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

Who Has the Right to a Decedent's Remains

Probate and estate litigation is fraught with emotion. We often see families divided over a deceased loved one’s property. And while each dispute is different, there are commonalities; one of which is that the disputes are often “not about the money.”

Continue reading
31 Hits

March Comes in Like a Lion for Scams

You never thought it would happen to you...don't be the next victim of identity theft.

Continue reading
42 Hits

Tax Update

This Tax Update article is authored by Laurie A. Hunter, Kevin D. Millard, Jonathan F. Haskell and Heidi J. Gassman.

Continue reading
70 Hits

Overview of 2018 Tax Act

President Trump signed the 2018 Tax Act into law on December 22, 2017. Most of the provisions apply only to taxable years starting January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2025. The changes in the corporate tax rates are permanent. Wade Ash intends to send out a newsletter in February that will summarize more fully the provisions of the Act, especially as affecting estate planning. The following is a list of some of the major provisions:

    • The estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax exemption is doubled from $5 million to $10 million and still indexed for inflation since 2011. The 2018 exemption will be about $11.2 million.
    • The individual standard deduction is also nearly doubled to $24,000 for married filing jointly, and $12,000 for single taxpayers; the income tax rates are slightly reduced.
    • No more deductions for personal exemptions on individual returns (although they apparently do still apply for trusts and estates).
    • Many itemized deductions for individuals were eliminated or reduced:
      • $10,000 limit on the deduction for state and local taxes
      • no deduction for interest on home equity loans, including current loans
      • the deduction for mortgage interest on new loans is only allowed up to $750,000 in indebtedness
      • No deduction for alimony on divorces finalized after 12/31/2018 (and the receipt of alimony will not be taxable income)
      • medical expenses may still be deducted over 10% of AGI
      • charitable contributions may still be deducted (up to 60% of AGI instead of only 50% for cash contributions to public charities)
      • NO miscellaneous itemized deductions, including investment advisor fees, accountants’ fees, attorney fees
    • 529 plan accounts may make qualified distributions for elementary and high school education up to $10,000 per year per student
    • C corporation changes are permanent and include:
      • corporate tax rate reduced to 21% from 35%
      • corporate Alternative Minimum Tax repealed
      • 100% expensing of new and used property used in the business, except for buildings
      • Business expense deductions include state and local taxes without the $10,000 limit
    • New 20% deduction for "qualified business income" under pass-through entities such as partnerships, LLCs and Sub-S corporations
      • Must be income earned in a "trade or business"
      • Deduction excludes income from capital gains, dividends, interest
      • If total income is less than $315,000 for married filing jointly ($157,500 for single taxpayers), no further limit on the deduction.
      • If more than the threshold, subject to limitation of greater of (a) 50% of taxpayer’s share of W-2 wages, or 25% of taxpayer’s share of W-2 wages plus 2.5% of depreciable property
      • If income is over the threshold, no 20% deduction for income from pass- through service companies, including health, law, accounting, performing arts, athletics, financial services, "reputation/skill-based" services, investment management
    • Many issues have not been addressed in the Act, and will need to be clarified in regulations
  • no deduction for business entertainment expenses (except if employees are included, like holiday parties)
  • changes to fiduciary income tax (trusts and estates):
    • miscellaneous itemized deductions (subject to the 2% floor) are NOT deductible
    • items that are deductible are those NOT subject to the 2% floor and include trustee fees, attorney fees to administer the trust or estate, preparation of estate tax returns and fiduciary income tax returns (but not gift tax returns), and administrative expenses such as probate filing fees, appraisals and preparation of accountings
    • state and local taxes up to $10,000 are deductible
    • charitable contributions are deductible if required by the governing instrument
    • trusts and estates still have the personal exemption ($600 for estates, $100 for simple trusts and $300 for complex trusts)
160 Hits

Serving Time; One Lawyer’s Perspective on Jury Duty

I’m sure that it’s every lawyer’s dream to serve on a jury panel at some point in their lives (read this with a healthy dose of sarcasm). Personally, I’ve always been very curious to see the fact-finding side of a jury trial while the jury is in deliberation. This past August, I ended up as the foreperson in a three-day trial, and came away with some surprising observations and lessons learned.

Continue reading
145 Hits

Electronic Wills–Governor Vetoes Florida’s Electronic Will Statute (Part II)

In 2017, the Florida Legislature approved House Bill 277 promulgating the new Florida Electronic Wills Act (FEWA). The FEWA authorizes the creation of electronic wills and provides that the execution of electronic wills may be witnessed and notarized through the use of remote technology. The Act also specifies that electronic wills for residents, as well as non-residents, may be probated in Florida.

Continue reading
140 Hits

Swedish Death Cleaning

A common problem which many families encounter following the death of a parent or other relative is how to deal with the decedent’s personal property. In the absence of a legally effective personal property memorandum, will, or other governing document signed by the decedent specifying who gets what, the disposition of the personal property sometimes leads to bitter, protracted, and often times expensive controversies between the surviving spouse, children of the first or subsequent marriages, or other family members.

Continue reading
154 Hits

Family Business Valuation Proposed Regulations Withdrawn

In a notice issued by the IRS on October 17, 2017, Treasury has withdrawn the Proposed Regulations issued August 4, 2016 concerning the estate, gift and GST tax treatment of valuation of family-controlled businesses. These regulations were issued under Code Section 2704 and would have impacted planning involving the valuation of such interests for transfer tax purposes. After the proposed regulations were issued, numerous written comments were submitted and a public hearing was held on December 1, 2016. President Trump issued Executive Order 13789 on April 21, 2017, instructing the Secretary of the Treasury to review tax regulations issued on or after January 1, 2016, and to submit a report to the President by September 18, 2017. The Secretary recommended that the proposed regulations be withdrawn, and the Treasury Department and IRS have now done so.

128 Hits

Some Practical Advice For Collectors of Art and Antiques

On the PBS television series, Antiques Roadshow, it is surprising how many children and grandchildren of a collector know nothing about the piece given to them or its value. The collector would of course have wanted his or her donee to appreciate the rarity of the object and to know the value of the item.

Continue reading
149 Hits

Equifax Data Breach-What You Need To Know

With the recent Equifax data breach, there are precautions you should be taking to assist in keeping your identity protected.

Continue reading
136 Hits

Jury Duty: A Lawyer’s Inside Perspective

Jury service is an integral part of our justice system. Most attorneys never get to see the inside of a jury room; this summer, however, I served as foreperson for three days for a felony trial in Denver District Court. I’m looking forward to giving you the inside scoop on what really happens behind those closed doors, from the perspective of a former litigator. Read all about my experience and my perspective in our upcoming Winter Newsletter.

Continue reading
136 Hits

Selecting Your Trustee

Selecting your trustee is one of the most important decisions to make when creating a revocable trust. The trustee is a fiduciary with the legal obligation to carry out the directions set forth in the trust agreement. The responsibilities and duties include collection and management of assets, preparing tax returns and distributing the income and principal of the trust as the document sets forth.

Continue reading
231 Hits

Late Portability Election

“Portability” allows a surviving spouse to add a deceased spouse’s unused estate tax exemption onto his or her own exemption. Each spouse has an estate tax exemption amount of $5 million, which is indexed for inflation after 2011. In 2017, the exemption is $5,490,000. To elect portability, a client must timely file Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, which is due 9 months after the decedent’s date of death, but the due date can be extended for six months if a request for extension is timely filed.

Continue reading
245 Hits

Electronic Wills-Dispensing With Pen and Paper (Part I)

Will Requirements

Continue reading
285 Hits

Third Party Rights: Small Estates and Non-Probate Assets

Many of our probate statutes are designed to carry out a decedent’s intention as expressed in his or her will. Certain rules of construction (survivorship, substitution of assets) apply to wills and revocable trusts as will substitutes. The statutes also provide for recognition and ordering of third party (non-beneficiary) interests in probate and revocable trust assets. These would include taxes, creditor claims, and family protection entitlement during the period of administration.

Continue reading
339 Hits

Elder Abuse Awareness Month

June is World Elder Abuse Awareness Month.  You can help to ensure the health and safety of our elder population...

Continue reading
278 Hits

Beneficiary Designations May be Dangerous to Your Estate Plan

Traditionally, the central document in an estate plan was a will or revocable trust. For many people, that continues to be true, but it is now possible to pass almost any kind of property outside the terms of your will. For example, this can be done by adding the beneficiary as a joint owner on a bank account, by naming the beneficiary as a “pay on death” (POD) or “transfer on death” (TOD) payee on a stock or securities account, or by signing a “beneficiary deed” that names a beneficiary to become the owner of real estate when you die. Colorado recently added automobiles to the list of assets that can pass by a TOD beneficiary designation. These arrangements, which I refer to generically as “beneficiary designations” can be useful, but they can also seriously disrupt a careful estate plan if they are done without care and appropriate advice.

Continue reading
252 Hits

Hail No!

Buyer Beware: Hail storm scammers are on the prowl...

Continue reading
365 Hits

Planning for the Apocalypse

Your options for preparing to survive a zombie apocalypse or other collapse of civilization as we know it now include some rather luxurious possibilities. According to a January 30, 2017 article in The New Yorker entitled “Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich”, highly affluent citizens of the United States have been quietly planning their survival strategies by hoarding rations, gold coins, and weapons and building state-of-the-art underground bunkers stocked with years of supplies.

Continue reading
307 Hits

Contention Over Lunar Bibles

The state of Texas and Oklahoma resident Carol Mersch, have been in a six-year, estate-related battle in court over 10 teeny microfilm Bibles that traveled to the moon and back in 1971 with NASA’s Apollo 14 Mission. These tiny Bibles contain all 1,245 pages of the King James Bible and are roughly the size of a postage stamp that can only be read through a microscope. Carol Mersch, a Tulsa business woman and author, and the state of Texas are not seeing eye-to-eye on who these precious keepsakes belong to. In 2009, Mersch became friends with a man named John Stout, a NASA chaplain. She claims Stout gave her the Bibles while she was writing a book about trying to land a Bible on the moon. Mersch has a certificate of authenticity signed by Stout, but attorneys for the state of Texas and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services contend that due to the declining physical and mental health of Stout and his wife in their later years, they were considered wards of the state and their son, Jonathan Stout, should inherit the Bibles. Mersch is accused of exerting undue influence over Stout and his wife. She has spent approximately $500,000 defending the litigation regarding ownership of the moon Bibles. For now, until the rightful owner is established, these “First Lunar Bibles” remain stored in a Tulsa County courthouse pending a May 3 hearing.

326 Hits