Estate Planning Law Articles

Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide
discussing legal aspects related to Estate Planning.




Reverse Mortgages Should be the Last Resort for Senior Citizens

  October 14, 2014     By The Evans Law Firm, Inc.
Reverse mortgages may not be as beneficial to seniors as one may think. Learn more about the associated risks before taking out a reverse mortgage.

Estate Planning - Is a Trust Right for You?

  October 7, 2014     By Flanders Law Firm LLC
Determining whether a Trust is right for you and your family can be a difficult decision. There are many factors which come into play and no estate plan is right for everyone.

Inheritance Issues- Family Not Cooperating, What Are My Options?

  September 15, 2014     By HG.org
Inheritances have specific rules that make them different than other kinds of assets. For example, an inheritance is usually treated as separate property, even in community property estates. If family friction has begun due to friction of learning about a future inheritance, steps can be made in the estate planning process to minimize conflict. Additionally, steps can also be taken after the testator dies to help deal with family problems.

What Is a Durable Power of Attorney?

  September 9, 2014     By HG.org
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives one person certain rights and responsibilities, the agent, over the person who had the document prepared, the principal. There are generally two different types of power of attorneys: a power of attorney for financial reasons and a power of attorney for healthcare matters. These documents are generally prepared separately, even if the same person is named as the agent in both documents.

Are Prenuptial Agreements Invalid Without ILA in Ontario, Canada

  September 3, 2014     By Wagner Sidlofsky LLP
Suppose that prior to the death of your spouse the two of you signed an agreement where you both committed not to sue each other’s estate. Also imagine that you did not get legal advice before signing the agreement. Would a judge hold you to that agreement? It depends.

Distribution of Estate by an Estate Trustee during Litigation, in Ontario, Canada

  August 29, 2014     By Wagner Sidlofsky LLP
Is it appropriate for a court order to permit an Estate Trustee During Litigation (“ETDL”) to distribute the Estate? Possibly.

Choice of German Inheritance Law for German Real Estate Only Until August 16, 2015

  August 27, 2014     By DR. HOSSER Rechtsanwalt
Owners of real estate in Germany, who are not German citizens, may choose German inheritance law for that real estate only up to and including August 16, 2015, pursuant to German law.

Can Lawyers Immunize Clients Against Estate Litigation in Ontario, Canada?

  August 27, 2014     By Wagner Sidlofsky LLP
Careful estate planning can sometimes prevent a will challenge – but nothing is fool proof. The purpose of this short review is to look at one arrow in the estate planner’s quiver and see how effective “forfeiture clauses” are to inoculate clients from fights over their estates. (FN1)

Particularities of Inheriting and Bequeathing in Cases Involving a Foreign Element

  August 21, 2014     By GRP Rainer LLP
All states have their own inheritance laws. In succession cases involving a foreign element, the question arises as to which inheritance law is applicable. In many cases, this is a complex matter.

Entitlement to Support Despite Prenuptial Agreement – The Butts Case, in Ontario Canada

  August 20, 2014     By Wagner Sidlofsky LLP
Challenging a prenuptial agreement in the context of estate litigation happens more often than you think.

Inheritance Tax: Are Tax Concessions for Businesses Toppling?

  August 20, 2014     By GRP Rainer LLP
The German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) is currently dealing with inheritance and gift tax. The focus is the question of whether tax benefits for businesses are justified.

Cost-effective Probate Alternatives When a Person Dies Without a Will

  August 19, 2014     By Roger G. Jain & Associates, P.C.
If your loved one passed away without a will, Texas law provides several options for settling the affairs of his or her estate. This article explains several of these options.

Illicit Earnings In Estate: Heirs Must Be Careful – Voluntary Declaration

  August 19, 2014     By GRP Rainer LLP
Nasty surprises can be a risk in the case of inheritance, particularly if an estate includes untaxed illicit earnings. Heirs must be careful.

Setting Aside a Prenuptial Agreement in Ontario, Canada – LeVan v. LeVan

  August 18, 2014     By Wagner Sidlofsky LLP
After LeVan v. LeVan(FN1) Lambert v. Lambert(FN2) and Rick v. Brandsema,(FN3) wealthy people who sign domestic contracts should be getting the message that failure to make full and frank disclosure of all relevant financial information opens the door for the agreement to be set aside. But that is the end of the story – let’s start at the beginning.

2014 Amendments to the Malta Retirement Programme Rules

  August 18, 2014     By CSB Advocates
Legal Notice 269 of 2014 has amended the Malta Retirement Programme Rules which were originally promulgated in 2012.

Saving On Inheritance Tax

  August 13, 2014     By GRP Rainer LLP
In the event of inheritance, the state generally cashes in on inheritance tax, yet money can also be saved with respect to this tax.

Initial Steps to Take When a Loved One Dies

  August 12, 2014     By Kalish Law Texas
When a loved one dies, the last thing that you want to do is to think about business. Having a checklist available during this stressful time can be very helpful and can help you remain calm while you are healing.

Court Ordered Capacity Assessments in Ontario, Canada

  August 12, 2014     By Wagner Sidlofsky LLP
Children fighting over control of their parents’ money sometimes go to court to try to force their parents to undergo capacity assessments. Once a parent is declared incapable, the children can, under the right circumstances, be appointed guardians of their parents’ property.

Testament: Effectively Drawing up the “Final Will”

  August 7, 2014     By GRP Rainer LLP
With a testament, the testator is able to express his “final will” and define rules for the inheritance, but a testament can also be invalid. Rules must therefore be observed.

The Lost Heritage: The Problem of Protecting the Rights of Interested Heirs

Last time the world becomes more globalized, people actively move in search of better or more interesting work, look for a more comfortable place for living or the country where their children can get great perspective in life. But such activity is popular among young people.

Probate & Estate – Executor’s Rights to Commence Legal Action Before Grant

Hong Kong has a large multi-national community and as a result, there is a huge number of international estates involving beneficiaries overseas or deceased domiciled abroad. Litigation involving foreign executors or beneficiaries are also very common. Recently, the Court of Appeal in the case of Nativivat v Nativivat [2013] considered an interesting question of whether an executor under a foreign will has the right to commence legal proceedings prior to obtaining grant of probate in Hong Kong.

Trusts, Role of a Trustee and Family Wealth Management in South Africa

There are a number of particularly important decisions which must be made in establishing a family trust (The Trust Property Control Act, 1988 (Act No. 57 of 1988) regulates the control of Trust property and provide for matters connected therewith) as well as consideration for the potential risks involved.

The Importance of a Will in South Africa

For some reason setting up our last will and testament makes us think about our own mortality, and so we have a tendency to put it off. There are still many South African citizens who have not planned for the devolving of their estate. There are certain scenarios that we need to avoid to prevent complications when an estate is being devolved.

The Rules Governing Taxation of Foreign Nationals

Below are the rules governing taxation of foreign nationals.

Newest Legal and Tax Implications When Purchasing Real Estate in Spain

In real estate transactions in Spain it still happens more often than not that acquired objects or extensions have to be dismantled because renovations or extensions were not properly authorised or the authorisation was not registered with the different agencies involved. Subsequent permits are possible in some cases, but they do require a special process and incur substantial expenses.

What Can A Tax Attorney Do For Me?

Of the professionals that you can turn to for help with IRS problems, tax attorneys can most effectively help you sort through legal issues. Hiring such an expert is the most efficient way of getting on the right track. Here are seven reasons that make them valuable and indispensable.

Inheritance Rights of a Foreigner in Turkey

A foreigner is the individual who is not the citizen of the country s/he has been living in. A foreigner may both be an individual or a legal entity. In this regard, the law to be applied to foreigners is the law for the foreigners and the International Private and Procedural Law (“PPL”). The said law designates the testamentary dispositions of the testator and determines to which such dispositions are subject to.

Employment Law in Israel

Significant Issues in Employment Law in Israel

If I Have Only a Small Estate, Do I Need More Than a Will to Meet My Estate Planning Needs?

The overall purpose of estate planning involves more than just passing your assets to your heirs at death.

Inheritance for Foreigners in Ukraine

Every year, the borders between cities, countries and even continents cease to be a major obstacle for people who crave actively moving to new places. Everyone has their own reasons. Somebody looks for high salary or hurries to build successful career, somebody wants to get new knowledge, while others seek a new life in search of their love hoping to have their own happy family here.

New Jersey Clamping Down on Tax Evasion Amongst Small Business Owners

The Internal Revenue Service takes great pleasure in auditing individuals who own their own small businesses. Why target these “moms and pops?” For the simple reason that they often deal in cash and keep two sets of books. Add in possible sales tax violations and before you know it auditors from the state revenue department have joined in the action.

Rescued From the Brink of Insanity: Practical Advice for Making the Decision to Opt Out of the OVDI - Part II

Hypotheticals demonstrating when opting out is detrimental to the taxpayer.

Rescued From the Brink of Insanity: Practical Advice for Making the Decision to Opt Out of the OVDI - Part I

Opting Out: The solution for the non-willful OVDI taxpayer? Hypotheticals demonstrating when opting out is in the best interests of the taxpayer.

The Advantages of Making an Italian Will Under Italian Inheritance Rules

It is generally recommended that foreign citizens owning assets in Italy draft an Italian will. This will prevent significant difficulties that heirs might experience when transferring the ownership of Italian properties or other movable assets such as funds held in postal bonds or bank accounts in Italy originally registered in the name of the testator.

Don't Gamble With Gift Tax Returns

Beginning in 2011, the IRS started cracking down on taxpayers who did not file gift tax returns after making gifts that required reporting.

Think You Got Game? Try Being like Santa. How Imitating Santa Can Help You Save Taxes This Year

Paying tax is painful. But reading about it shouldn't be.

Immediate Tax Deducts for Accrued Property Transfer Taxes – Germany

Whether real estate is being acquired entirely new in the context of property acquisition or if it was already in the partnership’s possession is an important fact.

An Arrow Diagram Is Not Considered to Be a Handwritten Will – Germany

An arrow diagram does not constitute the formation of a legally effective, handwritten will.

New Jersey Estate & Inheritance Tax: Reducing the Size of the Estate Through Gifting

New Jersey is one of only a few states that impose both an inheritance tax and a state estate tax. The inheritance tax applies when someone who lived in New Jersey, or owned property there, leaves property to someone who isn’t a close relative. The tax rate depends on how closely the inheritors and deceased person were related.

New Jersey Estate Tax: The Uninvited Guest

New Jersey collects both an inheritance tax and its own estate tax, separate from the federal estate tax.

Common Law Marriage and Legal Protection in Texas

Persons who are married have certain legal rights and protections that they don't even think about. However, there are other couples who have long-term, committed relationships who have things a bit more difficult. This article will show the issues that should be considered by persons who are involved in a non-ceremonial marriage in Texas, and how to prevent a problem.

Interpreting the Appointment of an Heir in the Joint Will of Spouses – Germany

A will made by spouses who appointed “our children” as heirs is held to include the appointment of a child from the first marriage of one of the testators as a final heir.

Cut Out of the Will, What Can I Do?

  By HG.org
Losing someone you were close to is always difficult. But, it can be all the worse when you find that the lost loved one may have cut you out of their will, either intentionally, accidentally, or as a result of someone exerting undue influence over the person before their death. So what can you do it you get cut out of a will?

The Migration of Non Resident Trusts to Italy

Trusts are still alien to the Italian legal system as they are essentially based on concepts in contrast with the Italian general principles on ownership. As the Italian legal system does not have a definition of trust, the Hague Convention has provided one, together with rules to be applied by Italian judges in the presence of conflicts in case of assets in trust located in Italy.

Top 5 Things to Consider Adding to an Estate Plan

  By HG.org
For most, estate planning is not an enjoyable experience. For many it is a recognition of their own mortality. For others, it is simply an exercise in annoyance and frustration as one tries to navigate the complicated twists and turns of tax laws, healthcare regulations, trust laws, etc. To make things simpler, the following is a list of the top 5 things you should consider adding to your estate plan.

Inheritance of Property in the Dominican Republic

Under Dominican Law, there are two very important aspects which have an impact on the inheritance of assets of a deceased individual: the time and domicile of the deceased.

What is the Statute of Frauds?

  By HG.org
When dealing with a contract dispute, particularly in the case of an oral contract, one may hear the term “statute of frauds” used. This does not refer to the commission of an actual fraud, but rather, whether the contract had to be in writing or not. So what is the statute of frauds and when does it apply?

Correction of the Land Register Possible without Certificate of Inheritance – Germany

Where there is a public testamentary deed, the land registry office can correct the land register even in the absence of a certificate of inheritance.

Substitute Heir in Will Not Reversionary Heir – Germany

An arrangement in a will, according to which a substitute heir is designated in the event that an heir dies childless, cannot be interpreted as provisional succession and reversionary inheritance.

Impact of foreign and Domestic Inheritance Tax on Capital Assets – Germany

Under certain circumstances, inheritance tax charged in another country cannot be deducted or considered as a liability against the capital assets of a German testator.

According to the BFH, Foreign Inheritance Tax May Not Creditable – Germany

If inheritance tax paid in a foreign country is not meant to be deductible in Germany, it is disregarded when the German inheritance tax is calculated.

Trust Fund Baby? Navigating the Inheritance Talk with Your Children

A concern of many parents with a sizeable estate is that their children will inherit the assets before they are emotionally mature to handle it. Further, many parents of sizeable wealth either do not want to give their children a sense of entitlement or simply do not want to discuss their wealth with their children.

Fiscal Cliff Crisis Avoided? Estate Taxes in 2013

In 2012, with the dreaded “Fiscal Cliff” looming, many were worried about the inaction that would cause the estate tax exemption level to fall to $1 million. However, in the first two days of the new year, Congress finally passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) which makes permanent the $5 million exemption as well as portability.

Action Required: Portability

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) extended and made permanent (i.e., until Congress changes its mind) a number of key estate tax provisions. This includes a $5 million ($5.25 including inflation) estate tax exemption and portability of a deceased spouse’s exemption to the surviving spouse. The result of this means that married couples can shelter up to $10.5 million of their estate from federal taxes.

Families Behind Revlon and Hudson Media Fight Bitter Legal Battle Over Enormous Inheritance

  By HG.org
Samantha Perelman is a 23-year-old student at Columbia University, working on a masters of business administration and as a summer production assistant on the set of the HBO show “Girls.” Impressive credentials, to be sure, but more impressive is the legal battle in which she finds herself: she is fighting with her uncle for a share in an estimated $700 million inheritance.

Planning for the Future: Using Estate Documents to Protect Minor Children

For many families, the birth of a child is the first life event that triggers the realization that estate planning is necessary. What most families may not realize, however, is the breadth of protection that can be afforded to their children with relatively simple estate planning. Not only can they assure that their assets will be protected for their children, they can also designate exactly how those assets will be distributed to their children.

Non-Residents and Estate Tax

A Resident Non-Citizen is generally taxed for estate tax purpose as a US Citizen, except for marital deduction issues.

Federal Fiscal Court: Foreign Inheritance Tax May Not Be Deductible – Germany

If inheritance tax paid in a foreign country is not meant to be deductible in Germany, it is disregarded when the German inheritance tax is calculated.

What Happens to Property if There is No Will?

  By HG.org
If you have lost a loved one, there are many things on your mind, not the least of which may be what to do with the belongings that have been left behind. Sadly, family can become very attached to different items that may bear a sentimental value to them, or feel entitled to a portion of the estate's value. These problems can be greatly magnified in situations where there is no will.

Sole Heir May Need Certificate of Inheritance in Spite of a Power of Attorney – Germany

It may be necessary to obtain a certificate of inheritance even though a sole heir has a power of attorney with postmortal effect.

German Inheritance Tax

This article provides a brief introduction to the German inheritance tax.

Terminal Stage of Deadly Disease Does Not Justify a Testator’s Inability to Make a Will

A will that a critically ill person draws up in a terminal stage is not as a matter of principle invalid. The testator’s inability to make a will can only be assumed if concrete evidence exists.

Why Is It Important to Have a Will?

  By HG.org
It is important that each person have a will that directs their family members and loved ones on how they want their final wishes to be carried out (i.e., burial, cremation, etc.), as well as how they want their estate to be divided after their death.

Preliminary Heir Can Freely Dispose of Estate by Means of Provisions in Will - Germany

A preliminary heir can become a full heir if the revisionary heirs demand their legal share and the testator has accounted for this instance in his will.

Notarial Certification Not Required to Declare Rescission of a Contract of Inheritance - Germany

A testator’s instruction to the notary to communicate the rescission of a contract of inheritance to the probate court does not require separate notarial certification.

An Arrow Diagram Is Not Considered to Be A Handwritten Will - Germany

An arrow diagram does not constitute the formation of a legally effective, handwritten will.

International Probate Law: Which Law Apply German Courts in Case of the Death of a German Citizen?

If a person domiciled in the U.S. dies leaving assets in Germany, the question arises which law German Courts apply with respect to succession. The article outlines the Basic principles of German Private International Law/Conflicts of Law.

The German Forced Share

If German law applies, some privileged persons may claim the forced share (“Pflichteil”). The article outlines the basic principles of the German forced share.

German Certificate of Inheritance and German Certificate of Executorship

Generally, German banks, land registries and other institutions do not recognize U.S. probate orders including U.S. Letters of Administration. Instead, German institutions typically require a German Certificate of Inheritance (Erbschein) or a German certificate of Executorship. The article outlines how to obtain a German Certificate of Inheritance or a German Certificate of Executorship.

The Administration of a U.S. Domiciled Decedent’s German Assets

As globalization flattens the world, practitioners and individuals are increasingly confronted with estates that include assets in multiple jurisdictions. The situs of such assets can lead to the application of differing and, at times, conflicting legal domestic and international legal systems. This article examines the hypothetical example of an U.S. domiciled decedent who dies leaving assets in Germany.

The Equitable Distribution of a Gain in Assets in Divorce Proceedings - Germany

If the spouses have not signed a prenuptial agreement, they are considered to be living in a matrimonial property regime of joint ownership of accumulated assets as determined by statute.

Making of Enduring Power of Attorney

Most people will make a will to make arrangements in the event of death. However, medical advancements are making it more possible to stay alive whilst the patient may be mentally incapacitated and cannot manage his own affairs.

Expiry Of A Post-Death Power Of Attorney In The Case Of A Sole Heir

If a post-death power of attorney is granted by a testator, this is likely to expire, if the authorised person is the sole heir.

Estate Planning with an Existing Disability

Experts frequently advise adults to create an estate plan early on in order to have their life and financial plans arranged in the event that they become disabled. But they do not often recognize the obstacles of those who are already suffering from a disability.

Accrued Property Transfer Tax May Apparently Still Be Immediately Tax Deductible - Germany

Up to now, it was not clear from a tax law perspective whether accrued property transfer tax constitutes incidental acquisition costs or an expense that is immediately tax deductible when there is a change to the composition of partners.

Estate Planning for the Elderly

Estate planning is a complex process that requires strict attention to detail.

Business Succession: Examination of Any Claims to Supplement Compulsory Portions is Advisable - Germany

Some problems can stand in the way of succession planning of a business, all the more if persons entitled to a compulsory portion are disadvantaged in the process of succession.

Co-Heir Entitled to a Compulsory Portion Has Right to Inspect Land Register - Germany

A co-heir entitled to a compulsory portion can have a right to inspect the land register due to the possible transfer of properties before the death of the testator.

Estate Planning Wills & Trust Probate It Is Written

Ever since the age of the Babylonian Empire when the first substantial collection of laws were written on tablets of stone, the declaration “It Is Written” has been used to indicate that what was is indeed written is not to be questioned or contested, and is therefore the final word regarding the matter. All directives, instructions, authority, and laws are based upon written documents.

Estate Planning for the Modern Family

In a time when the traditional nuclear family has shifted to a more complex structure with multiple marriages, step-children, half-children, common law marriages and cohabitation, and same-sex couples, keeping an estate plan up to date with life's constant changes can be a challenge.

Claims to Supplement a Compulsory Portion in Business Succession - Germany

If succession planning for a business is pending then a few problems could be in store, specifically if the beneficiaries of a compulsory portion are disadvantaged in business succession.

Who Can Start a Private Foundation?

When you are evaluating your financial position as you plan your estate you may well find that you have the means to set aside resources for the benefit of charitable organizations.

Possible to Verify the Right to Inherit Vis-à-vis a Bank Even without Certificate of Inheritance - Germany

The right of the heir to inherit, who is heir to a deceased client of a bank, does not necessarily have to be verified by a certificate of inheritance according to German law.

CPA Real Estate Loss

There are laws in place to protect investors from unscrupulous brokers at companies looking to take their money and make high commissions with little promise of return; those laws work very well, for the most part, to protect investors from securities fraud or investment fraud. Be that as it may, because of a changing landscape, unscrupulous investment brokers and companies may still sell risky investments to investors with the promise that they are "safe" and "low risk."

Heir Is Likely To Be Liable For Claims Arising From A Tenancy Of The Testator Only To A Limit

If claims arising from a tenancy still exist against the testator after the devolution of the inheritance, then the heir is potentially only liable insofar as these can be covered by the estate.

Inheritance and Gift Tax Act (ErbStG) Possibly Unconstitutional - Germany

The new Inheritance and Gift Tax Act that came into force on 1 January 2009 with the reform to inheritance tax is to be re-examined with respect to its constitutionality.

Disinherited Final Heir Can Cause Problems - Germany

Married couples should be careful when drafting their will with regard to any possibly remaining final heirs.

Amendment of a Will - Germany

Supplements to the copy of an original will require signing in order to be effective. If the signature of the testator below the supplements is missing, then no validly concluded testamentary disposition exists.

Validity Of Copied Last Wills And Testaments Confirmed By OLG Naumburg - Germany

Generally, the capacity of an heir may be proven by the original document. But now it shall be possible in certain cases to use a photocopy of the will as proof.

Protecting Your Assets through Trust Formation - Cyprus

High-net-worth individuals with valuable possessions around the globe need effective asset protection tools to manage and safeguard their wealth, as a respond to the differing legislations and tax regulations of the various jurisdictions.

Protective Clauses Regarding Compulsory Parts in Law of Succession - Germany

A protective clause concerning compulsory parts must be interpreted as sufficient so that a corresponding earnest request of the compulsory portion against the heirs automatically triggers the protected right.

Inheritance Tax Trap

Why it is Essential to include comprehensive information when you fill in Inheritance Tax forms IHT 400 and IHT 421

Italian Inheritance Rights Depending on Your Marital Status

It is always a difficult topic to address when one talks about the death of a spouse: this article aims to clarify some of the issues people living in Italy may have if they find themselves in the situation of inheriting property or assets under the Italian Legal system.

How to Ensure That Your Wishes Are Followed When You Die

For some people, the details of their burial and funeral are unimportant. For others, however, a funeral service and burial is their final good-bye and represents how the world will remember them.

Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning Should be Avoided for 3 Reasons

Don’t fall victim to the concept of do-it-yourself (DIY) estate planning. Sure, the idea of saving money that would be spent having an attorney draft your estate plan is alluring, but is it worth it?

Keep or Toss? A Guide for Retaining Financial Records

Are you worried about an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax audit? Does that worry make you keep records too long and clutter your living quarters? If a mountain of financially related documents is threatening to overwhelm your space and your sanity, it is time to de-stress.

Understanding the Probate Notice to File a Claim

The reality of the world of estate planning is that it is filled with legal terms of art; in fact, of all the legal fields, this one seems to clutch its traditions tighter than most.

Vehicles of Asset Transfer: Choose the Optimal Solutions

You have options when you are arranging for the transfer of assets to your loved ones. In this instance we are not talking about the choice of a single vehicle of transfer.

Retirement Planning for Military Service Veterans

When you speak with any retirement planning attorney he or she is going to advise you to do everything possible to facilitate a retirement income stream to supplement your Social Security benefit.

Brace Yourself for Future Nursing Home Expenses

Elder law attorneys often see rather shocked looks cross the faces of their clients when they start to explain the extent of nursing home costs.


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