This is an Advertisement

LAM-MERITAS-300x284By: Leah Morrison (Read bio; lmorrison@elpolaw.com; 270-781-6500)

One of the most frequent things I hear from potential clients is “I don’t have much, so I don’t need a will.” If you do not have substantial assets, then you may be wondering if this is true. Of course, the answer is unique to you and your family situation. In some cases, where someone qualifies as a small estate and is survived by a spouse or children, then a will is only necessary if you want to change where your assets go under the default law. But in cases where a full probate is required, unintended consequences may arise where Kentucky statutes dictate how your assets are divided and distributed, not your own wishes via a will.

One of the most common misconceptions about Kentucky law is how your property is distributed after your death. Many people assume that your surviving spouse will inherit everything. But while a logical assumption, it is simply not the case in Kentucky – or many states actually. Your surviving spouse is only entitled to half of your assets; the other half go to your heirs-at-law according to Kentucky’s intestate statutes. To determine your heirs-at-law, we follow your family tree – first your children, then grandchildren, then up to your parents, then siblings, and so on. In situations where your spouse is your children’s’ other parent, then not creating a will may not result in a terrible situation for them. Your surviving spouse and children will still split your estate legally, but they’re likely to do so amicably and in a way that won’t burden their surviving parent.

JBS-HEADSHOT-200x300

Joye Beth Spinks

By: Joye Beth Spinks (Read bio; 270-781-6500; jspinks@elpolaw.com

Plaintiffs and companies alike may be impacted by shifting jurisdictional boundaries based on a recent Supreme Court decision.

On March 25, 2021, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District (consolidated with Ford Motor Company v. Bandemer). There were two lawsuits at issue, involving automobile accidents in Minnesota and Montana. The first suit alleged that 1996 Ford Explorer malfunctioned, killing the plaintiff. In the second suit, the plaintiff claimed that he was injured in a collision involving a defective 1994 Crown Victoria. Ford moved to dismiss both suits for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that the state courts only had jurisdiction over Ford if the company’s conduct in the state had given rise to the Plaintiffs’ claims. The automobiles at issue were only located in the forum States because of resales and relocations by consumers. Neither Plaintiff could show that Ford designed, manufactured, or sold the automobiles at issue in Montana or Minnesota. The Supreme Court held that Ford could be sued in both Montana and Minnesota even though the Ford cars involved in the accidents were manufactured and originally sold in other states.

Continue Reading

By ELPO Law Partner Nathan VinsonNathan Vinson

The IRS announced on Wednesday that it will push back the tax return filing and payment deadlines for individuals to May 17 from April 15 partly due to the new $1.9 trillion relief law and its impacts on 2020 individual income taxes. We emphasize that this extended deadline is only for individuals, and not partnerships, corporations, or other filing entities. It also does not apply to paying estimated first quarter 2021 taxes, if you happen to fall in that category. Of course this is the case for now, but all could change in the next coming days. Regardless, the deadline for individuals will not revert to any date sooner than May 17.

What is relieving, and interesting for a tax professional, is that individuals can also delay paying taxes due on April 15 until May 17. Traditionally, extended deadlines apply to filing returns, but not paying taxes due. Penalties and interest will not start to accrue on unpaid balances until May 17.

By Leah Morrison            LAM-MERITAS-300x284

Powers of Attorney are a crucial estate planning document and are a critical step in planning for incapacity. A power of attorney allows a person you appoint the written authorization and power to act on your behalf in business, legal, financial, and medical matters. This is usually a trusted family member. If the right power of attorney is put in place, then once incapacitated, the agent (or person appointed under the power of attorney) can step in and take care of the principal’s legal and financial affairs. Without the right power of attorney – or any at all – the incapacitated individual’s family would need to go through the justice system to have a guardian or conservator appointed to represent them.

A power of attorney may be limited or general. A limited power of attorney may only give someone a specific right or two – perhaps the most common place you’ll see a limited power of attorney is in purchasing a car or real estate. Car dealers will often have you sign a limited power of attorney granting them the authority to complete the transaction at the local county clerk. Additionally, you might give someone the authority to sign a deed to property for you on a day that you will be out of town. A general power is comprehensive and usually grants your agent all the powers and rights that you have yourself. This can include allowing your agent to make bank transactions, sign checks, apply for disability, or simply pay your bills.

Nathan VinsonBelieve it or not, the end of 2020 is quickly approaching (insert collective sigh of relief). While I think most of us are ready to start looking forward to 2021 and would prefer to not even have to utter the words 2020 anymore, now is the time to finish off the year strong by reviewing simple, yet important, year-end tax planning and wealth transfer tips.

When most people think of tax planning and wealth transfer, they may have in mind complex estate planning documents and an overload of legal and accounting advice.  But that doesn’t have to be the case.  Here are three simple tips that you can implement with relative ease, though you will want to consult your tax advisor first.

1. The Annual Gift Tax Exclusion. The simplest tax planning and wealth transfer technique involves the all-too-familiar annual gift tax exclusion.  The annual gift tax exclusion is an amount that a person may give to another person without having to file a gift tax return or otherwise report to the IRS.  The current exclusion is $15,000 per person receiving the gift.  The exclusion is indexed for inflation, but it may only increase in $1,000 increments.  Further, married taxpayers may elect “gift-splitting,” which basically doubles the amount of the gift that they may make to one person using the gift tax exclusion; for each person receiving the gift, the limitation would be $30,000 rather than $15,000.  For example, if a married couple has two children and four grandchildren, they can give up to $30,000 to each of these people tax-free and without having to report it to the IRS.  Therefore, the married couple may transfer $180,000 total to the children and grandchildren.  Going further, if the children are also married, the taxpayers may give an additional $30,000 to each child’s spouse, which may be desirable if the child and the spouse hold a joint checking or investment account.  Note, however, that a gift tax return would need to be filed if the taxpayers elect gift-splitting.  The gifts are not taxable at all, but the IRS would like to know that the $30,000 was gifted via gift-splitting.

Nathan Vinson

Nathan Vinson

By Nathan Vinson

Right at two years to the date, Kentucky has again changed its power of attorney law by adopting parts of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act that it did not adopt as part of the changes that went into effect on July 14, 2018.  The new law went into effect on July 15, 2020, and applies to a power of attorney created before, on, or after July 15.  However, acts done before July 15, 2020 are not affected by the new law.

The biggest change created by the 2018 law was the requirement that the power of attorney be witnessed by two disinterested persons, though a power of attorney validly executed before that law went into effect remained valid.  The new law brings about three major changes – one of them being no more witnesses required!  Just two years after that requirement came into effect, it is again changed to take us back to prior law.  However, practitioners may decide it is best practice to continue to require two witnesses.  Further, some states require that the power of attorney have two witnesses, especially when used to transfer real estate.  On the flipside, the new law makes executing a power of attorney in urgent situations much easier.

Continue Reading

By Charles E. “Buzz” English, Jr.

BEE-MERITAS-150x150

Buzz English

Has this happened to you…

You sold the goods or provided the services.  The client or customer never questioned the bill or raised any quality issues.  You’re not making an abnormally large profit on this transaction… you just are just looking to get paid so that you can pay your bills. Normally, if a customer does not pay, you would consider pursuing legal action.

But, as we are all well aware, we are in the midst of a pandemic.  Unemployment is at the highest level of modern times.  The latest estimate is that as many as 30,000,000 people are unemployed.  Some businesses have been ordered to close down and others cannot operate because of public health issues.  We may be facing a depression.  But alas, a few businesses have received loans through the Small Business Administration while others may have received grants… which raises the question:  is a customer not paying because it does not have the money or because it is holding on to its cash?

What should you do?  How can you get paid?  How long will this last?  What are your options?

Continue Reading

LAM-MERITAS-150x150

Leah Morrison

By: Leah Morrison

Number One: Medicaid is not Medicare.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people 65 years of age and older and for people under 65 who are totally and permanently disabled. Medicare is not means tested.  Medicare provides limited coverage for nursing home stays- only up to 100 days, after meeting eligibility requirements.

Medicaid is also a federal program that provides insurance coverage, as well as in-home, assisted living, and nursing home benefits.  Medicaid is a means tested program, meaning the applicant must have income and resources below a certain threshold.  Medicaid eligibility depends on meeting both financial and non-financial requirements.

Continue Reading

By Brett Reynolds, Partner

Brett Reynolds

Brett Reynolds

In April 2018, The Trump Administration  signed an Executive Order entitled, “Buy American, Hire American”. The policy directs the Department of Homeland Security to issue H-1B visas to only the most-skilled foreigners or highest-paid beneficiaries.  While this is a laudable purpose, according to new data acquired by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), the USCIS has begun to increase H-1B visa denials and the number of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) issued to H-1B visa. As a result, employers have reported that the time lost due to the increase in denials and Requests for Evidence has cost millions of dollars in fees and delays, while often aiding competitors that operate exclusively outside the United States.  Since the Trump Administration has taken office, the RFEs for H-1Bs have skyrocketed:

Well here we are.  It has been well over a year since the United States Supreme Court’s decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.  As a refresher and not to make your eyes agonizingly glaze over with the down and dirty tax details, Wayfair essentially upheld South Dakota’s tax law that required remote retailers with no physical presence in the state to collect and remit South Dakota sales tax.  Prior to Wayfair, states could not require retailers without a physical presence in such states to collect and remit sales tax pursuant to the Supreme Court’s decision in Quill Corp v. North Dakota.

Nathan Vinson

Nathan Vinson

South Dakota’s remote retailer law sets a threshold requirement for its application.  A remote retailer must, on an annual basis, deliver more than $100,000 of goods or services into the state or engage in 200 or more separate transactions for the delivery of goods or services into the state.  The law therefore contains a so-called small retailer exception.

Contact Information