Estate Planning & Probate Forum 2020

The TBA’s highly regarded Estate Planning & Probate Forum will return to the Embassy Suites Cool Springs on Friday, Feb. 21. This annual staple for planning professionals will feature best practices and tips regarding timely topics such as:
  • Practical will and trust drafting, including basic forms
  • A panel discussion regarding administration of trusts
  • Testimonials regarding probate litigation and will contests
  • What Tennessee has done to to become a top trust jurisdiction
  • A probate panel with representatives from the three grand divisions
  • Legislative updates
  • Ethics for planners
  • And more
Attendees of the forum who wish to stay at the hotel will receive a discounted TBA rate. You can reserve your room at the TBA rate by using this link, or by calling 1-800-EMBASSY and referencing the group code EPF. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from seasoned practitioners and top players in the field while being a beneficiary of necessary CLE credits. Missing out is irrevocable.
When: Friday, Feb. 21, registration begins at 8 a.m., CST
Where: Embassy Suites Cool Springs, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
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New Federal Tax Changes on the Horizon

Kicking off in 2020, the IRS has made numerous revisions to both individual income tax brackets and retirement taxes. Among the changes are an increased standard deduction and a raise in the employee contribution limit for 401(k), 403(b) and most 457 plans. CNBC has provided a brief breakdown on recent changes to be aware of beginning this new year.

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Recent Changes to Secure Act Will Affect IRA, 401(k) Withdrawals

Recent changes to the federal Secure Act stand to significantly affect IRA and 401(k) disbursement to beneficiaries, the Washington Post reports. Currently, IRAs and 401(k)s are subject to required minimum distributions, but withdrawals can be extended over the course of a lifetime to mitigate the tax burden. Beginning this year, the Secure Act imposes a 10-year window to withdraw the money. According to the Congressional Research Service, the change is expected to generate $15.7 billion in tax revenue.

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Estimates Say Fewer Than 2,000 Households Will Pay Estate Taxes This Year

Fewer than 2,000 households are expected to pay estate taxes in the U.S. this year, according to a piece published yesterday in Business Insider. This marks a tremendous drop from the 52,000 estates subject to the tax at the start of the millennium. In 2018, the exemption essentially doubled the previous rate enacted in 2010, with exempted amounts now sitting at $11.4 million per person and $22.8 million for a married couple.

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Survey Suggests Only 1% of Americans Use a Financial Planner

A recent poll suggests that only about one percent of Americans rely on the guidance of a financial planner, with most respondents saying they feel that using a financial advisor is expensive and only for the wealthy, CNBC reports. While not unsurprising that most people handle finances themselves or through a spouse, the large disparity highlights those concerns and general misconceptions regarding the different functions a financial advisor can provide. CNBC Digital Financial Advisor Council member and president and founder of Bone Fide Wealth in New York, Douglas Boneparth, said that other contributors could be the numerous financial assistance products available online, increased debt among younger Americans and unawareness of advisors who will work with a less-wealthy population.

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Estate of Rocker Ric Ocasek Likely to be Settled in Court

The estate of Cars front man and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ric Ocasek is likely headed for a court battle regarding the exclusion of his estranged wife in an updated will, Forbes reports. Ocasek was in the middle of divorce proceedings with his wife of 30 years, Sport Illustrated swimsuit model Paulina Porizkova, when he died in September having eliminated her from his will just a few weeks prior. Porizkova was removed as a beneficiary because of the pending divorce, with the filing alleging that she “abandoned” him and should not be entitled to any elective share. The estate was filed in New York, where current law says that spouses have the right to pursue a share of the estate, even when they are disinherited. That right can be lost in the case of abandonment, which is up to the discretion of a probate judge. The estate listed $5 million in copyrights and another $115,000 in personal property and cash.

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Jeffrey Epstein's Estate Seeks to Establish 'Claims Resolution Program' as Alternative to Litigation

Attorneys managing the estate of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein last week filed papers in the Superior Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands — where Epstein’s will is in probate — seeking to establish a "claims resolution program" that would allow victims to pursue claims without litigation, CNN reports. Executors have hired several prominent lawyers to manage claims for Epstein's alleged victims, including the former deputy special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund who will act as administrator, and attorneys who oversee a fund for sexual abuse victims in 23 dioceses of the Catholic Church. There are currently at least 11 active lawsuits against the Epstein estate.

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The Hidden Cost of Medicaid Benefits

A recent article by The Atlantic explores the Medicaid assistance program and its implications regarding the estates of decedent beneficiaries. The piece examines one case in particular where a Massachusetts woman was notified of an almost $200,000 lien on a family home after her mother succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease. As it stands, Medicaid is the only welfare program that can function as a loan, with recipients over the age of 55 expected to repay the government for medical expenses or face seizure of property to satisfy the debt.

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TDCI Urges Legal Representatives and Beneficiaries to Check for Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) is working to address the issue of unclaimed life insurance benefits, urging residents in the state to take advantage of the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s Life Insurance Policy Locator that enables beneficiaries, executors, or legal representatives of a deceased person to track down the life insurance policies or annuity contracts of their late family members or friends. TDCI announced that the tool is responsible for recovery of more than $18.5 million in unclaimed benefits by Tennesseans this year, with over $188 million recovered nationally.

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How Financial Planners Can Combat Elder Abuse

Financial planners who assist elderly clients might be a first line of defense in recognizing elder abuse, which makes spotting these signs of abuse and knowing how to assist abused seniors by these professionals imperative, according to a recent piece in Financial Planning. In fact, 23 states — including Tennessee — have adopted model legislation by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) that addresses such issues because of advisors’ distinct ability to notice early warning signs of abuse. Tennessee codified its version of NASAA’s model legislation in 2017.

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