The Wealth & Wisdom Blog

Information on Estate Planning, Estate and Trust Administration and Unique Asset Planning

A 2024 Estate Planning Prospective

Compared to world events expected to occur in 2024, upcoming tax law changes are, admittedly, relatively tame.  Perhaps you are looking forward to the Paris Summer Olympics, or hold guarded optimism about your child or grandchild’s big game or musical performance.  You certainly know about the newest season of your favorite streaming television show.  You also understand you must endure coverage of the upcoming presidential election.


Qualified Personal Residence Trusts

This was a great Thanksgiving, but who will host Thanksgiving next year?  Based on calls we receive from clients in the weeks following Thanksgiving, we know that home and cabin ownership planning is a common discussion topic during Thanksgiving.  In this month’s update, I provide a brief overview of a Qualified Personal Residence Trust (“QPRT), which is one of several legal strategies a family might consider to transfer ownership of a home or cabin to a child or children during lifetime.


Family Partnership Planning

The IRS announced last month that it plans to increase audits of wealthy individuals and partnerships, with a special focus on the seventy-five largest partnerships.  According to the IRS announcement, the purpose of the audits will be to, “identify sophisticated schemes intended to avoid taxes.”  In response to this IRS announcement, in this month’s update I briefly summarize how a family partnership plan is generally implemented as well as the resulting legal and tax benefits of the planning.


Generation-Skipping Trusts

Our kids are wealthier than we are!”  Some of my clients emphasize the wealth of their children as we customize their multi-generational estate plan.  “How can we help our grandchildren instead?”

As noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, many wealthy families are implementing plans to lock in current federal exemption amounts to save estate and gift taxes at multiple generations.  One strategy is to implement a certain type of trust, known variously as a generation-skipping transfer trust, a dynasty trust, or a GST Trust. Contrary to what may be inferred by these monikers, a GST Trust can be a blessing in disguise to the very children who are ostensibly skipped by the GST Trust. In this month’s update, I summarize the benefits and costs of the GST Trust planning strategy.


Revocable Trust Planning

Do I need a revocable trust?  While a revocable trust has become a common estate planning strategy, it is also the subject of much confusion.  The late Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christiansen taught that businesses must precisely distill the objective that customers are hiring the service or product to accomplish; that is, what Christiansen termed “the job.” Businesses failing to understand “the job” for which the product or service is being hired will flounder. In this month’s update, I summarize “the job” that is being accomplished through a revocable trust, and distinguish this job from other jobs accomplished through other estate planning strategies.


Portability of Tax Exemptions

Each of my three middle-school children recently came to my wife and me with two “first-world” problems.  Ahead of various upcoming trips away from home this summer, each of them asked for more portable pillows and more portable electronic devises. These portability problems remind me of certain planning discussions about the portability of one’s estate tax exemptions.  In this month’s update, I summarize the portability of federal gift and estate tax exemptions, and what factors should be considered in implementing a plan relying solely on a portable federal exemption.


Debts Following Death

My estate planning goal is to bounce my last check.”  Numerous clients, in jest.

Most of the estates we represent hold sufficient assets to pay all the deceased loved one’s debts, including the last check written.  In some cases, however, the remaining debts of a decedent exceed his or her remaining assets.  Just last week, President Biden and Congress agreed to raise the federal debt ceiling, news that brought the federal debt to the nation’s attention once again.1 In this month’s update, I segue from the recent national debt ceiling news to briefly summarize the legal implications of personal debts owed at death.


The Minnesota Electronic Wills Act

Can’t we just e-sign our Wills?  Clients are surprised to learn that under Minnesota law, a Will must be signed on physical paper, in ink, and in the physical presence of two witnesses.  Since many legal contracts can now be signed by electronic signature, Will signing formalities might seem to be stuck in the 1950’s.  I was once told by a woman at the end of our last date that I belonged in the 1950’s.  I therefore deem myself a good fit for the estate planning bar.

To bring Will signing formalities out of the 1950’s, Minnesota Governor Walz recently signed into law the Electronic Wills Act (“Act”).  This month’s update summarizes how to sign a valid electronic Will (“E-Will”) under the Act, but also explains why, as a firm focused on the implementation of client-specific, comprehensive, and tax-efficient estate plans, the Act will have little relevance to our firm’s estate planning practice.


The Disposition of Your Remains

I am sorry to report that you missed it again this year.  A few weeks ago, the 21st annual Frozen Dead Guy Days (the “FDGD” as it is known by the locals) occurred in Morstoel, Colorado.  The weekend’s annual festivities commemorate the deceased Grandpa Bredo, whose remains are currently cryogenically frozen in a shed near Morstoel.  In this month’s update, I share a few sordid stories of the bodily remains of the rich and/or famous, and then get serious by summarizing legal rules for the disposition of bodily remains.


Charitable Planning with Retirement Accounts

It Ought to be Simpler than This! 

I have patience for those tasks that I expect ahead of time will be difficult to complete.  I have less patience for those tasks that I expect to be easy, and turn out to be difficult.   This is sometimes the case with various estate planning and administration matters.  Consider the following common planning scenario that one might expect to be simple to implement, but in actual legal practice is difficult to implement:


This blog is intended to provide the reader with assistance in understanding various estate planning and trust estate planning concepts. In an effort to keep things as digestible as possible, I have tried to keep each blog post as short as possible.  As a result, an astute reader would see that I often fail to address various exceptions to rules or principals, or how various principles relate to one another.  There are a number of moving parts associated with various planning structures summarized on this blog.  In order to achieve your estate planning objectives, it is important that you receive the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney.  Otherwise, your family may be in a worse position for your having attempted these strategies on your own.  Until we form an attorney-client relationship, you should be aware that your visiting this blog has not formed an attorney-client relationship, and none of this information can be taken as legal advice.  To contact my office about scheduling an appointment, contact us at 612-465-0080.