Four Lessons Learned from Prince’s Estate (So Far)

By Jeffrey K. Eisen

Several of the events surrounding the initial administration of Prince’s estate provide lessons applicable to all estate plans, not just celebrity estate plans.

  1. If You Don’t Have an Estate Plan, the State Will Write One For You. Prince died without a Will.  Because he was not married at the time of his death and he had no surviving parents, children or grandchildren, his sister, and his five half-brothers and half-sisters each will inherit one-sixth of his estate.  Two other half-siblings died before Prince, apparently leaving no children of their own; otherwise, they would be entitled to part of the estate as well.

Continue reading “Four Lessons Learned from Prince’s Estate (So Far)”

Higher Learning: A Potentially Expensive Lesson About 529 Plans

By Karl de Costa

A “529 qualified tuition plan” is an education savings plan designed to encourage and help families set aside funds for future college costs.  It’s named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, which created this type of plan in 1996.

Americans have an estimated $248 billion currently invested in 529 plans.  And it’s easy to understand why.  Generally speaking, 529 plans offer an impressive array of income tax and estate tax breaks, plus other benefits.

No Password? See You In Court?

By Seth W. Krasilovsky

Many headlines have been generated over recent attempts to recover highly desired data from a locked smart device after the death of the device’s owner.  While the legal battle between Apple and the FBI over information stored by one of the San Bernardino shooting suspects in an iPhone pitted law enforcement against the technology community, it should also serve as a high profile reminder of the need to address digital passwords as part of an estate plan. Continue reading “No Password? See You In Court?”

The Charitable IRA Rollover is Now Permanent!

By David Wheeler Newman

Under the normal rules, an IRA distribution is included in the gross income of a donor, who then may claim a charitable income tax deduction if she contributes that money to charity. There has been a special rule for qualified charitable distributions, which has been extended on a temporary basis every two years, with the last such extension expiring at the end of 2014. This special rule, which has proven to be very important for charitable gift planning, has finally been made permanent by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, signed by President Obama on December 18, 2015, effective for distributions made in 2015. Continue reading “The Charitable IRA Rollover is Now Permanent!”

It’s Just a Simple Will

By Allan B. Cutrow

Often times, people believe their wills (or other estate planning documents) are really simple and straight forward. In fact, this assumption is probably the primary reason that some websites generate significant business selling legal documents prepared by non-lawyers. Such websites seek to create simple documents and offer to purportedly save consumers lots of money. Continue reading “It’s Just a Simple Will”

What Happens to Your Digital Life After Death? Planning for the Transfer Of Digital Assets

By Allan B. Cutrow

Most people do not think about the large digital footprint that they have created. More importantly, they do not think about how their digital assets might pass (or not) at death. Since these assets may have value, either financial or sentimental, planning for them may be more important than you think. Continue reading “What Happens to Your Digital Life After Death? Planning for the Transfer Of Digital Assets”

Lessons Learned from the Robin Williams Litigation

By Jeffrey K. Eisen

Robin Williams died on August 11, 2014, and it did not take long for litigation to be filed over his estate, or more specifically, his living trust. Mr. Williams last rewrote his trust in January 2012, not long after marrying his current wife. Mr. Williams had three children, none of which were from his current marriage. Published reports reveal a number of interesting issues, some of which are unique to “celebrity” estates, but most of which apply to all estate planning. Continue reading “Lessons Learned from the Robin Williams Litigation”


By Jeffrey K. Eisen

The combined estate and gift tax exemption was set at $5,000,000 in 2011, but indexed for inflation. For deaths in 2014 and for gifts made in 2014, the inflation-adjusted exemption was $5,340,000. The IRS has announced that for deaths or gifts in 2015, the exemption amount will increase to $5,430,000. Thus, in only four years, the amount a married couple can gift or bequeath without incurring estate or gift tax has increased from $10,000,000 to almost $10,900,000. Continue reading “ESTATE AND GIFT TAX EXEMPTION ANNOUNCED FOR 2015 GIFT TAX ANNUAL EXCLUSION REMAINS UNCHANGED”

Hey Kids, Let’s Have An Advance Health Care Directive


By Jeffrey K. Eisen

The recent death of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney immediately was followed by a fight over the disposition of his remains. While Mr. Rooney’s body remained at a funeral home, various factions within his family fought for the right to determine where and how he would be buried. Fortunately for the dignity of Mr. Rooney, the fight was settled quickly, before a court could decide the matter. Continue reading “Hey Kids, Let’s Have An Advance Health Care Directive”

Where There’s An iWill, Is There A Way?

By Seth W. Krasilovsky

With the advent of smartphones, handheld devices function as information kiosks. Search upcoming movie showings and order tickets with the click of one button. Open a second window on your phone to review menus and make dinner reservations. But what if you decide that you want to change the dispositive provisions of your existing estate plan, or alternatively, create a brand new estate plan? Can you be just a few clicks away from making a legally enforceable bequest to dear Aunt Sally? Continue reading “Where There’s An iWill, Is There A Way?”