Recent Articles



February 2019

Jeff Baskies - The Scottie Pippen Case is a Good Reminder that Florida Property Appraisers Enforce Homestead Laws, and There are Complex Issues with Trying to Own a Florida Homestead AnonymouslyIn December, Scottie Pippen (as Trustee of his revocable trust- as landlord) sued the renters of his Florida mansion alleging over $100,000 in damages. The complaint was e-filed on December 3, 2018 and is available online.


April 2018

Possible Estate Planning Strategies Arising From The Tax Cuts and Jobs ActThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), signed Into law on December 22,2017, and effective as of January 1,2018, increased the lifetime gift tax exemption from $S million ($5,490,000 for 2017 as adjusted for inflation) to $10 million ($11,180,000 for 2018 as adjusted for inflation). This increase presents planners and their clients with a tremendous opportunity to transfer more wealth without paying any federal transfer tax. For some clients, the tax changes will allow them to transfer additional sums to already existing irrevocable trusts, or to reduce any outstanding debts by reducing or eliminating existing promissory notes. Other clients may terminate QTIP trusts or use their exemptions on new planning strategies altogether.


September 2017

Jeff Baskies on Ramos v. Motamed: Gym Records Blow Up Bogus Asset Protection Plan in a Novel Florida Homestead Exemption Case - Bad Facts Case Provides a Good Reminder that Effectively Changing Domicile Is Not a GameIn a novel Florida homestead case, a debtor’s claim to a homestead exemption (from his creditors’ claims) was denied when the evidence in trial (including his gym records) belied his claim of being a Florida resident.


May 2017

Art Discount Disputes Are Alive and Well - Tax Court Rejects Estate's Expert's Value, but Allows Unique DiscountsIn Estate of Kollsman v. Comm’r, the Tax Court redetermined the value of two 17th Century “Old Master” paintings after rejecting the estate’s expert’s appraisals. The estate’s expert was ignored, as the court found the expert/appraiser: (a) was conflicted and motivated by personal economic interests, (b) exaggerated the risks associated with cleaning the artworks, and (c) didn’t offer comparable sales analysis and didn’t adequately explain how one of the paintings was sold a few years post death – by Sotheby’s – for approximately 5 times his estimated value (for tax purposes).


January 2017

Have You Revised Your Health Care Surrogate Forms?Effective October 1,2015, the Florida Legislature adopted sweeping revisions to the Florida Health Care Surrogates Act. These changes require practitioners to revise their designation of health care surrogate forms and spend additional time with their clients when executing them.


Proper timing for irrevocable life insurance trustsI was recently confronted with an old problem: when does an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust ("ILIT") have to be in place? If a client applied for life insurance before the trust was complete, does the policy's death benefit come into the client's estate if he or she dies within three years? Clearly, the issuance of an insurance policy and the existence of an ILIT can have important tax consequences of which advisors, agents and clients should be aware.


August 2016

Wealth Planning AlertOn August 2, 2016, the Treasury Department issued Proposed Regulations that would eliminate virtually all minority or lack of control discounts for family controlled entities (including family limited partnerships, LLCs and corporations, regardless of whether active businesses or passive holding companies) for gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer tax purposes. Public Hearings on the Proposed Regulations are scheduled in Washington, DC on December 1, 2016. The Treasury announced that most of the new rules would not be effective before 30 days after the Proposed Regulations become final. Hence, it is possible the new Regulations will take effect sometime late this year or early next year. As a result, it is important to complete any discount-related planning during the next several months.


June 2016

It is time to expand Florida's Slayer Statute?Florida's Slayer Statute has stood on the books virtually unchanged over the past 40 plus years. It has literally been untouched for over 30 years, except for its adoption in the Florida Trust Code. While the public policy expressed by the statute (that a killer ought not to be entitled to inherit from the estate of the one murdered) has not changed during those years, a number of ancillary issues relating to the statute have led other states to expand their Slayer Statute in interesting ways. Given the new and interesting issues being addressed by other state Slayer Statutes, and the 30-40 plus year hiatus in revising Florida's Slayer Statute, it seems time to reconsider the statute and possibly expand its scope and reach.


May 2016

Nest Egg TrustsA new arrow becoming popular in the quiver of the overall estate or financial plan designed for wealthier clients is the establishment of an offshore asset protection trust (or “APT”), commonly referred to as a “nest egg trust”. 


February 2016

Jeff Baskies on Fiel v. Hoffman: Soap Opera/Probate Litigation Highlights the Limits of State Slayer Statutes and Poses Questions Regarding Public Policy Issues Which Should Be Explored in Many StatesBen Novack, Jr. was murdered in a particularly gruesome and sordid manner in July of 2009. Details of his torture and murder made national news. After Ben's murder, a subsequent investigation into the prior death of his mother, Bernice Novack, revealed that she too was murdered, although her death in April 2009 was initially ruled accidental. In 2012, Ben's wife, Narcy Novack, was convicted of the crimes and sentenced to life in prison for paying hit men to torture and kill her husband, Ben, and to kill her mother-in-law, Bernice. In this probate case (and on-going litigation relating thereto), Ben's wife, Narcy, has been treated as predeceased by the application of the Florida slayer statute which prohibits a murderer from inheriting from the estate of the person she killed. However, in a cruel twist, the alternate beneficiaries of Ben's will, if Narcy and his mother predeceased him, were Narcy's daughter (receiving a pecuniary bequest) and trusts for Narcy's two adult grandsons as the residuary beneficiaries.