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By Andrew Wolkiewicz on August 22, 2018 at 3:50 PM

Aretha Franklin singing on January 20, 2009Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, died Aug. 16, 2018. Within days, her four sons filed court documents alleging that she died without a will or trust. If the court filing is confirmed and no will or trust is found, her estate will be considered “intestate.” In other words, Franklin gave no indication as to how her assets should be distributed when she died and the matter will need to be resolved under state law.

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By Andrew Wolkiewicz on April 6, 2018 at 9:50 AM

Four hands raising bidding paddles in the air at an auction“Any other bids? And….sold to No. 45 for $1,500!”

Yes! You have outbid the other contenders at the local humane society’s charity auction to win a five-night stay at a condo in Destin, Florida, in August. You think, “Not only did I get a great vacation, I also get a tax deduction for my donation!” Or do you?

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By Andrew Wolkiewicz on March 22, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Woman peeking through blinds. A trustee is responsible for administering a trust for the benefit of the beneficiary or beneficiaries. Unless the beneficiary is also a trustee, he or she will not have direct access to information regarding the investments, debts, liabilities, expenses, receipts and other financial arrangements of the trust. Without a mechanism for learning this information, the beneficiary might worry that assets will run out, the trustee might misuse funds, or another problem will occur. Therefore, Missouri law, and the law of those states that have adopted similar provisions from the Uniform Trust Code (UTC), provides that a trustee must provide specific information and an annual report to certain beneficiaries so their interests may be protected.

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By Andrew Wolkiewicz, Keith Herman on January 31, 2018 at 10:54 AM

Paper house and calculator on top of a book, showing estate planningOn Dec. 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law what is commonly known as the Tax Reform and Jobs Act of 2017 (2017 Act). As explained in more detail below, the 2017 Act increased the estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemptions. This legislation expires at the end of 2025 and the tax laws will revert to where they stood prior to the 2017 Act unless Congress makes additional changes before then.

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By Andrew Wolkiewicz on September 18, 2017 at 10:10 AM

Money laying next to a gift box. Bloomberg BNA has released its U.S. tax rate projections for 2018, which can be found here.

There are two very important changes expected that will impact estate planning in the coming year. BNA is projecting that the annual gift tax exclusion will rise from $14,000 to $15,000. This means individuals and married couples will be able to transfer more wealth, tax free, each year. This change is particularly important for trusts funded annually with an amount equal to the gift tax exclusion. 

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By Andrew Wolkiewicz on July 31, 2017 at 3:15 PM

Image of Missouri State capitolOn July 14, 2017, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed legislation that included a number of provisions related to estates and trusts.

Among the casualties of the veto were several provisions regarding estate and trust matters, the most significant being the Missouri Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. Under this act, a user would be allowed to grant a fiduciary access to his or her electronic records or digital assets in a will, trust, power of attorney or other similar instrument. This issue is becoming more significant with the rise of online banking, trading and other financial services and will only increase in significance as more people abandon paper records for cloud services and other electronic storage. For now, Missouri is left without a uniform statute addressing these issues.

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By Andrew Wolkiewicz on April 12, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Image of moving van filled with moving boxesMoving from one state to another is often time-consuming. You may spend days looking for the right home or apartment, and more time painting, remodeling or ripping down outdated wallpaper — not to mention countless hours bubble-wrapping and then unpacking fragile items.

But to really make sure your move is perfect, you need to review your estate plan with an attorney. While trust and estate laws may be similar from state to state, no two legal systems are identical.

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By Andrew Wolkiewicz on January 12, 2017 at 9:15 AM

Clock with message: "Times are changing"Maybe you just recently signed your estate planning documents. Maybe your documents have been sitting in a drawer or firebox, sight unseen, for five or more years. Either way, a common question is: When do I need to update my estate plan?

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