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By: ELPO Law Attorney Leah Morrison (lmorrison@elpolaw.com; 270-781-6500; Read bio) LAM-MERITAS-300x284

The end of the year is just around the corner! That means most of us are focused on spending the holiday season with friends and family and looking forward to what the New Year may hold.

If you’re planning on celebrating the holiday season with friends and family, you may notice some changes. Your parents might seem older and more fragile. Maybe there are new spouses, in-laws, children, or grandchildren. And, sadly, some beloved family members may not be with you anymore. These changes can be a reminder that your estate plan should also change to keep up with your life and family. While the topic of estate planning may not typically at the top of our list of talking points during this time, the holidays are actually a great time to start the conversation with your family.

By Nathan Vinson, ELPO Law Partner (Read bio; nvinson@elpolaw.com; 270-781-6500)

Nathan Vinson

Nathan Vinson

Here at ELPO Law, we have been asked by many clients throughout the years to advise on and implement changing a company’s state of organization from out of state to Kentucky.  Historically, the procedure appeared to be fairly uniform across the states, usually invoking the merger statutes of the two states involved – the current jurisdiction of the entity’s organization and the jurisdiction to which the entity desires to relocate.  In recent years, more states are adopting “domestication” statutes which, if allowed by the organization’s home state, allows a corporation to “domesticate” in a new jurisdiction without having to wade through the merger process and learn how to satisfy every state’s merger statutes.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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:

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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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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