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Articles Tagged with law

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


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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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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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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Morguefile photo by Ricorocks

Having a child can be exciting (and stressful).  Probably the last thing you might think to do when having a child is to update an estate plan, but it’s absolutely necessary.  Here are 6 things to consider when you have a child.

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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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