Monday, July 21, 2008

James Brown Estate Auction Update

James Bernstein over at New York Probate & Estate Litigation Blog posts that a court in South Carolina has ordered that the Auction of Mr. Brown's estate go forward. Read his post for more details.

Avoiding Probate in a Small Estate

In California, as in many other states, if an estate is small enough, it can avoid probate. California allows for "summary administration" of estates of less than $100,000 by affidavit. What this means is the successor(s) or beneficiary(ies) can prepare a declaration that includes certain required information and present it to the holder of the property in the estate, and are entitled to receive the property.

Although California sets forth the requirements of the affidavit for content and presentation to the holder of the property in Probate Code sections 13100-13104 and 13106.5, there is no approved form to use. So, if you want to start a summary administration, you must draft (or hire an attorney to draft) the form yourself.

Other states, including Illinois, have such forms for use by beneficiaries. Joel Schoenmeyer posts on his excellent Death and Taxes blog about the Illinois form. You can't use it here in California, but it is an example that perhaps the Judicial Council, which is responsible for approving such forms here, may want to consider.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Estate of the God Father of Soul

Heirs - named, disputed and otherwise - are fighting over the goodies in James Brown's estate. The NY Times reported over the weekend about how the planned auction of items from the GFOS's estate is being postponed while the dispute is dealt with.

So, if you were planning on getting one of those glittery jumpsuits, or some unused hair product, you're gonna have to wait a little while longer.

Remember, when planning your estate, don't be shy. Tell your estate planning attorney about ALL your potential heirs, and whether or not you expect anyone will contest your estate. Better to get it over with now. No one likes posthumous surprises.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Estate Tax plans of Obama and McCain

The Tax Prof Blog has posted about the proposed estate tax plans of the two candidates. Their feed is from an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Basically, Obama proposes to make the 2009 levels permanent. A $3.5 million exemption and a 45% tax rate.

McCain, while not advocating a total repeal, comes pretty close. He proposes a $5 million exemption and a 15% rate, which would match the capital gains rate.

Whatever your philosophy is on the estate tax, or taxes in general, at least we now have some guidance of how the estate tax question will shake out. I haven't shied away from my opinions in this blog, but right now, I'm not really in the mood. Besides, it's the Fourth of July. So stop thinking about taxes and go out there and have some fun! Celebrate the 232nd anniversary of our declaring our independence from Great Britain! Which was prompted by a tax revolt.

Alright, fine. Maybe the Fourth is about taxes.