Colorado Probate Blog - Wade Ash Woods Hill & Farley, P.C.

Don't Get Nailed by Spring Scams

Don't be a professional home improvement scammer's next victim...

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Go Green! The Alternative to Traditional Burials

If you are searching for an alternative to the traditional burial that will reduce your “carbon footprint” and lessen the impact you have on the earth, you may want to consider a “green” or “natural” burial. Contrary to what some believe, green burials are becoming more and more popular. A green burial is designed to be environmentally friendly and impact the earth as little as possible. This type of burial reduces chemical and carbon emissions, preserves habitat and conserves natural resources. It also helps to protect the health of those in the industry. The process of a natural burial features the removal of the use of chemical preservatives or disinfectants like embalming fluid, which contains formaldehyde and is highly toxic. Caskets, coffins and urns are made out of biodegradable materials like cotton, wicker, linen, silk or even bamboo, all of which break down into the soil without adding toxins to the earth as they decompose.

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Jury Duty is No Laughing Matter

As part of our civic obligations, we may all, at some point, be called to serve on a jury. Whether we actually serve for a trial or get excused, jury duty is not to be taken lightly. Recently, Michael Chavis walked out of the courthouse during a break just after opening remarks by prosecutors in the case of Richard Wyatt, a man on trial for selling firearms illegally and evading income tax in connection with a gun shop he owned in Wheat Ridge. According to court documents, Chavis left his juror badge on the table after the break, grabbed his belongings and walked out of the courthouse. Chavis assumed he was done and said that he had “mental reservations” or a “panic attack.” He claimed he “wasn’t focused” when asked about his disappearance by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Krieger.

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Some Thoughts on Gifting

This commentary is provided by an author who is both a senior lawyer on the one hand and a father and grandfather on the other.

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I'm the Taxman, Yeah, I'm the Taxman

Beth McCann, the Denver District Attorney, recently sent out this Consumer Advisory called: I'm the Taxman, Yeah, I'm the Taxman 

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Elusive Assets After Death

Aubrey McClendon, a co-founder of Chesapeak Energy Corp. and a pioneer in the shale industry, died on March 2, 2016. Mr. McClendon had significant assets yet his estate appears to be insolvent. Creditor claims filed to date exceed $1.1 billion. Mr. McClendon’s business holdings were complex and the estate has had a hard time selling assets.

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Leggo My Eggo -or- Who Gets My Gametes When I Die?

Among the many wonders (and occasional terrors) of modern medicine, few strike more of an emotional chord than advances in reproductive technology. Preserving our genetic material for use after death has passed from science fiction to scientific fact; but the law remains unestablished in Colorado as to what happens if there is a dispute about ownership of frozen sperm, ova, or embryos after the death of one or both of the donors.

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Don’t Defer Planning Your Estate Because The Estate Tax Might Be Repealed

In 2001, when the estate tax exemption was $675,000 and George W. Bush was President, Congress “repealed” the estate tax. But the repeal was phased in over ten years and was then scheduled to last for only one year. Instead of actual repeal, what we got, under President Obama, was a reinstated estate tax with a much higher exemption of $5 million, indexed for inflation. The Republican party now controls both houses of Congress as well as the White House, and we are again hearing calls for repeal of the estate tax.

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Timeline for Preparing and Updating Wills and Trusts

The law allows a person to sign binding contracts including Wills at age 18, the age when young adults should begin to plan to avoid financial and medical complications in the event of debilitating illness, injury or death.  Wills, Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney, and Advanced Directives are the basic documents that every person should have in place.

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Love is Blind---So You Better Wear Glasses

Beth McCann, the Denver District Attorney, recently sent out this Consumer Advisory called: Love is Blind---So You Better Wear Glasses

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Value of Michael Jackson’s Image

When Michael Jackson died, his estate valued his image and “right of publicity” at zero on his U.S. Estate Tax Return, as well as the value of his music interests due to the large debts encumbering those interests. The IRS disagreed, and argued that the success of the documentary and Cirque du Soleil show released after his death were foreseeable and should affect the value of his estate. The disagreement resulted in a $526 million estate tax deficiency and penalties of $205 million imposed by the IRS. The trial began in Tax Court on February 6, 2017.

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Mary Tyler Moore: Another Uncertain Celebrity Estate

Beloved actress, producer and activist, Mary Tyler Moore, was laid to rest in a private ceremony in Fairfield, Connecticut on January 29, 2017 at 80 years old, after battling diabetes and suffering from complications with pneumonia. While the status of her estate is unclear at this point, it is very likely that Moore left behind a Will. With a considerable legacy, including an estate that is valued at $60 million, a question arises of who will inherit Moore’s fortune. Her son and only heir, passed away tragically in an accident and her brother and sister are also deceased. This essentially leaves Robert Levine, her longtime husband, as her primary heir. Under Connecticut Probate Rules, Levine is entitled to at least one third of Moore’s probate estate, which in this case, under Connecticut’s spousal share, could be in the spectrum of $20 million. Although Moore left an undetermined amount of money to charity, the question remains: Will her husband inherit a large chunk of the “high-net-worth” legacy that she leaves behind or will charities such as PETA and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, to which she has contributed in the past, receive the majority share?

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Grandparent Scam

Beth McCann, the Denver District Attorney, recently sent out this Consumer Advisory newsletter with information about the "Grandparent Scam".  Click here to read the newsletter

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Colorado's New Law: The End-of-Life Options Act

This election season was full of interesting contests and a few surprises. If you were following the issues in Colorado, you saw an array of familiar ballot initiatives dealing with legalized marijuana, funding for the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, and of course, heated contests between diametrically opposed candidates. But you also saw the passage of a ballot initiative that will only directly affect a limited portion of the population, but is intended to provide that small group with an alternative to suffering through a painful terminal illness.

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Minority Interest Discounts in Family Controlled Entities

On August 2, 2016, the Treasury Department proposed a series of regulations to Section 2704 of the Internal Revenue Code. If these proposed regulations are made final, this could greatly limit the ability of family controlled partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations to transfer interests in a manner that takes advantage of minority discounts.

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Colorado's New Trust Decanting Statute

Effective August 10, 2016, the Colorado legislature enacted C.R.S. § 15-16-901 et seq., the Colorado Uniform Trust Decanting Act (the “Act”). “Decanting” generally refers to the distribution of trust property from one trust to another trust pursuant to a trustee’s discretionary power to make distributions for beneficiaries. New York was the first state to enact a trust decanting statute in 1992; now, nearly half of the states, including Colorado, have specific statutes addressing and authorizing trust decanting in various forms.

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Year-End Tax Planning

Annual Exclusion Gifts. The gift tax annual exclusion is $14,000 for 2016, and stays the same for 2017. You can make gifts of this amount to each of any number of people in a calendar year and not have to file a gift tax return, and the gifts will not use up part of your estate tax exemption. You can also make gifts of an unlimited amount by directly paying a donee's medical expenses to the provider, or tuition to the educational institution. If you make the gift by a check, the donee must deposit the check and the amount must clear your account prior to the end of the year.

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Is It Time to Update Your Estate Plan?

We recommend that our clients review their estate plan every few years to make sure that it remains current. Here is a list of “life events” and other things that should trigger a review of your estate plan.

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News of the Firm

We are very pleased to announce that Kevin D. Millard and Marc A. Chorney (formerly of Chorney & Millard LLP) have joined the firm as Of Counsel attorneys. Kevin and Marc will continue their practices in the areas of estate and trust planning, estate and trust administration and consultation (including expert testimony). Kevin and Marc will also be joined at Wade Ash by their staff of many years, Anne E. Wohlford and Laura A. Williams.

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Electronic Wills

In July 2016, the Wade Ash Newsletter discussed liberalized rules for the creation of wills. At the end of the article, the author predicted that with new technology electronic wills and digital storage of estate planning documents may become a hot topic in many states. To date, Nevada is the only state that has adopted legislation permitting probate of electronic wills. Recently, however, Florida has introduced a bill allowing probate of electronic wills. It is anticipated that at least three other states will introduce similar legislation in 2017.

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