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In June, M. Richard Robinson Jr., the longtime lead of Scholastic Corp., died suddenly while on a walk in Martha’s Vineyard. Robinson Jr.’s death was not the only surprise, as he also left behind a surprising succession plan.  Instead of giving control of the publisher to his two sons, his siblings, or his ex-wife, control went to Iole Lucchese, Scholastic’s chief strategy officer. Lucchese also inherited all of his personal possessions.  In his 2018 will, Robinson described Ms. Lucchese as “my partner and closest friend.” Lucchese has been with the company for 30-years. Ms. Lucchese and Mr. Robinson had been…
Saturday, July 31, 2021 Illinois: Electronic Wills and Remote Witnesses Act The governor of Illinois has signed into law the “Electronic Wills and Remote Witnesses Act,” making it the tenth American state to put into effect legislation for e-wills. The act takes effect immediately (July 26, 2021).  The Illinois act is non-uniform — it is not based on the Uniform Electronic Wills Act of 2019. Below is the link to the Act: Public Act 0167 102nd General Assembly  Special thanks to Adam J. Hirsch (Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law) for bringing this Act to my…
Thursday, July 29, 2021 Impact of President Biden’s Tax Plan on Estate Planning There has been speculation on what President Biden’s tax proposal will look like and what effects it will have on estate planning. There is also a question about the likelihood that President Biden’s tax plan will be enacted into law.  The Biden Administration announced the American Families Plan in April 2021, which proposed “significant tax law changes to increase taxes on both corporations and high-net worth individuals and to provide more resources to enhance IRS tax enforcement efforts.  In May 2021, the United States Department of Treasury…
Wednesday, July 28, 2021 Britney Spears’ new lawyer files to remove father’s control Britney Spears’ new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, petitioned to remove her father from the conservatorship that has “controlled her life and money for 13 years and replace him with a professional accountant.”  In documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Rosengart said that the current legal arrangement “has grown increasingly toxic and is simply no longer tenable.” Rosengart proposed that Jamie Spears be replaced with CPA Jason Rubin as conservator of Spears’ estate. Documents state that Spears’ estate includes $2.7 million in cash and more than $57 million…
Entertainer James Brown’s family has reached a settlement that will end a 15-year battle over the late singer’s estate. David Black, an attorney representing Brown’s estate, confirmed to the Associate Press, “that the agreement was reached July 9.  The legal battle had been going on since his death at the age of 73 on Christmas Day 2006. James Brown’s death led to a slew of “bizarre headlines, beginning with Tomi Rae Hynie—a former partner who claimed to be Brown’s wife—being locked out of his 60-acre (24-hectare) estate while photographers captured her sobbing and shaking its iron gates, begging to be…
Monday, July 26, 2021 ‘Donation of the century’: South Korea unveils late Samsung boss’ 23,000-strong art collection Lee Kun-hee, Samsung’s late chairman, had a collection of some 23,000 artworks. Those artworks were recently donated to South Korea and appeared in two exhibitions of the items in Seoul on Wednesday.  Just months before the exhibits were opened, Lee’s family announced the donation “as it seeks to settle an inheritance tax bill of over 12 trillion won ($10.4 billion).” The art works are being shown at the National Museum of Korea and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA). Items on…
Britney Spears testified in a California court that her dad was “ruining her life” and also stated, “I’m here to get rid of my dad and charge him with conservatorship abuse.”  Britney Spears claimed that “a team led by her father controlled her schedule, prevented her from having another baby and bullied her.”  A judge in the case recently made a ruling that will allow Spears to hire her own lawyer. Spears has decided to hire former prosecutor Mathew Rosengart.  Typically, conservatorships are not imposed on those who do not have severe cognitive impairments, which makes Britney Spears’ situation highly…
Friday, July 23, 2021 Wife’s Fraudulent Transfer Claim Against Husband For Transferring Business Interests To Trust Failed Due To The Statute Of Repose In Austin v. Mitchell, “a wife filed suit alleging her ex-husband fraudulently transferred a portion of his limited partnership interest in a family limited partnership to a trust for the benefit of his children.” No. 05-19-01359-CV, 2021 Tex. App. LEXIS 4536 (Tex. App.—Dallas June 8, 2021, no pet. history).  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the husband and the wife appealed. The court of appeals first addressed the husband’s statute of repose defense. The…
Monday, June 28, 2021 Britney Spears Conservatorship Testimony Inspires Californians in Same Boat Last week Britney Spears decided to speak out against her conservatorship. That decision has inspired others in California that feel trapped in similar situations to take action.  Britney Spears’ “impassioned court testimony” produced an influx of action. According to a California lawmaker “spearheading legislation to change the way conservatorships operate” told TMZ that his office was flooded with calls from people that have been and continue to be burdened by their own conservatorship issues.  These people were energized by Spears’ powerful testimony. Many people have relayed the…
Though Honey Sherman did not have a will, Barry Sherman had two. Documents that were unsealed by a court last week list assets of $124 million, which are outside of the majority of Sherman’s estate that is wrapped up in his private companies.  Barry Sherman was the founder and owner of Apotex, “a generic pharmaceutical giant.” Barry and his wife Honey were well known Philanthropists.  According to the estate papers, the Shermans’ four children were left equal shares of a fortune that has been estimated to be around $10 billion. Though, the kids are not to receive their quarter shares…
Friday, May 28, 2021 IRS Practice Units “As part of LB&I’s knowledge management efforts, Practice Units are developed through internal collaboration and serve as both job aids and training materials on tax issues. For example, Practice Units provide IRS staff with explanations of general tax concepts as well as information about a specific type of transaction. Practice Units will continue to evolve as the compliance environment changes and new insights and experiences are contributed.” Visit the link below to view the practice units:  https://www.irs.gov/businesses/corporations/practice-units Special thanks to Mark J. Bade (CPA, GCMA, St. Louis, Missouri) for bringing this article to…
Thursday, May 27, 2021 Article: Parent Fiduciary Breach Robert Flannigan recently published an article entitled, Parent Fiduciary Breach , Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. Parents who serve as trustees, and solicitors who draft trusts that involve family relations, may need to address whether parents are free to entertain conflicts and benefits that may be attributable to parent status. I discuss in broad terms the kinds of conflicts and benefits that normally should not be objectionable. The definitive consideration is the social definition of when parent access is a limited access.…
In Chief Counsel Advice 202118009 the IRS addresses an interesting question: “Whether tax dividends received by a shareholder who is also employed by the C corporation is subject to the net investment income tax, as well as if the answer changes if the corporation is closely held.” Net Investment Income Under IRC §1411 IRC §1411, which was added to The Affordable Care Act, “imposes a tax on the lesser of the net investment income of a taxpayer or the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income in excess of threshold amounts that vary by filing status.” This “net investment income” includes gross income…
Friday, May 7, 2021 Pandemic Pets and Pet Companionship: Seven Benefits/Considerations for Care Coordination and Estate Planning One thing that many people learned as they were forced to stay at home during the pandemic is that pet companionship is important. For many, life trapped in their home would’ve been unbearable had they not had their furry friends.  An unanticipated effect of the pandemic was “a surge in interest in fostering and adopting pets.” Although unanticipated, this effect is not surprising given the cancellation of social human interaction during the stay-at-home orders.  With the surge in pet adoption, the significance and…
Tuesday, May 4, 2021 Social Security Sees Slowdown in Retiree Rolls Amid Covid Deaths Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth rate of retired Americans collecting Social Security has seen a sharp decline. One possible explanation is the number of deaths from Covid-19 among the elderly.  In March, the number of people who received retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration rose by 900,000 to 46.4 million, “the smallest year-over-year gain since April 2009.  The Office of the Chief Actuary at the government agency stated that “it is still too early to assess the impact from Covid-19, the year-over-year change appears…
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 Article: Lëhtimaki v Cooper: Duty and Jurisdiction in Charity Law John Picton recently published an article entitled, Lëhtimaki v Cooper: Duty and Jurisdiction in Charity Law, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article: Lëhtimaki v Cooper is a significant Supreme Court decision which establishes that the members of charitable companies are in a fiduciary relationship with respect to the purposes of their organisation. Its core principles have the potential to impact on a very large number of people in the voluntary sector. This note critically assesses the…