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Monsoon Season Review: Taxes, Planning, Dementia & Dead Celebs

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Monsoon season

As we’ve been enjoying a fabulously soggy monsoon season in Tucson, suddenly August is around the corner. That means it’s time to survey the elder law landscape and share various items of interest. We delayed the June review because Britney Spears’ legal struggles took center stage. So this monsoon season review spans the two months of elder law-related news nuggets.

Monsoon Season Taxes: Danger Ahead?

Joe Biden’s tax plans are continuing to cause anxiety among planners. One analysis stated that, if enacted as-is, his American Families Plan alone would be the largest tax increase in more than a century on the wealthiest Americans. The president’s “Green Book” explanation of proposals came out in late May, and analysis followed.

For estate planning, there would be major changes in transfer taxes. Currently, transfers by gift are not taxable, and for transfers at death, the there’s a “stepped up basis” to fair market value to date of death. Under the Green Book, transfers appreciated property during life and at death would be treated as realization events, and gain would be taxed if the asset were sold. There would be a $1 million lifetime exclusion indexed for inflation. Gifts or bequests to charity or spouses would not be recognized, and spouses get no basis adjustment. It’s all interesting to think about, but it’s hardly cause for worry. As one writer put it, the “crystal ball still lacks clarity because it’s just another set of proposals in a near evenly divided Congress.”

Another target: The donor advised fund (DAF), which critics say allows the wealthy to hang onto money rather than distributing it to charitable organizations. There’s now a push to force assets out more quickly.

Worried? There some strategies that can be employed, regardless of what the future holds, and if you are worried about employing a tax-avoidance strategy, consider tax insurance.

Planning Pointers

529 education plans are good for more the books and tuition. They also can facilitate transfer of wealth without the downsides that come with outright gifts.

One of the most important decisions in any plan is who will serve as Personal Representative (a/k/a “executor”) or agent under power of attorney. Clients often need a push to carefully consider what’s really happening in their families before deciding.

Inheriting IRAs has long been tricky territory. Here are mistakes spousal beneficiaries should try to avoid.

By the numbers:

And our favorite article of the monsoon season: Consider hiring an estate planning attorney.

Dementia Developments

Our own Pima County aims to be dementia-friendly community. What is that exactly? A community that “fosters quality of life for people living with dementia and their care partners by decreasing stigma, increasing opportunities for meaningful social interaction, and offering support in addressing the changing needs of people living with dementia.”

The FDA approved is the first new treatment for Alzheimer’s since 2003, the controversial Aduhelm. The drug has its pros and cons. One of the cons is its $56,000.00 yearly cost, and some say we may never know if it really works. Regardless, it generated $2 million in first few weeks, and now Medicare and insurance companies are struggling with deciding whether cover it.

Dementia progresses in stages, and this article explains each one.

Meanwhile, studies pointed to a slew of dementia risks: blood type, diabetes, tooth loss, and (oh no)  too much coffee.

Monsoon Season of Dead Celebs

James Brown: After almost 15 years of litigation, most of the disputed issues regarding the soul legend’s estate have been resolved. Although the details are secret, it appears some funds will go to education. A source close to the deal says it will “fulfill Mr. Brown’s noble estate plan to fund scholarships.”

Martin Luther King Jr.: The civil rights leader’s estate reached a new publishing deal with HarperCollins that aims for an impact world wide. The “manager of the estate” said: “Dr. King’s prophetic message of peace, hope, love and equality continue to impact the world today. That message is needed now more than ever. We look forward to utilizing HarperCollins’ global footprint to continue the perpetuation of Dr. King’s wonderful legacy through new creative literary projects.”

Robert Indiana: The artist’s estate is moving on after some nasty litigation, reaching a settlement with an art foundation to promote and preserve Indiana’s work.

Prince: Still exploiting their asset, the estate released “Born 2 Die,” a five-minute new single from album “Welcome 2 America,” due July 30.

And last but certainly not least, Britney Spears has spent the monsoon season making progress. She is slowly getting some rights back. She won the right to choose her own attorney, can drive again, and hopes to file to have her father removed. Various parties continue to argue about how to move forward. So far, apparently not taking the judge’s advice:  “Everybody should be working collaboratively. It’s not about anybody else, it’s about her.”

Something to Think About

The use of artificial intelligence to re-create Anthony Bourdain’s voice in a new documentary has the New York Times asking, “What Should Happen to Our Data When We Die?”  The story notes that currently, United States federal law does not recognize the dead’s right to privacy. But something called the Stored Communications Act protects disclosure of information without prior consent. “And obviously, if you’re dead, you can’t consent,” says a legal expert. Nevertheless, people are managing to piece together digital versions of the deceased, both famous and not. Asks philosopher Patrick Stokes: “If I do start interacting with these things, what does that say about my relationship to that person I loved? Am I actually doing the things that love requires by interacting with this new reanimation of them? Am I protecting the dead? Or am I exploiting them?”

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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.