Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Paul Newman was a star to the end. He acted in more than 65 movies over more than 50 years. He was also an entrepreneur, and a major philanthropist, funding schools, refugees and many other causes. See here and here. He died on Sept. 27 at his home in Westport, Conn., at 83. Newman’s proudest achievement was reportedly The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps located in the United States and abroad that provide adventure and empowerment for children with serious medical conditions. More than 135,000 children have attended the camps free of charge.

Mr. Newman founded Newman’s own in 1982. The food company gives all of its profits to charity. In its 26 years, it has earned and given away over $250 million through the Newman’s Own foundation.

Mr. Newman always felt that his good fortunate was based a lot on luck. On the website for at Newman’s own Foundation is this statement:
“Paul Newman's craft was acting. His passion was racing. His love was his family and friends. And his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all.

Paul had an abiding belief in the role that luck plays in one’s life, and its randomness. He was quick to acknowledge the good fortune he had in his own life, beginning with being born in America, and was acutely aware of how unlucky so many others were.”

The will touches on the concerns he had as a father, a philanthropist, and a movie star. His Oscars and his stake in his food company go to his charitable foundation. The old farmhouse and his personal effects to his wife. Mr. Newman created the will in accordance with his long-standing wish that the majority of his wealth go to charity.

He was also concerned with his personal image and intellectual property rights. He wanted to ensure that they are protected from being used in any way that he would not approve of during his life. He also didn’t want his likeness to be used by technology current or future in any virtual performance or reanimation of past performances.

A review of the will and codicil that Paul Newman left when he died in September reveals an simple 18-page document. It was released by a probate court in Connecticut last week. He is identified as Paul L Newman of Westport.

You can see the will here.


IRS publishes inflation adjustments each year on personal exemptions, deductions, and contribution limits. Here are some for 2009.

$13,000 annual gift tax exclusion per individual per recipient (up from 12K in 2008).

$3,500,000 estate tax exemption equivalent per individual (up from 2 mil).

$1,000,000 gift tax exemption equivalent per individual (unchanged)

$5000 IRA and Roth IRA with $000 catch-up for individuals 50 and older (unchanged).

$49,000 or 100% of income (which ever is less) Sec. 415 limit for defined contribution plans (up from $46K) and for profit-sharing plans. Individuals 50 and older at the end of 2009 may increase their maximum to $54,500 if theu elect to increase their elective deferral by the available $5,5000 catch-up provision.

$49,000 or 25% of income (whicheveris less) for SEP plans. Owners of Pass-through entities may be limted to 20% of income.

$16,5000 elective deferral limit for 401(k), 403(b) and certain 457 plans ( up from $15,500) with catch-up provisions for those 50 and older.

$245,000 individual compensation limit for calculating pension and profit-sharing plan contribution limits (up from $230K).

$11,500 SIMPLE plan contribution limit (up from $10,500)

$195,000 or 100% (whichever is less annual benefit limit for defined benefit and Section 403(b) fully insured pension plans.

$106,800 Social Security wage base (up from $102,000)

Taxing Art

The Artist-Museum Partnership Act, a bill introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D VT) would amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow taxpayers who create literary, musical, artistic, or scholarly compositions or similar property a fair market value tax deduction for contributions of such properties or the copyrights, or both, to certain tax-exempt organizations, if such properties are properly appraised (value determined at the time of contribution)and are donated no sooner than 18 months after their creation.

Another art-related Tax bill has sponsored by Pete Domenici R-NM and Charles Schumer D-NY would provide the same capital gains treatment for art and collectibles as for other investment property. Currently capital gains tax rate for art and collectibles is 28%, compared to 15% for other types of investments.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Creative Uses of Life Insurance

Life Insurance is the least expensive and most flexible way to resolve a host of challenges faced by individuals doing their estate planning. Life insurance can be used to do the following:
  • Pay taxes due at the death of the insured.
  • Replace income no longer available at the death of the insured.
  • Pay off the personal or business debts of the insured.
  • Ensure the surviving spouse has sufficient income for the remainder of his or her life, especially where the bulk of the insured's estate is the personal residence or other assets that are difficult to liquidate or that do not generate income.
  • Ensure that children will receive something, when everything else is going to the surviving spouse. Some people want to give everything to a spouse, but are afraid the spouse will remarry and the new spouse will eventually take everything, cutting out the children of the original marriage. Insurance can easily resolve this problem.
  • Estate Equalization. A person may have a business he wants to give to one son. But what about the other son? Insurance solves the problem.
  • Ensure long-term care. I am not talking about long-term care policies, but rather using traditional life insurance policies that can be accessed during the insured's life for any reason.
  • Provide funds to charities or that nephew or some favorite cause, and still have the bulk of your assets go to the traditional heirs such as children.
  • Transferring money to the insured's business partner to be used by the partner to pay the insured's family for the insured's interests in the business. This makes the surviving business partner happy, because it keeps the insured's spouse or family out of the business. And it makes the insured's family happy, because they are receiving the value of the insured's interest in the business without dealing with the insured's business partner. (A Buy-Sell Agreement.)
  • Transfer money to a business to cover the costs of getting someone to replace the insured at the insured's death. (Key Employee Indemnification.)
  • Reimburse a business for benefits paid to key employees (Recapture of Deferred Compensation Costs.)

There are numerous other creative uses of life insurance or life insurance in combination with annuities and other options that make life insurance the most efficient, least expensive way to resolve a host of challenges.

And you think your real smart, don't you?

This one is definitely my favorite!

blog readability test

And just who do you think your are?

More fun with online analytics -

We have strong indicators that is written by a man (93%).

What Kind of a Blog Do You Think Are?

A little harmless fun from a site called

The analysis indicates that the author of is of the type:
ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment and are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like to seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Even though I am afraid of flying, heights, closed spaces, and fire, I think this is all true.

Advantages of Aging

Getting older isn't always bad. If you're fifty or older -

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at The University of Utah offers opportunities for intellectually stimulating, affordable, non-credit learning and for meaningful social engagement to people 50 and over. It is part of a network of over 100 Osher Institutes at colleges and universities across the country, all funded by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

"The Institute offers a rich and evolving array of courses, lectures, and special events to enhance the lives of its members. Our instructors are distinguished emeritus faculty, scholars, and experts from the community."

For about a hundred bucks you can learn about history, art, computers, literature, gardening, Photoshop, digital photography, foreign language, yoga, and others. For complete information go here.

New Legal Guide

Coming in 2009. . .

Navigating Your Way: The Utah Legal Guide for Those 55 and Over.

The Utah Division of Adult Aging Services says that the guide is comprehensive information and resource legal book. It will give general information on various legal issues and programs including estate planning, guardianships, housing, social security, and more. It is supposed to be the ultimate source for Utah's older residents and their caregivers. We will be watch for its debut and let you know where to get it.

Jenny Jenny who can I turn to (867-5309)
for the price of a dime I can always turn to you

Courier Mail

AN elderly man has lost his bid to regain control over his financial affairs which were taken over because he made hundreds of calls to sex chat lines.

The man, who says he made the calls for companionship, was first placed under orders in late 2006 after members of his family alleged he had made up to $20,000 worth of 190 calls a month over two years. They also alleged he was incapable of looking after himself and that he suffered dementia. He has since been cleared by medical experts of any clinical, cognitive and psychiatric dysfunction.

The man, who made tens of thousands of dollars worth of calls to 190 different numbers - told The Courier-Mail the tribunal had ruled that the financial administration orders, which gave control over his financial affairs to the Public Trustee, were to remain. But the tribunal revoked guardianship orders which had vested control over other aspects of his life to the Office of the Adult Guardian.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ward Bosses

AP Story - November 18, 2008

GRINNELL, Iowa - A Deep River woman wants to change a state law to require that mentally disabled voters be supervised when they cast a ballot. She was upset when staff at a group home in Grinnell took her 26-year-old son, who is developmentally disabled, to vote on Election Day against her wishes. She said she's not trying to take away a person's right to vote. "It's just that a lot of us, (group) homes and parents, need to work together and agree on what's best for our loved ones."

The woman, who has guardianship over most of her son's legal decisions, unsuccessfully challenged his ballot. She supported Republican John McCain and her son voted for Democrat Barack Obama, but said that's not why she challenged him. She didn't think he had the capacity to choose for himself.

It was at least the second case in which a relative challenged a family member's ballot in this month's presidential election in Iowa. In Council Bluffs, a woman challenged her elderly mother's absentee ballot, claiming her mother suffered from dementia and was coerced into casting the ballot by Democratic campaign workers who were going door-to-door asking potential voters if they wanted an absentee ballot. In that case, the woman supported McCain and her mother reportedly voted for Obama. That challenge was also unsuccessful.

Think there has ever been a case where the guardian challenged the vote of a ward who voted for the same candidate as the guardian?

From the Archives (NYT Collection)

Rosa and Josefa Blazeck were congenital twins jointed at the hip. They made their living traveling with carnival shows. They caused a ruckus when Rosa became pregnant and had a baby boy named Franzl in 1910. Many doubted that the baby was actually hers. It is also said that the father wanted to marry Rosa, but couldn't because it would be considered bigamy.

The death of Rosa and Josefa Blazek left the Cook County Probate Court with an unprecedented legal problem. If they were one person the son will inherit a $200,000 fortune which was accumulated by the twins during their exhibition tours of the world. If they were two distinct persons, Rosa being the mother and Josefa the aunt, only Rosa's half of the estate would go to the lad while Josefa's closest relatives, her father and four brothers, would be entitled to her half.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Will my love for you die in 2010?

The 2001 tax act repealed the estate tax for one year, 2010. In the intervening years, the amount exempt from estate tax has steadily risen. This year it will be 2.5 million and next year $3.5 million. The tax rate is currently 45%. It will vanish for a year and come back 2011 with $1 million exemption and 55% maximum tax rate that applied before 2001.

A few wealthy families have lobbied hard for a total repeal, but insurance and estate planning interests are against it. Politicians, have hedged their bets.

Now, however, now we have a tax code that creates an incentive for heirs in late 2010 to off their aging benefactor.

President-elect Obama has called for a permanent 3.5 million exemption and a rate close to 45%.

If the law passes, people in that wealth bracket will need to review their plans to make sure they take advantage of the increased exemption in 2009, and for whatever congress does going forward.

If congress doesn't act, it's time to think hard about health care and appoint a trusted person to take care of your medical decisions, if you can't.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Planning for Special Needs Children

Forty percent of children with Down syndrome have congenital heart defects. They have higher incidence of respiratory, vision and hearing problems, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. All people with Down syndrome have developmental delays and intellectual impairment. The range can be from very mild to very severe.

The Washington Post ran a story I picked up in the Kansas City Star. Today's twenty-somethings with Down syndrome will be the first generation that will outlive their parents. The life expectancy of Down syndrome people has gone from 25 to 50 years. In 2006, 61% of people with an intellectual disability were living with their families, and 700,000 of them were living with parents or family members older than 60.

Government payments can cover much of a disabled person's expenses if their personal assets don't exceed a certain amount(not including a home, a vehicle and basic personal items). In 1993, Congress permitted special-needs individuals under age 65 to have trusts funded with their own money -- such as assets from a legal settlement or an inheritance -- and still have access to government benefits. More common, however, are so-called third-party trusts, in which parents provide funding for trusts that benefit their children.

Funds transferred to a trust are not considered to be assets of the special-needs individual, if there's an independent trustee who controls the money.

There are lots of problems for people with disabilities and their families to contend with from achieving independent living, estate planning, supervisory programs, to guardianships.

Lots of resources at National Down Syndrome Society.

Plan ahead for your child by writing a special needs trust. Find out about special needs trusts from a competent estate planning attorney in your state. It's never too early to plan.

If you are in Utah can find information at

Other Utah resources on our web site at

Friday, November 7, 2008

At Wills, Trusts, and Estates blog a great article about Pet Trusts - -America gets what it wants: Pet Trusts and a future for its companion animals By Breahn Vokolek

American Pet Product Manufacturers Association estimates that 63% of American households own a pet. Yes we love our pets! And in America pets are more than ever considered to be part of the family.

The development of pet trusts is a result of the failures of other alternatives to meet American pet owners’ need to provide for their animals. Unfortunately pets are often overlooked in the confusion associated with unexpected sickness or death. Many end up in a shelter.

“Legal disputes over property can ad delay to the distribution of the property, which includes companion animals. Living pets cannot be stored, unlike other property, while the details are resolved.”

One alternative to the pet trusts involves the outright gift of the animal to a pet retirement home. This alternative is usually available only for dogs and cats.
Here's one I found through the AARP web site, but there are lots of others. This one truly pampers your pet. Check this out!

Our estates pets will be allowed to socialize and play outside on the premises throughout the day. Playtime includes swimming, boating, hiking and many other outside & inside activities. Senior citizens are welcome for visitation, which is therapeutic to both pets and seniors.

Living arrangements are all custom designed to enhance the lifestyle of your pets. Condo units overlooking pond includes enclosed porch, living quarters, and play area, providing your family's pets with the comforts of home. Condos include a TV and VCR , for daily viewing of pets and family videos. Pets can relax to music from the stereo along with their heated beds.

(It's probably real pricey.) If you can't leave Fido in the lap of luxury, maybe you can leave him with a friend.

One can attempt to create a moral obligation by making a gift to a caretaking fund that is contingent on the caretaker using the funds for the benefit and care of the animals, but they are difficult to enforce. Once the estate has been probated continuing control or accountability for the care of your pets virtually ends.

Pet trusts can solve many of these potential problems. Unlike a will, a trust can provide for your pet immediately and apply not only if you die, but also in the event of your incapacity.

Usually a trust is established through a written legal document and often involves a Trust Agreement which explains how the assets are to be managed and distributed.

The court’s handling of pet trusts has been varied, but several states, including Utah, have enacted statutes recognizing valid pet. Utah’s pet trust is found in Utah Code Ann. Section 75-2-1001.

The statute reserves for the court the right to reduce the amount in the pet trust if it determines that the amount substantially exceeds the that required for the intended use. This is what the court did in the case of the 12 million dollar pet trust of Leona Helmsley estate we wrote about in an earlier story...

Today a pet trust can be sixty pages and cost thousands in legal fees. It is reported that Betty White will leave all of her five mill dollar estate to her pets. She's a real animal lover.Others leave just enough to cover vet bills and compensate the new caretaker.

Changing views and attitudes are making pet trusts increasingly popular in the U.S. An estimated 12 to 27 percent of pet owners include their pets in their estate planning. The development of pet trusts has been extraordinarily fast and is serving a growing need. The increasing desire of American’s to provide for their pets after their own death is widely shared and deeply emotional. If you live in Utah and want more information about how to set up a trust email us at
More information at Others can get information at the web site of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ASPCA.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

US Estate Taxes for 2007

IRS Data on 2007 Estate Taxes *All figures are estimates based on a sample. Money Amounts are in thousands of dollars. IRSTax status and size of gross estate

All Returns #Returns Net Estate Tax
Under $2.0 million 17,416 22,508,292
$2.0 million ‹ $3.5 million 1409 136,472
$3.5 million ‹ $5.0 million 8483 2,352,847
$5.0 million ‹ $10.0 million 2860 2,371,313
$10.0 million ‹ $20.0 million 2906 5,173,865
$20.0 million or more 654 8,027,849

Utah Net Estate Tax # is 34, amount is $73,585.

States with largest number of estates paying taxes

California 3637 4,697,954
Florida 1667 2,863,861
Texas 906 1,282,736
New York 1339 2,209,342
New Jersey 569 520592

Lowest Amounts Paid by states
Alaska*Gross # filed 29 / Gross tax - 115,862

Idaho 6 50825

N Dakota* Gross # filed 71 / Gross tax amt - 261,436

RI40 49960
South Dakota5153,347

*Data deleted to prevent disclosure of individual taxpayer data.

Total Returns with estate taxes due17,416
Net amount due22,508,292

Estate Tax Calculator at
If you are in Utah and have estate tax issues or need help with estate planning, filing 706s, etc. get more information at our website or contact us for more information. website. We can help.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Probate News

ADRIAN, Mich. -Daily Telegram. Adrian, Michigan

A 16-year-old girl admitted to poisoning her grandmother at their Addison-area home two years ago. She pleaded guilty to killing her 53-year-old grandmother by slipping her morphine pills. The woman had been the girl's guardian since the girl was 8 months old.

Though only thirteen at the time of the murder, Kristina Adkins was given life and sentenced as an adult.

Why Kristina would kill the woman who raised her since she was an infant remains unclear. She never revealed her motive.

“Things are not like they seem to be, that’s all I can say,” said Doris Dupuie, Virginia Bentley’s mother and Kristina’s great-grandmother.

Defense attorney Michael McFarland of Adrian said Kristina never gave a direct explanation for wanting to kill her grandmother.

“I think it was cumulative of her entire life experience,” McFarland said.

At the sentence hearing, McFarland told the court that Kristina had a troubled childhood that included mental health problems and drug abuse.

Lenawee County Prosecutor Jonathan Poer asked the court for an adult sentence.

“While she may be a teenager, the result of her conduct is undeniable and permanent,” Poer said. Society would not be protected if Kristina was placed in a juvenile facility, he said, adding that she told a probation officer she is not sure if she might kill again. Poer said that Kristina saw her grandmother in pain for several days from the morphine before increasing the dose to a fatal level.

Noe agreed the severity of the crime and the risk to society are too great for a sentence to a juvenile facility.


Norwalk Connecticut Stamford Advocate

NORWALK - Although a jury found Mary Ann Langley guilty of killing her husband by throwing gasoline on him and lighting him on fire, she could still inherit his $1.2 million estate, family members and attorneys said.

This turn of events was made possible by a jury of eight women and four men who did not convict Langley of murder two weeks ago after a seven-day trial at state Superior Court in Stamford. The jury was unable to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Mary Ann Langley intended to kill her husband by throwing the gasoline on him, and instead found her guilty of intentional first-degree manslaughter in the December 2006 death of her husband, James, 55.

State statutes prohibit only murderers from inheriting from their victims, not individuals convicted of manslaughter.

The state's slayer statute says that when a defendant has been convicted of killing another person, such as in the case of Langley's manslaughter conviction, her rights to inherit shall be determined under common law.

According to Willie Langley and his probate attorney, Alan Williams, the will could be contested in Probate Court, or a wrongful death suit could be filed in Superior Court. Langley said last week that his brother's estate, which includes two homes on Woodward Avenue, a contractor's lot and other contracting equipment, is worth about $1.25 million.

"Under the statutory scheme in place in Connecticut, it is clear that Mrs. Langley can inherit," Seeger wrote in an e-mail from Chicago on Friday.

"Under the common law analysis that follows the initial determination, there is an issue of a beneficiary's motives that needs to be determined," Seeger said. "Generally, if the motive of an individual is to gain benefits by causing the death, the person can be disinherited. It is our position that no such evidence exists in this case."

Stephen Keogh, a probate attorney practicing in Norwalk for 23 years, said, "Connecticut has a black-and-white rule on murder: that someone convicted of first- or second-degree murder cannot inherit from someone they murdered. All other cases of somebody who might inherit from someone they killed are left to common law, which is a big body of law that allows the case to be resolved on a case-by-case basis."
- - -

Seems to me that if you throw gas on a person and purposely light them on fire, you've made your're intentions pretty clear. Just sayin.