Monday, February 27, 2012

February Fraud Alert from Denver DA

The Denver DA’s office sends out a "Fraud Alert" each month. This month, they caution that "The most common tax fraud this time of year is committed by perpetrators who use stolen identities to file tax returns in the hopes of collecting tax refunds. However, not all identity thieves have financial motives in mind. Stolen Social Security numbers are also used by perpetrators or others with questionable backgrounds to get a job." They note that perpetrators will send e-mails or call saying they are from the IRS and asking for Social Security numbers and other information. The IRS never contacts taxpayers in this way. The alert also tells taxpayers to be sure to use a password to protect your tax return electronic file, and then save it to a disk and delete it from your hard drive. To see other Fraud Alerts, go to Fraud Alerts.

Monday, February 20, 2012

“Temporary” Reduction in Probate Filing Fees

Effective January 23, 2012, the Colorado Supreme Court has temporarily reduced filing fees in court actions, including probate matters. At least temporarily, the fee for filing an application or petition for probate is $127 instead of $164, and the fee for filing a trust registration statement is $126 instead of $163. The fee for certifying Letters is also reduced from $20 to $13. While the directive on the Supreme Court website says that the reduction is temporary, it does not say when the fees will go back up to prior levels. See Filing Fees.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Estate Planning Basic Skills 2012

Laurie Hunter will be presenting at the Colorado Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminar entitled "Denver Estate Planning Basic Skills 2012" on March 1, 2012. Laurie's presentation will focus on Planning for Married Clients and Larger Estates: Yours, Mine and Ours - Second Marriages and Blended Families, Using Contingent Trusts for Children or Grandchildren, Planning for Problem Adult Children, Non-Tax Considerations When Planning the Larger Estate Such as Distributions of Business Interests, Etc., Which Tax Apportionment Clause is Appropriate, Married with Children.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Portability: Mechanics, Compliance and Risks

Josie Faix is presenting a seminar entitled, "Portability: Mechanics, Compliance and Risks" on behalf of the Trust & Estate Section of the Colorado Bar Association on February 7, 2012 at the CBA offices at 1900 Grant Street, Suite 300, Denver, Colorado. Josie will focus on compliance and exposure issues related to what has been trumpeted by some in the media as one of the most significant estate planning benefits of Sections 302(a)(1) and 303(a) of The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Estate Planning - Being Mindful of Divorce

There are some lessons to be learned in the estate planning context to help protect family assets from claims of a spouse of a child or other relative in a dissolution proceeding.

Property is characterized as either "marital" property or "separate" property. Generally separate property is allocated 100% to the party who owns it. Fortunately, from an estate planning perspective, separate property includes property which is received by gift or inheritance. The earnings on and appreciation in value of separate property is, however, characterized as marital property. In general, all property which is not separate property is characterized as marital property and is subject to division by the divorce court. Colorado is a so-called "equitable" division state which means that marital property does not have to be divided equally, but may be divided on a non-pro rata basis determined to be equitable by the court. One basis for an unequal division may be the disproportionate value of separate property owned by one of the parties.

One risk is that property which might otherwise be characterized as separate property may lose that status if it becomes commingled with marital property or otherwise cannot be traced to its separate property source.

For more information on this topic, including some general guidelines, see our December 2011 newsletter.