Estate Planning Law Articles

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




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.

Bequeather’s Tax Obligations On The Year Of Death In Their Quality As Deductible Bequest Liabilities

In its Judgment of the 04.07.2012, the German Federal Finance Court (BFH) determined that the final income taxes to be paid by the legatee, in his quality as universal successor, on behalf of the legator on the year of the latter’s death, is a liability deductible of the legacy according to § 10 section 5 Nr. 1 of the German Inheritance Tax Law.

Bequeather’s Tax Obligations On The Year Of Death In Their Quality As Deductible Bequest Liabilities

In its Judgment of the 04.07.2012, the German Federal Finance Court (BFH) determined that the final income taxes to be paid by the legatee, in his quality as universal successor, on behalf of the legator on the year of the latter’s death, is a liability deductible of the legacy according to § 10 section 5 Nr. 1 of the German Inheritance Tax Law.

Deceased Family Members, Debts, and Creditors: 3 Common Questions

Question 1: What happens to a deceased person’s debts? There are several possibilities. Once a person dies someone will have to manage the property left behind.

Give Yourself an Easier Time of Making a Will

Beginning the estate planning process can be a task that seems overwhelming. If you’re having trouble getting started, one of the easiest ways to begin is to collect some simple information you will need to write a will.

A Look at Postmortem Planning

Executing estate planning documents that express your wishes in writing is indeed important when you are making preparations for the inevitable. However, this is only part of the process.

Probate: Smooth Sailing in The Garden State ?

In the state of New Jersey the probate process has been streamlined to facilitate a smooth and efficient transfer of assets to the heirs of people who pass away.

More Money for Attorneys

We have warned you many times about using online legal document providers for your estate planning needs and here's more information as to why.

The Mistake of Creating a Will on Your Death Bed

There are many mistakes that you can make in estate planning. Planning your estate is not a simple or easy thing to do.

Who Will Be In Charge if You Are in Bad Health?

If you have ever watched a parent, grandparent or other loved one struggle through health problems you know how difficult it can be. Is there more you can do?

Capacity in the Estate Context -Ontario Canada

In Canada capacity is often the key issue in challenges to testamentary documents, powers of attorney, the ability to manage property and/or personal care, gifts & even marriage. In Ontario, the test differs in accordance with the complexity of the document or the specific act under review. The author spoke recently at a continuing legal education programs sponsored by the Law Society of Upper Canada and provided an overview of the topic. This article is related to that presentation.

EC Refers Germany to the Court of Justice for Discriminatory Inheritance Tax Provisions

The European Commission (EC) has decided to refer Germany to the EU's Court of Justice because of its legislation on inheritance and gift tax allowances.

Obama Care’s Impact on Permanent Residents and Expatriates

The re-election of President Obama ensures that the Affordable Care Act (“ACC”) will be implemented. The ACC imposes obligations that most individuals maintain health care coverage. Individuals who fail to comply with the law are subjected to penalties in the form of excise taxes. For permanent residents who may maintain coverage provided by a foreign company or government and for expatriates living abroad, the individual mandate creates a number of potential issues and concerns.

Basics of Asset Protection

Asset protection is the safeguarding of your physical and financial property against creditor judgments, negligence lawsuits, and divorcing spouses

How to Avoid the Gift Tax

Did you know that gifting assets can reduce your estate taxes? You must, however, abide by gift tax laws, or you could owe tax for gifted items.

Irrevocable Trusts Benefit Long-Term Care Needs

Individual long-term care needs continue to exist, regardless of the state of the nation’s economy, politics, or changes in the law.

Estate Planning And Spouses: Is A Joint Will A Good Idea?

The option for creating a joint Will exists in some jurisdictions, and this is why the topic is still discussed in many law school courses

Estate Planning: Where To Keep Your Documents When They Are Completed

As important as it is to make your estate planning documents such as a will or living trust and pour over will, durable powers of attorney, and healthcare powers of attorney is where to keep those documents. Finding a safe secure place to keep your estate planning documents is very important for the fact that those documents are no good if they are destroyed, lost, or missing.

Estate Planning: Should You Name Two Or More As Your Executor Or Personal Representative In Your Will

When you make your will an important part of the will and an important decision you will have to make is who you want to be your personal representative or executor. Personal representative and executor can be used interchangeably and the title will differ based on what state you are located in when probate is started.

Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You?

Unfortunately, many elderly Americans are living off of a shoe string budget. Social Security payments do not cover the cost of living for most seniors.

At The End Of The Year, Bequest Promises Eexpire By Means Of Constraints Over The Inheritance Reform

Inheritance claims may end at the close of the year, as a result of legislation alternation in obedience with the inheritance reform. The inheritance reform from 2010 has changed the limitation rules and could show its effects for the first time this year.

Hemsley Case Underscores Value of Probate Avoidance

When you hear or read about the term "probate avoidance" you may wonder exactly what probate is and why anybody would want to avoid it.

Transferring Assets? The Tax Man Looms

The gift tax exists because of the fact that people logically transfer assets to their future heirs while they are still alive in order to avoid the estate tax at their death

Americans Require a Will While Living Abroad. Case of Thailand

Advancement of modern technology allow people to migrate effortlessly across borders in increasing numbers in this century. People live and work outside their home country, and some adapt to their adopted homes by having their families abroad. Expatriates have a unique myriad of concerns about their assets in their adopted country in the event of death. The inevitable question is: Do I need a will while I am living abroad?

Updating Your Estate Plan: Is It Better To Change Your Will Or Make A Brand New Will?

There may come a time when circumstances in your life have changed and you need to update your will. These circumstances can include a new marriage, a new child, a divorce, or having a new financial status such as winning the lottery and becoming a millionaire.

Date of Death Values—How to Determine What a Decedent’s Assets Are Worth

When a person dies, his or her estate must pass through the legal process known as probate. During probate, assets of the estate are inventoried.

FAQ about the Types of Power of Attorney

The phrase “power of attorney” is used with great frequency in the field of estate planning.

SSA Forcing Conversion to Direct Deposits

The ongoing future of the Social Security program is a subject that is often discussed within elder law circles.

Changing Testamentary Trust Terms

Changing the terms of a testamentary trust may not be as easy as you think. You see, a testamentary trust is a trust that is created in your last will and testament (thus, the origin of its name), and does not take effect until you die.

Special Considerations for LGBT Couples and Retirement Planning

Retirement planning for couples who are part of the LGBT community is fraught with challenges that do not exist for traditional couples.

Can Medicaid Take Home from Surviving Spouse?

Some people who visit elder law attorneys are very pleased to hear that Medicaid will pay for long-term care.

Estate Planning: Your Children Will Fight over Your Assets

Just because you love your children and get along with them does not mean you can assume that they will love each other or get along with each other in the same way. The reality is that when there is money on the table family history and love can easily be thrown away. The relationship between each child with each other child should be examined when making an estate plan.

Can Hospice Care Help My Family?

Statistically, we can all look forward to living much longer than those who came before us. That does not, however, mean that we will live forever.

Valuing an Estate—Date of Death Values

If you are the executor or personal representative of someone’s estate then one of the first duties you will perform is to obtain date of death values for all assets of the estate.

The Family Vacation Home — How to Handle it in Your Estate Plan

Many families are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy a family vacation home. Whether you have a cabin in the woods, a chalet near the slopes, or a condo at the beach you need to pay particular attention to how the property is handled in your estate plan in order to avoid conflict and confusion.

Executor Duties — Obtaining Date of Death Values for Estate Assets

If you recently found out that you are the executor of the estate of a recently deceased loved one, or have been appointed by the court as the personal representative of an estate, you will soon realize that there are numerous duties that go along with the position

Do You Have a Pour-Over Will in Place?

When you engage the expertise of a good Reno estate planning attorney you can be certain that all of your bases will be covered, This is something to keep in mind if you have ever been tempted to utilize some type of estate planning download that is advertised on the Internet.

Divorce: Know Thy Beneficiary

If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, are in the process of getting a divorce, or are already divorced, then you should keep reading. A divorce can be a very emotional and stressful time; instead of thinking about how best to protect yourself and your assets, you may spend your time reminiscing over the love lost or fuming about the reasons prompting the divorce.

Estate Planning with the Unlimited Marital Exclusion and Federal Estate Taxes

If you have sizable assets it is an advantage to be married. If a couple is married they can pass an unlimited amount of money to each other after they die without having to pay a federal estate tax. Bill Gates, Donald Trump, or Warren Buffett could pass all of their billions to their wives if they died and would not have to pay a cent of federal estate taxes.

A Revocable Living Trust May Be the Answer

There are multiple ways to transfer your assets to your loved ones after your passing. Many people assume that a last will is the best way to pass along their legacies. Though a last will is indeed an option and a frequently used one at that, it is not your only choice and many people would say that it is not the best choice.

Estate Tax: Where it Stops Nobody Knows

Avoiding asset erosion is one of the primary goals of estate planning, and the most powerful source of this erosion that must be reckoned with is the federal estate tax. If you're wondering if you are going to be subject to the tax and how much your heirs will have to pay, you are not alone. And strangely enough, there is no definitive answer.

New Definition of “Lucky Dog”

There is such a thing as living a charmed life, and a lot of people will tell you that their dogs are doing just that. Indeed, many Americans have a tendency to spoil their best friends and who can blame them? Dogs are loyal companions who provide you with endless hours of entertainment while acting as protectors.

Time Waits for No One

Many baby boomers grew up listening to the Rolling Stones song "Time Waits for No One." Some of them are finding out just how true this is when it comes to retirement planning. Elder law researchers are interested in the preparedness of baby boomers for retirement because so many of them are reaching their senior years at more or less the same time. There are some 10,000 people applying for Social Security every day and this will continue for a couple of decades, according to experts.

Interesting Twist in Hemsley Estate Matter

Estate planning lawyers will always remind clients that they have choices when it comes to asset transfer. Simply using a last will is unnecessarily limiting, and you must consider the realities of probate because wills are intended to go through probate.

Be Prepared to Revise Your Estate Plan

The matter of estate planning is unique in that it is something that you do that is not intended to benefit you personally. When you plan your legacy you are doing it for the well being of your family members, and people who procrastinate before they take the time to consult with an estate planning lawyer to devise a plan may be losing sight of this.

Developing a Rapport With Your Estate Planning Attorney

People generally go to the same hair stylist over a number of years once they find one they like because the stylist gets to know what the client's preferences are and he or she has had the opportunity to understand the specifics of the client's hair. This is true of estate planning as well in terms of the need for ongoing adjustments and the value in gaining an understanding of the specifics of the client's case.

QTIP Trust and Pre-Nup Can Cover All Bases

There are those who equate the concept of the premarital agreement with the undermining of true romance, but this impression is now beginning to soften. The truth is that if all marital unions were first marriages taking place between two young adults with no children and no significant personal assets a prenuptial agreement may indeed seem unnecessary. But these days, marriage is simply not the same institution that it was in years gone by.

Estate Tax Relief Included in New Tax Measure

A brand new year is upon us, and as we brush ourselves off after the holiday reveling we are invariably ready to embrace the many changes that are in store for us. But then we get in the same car, drive the same route, sit at the same desk, and greet the same co-workers as we did last year.

Take Advantage of Tax-Free Gifts

You have to love win-win situations, and that's what you get when you include tax-free gift giving in your inheritance plan. Essentially, when you leave someone an inheritance you are giving this person a gift posthumously. But when you do you never get to see the look of surprise, joy and gratitude cross the face of this person who is dear to you. In addition, if that gift is received as a direct result of your death the occasion is certainly not a cause for celebration.

Donor Advised Funds: Philanthropy for the Rest of Us

Not too long ago there was quite a buzz generated in financial circles by two of the highest profile and wealthiest businessmen in the world. Just this past summer Bill Gates and Warren Buffet issued a challenge to the nation's billionaires, asking them to give away at least half of their fortunes to charitable causes. The last we saw they had 38 takers, and Buffet himself had pledged to give away just about all of his assets previous to issuing this challenge.


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