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Articles Tagged with law

By Sarah Jarboe, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley LLP

lead paintLast month, news outlets reported that HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines’ company would pay a $40,000 fine for violating the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (“RRP Rule”) on work sites. The fines are a result of an Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) review of the HGTV show, Fixer Upper, which showed workers on their renovation sites violating EPA regulations.

Magnolia Homes, the Gaines’ company, took immediate steps to rectify problems when first contacted by the EPA in 2015, the EPA said in a statement. Beyond the $40,000 fine, Magnolia Homes will spend $160,000 to abate lead paint in homes in Waco, Texas, where the couple and Magnolia Homes are based.

This large expenditure could have been avoided with good legal advice and sound work practices.

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Editor’s note: This is the second of two blog posts exploring probate: what it is, how it works and what Kentucky law has to say about this process. You can read the first in the series here.

By Leah Morrison, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Leah Morrison

Leah Morrison, attorney

Probate is one of those things that people universally dismiss as an unduly burdensome process. In fact, many clients tell me they need a will or estate plan so that they can avoid probate.

Outside of the small estate scenario that we explored in the first blog post, Kentucky law provides additional mechanisms for avoiding probate. Not everyone has a Will. Perhaps most often people do not want to write one because they don’t want to think about dying, or they plan to write one and simply put it off. Some purposefully choose intestacy. Even without any planning not all assets owned by the decedent are subject to the probate process. Probate assets include everything the decedent owned in his or her individual name.

These can include:

  • bank accounts;
  • brokerage accounts;
  • real estate held in the decedent’s individual name or in a tenancy in common;
  • vehicles;
  • furniture;
  • jewelry; and
  • an interest in a partnership, corporation, or limited liability company.

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By Rebecca Simpson, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Rebecca Simpson

Rebecca Simpson

Another school year has nearly come to a close, and kids are eager for the fun and freedom of summer.

For parents, however, balancing work, camps, childcare and vacation can prove complicated and stressful. These complications and stresses weigh particularly heavy upon parents who are separated or divorced. Coordinating schedules can create tension and conflict, making summer planning an enormous challenge.

While every family situation is unique, and no simple solutions exist to resolve all of the complications that can accompany raising children in separate homes, these “Six Rules of Summer” offer guidance regarding issues that commonly arise during summer co-parenting.

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By Leah Morrison, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Leah Morrison

Leah Morrison, attorney

One of the most frequent reasons clients tell me they want to create a will, trust, or other estate documents is to avoid probate. People have come to see probate as an unduly burdensome process that can cost a lot of money and time, but in Kentucky, it’s not as bad as you might fear.

Before we delve into it, let’s take a moment to review what probate is. Probate is the legal process by which the financial affairs of a deceased person are concluded. It is a court supervised process in which assets are accumulated and distributed in accordance with the decedent’s will or pursuant to the statutory plan of descent, and debts are gathered for payment. Although, in Kentucky, the supervision provided by the court is often times very minimal.

While Kentucky’s probate laws are sufficient to ensure the deceased person’s assets are properly managed and distributed to the appropriate person, the requirements of the probate process are minimal enough that most people navigate it smoothly without incident.

The one thing, though, to know is that probate does make your will public. Your will becomes a public document that is recorded in the court system, and is available to anyone who wishes to view it.

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By Heather Coleman Brooks
Attorney, English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Heather Coleman Brooks

Heather Coleman Brooks

Death and taxes. Both inevitable, both made easier when a plan is in place. You deal with your taxes annually, but how often do you consider whether you have made the proper plans for your estate?

If you do not have substantial assets, you may be wondering if it is really necessary for you to have a will. To decide if it is right for you, consider what happens if you fail to make a plan.

In Kentucky, if you die without a will, your assets will pass according to the laws of intestacy. The courts will divide your assets among your heirs according to the priorities directed by Kentucky statutes. Sometimes, this has unintended consequences.

 

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

will

Prince performing in concert in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Bob Young.

It’s been more than a year since music legend Prince died unexpectedly at his home in Minnesota. He was actively touring and working at the time of his death on April 21, 2016, at the young age of 57.

You’re forgiven if you assumed his estate was long settled, since he died more than a year ago. But it’s not done yet – and may not be for quite a while – due to the fact that he died without a will.

It’s astounding to think that someone who is as famous, prosperous and with as many assets as Prince would die without this basic legal document. But as it turns out, he’s no different than anyone else – he probably didn’t want to think about death.

Whether you die a famous millionaire or with few assets, if you don’t have a Will you can leave a large mess. Heirs you would have never wanted to have your property could get it. Your estate will spend more probating your assets as well, and those who you wished to receive items from your estate may never see them.

Prince was a very charitable man, yet none of his millions he had nor future royalties will benefit those he likely would have preferred to benefit. Plus, the estate will shell out much more than anyone would want to pay in estate taxes.

Your children and family will be far happier if you take care of this before you die – and there’s no doubt it will bring you piece of mind, too.

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TAX DAY IS APRIL 18 ELPO

By Nathan Vinson, Attorney

English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Tax Day is a day that we know you celebrate with great abandon. Right?

If you do in fact go all out for Tax Day, this year, you’ll need to move your Tax Day celebrations to April 18. Traditionally, Tax Day is April 15. In some circumstances, it is moved back a few days to accommodate a holiday. This year, Tax Day is April 18 because of Emancipation Day, which is a holiday in Washington, D.C. that marks the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the nation’s capital.  It is celebrated annually on April 16.  Because that date falls on a Saturday, Emancipation Day will be officially celebrated on April 15 this year, shutting down city offices.

Tax Day is also moved when April 15 falls on a Saturday or Sunday. It is then moved to the following Monday.

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

Goodwill receiptAlmost everyone makes charitable donations of some kind, and many of us expect to deduct the value of those donations from our income when our taxes are being prepared. While it’s not a primary motivator for most who give to charity, it certainly helps spur some giving and motivates some to meet charitable obligations prior to the end of the calendar year.

Here are a few tax rules to keep in mind when making charitable donations of property (i.e. noncash donations), as federal tax law and regulations require certain documentation of gifts depending on the value of the gifts.  In tax parlance, these rules are called “substantiation” requirements.

For gifts under $250, minimal documentation is required to claim a tax deduction. While it is generally required that the taxpayer obtain a receipt from the charitable organization, the taxpayer is excused from doing so if getting a receipt is “impractical.”

An example that the tax regulations use is dropping off property (i.e. clothing) at a charity’s unattended drop site (i.e. a Goodwill drop box after store hours).  In that instance, taxpayers are required to retain in their own records (but not submit to the IRS) documentation containing:

  • the name and address of the charity;
  • the date and location of the donation;
  • a description of the property, including its value;
  • the fair market value of the property contributed and the method used to determine the fair market value; and
  • possibly other documentation.

As you can see, it may just be simpler to get the receipt!

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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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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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