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Estate Planning

Divorcing clients have a range of estate planning needs, but some issues arise for nearly everyone whose marriage is ending, notes Chicago lawyer and ISBA member Lauren Evans DeJong. So be prepared to counsel your divorcing client about the following five estate-planning tasks.

Changing beneficiary designations. These include removing the soon-to-be ex as beneficiary "of [the client's] life insurance policies, individual retirement accounts, land trusts, and annuities," DeJong writes. Also review "transfer on death or payable on death bank or brokerage accounts, land conveyed by transfer on death deeds, and employee benefits."

Controlling access to online accounts. The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, 755 ILCS 70/1 et seq., which took effect last year, "provides a priority system for individuals to specifically control disclosure of digital assets and content of electronic communications" on social media, email, and the like.

"Many clients will not want their…ex to have access to their e-mails, Facebook or Instagram accounts, financial or banking information, diaries, or other personal information," DeJong writes.

"Individuals can use online tools established by providers [e.g., Google's Inactive Account Manager and Facebook's Legacy Contact] to direct disclosure of digital assets," she writes. "[A]n online tool…takes precedence over any other method of directing disclosure." Another option is to draft a statement directing disclosure, which can be included in a client's will, trust, or POA.

Gain an understanding of what it takes to prepare an estate plan for a client from Attorney Ryan Walsh.

Don’t miss this full-day seminar in Chicago or via live webcast on May 20, 2016 that offers practical advice from experienced estate planning attorneys on how to efficiently and effectively run an estate planning practice. New attorneys, young attorneys, and attorneys with limited experience in the estate planning process who attend this seminar will better understand: the purpose and limitations of powers of attorney; the importance of obtaining an accurate value of your client’s assets; the challenges of representing couples jointly; how to create a successful management process for your estate planning engagements; how and why to use engagement/disengagement letters; how to advise clients with both large and small net worths; the types of clauses to use when drafting an estate plan; how to handle clients with limited or diminished capacity; what to do when your client is being pressured by an outside party; and much more!

So how will the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) affect your estate planning clients as the rollout rolls along? Well, there is some bad news and some good news, write Steve Buttice and Darrell Dies in the latest ISBA Trusts & Estates newsletter.

Or, put another way, there are some tax increases and tax reductions. That means it's time to look at Obamacare-driven estate planning opportunities if you haven't already done so, especially for high-earning clients.

For example, a couple of new Medicare taxes kick in this year for high earners, one on earned income and one on investment income. As for earned income, there's not much your clients can do except "earn less," Buttice and Dies say. But for investment income, they write, "savvy estate planners might consider advising clients, in tandem with their investment advisors, to consider using Roth IRAs which do not give off taxable income, installment sales which spread out taxable income, contributions to charitable remainder trusts which act to defer taxable income or reduce net investment income with tax exempt bonds or consider the viability of using other insurance products to avoid the new tax." Read their article.

Are you a trust and estate professional, new attorney, financial planner, or accountant? Then don’t miss this hot topic discussion on a variety of estate planning issues in Chicago on October 10th! Designed for attorneys with all levels of practice experience, the seminar examines practical developments for estate planning practitioners and enhances your knowledge in a number of key areas, including: the recent changes in Federal and Illinois estate planning law; the ins and outs for irrevocable life insurance trusts; planning for disability; how to use available domestic and extra-jurisdictional vehicles to mitigate threats to your client’s wealth; the charitable planning choices and the rules for each type of gift; and same-sex planning. Can’t attend the live seminar in Chicago? Then join us via the web….this program is being broadcast as a live webcast via the Internet so attorneys can attend remotely! Click here for more information.

The program is presented by the ISBA Trusts & Estates Section and qualifies for 6.0 hours MCLE credit.

Click here for more information and to register for the live program.

Join us in Chicago on April 25th for an in-depth look at the basic estate planning tools you need to effectively assist your estate planning clients! Learn the essentials of the initial client meeting, the appropriate use of advanced directives and the ethical considerations in the estate planning process. Don’t miss this opportunity to update your basic knowledge of wills, trusts, and formulating your client’s estate plan. Trusts and estate professionals, new attorneys, small and closely-held business counsel, financial planners and accountants with beginning to intermediate experience who attend this seminar will: learn how to obtain relevant information during the initial client meeting; be better prepared to draft dispositive provisions in a will; understand how to personalize a client’s will; learn to recognize potential gift and estate tax issues; understand the importance of funding trusts; learn to recognize potential gift and estate tax issues; be able to avoid the various pitfalls that may arise throughout the estate planning process; and better understand the ethical considerations in estate planning, including engagement letters, identifying conflicts, and complying with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.

The program is presented by the ISBA Trusts & Estate Section Council and qualifies for 6.25 hours MCLE credit, including 1.75 hours Professional Responsibility MCLE credit (subject to approval).

Click here for more information and to register.

The General Assembly is grappling with a $2.7 billion Medicaid funding gap in the as of yet unpublished "SMART" bill. One of the pieces in it may be a reversal of the Medicaid eligibility rules in the compromise last fall between the Department of Healthcare and Family Services' and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. An excellent and comprehensive summary of that compromise may be found here in the January 2012 Illinois Bar Journal (by Diana Law and William Siebers). Some of these changes may include the following: (1) A home held in a trust, even an individual’s personal revocable living trust, shall no longer be considered homestead property. (2) People over the age of 65 can no longer participate in a federally created OBRA Pooled Trust. (3) A healthy spouse still living at home will receive only the minimum resource allowance instead of the maximum allowance as previously approved by JCAR. Whatever action the General Assembly may take on this issue will occur in the next ten days, and we'll try to keep you informed to the extent we can.