A wealth tax proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren has found favor in certain academic circles, including the University of California, Berkeley. It would be 2 percent of worldwide assets of U.S. citizens and residents in excess of $50 million and 3 percent of assets in excess of $1 billion, in addition to existing income and transfer taxes. It’s claimed this wealth tax would raise an estimated $2.75 trillion in revenue over 10 years. But is it constitutional?
The district court decision in Badgley v U.S. (ND Cal, May 17, 2018, No. 17–cv-00877–HSG) 2018 US Dist Lexis 83537 confirms what we have long believed: The value of a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) is included in the grantor’s estate if the grantor dies during the term of the retained annuity interest.
The appellate decision in Yeh v Tai (2017) 18 CA5th 953 completely misses the main issue in the case but still makes an important point about breach of fiduciary duty claims against a deceased spouse.
The corporate tax cut is permanent, but most individual provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Pub L 115–97, 131 Stat 2054) are set to expire for tax years beginning after December 31, 2025. These expiring provisions will tax the ingenuity and patience of estate planners and their clients. What to do?
Updated 2/1/18: In Gaynor v Bulen (Jan. 23, 2018, D070907) 2018 Cal App Lexis 53, the court held that a petition alleging that trust assets were improperly used in probate litigation was not a cause of action arising from protected activity under the anti-SLAPP statute. Although the alleged breach of loyalty may have been carried out by the filing of probate petitions, the petitioning activity itself was not the basis of the claim.
Despite its name, a statute designed to deter strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) has been applied to a variety of private disputes, including probate proceedings, as a recent decision illustrates.
The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act (EADACPA) (Welf & I C §§15600–15675) provides enhanced remedies for “financial abuse” that results in a loss of property of someone over age 65. This can get complicated because the property interests of elders may not be held in their own name; they often are held in a variety of ownership vehicles for estate planning or business reasons. This raises the question, may the elder sue under EADACPA for injury to those property interests? The answer is, it depends.
When the marriage is over, former spouses usually want their property to go somewhere else when they die. At least the revocation-on-divorce statute assumes this is so and renders transfers made to the other spouse null and void. The statute became effective in 2001, but it now looks like it may affect transfers made before then.
Proposition 13 has allowed many homeowners and other property owners to perpetuate low historical assessments for years or generations using the interspousal exclusion and parent-child (or grandparent-grandchild) exclusion from a change in ownership at death. Rev & T C §§63, 63.1. These property tax opportunities are an important part of California estate planning, and life estates play an important role in making it work.