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

“Just Say No!” Apps for Smartphone Addiction

It’s time to put the smartphone down. Did you know the average American checks their phone every 12 minutes? This means touching your phone roughly 2,617 times a day. For Millennials, who are in the top 10 percent of phone users, it’s 5,427 times a day. We are all so consumed with checking our Facebook or swiping to the left or to the right on Tinder, or constantly checking newsfeeds, that our phones control and flood every waking hour of our days. Recently, Apple and Google have designed a plan to incorporate a “digital wellness” app that can monitor and track the time you spend on your phone. In an experiment, Nick Fitz, a behavioral researcher at Duke University, tracked the usage of smartphones on over 200 people. Most of these people received 60 to 80 notifications on their phones daily. He eliminated the alerts they were receiving on their phones and their stress levels dropped and their concentration improved. However, he also saw an increase in their anxiety levels due to the fear of what they were missing out on. In order to relieve some of that anxiety, Fitz and a team of his researchers formulated a plan to batch and distribute the daily notifications into three groups – morning, day and night. In doing so, people with this app on their phones saw lower stress levels, higher levels of concentration and no increase in anxiety. Although we enjoy using technology and all that it has to offer, the next time you pick up your phone to check your notifications, consider how technology is using you.

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News of the Firm

We are pleased to announce that Herb Tucker, Laurie Hunter and Kevin Millard were recognized as 5280 Top Lawyers in Denver in 2018. Herb was recognized in the area of Probate Litigation, and Laurie and Kevin were recognized in the area of Estate Planning.

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The Future of Estate Planning

“Alexa, who can I contact to prepare my Will?” Does the future of estate planning fall into the hands of a cloud-based registry?

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Making the Law Keep Up

Intestacy laws determine how a person’s assets pass if there is no will. What should intestacy law provide with regard to same sex marriage and with respect to parentage involving genetic materials. Under the Uniform Parentage Act a person may have three parents (and correspondingly more grandparents).

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72 Hits

Let's Face(book) it.

Think before you "Like."  Hackers are waiting to steal your personal information...

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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.”

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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.

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Tax Update

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

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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 taxesno deduction for interest on home equity loans, including current loansthe deduction for mortgage interest on new loans is only allowed up to $750,000 in indebtednessNo 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 AGIcharitable 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 fees529 plan accounts may make qualified distributions for elementary and high school education up to $10,000 per year per studentC corporation changes are permanent and include:corporate tax rate reduced to 21% from 35%corporate Alternative Minimum Tax repealed100% expensing of new and used property used in the business, except for buildingsBusiness expense deductions include state and local taxes without the $10,000 limitNew 20% deduction for "qualified business income" under pass-through entities such as partnerships, LLCs and Sub-S corporationsMust be income earned in a "trade or business"Deduction excludes income from capital gains, dividends, interestIf 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 propertyIf 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 managementMany issues have not been addressed in the Act, and will need to be clarified in regulationsno 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 deductibleitems 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 accountingsstate and local taxes up to $10,000 are deductiblecharitable contributions are deductible if required by the governing instrumenttrusts and estates still have the personal exemption ($600 for estates, $100 for simple trusts and $300 for complex trusts)
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Will Requirements

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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.

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