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Articles Tagged with estates

By Elizabeth McKinney, Attorney and Partner
English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP

Estate planning often involves thinking about things you’d rather not, and perhaps the most unpleasant of tasks is to consider who you’d appoint as guardians for your minor or special needs children in the event of your death.

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Elizabeth McKinney

Attorney Beth McKinney at ELPO’s offices in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Local attorney Elizabeth McKinney joined our firm on September 1 as a partner and attorney. She will work primarily in the areas of estate, probate, wills and taxation. We’re thrilled to have her on our team.

Beth has been an attorney for 20 years. She is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant, working as an accountant prior to her career in law.

Besides estate planning, wills, probate and taxation, Beth will work with business clients, such as corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships on a variety of business and corporate issues. She has advised numerous new business owners with respect to the choice of the entity formed for new businesses. In addition, she has represented business owners in the transition and continuation of closely held businesses in the preparation of asset purchase agreements, buy-sell agreements, shareholder or stock restriction agreements and other business succession planning matters.

Before coming to ELPO, Beth had her own solo law practice, but decided she wanted to come back to a law firm environment. “There are very experienced staff here and terrific attorneys,” Beth says. “This is where I want to spend the rest of my career.”

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marital status estateBy Nathan Vinson, Attorney

English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP

Facebook has a neat little box that you can check to indicate your relationship status. There are some options that are clear cut – or at least seem to be: married, divorced, single. There’s another option that’s becoming more popular as of late called “it’s complicated.” It’s a handy box to check when life is messy.

Unfortunately, though, there’s no “it’s complicated” box to check in legal documents. In the eyes of the law, you’re either single, legally separated or married. There’s no in-between for marital status.

The lives of Luther and Shirley Mills definitely fell under the “it’s complicated” category, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals recently ruled on whether or not the couple was legally married at the time of Luther’s death. At stake was Luther’s estate.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney 
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

just married photoAs early as 2000, states began grappling with the issue of same sex marriage. Some states allowed unions. Some allowed marriage. Some didn’t allow either. Now, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, all states must allow and recognize same sex marriages. So moving forward, what happens at tax time if you’re married in one state but live in a state that previously didn’t recognize same sex marriages?

The American Bar Association offered an online Continuing Legal Education seminar by attorneys Patricia Cain and George Karibjanian recently to help tax attorneys sort through some of the more difficult legal issues surrounding same sex marriage.

It’s been a mess, frankly, for same sex couples.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

oopsIn fundraising and higher education circles, the imminent closure of Sweet Briar College in rural Central Virginia has been much-discussed. This small, women-only college has existed for nearly a century and has educated generations of women. But enrollment has declined and school’s board of trustees announced that this year’s graduating class in May will be its last.

One alumnae, Teresa Tomlinson, the mayor of Columbus, Georgia, noted that she had told college officials she was going to leave $1 million to Sweet Briar in her estate, and they greeted her news graciously and pleasantly, full of thank you’s and personal notes — and then announced two weeks later the school was closing. The mayor said she was baffled why school officials didn’t disclose this to her when she told them about the gift.

Even if the school changes course again and decides to remain open, those who were going to leave money to the college are probably going to be reluctant to do so again. But what would happen if Sweet Briar College was to receive a gift but then the college closed and the will could not be changed?

This happens from time to time with colleges, non-profits and other organizations that are likely to receive bequests from alumni and supporters. The foundation you wanted to support could have merged, changed its goals, re-branded as something else entirely or simply shut its doors. Then what?

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documents photoIn our last post, we discussed how divorce affects an estate plan. A thorough review of all estate documents is critical post-divorce to ensure you’ve covered every conceivable scenario and changed every document necessary. Allowing an attorney to do that review for you is always in your best interest, as attorneys have a keen eye for details and wording that may escape even a close reader who does not have legal training.

Taking this matter one step backwards, though, we’re examining annulment versus divorce in this post. While both lead to the same conclusion – you’re no longer married – these two scenarios have very different consequences when it comes time to pay taxes.

Both parties may file as married at tax time if they were still legally married at the end of the calendar year. Options include filing a joint tax return, as many married couples do, or checking the married but filing separately box.

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Broken Heart by Prawny on MorgueFileHardly anyone goes through the process of putting together a comprehensive estate plan with the intentions of getting divorced from their current spouse thereafter. It is, however, a fact of life that becomes reality for a large portion of society. Divorce can affect more than just a person’s emotions and wallet. Here is a brief overview of the effect of divorce on your estate plan.

The Will

In Kentucky, a divorce or annulled marriage “revokes any disposition or appointment of property made by the will to the former spouse, any provision conferring a general or special power of appointment on the former spouse, and any nomination of the former spouse as executor, trustee, conservator or guardian, unless the will expressly provides otherwise.”  KRS 394.092.  The statute goes on to provide that property that would have passed to the former spouse by will now passes as if the former spouse predeceased the decedent.  Put simply, Kentucky law basically “removes” the former spouse from your will, unless you expressly provide otherwise.

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housesMany elderly clients feel the need (and rightfully so) to plan for the protection of their home from creditors, including government interests, during their elder years and after their death. It is too often forgotten the planning tools available that provide benefits now rather than later. In line with our recent posts regarding tax issues and real estate (see Life estates and Kentucky inheritance in estate planning), we would like to share some little known potential federal tax savings for the elderly community. Here are two illustrations of what you can do now to protect what’s likely your biggest asset: your home.

Having a child live with you

The United States Tax Court recently decided a case where a son moved into his mother’s home to take care of her after her divorce from the son’s father. The son could not afford to purchase an interest in the home, but he orally agreed to make the monthly mortgage payments, and in exchange, his equity interest in the home would gradually increase (presumably by the amount of principal on the mortgage that the son paid down). The son filed his IRS Form 1040, claiming a mortgage interest deduction for the tax year that he first began living in the home and caring for his mother. The IRS denied the deduction and imposed a substantial penalty. The Tax Court held that the son’s deduction was proper, and thus generally held that interest paid on another’s mortgage can be deducted. The Court explained that even though the son was not liable on the home loan secured by the mortgage, and that the ”indebtedness generally must be an obligation of the taxpayer and not an obligation of another,” the son could claim a deduction for the mortgage interest he paid because he was an equitable owner of the home (Phan v. Commissioner, Tax Court Summ. Op. 2015-1).This case represents a unique planning tool for the elderly community.  A person may planto pass down his or her home to a child or children at death, but would like to remain in the home. However, the person may also have trouble paying the mortgage on the home. A child or children may move into the home, agree to pay the monthly mortgage in exchange for equity in the home, and properly claim a mortgage interest deduction for federal tax purposes.

Elvis items

Many people collect all kinds of things, and these collections come to hold tremendous sentimental and in some cases monetary value. As people age, they begin to think about who they would like to have certain items or entire collections, and sometimes, bold relatives or friends suggest they’d like to receive something special to remember you by. Gifts and promises of gifts are also made to honor a special relationship.

These type of collections can cause significant arguments after you are deceased. The best way to avoid such disputes is to clearly specify in writing exactly who is to receive what items. Verbally telling a relative or friend what you would like for them to have upon their death, and giving away significant items while you’re still living, causes confusion and prompts some to get greedy.

It’s the last thing anybody wants after they’re gone.

 

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