News

Court: Survivorship Rights Ended When Joint Owner Transferred Ownership

In a family dispute over land, the Tennessee Supreme Court has held that, where two persons own land as joint tenants with a right of survivorship, if one of them transfers her interest in the land to someone else, that action terminates both of the joint tenants’ survivorship interests. Justice Sharon Lee filed a dissent in which she argued it would be better to follow the law in jurisdictions such as Michigan or Oregon that do not allow a joint co-tenant to act unilaterally, protecting the rights and expectations of the joint tenants.
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TBA Probate Bill Passes Senate

The Tennessee Bar Association’s probate legislation passed the full Senate today with a vote 30-0 to clear its last hurdle. Sponsored by Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, the bill revises various provisions relative wills and trusts.

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Banking, Estate Planning … and Someone Named Juris P. Prudence

Here's what you can expect from Tennessee Bar Journal columnists if you haven't gotten all the way through this month's issue yet. Kathryn Reed Edges looks at what the Trump Administration will mean for bankers. Eddy R. Smith explains why Tennessee is an attractive jurisdiction for establishing and maintaining trusts, and Bill Haltom writes about the introduction of a fictional character sure to steal the hearts of law-loving kids everywhere.

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Committees Move Campaign Finance Bill, Asset Forfeiture, Probate Clean Up

Tennessee House and Senate committees both moved forward with legislation that would double the number of campaign finance audits, the Tennessean reports. Also at the legislature, the asset forfeiture bill, as amended in the House, was recommended for adoption in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The TBA-backed probate clean up legislation, sponsored by Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntington), cleared a Senate committee with minor changes.
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Fred Thompson’s Sons Drop Suit Over Estate

The sons of Sen. Fred Thompson have dropped their lawsuit against their step-mother, Jeri Thompson, which claimed they were cut out of the late politician’s estate, the Tennessean reports. Tony and Dan Thompson dismissed their case on March 22. Jeri Thompson’s attorney, Bill Ramsey, claimed that the sons “misread, intentionally or otherwise, descriptions in legal bills that never should have been filed with the court.”
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Probate Omnibus Bill Ready for House Floor Vote

TBA-backed HB 567 has passed through its final House committee and is ready to be scheduled for a House floor vote. That is expected no later than next week. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, is referred to as the Probate Omnibus Bill. It will update the Tennessee Code to reflect the elimination of the inheritance and estate tax. Two amendments are traveling with the legislation, deleting sections to avoid any negative impact to court orders on bank accounts, land titles and insurance policies. The companion bill, SB 769, sponsored by Sen. John Stevens, R-Huntingdon, is expected to go before the Senate Judiciary committee as soon as next week.

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Wedding CLE Looks at Everything from Prenups to Blended Families

Last chance to register! On March 29, experience a special wedding CLE at one of Nashville's premier wedding venues, the Cordelle. Sessions will touch on a variety of nuptial-related considerations, such as what to do pre-wedding, how to handle blended families, and the ins and outs of tax planning. Brunch will be included, with all the cake, mimosas and darling wedding mints you could want.

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Sullivan County Lawyer Disbarred

Sullivan County attorney Don W. Cooper was disbarred today by the Board of Professional Responsibility. The action is effective immediately. The board found that Cooper misappropriated funds while serving as co-executor, administrator and/or trustee in three separate estates and trusts. Cooper must pay restitution totaling $952,759.37.

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Updates for Estate Planning & Probate Lawyers

Join your colleagues from across the state at the annual Estate Planning & Probate Forum on Friday. Speakers will address asset protection, ethics, legislation and other hot topics. Contribute to the discussion by submitting questions for our ethics and probate panels, email questions for the panelist here.

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TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
 
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
 
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

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Banking, Estate Planning ... and a Business Relationship with Santa

There's still time to catch the December Tennessee Bar Journal -- in this issue, columns include banking law, estate planning and one man’s long-term business relationship with Santa. Nashville lawyer Kathryn Reed Edge writes in her column Bank On It, about preventing insider fraud and abuse; Knoxville lawyer Eddy Smith's column, Where There's a Will, is "Report for Duty: Protecting Against Fiduciary Liability"; and in his column, Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom reveals the secrets of Santa's changing role over the years.

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Did Appeals Court Call for Reconsideration of Cowan Rule?

Since the Tennessee Supreme Court found that a final will cannot be contested by an individual who was left out of a previous will, the so called 1906 “Cowan Rule” has been creating heartburn for judges, the Times Free Press reports. The most recent test came in the case of J. Don Brock. At the trial court level, the judge “reluctantly dismissed” the claims of Brock’s children because they were cut out of a previous version. The appeals court upheld the decision but in a rare move, may have encouraged the state Supreme Court to re-examine the ruling and its practical application. Attorneys for the estate, however, say the appeals court did not ask for reconsideration but merely pointed out that the rule could be used to hide fraud. Read it here.

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Volunteers Needed for Memphis Wills for Heroes Clinic

The TBA Young Lawyers Division will hold a free Wills for Heroes legal clinic tomorrow in Memphis at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library, 3030 Poplar Ave., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The clinic will provide free wills, powers of attorney and advance directives for Tennessee's firefighters, law enforcement officers and other emergency responders. Attorneys who would like to volunteer or get more information should contact Memphis lawyer Chasity Grice.

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The Advantages of Tennessee Trusts: Investment Services Act Trusts

Tennessee is often at the cutting edge of trust law, as evidenced by its recent passage of laws allowing for the creation of Tenancy in the Entirety trusts, which will be a topic of one of my future posts along with posts on other types of Tennessee trusts.

Tennessee Investment Services Act trusts are excellent vehicles for protection of assets, particularly real and personal property located in Tennessee as well as for bank and investment accounts custodied in Tennessee. Investment Services Act trusts are Tennessee’s version of what are colloquially known as domestic asset protection trusts. These trusts can serve more purposes than simply protecting assets from creditors, although they are of course excellent for that purpose.

The basic concept of all trusts is that there is a person who gives property (typically called a grantor or settlor) to a person (known as a trustee) to hold on behalf of the trust’s beneficiaries. Historically, all of the states forbid self-settled spendthrift trusts. “Self-settled” means the grantor (i.e. the person putting the assets into the trust) is also a beneficiary. “Spendthrift” is a provision whereby the trustee decides how the trust funds are spent for the beneficiary, and therefore creditors cannot reach the funds in the trust. Generally, this means the beneficiaries do not have direct control over the trust. It should be noted however that a creditor of that beneficiary could reach any property distributed to that beneficiary.

In 1997, Alaska became the first state to allow self-settled spendthrift trusts. Tennessee and several other states soon followed. The main benefits of the Tennessee Investment Services Act trust (as amended effective July 1, 2013) are that pre-transfer creditors have either two years from the date of the transfer of the property to the trust (or six months from the date of the creditor’s having discovered the transfer) to challenge the transfer or they are barred from bringing a claim. An interesting aspect of Tennessee law is that “discovery” is deemed if the transfer is a public record. Many attorneys have begun recording affidavits of transfers in the applicable counties in order to make the transfers a public record, and thus ensure the shortest statute of limitation possible. Even if an action is filed within the statute of limitations period, it must be shown with clear and convincing evidence that the transfer was for the purpose of defrauding that creditor.

There are other advantages to Tennessee Investment Services Act trusts. They allow for flexible tax planning. Unlike in certain other states, tort claimants are not exemption creditors (i.e. tort claimants would be treated the same as any other creditors for the purposes of the Tennessee act). Tennessee law allows for decanting and virtual representation (I will be covering these topics in future posts, but they allow for methods of fixing certain problems in the trust without court intervention). The Tennessee law creating these trusts, therefore, provides a great deal of protection for assets as well as flexibility for planning. The basic requirements for creating one of these trusts are is that the trust:

  • must be governed by Tennessee law,
  • must be irrevocable,
  • must have a spendthrift clause,
  • must have a qualified trustee, and
  • there must be an executed affidavit.

The qualified trustee must:

  1. be a Tennessee resident or a corporate trustee licensed under Tennessee law, and
  2. have at least some certain duties such as custody of assets, preparing tax returns, or be materially administering the trust.

The grantor/settlor CANNOT be the trustee. The affidavit is required to state that the grantor/settlor had full right and title to transfer the property, that the transfer does not render the grantor/settlor insolvent, that there is no fraud and the assets were obtained lawfully, that there is not litigation or administrative proceedings pending against the grantor/settlor, and that the grantor/settlor isn’t bankrupt.

There are some areas to be cautious about, however. The limited case law has shown that domestic asset protection trusts may have limited or no protection for assets located outside of the state of domicile for the trust. Nonresidents of Tennessee can certainly set up Tennessee Investment Services Act trusts, particularly if the qualified trustee and the property are located/custodied in Tennessee, but great care must be used if property outside of Tennessee is to be added to the trust. The Tennessee Investment Services Trust Act also does not protect against past due child support, past due alimony, and division of alimony. A much longer ten year statute of limitations may also apply in certain cases of bankruptcy.

As a final note, it is generally better to use the domestic asset protection trust law of the state of domicile (provided that said state has such a law) since a recent case out of Utah (regarding a Nevada asset protection trust) has shown that even among states with asset protection trust laws, other states’ laws may have some difficulties in being enforced. Fortunately, Tennessee’s Investment Services Act does have provisions allowing trusts from other states to be transferred to Tennessee.

A decision to enter into any sort of trust is not one to take lightly, as there are real property laws, tax laws, asset protection laws, etc. that must be carefully taken into account, and many of those details exceed the limited scope of this blog post. As always, we strongly recommend seeking the advice of a professional before setting up trusts.

Michael Goode, a Nashville attorney with Stites & Harbison PLLC is a member of the TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section's Executive Council

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Minor Children and IRA/401Ks Beneficiary Designations: Dangers and Concerns

As a parent, one of the most difficult issues that I have had to deal with is what would happen to our young child should anything happen to my wife and I. No one likes to contemplate their own mortality or the idea of not being there to watch their children grow up. Unfortunately, mortality is inescapable, and proper planning is essential. Often people believe that once they have their Will drafted everything will be settled. This is rarely the case.

The first concept to understand is probate versus non probate in terms of assets. Assets owned directly by you, and that do not have a beneficiary designation (or survivorship/tenants in the entirety, etc.), will generally be a part of your probate estate. This means your Will would be able to direct where these assets go. For accounts with beneficiary designations, such as IRAs, 401Ks, life insurance, certain bank accounts (as well as joint with survivorship or pay on death or transfer on death designations), certain financial accounts (with named beneficiaries), and even some real property (joint with survivorship, tenants in the entirety, etc.) might all pass outside of probate. Your Will would have no effect whatsoever on how these non-probate items are distributed. Instead, those non-probate items would be distributed in accordance with the various beneficiary designations (or through survivorship or tenants in the entirety, etc.), regardless of what is written in your Will. Since these items could make up the majority of your estate, it is important to plan properly.

One idea that many people have is to simply name their estate as the beneficiary and therefore have those assets come under control of the Will. However, naming the estate as the beneficiary can be disastrous for qualified plans (IRAs, 401Ks, etc.), as such designations generally have adverse tax consequences and may have adverse asset protection consequences.

What happens if assets go directly to a minor child? Generally, if it is more than a certain amount (as determined by the states, usually about $15,000-$20,000), the parent/guardian would not be able to simply hold the child’s assets, and a conservatorship would have to be obtained. Until the child reaches age 18, the conservator would have to be bonded (which can be expensive), and the court would be involved in determining how the money is spent. Upon reaching age 18, the child would get the full value of the assets. For most families, conservatorships should be avoided through proper planning.

One solution is to have the minor named as beneficiary pursuant to one of the uniform transfers to minor’s acts of the various states. The downside to this designation is that not all qualified plans allow for this designation, and there is little flexibility, as the child will get everything remaining at age 21, which may not be what is desired.

Another solution is to create a trust, and have the trust be the beneficiary of the funds. The trust can be created either as a stand-alone document, or created via the Will as a testamentary trust. Great care should be taken in the creation of this trust.

If the deceased dies after their Required Beginning Date for Minimum Required Distributions (April 1 of the year following the year in which the deceased turned 70 ½) than any Required Minimum Distributions from the qualified plans (IRAs, 401Ks, etc.) would be based upon that decedent’s life expectancy, unless the trust properly sets forth a Designated Beneficiary or Beneficiaries (which would generally be your children). If a proper Designated Beneficiary is set up, then the distributions would be based on the longer of the oldest beneficiary’s life expectancy or the deceased’s life expectancy. It may be beneficial, especially if there is a lot of difference in age between the children, to set up multiple trusts each with a different Designated Beneficiary (i.e. child) so that the stretch-out of the payments isn’t limited to the lifespan of the oldest child. If the deceased dies before their Required Beginning Date and there is no Designated Beneficiary, then the entire balance of the account must be distributed within five years of the date of the deceased’s death, which is a terrible result. The longer the distributions can be stretched out the longer the tax is deferred (and perhaps at a lower rate as well since income taxes are on a graduated scale) and the longer tax free growth is allowed for the funds remaining in the qualified plan.

You would generally have your spouse named as primary beneficiary, and then the trust (or trusts) as contingent beneficiaries. The spouse would have the option of rolling over his or her inherited IRA into their own IRA (which would then provide asset protection once it is rolled over), and the properly drafted trust (which follows all of the rules regarding designating a beneficiary) would provide asset protection to the non-spousal beneficiaries. A recent Supreme Court case stated that inherited IRAs are not asset protected since they are not retirement accounts, and that is why the spousal rollover, and the trust for the contingent beneficiaries, is important from an asset protection standpoint (unless your state already protects inherited IRAs anyway).

The final issue to be careful of in regard to trusts for qualified plans regards accumulation of income. It may be desirable from an asset protection standpoint to accumulate the distributions in the trust. The downside to having distributions accumulate in a trust (rather than distributing annually) is that trusts are taxed at disfavorable rates. Trusts reach their maximum tax bracket at only $12,150 of income. Therefore, how and when to distribute the distributions coming into the trust from the qualified plan must be carefully considered.

As for other assets (other than from qualified plans), generally the trust can either own the asset directly or the trust can be a beneficiary. Depending upon the tax, estate planning, and asset protection objectives, these trusts can be set up in a variety of ways, and as such a qualified attorney should be consulted as to the appropriate structure depending upon the particular facts of the situation.

Hopefully this article provides a good, brief overview of an often overlooked part of estate planning, e.g. the importance of checking all of one’s beneficiary designations and checking all of one’s deeds, account titles, etc. Do not simply assume that the Will can take care of everything, because often a Will might have no effect whatsoever of a great deal of a person’s property.


— Michael Goode is a member of the TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section's Executive Council and council at Stites & Harbison PLLC  in Nashville

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Estate Planning With Partnerships: Important New Considerations

Two recent acts of Congress (including the rather interestingly named Protection of Americans from Tax Hikes Act) created new audit rules for partnerships. Normally one would not think that a change to “audit rules” would impact estate planning. However, many estates have LLCs taxed as partnerships, or even limited partnerships or limited liability partnerships, which are used as family limited partnerships in order to obtain valuation discounts through lack of control and lack of marketability (provided that all of the proper procedures and documentation is followed). Moreover, many estates have revocable trusts that own limited liability companies, which is a common way to avoid the often lengthy process of probate for business assets. Again, these techniques are quite common.

So what are the new audit rules, and how do they impact estate planning? Briefly, starting in 2018 the new audit rules allow for a partnership level determination of deficiencies if the partnership is audited as the default regime. The problem with this determination is that if there are different partners currently than the year under audit, then the current partners could end up being liable for the past deficiency. There also can be issues with allocation, since the IRS won’t undo erroneous allocation and will simply assess the net increase against the partnership. Another problem is that this deficiency will be assessed at the highest tax rates. The tax matters partner is no longer, and instead there is a partnership representative who does not even need to be a partner. It will be important to select a partnership representative since the IRS gets to choose the representative if one is not selected. Due to the possible negative consequences of the new laws, many partnerships will want to opt out (which will keep determinations at the partner level). The issue is whether trustees that own partnership interests on behalf of trusts will be able to opt out.

The new audit rules allow opting out if there are less than 100 K-1s, and the “each of the partners of such partnership is an individual, a C corporation, any foreign entity that would be treated as a C corporation were it domestic, an S corporation [note that there are some additional rules for S Corps], or an estate of a deceased partner.” Unfortunately the new code section does not mention trusts or trustees at all, so it is currently unclear as to whether partnership that have trusts as owners will be able to opt out. I recently attended a tax conference, and the IRS representative on a panel there informally stated that there would likely be regulations regarding grantor trusts and the ability to opt out (the new audit rules do allow the IRS to prescribe similar rules for other partners not listed in the new code section).

What to do now? For partnerships, family limited partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships (and limited liability limited partnerships), as well as LLCs taxed as partnerships, that are currently being formed, it would be prudent to include some of the language from the new code in partnership and operating agreements in order to insure later that the entity is in compliance, in case the partners do not return to amend the agreements. For existing partnerships, it makes more sense to wait to amend as more regulations are promulgated by the IRS. Extra caution should be taken regarding trusts (particularly non-grantor trusts) as owners, since it is unclear how or if partnerships with trustee owners will be able to opt out.

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Michael Goode is an attorney with Stites & Harbison PLLC in Nashville. He is a member of the TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section Executive Council. 

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ABA Releases Latest Data on Malpractice Claims

The ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability has issued its latest in a series of studies on the state of legal malpractice claims in the United States and Canada. “Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims” has tracked legal malpractice trends for 30 years. This one-of-a-kind data analysis provides attorneys and insurance analysts an in-depth look at current trends as well as comparisons to historical data. The committee chair said this year’s report shows a reduction in real estate claims (which likely stemmed from the economic crisis) but a growth in estate, trust and probate claims, which she attributes to rising numbers of retiring baby boomers.

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3 Wills for Heroes Clinics Planned

The TBA Young Lawyers Division has three Wills for Heroes clinics planned during Celebrate Pro Bono Month. The first will take place Oct. 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Benjamin L. Hooks Public Library in Memphis. The second will take place Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Immanuel Baptist Church in Lebanon. The third will take place Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Franklin Police Department in downtown Franklin. Volunteers are needed for all events. Get details and contact information for each clinic on the TBA.org website.

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What to Do with an Estate with Foreign Assets (Even that 'Little' Bank Account in Europe)

This article regards estates of decedents who owned foreign assets and the tax and reporting requirements. Many people are quite shocked to learn about the reporting requirements for foreign bank accounts, in particular. After all, tax is typically being paid in the foreign jurisdiction, or perhaps the foreign bank accounts generate little to no income that is taxable anyway. There are, however, two categories to be concerned with: First, of course is taxation;  second is reporting in and of itself. How does this all relate to estates? Well, if the estate has foreign assets and the proper reports are not made, then the personal representative of the estate could be liable.

One of the main reporting obligations is actually not an IRS form at all, it’s a treasury department Form FinCen 114, commonly called an FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report). It’s part of the financial crime enforcement network, and if the foreign bank accounts in the aggregate exceed $10,000 at any point during the year (even very briefly) then this report must be electronically filed. The penalties for failure to file can be quite draconian, including willful penalties of 50 percent or more of what is not reported. Again, note that this filing has nothing to do with the amount of tax owed, if any.  If a person has signature authority of foreign financial accounts then there can also be a reporting requirement, even if there is no financial interest in the account.  As such, one should be careful about the accounts that a person has signature authority over.  Similarly, one should be careful about having a power of attorney over one’s parents who have a foreign account, as there could be a reporting requirement.

As for tax reporting, several years ago an act of Congress commonly called FATCA added Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. It is very important that this form is filed, since the statute of limitations never runs if it is not – meaning that there could be a potential tax problem forever.  The IRS recently released regulations requiring this form to be filed by certain domestic entities as well.

Foreign mutual funds held in an estate of a United States citizen or resident are particularly problematic. A United States citizen or resident should never own foreign mutual funds because of the extensive reporting under Form 8621, PFIC shareholder filings and the often very unfavorable tax treatment and the difficulties in obtaining information from often very reluctant foreign financial institutions (FATCA and PFICs are two of the main reasons it’s often hard for United States citizens and residents to open accounts overseas). Although there may be some elections available to alleviate some of the tax burden, foreign financial companies often refuse to supply the needed information.

Of course, some will wonder how the IRS would ever know about these accounts. Well, FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to identify and report US holders of non-US financial accounts. The U.S. already has agreements with most countries for this reporting.

The major forms to be concerned with are set forth in the list below. This is not an exhaustive list and not every form is needed in every circumstance. The form number is listed with its title in parenthesis:

  • FinCen 114 (Foreign Bank Account Report),
  • Form 926 (Transfers to Foreign Corporations),
  • Form 1042 (Payments to Foreign Taxpayers),
  • Form 3520, 3520A (Foreign Trusts),
  • Form 5471 (US Owned Foreign Companies),
  • Form 5472 (Foreign Owned US Companies),
  • Form 8233 (Independent Personal Services by Nonresident),
  • Form 8621 (Passive Foreign Investment Corporations),
  • Form 8833 (Treaty Based Disclosure Form),
  • Form 8840 (Closer Connections Form),
  • Form 8858 (Foreign Disregarded Entities),
  • Form 8865 (Foreign Partnerships),
  • Form 8938 (Specified Foreign Financial Assets),
  • Form W-8BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding).

Now, back to the subject of personal representative liability. Pursuant to Title 31 U.S.C.§3713(b) any personal representative who pays “any part of a debt of the . . . estate before paying a claim of the Government is liable to the extent of the payment for unpaid claims of the Government.” Therefore, the personal representative may be liable for taxes, interest and penalties if the distribution leaves the estate unable to pay the government and the personal representative had notice of the government’s claim. In terms of notice “the executor must have knowledge of the debt owed by the estate to the United States or notice of facts that would lead a reasonably prudent person to inquire as to the existence of the debt owed before making the challenged distribution or payment.” United States v. Coppola, 85 F.3d 1015, 1020 (2d Cir.1996). Therefore, there is a duty of inquiry regarding the existence of these obligations, and as such important that the proper reporting is done and taxes paid.

The good news, however, is that much of the reporting, aside from the PFIC reporting of course, is actually not very difficult. Moreover, there are generally tax credits that can be used due to foreign tax paid, meaning that the U.S. tax liability is often quite small. If there are past years that have not been reported, the government currently offers several different programs to settle the tax and reporting obligations for reduced penalties (provided that a person comes forward prior to receiving IRS notice).  Considering the severity of the penalties, proper reporting is obviously very advisable.

Written By Michael Goode, Executive Council Member, TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section

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Read About Estates, Torts, Family Law … and Dodge Ball?

Murfreesboro lawyer Josh McCreary examines last wills and testaments, writing that "in the wake of the 2015 Court of Appeals opinion in In Re: Estate of Morris, the Tennessee legislature has stepped in and amended Tenn. Code Ann. §32-1-104 to lessen the formalities of Wills executed before July 1, 2016." Read in the September Tennessee Bar Journal what this will mean for estate practice. Columnist John Day writes about the two times in the past five years that the statute of limitations applicable to personal injury claims filed on behalf of persons with mental impairments has been changed. Columnists Marlene Eskind Moses and Manuel Benjamin Russ look into finding and defining income available for child support and alimony, and humor columnist Bill Haltom writes about his dubious experiences with junior high sports, particularly Dodge Ball.

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Court Square 2016 Debuts in Columbia

This year’s Court Square CLE series will launch Sept. 7 at First Farmers Bank in Columbia. Nathan Ridley, Jeff Carson and Roger Maness will address legislative updates, estate planning for digital assets and family law in mediation. Learn more or register online.

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Retirement Webinar on Tap for Wednesday

The ABA Retirement Funds Program is hosting a free webinar on the role of self-directed brokerage accounts (SDBA) within retirement plans. The session will be held this Wednesday at noon Central Daylight Time. Topics include: the basics of SDBAs, the benefits of SDBAs, SDBA product details, how SDBAs work within the regulatory environment of ERISA, and trends related to SDBAs in the marketplace.

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Bristol Lawyer Charged with Stealing from Estate

Bristol lawyer Don W. Cooper has been charged with stealing from an estate for which he was serving as executor, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The agency said it began investigating the 70-year-old in November 2015 and found that he stole more than $10,000 from an estate in which the beneficiary was supposed to be St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Cooper, who was indicted in April for stealing from another estate, turned himself in and was released on a $15,000 bond, the Greeneville Sun reports.

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Message From the Incoming Chair

Dear Section Members,

As the incoming chair of the Estate Planning and Probate Section for the 2016-2017 bar year, I cordially invite you to join us June 15-18 at the annual TBA Convention in Nashville at the Sheraton Music City Hotel. In particular, please make plans to attend the Estate Planning and Probate Section meeting on Friday, June 17, at 10 a.m. in the Cheekwood Room.

We will discuss plans for the upcoming TBA year, including continuing education and networking opportunities. As a Section Member, we welcome your attendance, participation and suggestions as to how we can make the Section stronger and a more valuable resource to you and your practice.

Please reach out to me directly if I can be of assistance. I look forward to serving as your Chair and hope to see you at the TBA Convention in Nashville.

Jeff Carson

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