves down generations. But sometimes moving assets to older generations has a benefit. With upstream estate planning, you can exploit the tax basis adjustment rules while you are still alive. You just need to give someone who will die before you do power over the asset. (What is basis and why should I care, you ask? Here’s a primer.) For downstream planning, trusts can be used to avoid generation skipping tax.

IRAs & SECURE Still Developing

The SECURE Act is still a topic of much discussion. As more people inherit accounts under the new rules, professionals should be aware of the rules. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Our favorite IRA expert Natalie Choate weighs in on recent Secure Act regulations and their harsh effect on older beneficiaries. Her final thoughts: “Over 150 comments on the proposed regulations were submitted to the IRS by the May 25, 2022, deadline. Presumably, the IRS will make some adjustments to fix glitches noted in those comments, perhaps by including some changes to mitigate the harsh effects of its first edition.”

What happens when two people claim a decedent’s IRA proceeds? The financial institution holding the money can file an “interpleader.” They sit on the sidelines while the parties fight it out in court. Here’s an example with Schwab.

Aging & Care: Get Moving

A new study unpredictably finds that people 50-79 would prefer at-home care as they age. But a staggering 91% of respondents have not researched the care they might need. That may mean they don’t get what they wanted.

Another study unpredictably finds that normal aging leads to cognitive decline that can result in poor financial decisions. And dementia can make it worse.

In other dementia news, studies show that lifestyle changes (weight, exercise, smoking, blood pressure, hearing, and education) could prevent a lot of cases. In fact, lifestyle may be more important than age as a predictor of dementia. Says one researcher: “Start addressing any risk factors you have now, whether you’re 18 or 90, and you’ll support your brain health to help yourself age fearlessly.” Plus,  thyroid troubles and fatty livers may be associated with higher risk. And  ADHD drugs show promise as an Alzheimer’s treatment.

Law & Order

Can someone in prison receive an inheritance? Sure, but getting them them the money can be a challenge.

A woman died in jail, and her estate sued. The result: a $27 million judgment. Officials failed to provide adequate medical attention.

July Review of Celeb Estates

Aretha Franklin. Her estate finally settled with the IRS over $7.8 million in unpaid income taxes. Now administrators can get on with figuring out who stands to inherit. A trial over several different wills was delayed due to Covid.

Michael Jackson. In a strange development, his estate removed three songs from streaming services. Apparently, it’s unclear whether it’s Michael singing. There’s litigation accusing the estate of consumer deception that might be related. Regardless, the estate is not hurting for resources; it reportedly $2 billion since the King of Pop’s death.

Cliff Burton. The Metallica bassist’s estate is launching a special branded beer. Proceeds will go to a foundation benefitting young musicians. What’s the brew like? The brewer reports: “Cliff ‘Em All IPA is made in a classic NorCal style: hoppy, bold, and crushable. Capturing the best of a classic West Coast beer, and made with simcoe and citra hops, this IPA pairs well with all forms of incredible music.”

That’s it for the July review.

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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.