The Montana Estate Lawyer

Thursday, July 11, 2019

State Taxation of Trusts

On June 21, 2019, the US Supreme Court ruled in North Carolina Department of Revenue v. Kaestner 1992 Family Trust that the presence of in-state beneficiaries alone does not permit a state to tax trust income that has not been distributed to the beneficiaries where the beneficiaries have (1) no right to demand the income and (2) no guarantee that they would eventually receive the income from the trust. 

In 1992, Joseph Lee Rice III created a trust for the benefit of his children. The trust was to be governed by New York law (Rice’s home state), with the initial trustee residing in New York and the trust custodians residing in Massachusetts. The original trust provided that the trustee would have “absolute discretion” to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries “in such amounts and proportions” as the trustee might “from time to time” decide.
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Are you prepared if disaster strikes?

The most common response I hear when I ask if a person has finished  his or her estate planning is, “I’m not worried, I have plenty of time.”  People view estate planning as simply directing how their stuff is distributed.  Estate planning, however, is more involved than that.  Proper estate planning should address both what happens while you are alive and what happens after your death.  First, you should ensure you have named people you trust to make decisions on your behalf while you are still alive and that your affairs are organized enough that they are able to do so.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Your Estate Plan – It’s Not Just About Your Assets, It’s About Your Legacy

What’s most important to pass on to the next generation? A recent survey by Age Wave Consulting asked Americans aged 45 years and older this question.  The results may surprise you in that the number one ranked answer was not “financial assets or real estate.”  The number one ranked answer was actually “values and life lessons” from 74% of the respondents.  The lowest ranked answer was "financial assets or real estate," while ranked in between were “instructions and wishes to be fulfilled” and “personal possessions of an emotional value.”

Traditionally, legacy planning has focused on the legal documents and financial techniques needed to transfer tangible assets.
Read more . . .

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Hospital Ordered to Pay $400,000 in Do-Not-Resuscitate Lawsuit

I saw the following article in the Great Falls Tribune this past weekend, as report by the Associated Press. The article, in its entirety, states:

“A Montana hospital has been ordered to pay more than $400,000 in damages to the estate of a man after jurors found the hospital, on two consecutive days, violated the man’s wishes not to be resuscitated.

A jury on Thursday found St. Peter’s Health in Helena and Dr. Virginia Lee Harrison negligent for violating Rodney Knoepfle’s patient rights.

Read more . . .

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Tanya is Retiring

May 31st marks the last day for our longtime employee, Tanya Steil, who is retiring. She has been with the office for thirteen years, and has served as an able legal assistant with her primary role being client relations coordinator. Quite a run!

Those of you who know Tanya will remember her for her outgoing personality and contagious laugh. We'll remember her for that, and for her loyalty and can-do attitude.

Tanya, thank you for your many years of service, your role and help in making our firm what it is today, and your friendship.

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Coping with a Terminal Diagnosis: Getting Your Affairs in Order, Living Your Life

A terminal illness diagnosis is always devastating, whether it’s you or a loved one receiving the sad news. It changes your priorities overnight, and initiates a flurry of activity as you work to get your affairs in order. It’s a profoundly emotional time, but you need to stay focused and take care of personal arrangements as quickly and thoroughly as possible. 


The first order of business is to make sure your Read more . . .

Friday, April 12, 2019

All Natural Ways To Cope With Grief & Loss

Unfortunately, loss is a part of life, and something that everyone will experience at some point — and usually more than once. Grief is a natural response to losing someone that is important to you. During the grief process, you may have feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, confusion, or even depression, which all can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Coping with grief and loss is not easy, but there are resources available to try to make it easier. Below, are a few natural and healthy ways to cope with grief and loss.

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Federal Estate Tax Portability

This is a written summary of the availability of “portability” under the federal estate tax laws.  

“Portability” refers to the process of transferring a deceased spouse’s unused federal estate tax exclusion or exemption to the surviving spouse.  This allows the surviving spouse to add the deceased spouse’s unused exclusion to their own personal federal estate tax exclusion thus allowing the surviving spouse to increase the amount they can transfer on their death, without incurring federal estate tax.

Currently, the federal estate tax rate is 40%.  As a general rule, all assets a person owns at the time of their death are subject to federal estate tax.
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Thursday, March 21, 2019

The “Death” Tax that Applies to Gifts

In the “old days” people made annual gifts to minimize taxes.  Today, that’s probably going to increase taxes for most families.

Lifetime gifting may be a good strategy to minimize estate tax, but it can have just the opposite result as to income tax. With the high estate tax exclusion amount ($11,400,000) and the top income tax rates at 37% (plus a surtax), the focus in estate planning has changed. The majority of Americans don't have to worry about estate tax under current law, so now the focus should be on their exposure to income tax.
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Thursday, January 31, 2019

What are your options to pay for long-term care?

There are several common approaches for dealing with future long-term care expenses:

(1) do nothing; 
(2) assume Medicare or Medicaid will pay for it; or
(3) Insurance or other benefits to offset the costs.

For risk of being the bearer of bad news, the first two options should not be your primary plan.  If you do nothing, you are only prolonging the inevitable.  About 70% of all individuals over age 70 will need some form of long-term care. 

Medicare does not cover long-term care costs unless it is considered rehabilitation for a limited time post-hospital stay.
Read more . . .

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Checklist for Family of Immediate Tasks After the Death of a loved One (Originally posted May 16, 2014)

With my mother’s recent passing and helping my siblings identify and deal with matters as they came up, I was reminded of the checklist that I posted about 5 years ago.  Because it still has relevancy today, I am reposting it and encouraging all that come across it to share it with as needed.  

One of the services we provide at Scott, Tokerud & McCarty, P.C., is probate/trust administration of decedents’ estates.
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