Sunday, May 5, 2024

New amendments to EPIC

Public Act 1 (2024) made a number of changes to the Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC). These changes were given immediate effect as of February 21, 2024. 

Two of the most significant ones for probate practitioners: 

The expedited estate administration provision of section 3982 and the collection by affidavit (bypassing probate) provision of section 3983 have been expanded to cover estates of $50,000 or less, up from the $27,000 figure that applied in 2023. The figures will continue to be subject to annual adjustments based on cost of living. (Under section 1210, the limit for those who died between January 1 and February 23, 2014 will be the $28,000 certified by the State Treasurer in January.)  

There were several amendments to the Trust Code as well. 

One significant amendment of interest to personal injury practitioners: 

The amount that can be paid under a settlement or payment on a judgment to the parent or custodian of a minor child under section 5102 without having to appoint a conservator is increased from $5,000 per year to $50,000 per year, also annually adjusted. 

Friday, March 8, 2024

"Ghost Hacking" - a new BOLO

A relatively new way cyberthieves steal wealth is by taking over the identities of people after they die, an act known as ghosting or ghost hacking - searching for news that someone recently died, such as through online memorials and death notices, then hack into and take over his social media accounts, email accounts, etc. 

Forbes - How to Protect Your Estate and Loved Ones From Ghost Hacking

Sunday, March 3, 2024

EPIC cost of living adjustments

 The state Treasurer has issued the updated cost-of-living adjustments to the several dollar amounts specified in EPIC, as follows: 

The spreadsheet that displays the historical figures is found at 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Tax and planning - 2024

The IRS has issued Bulletin 2023-48, announcing its annual inflation adjustments for tax year 2024. We have posted an updated Tax calculator 2024 with these adjustments at the 906 LawTech site. Key points of interest for personal planning include: 

Per-person per year gift reporting exemption - $18,000 

Estate and gift tax exemption equivalent - $13,610,000 

Cap on earnings subject to FICA - $168,600 

Monday, September 25, 2023

Obituary hijackers

Wired describes the rise of obituary pirates hijacking online death notices and obituaries on YouTube. 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

My parent has died. What now?

At the directly-named URL, a site that addresses some of the practical issues, with a lightly humorous touch, such as: 

My parents have literally just died. Please help.

- One of the (hopefully) few times you need to determine how to get rid of a body. 

I'm back at home now, but my parents are still dead.

- How to deal with people who want to bring you lasagna in the immediate aftermath. 

My parents are dead, but I can't prove it.

- You may be without death certificates, but you’re never without errands.

My parents are dead, and I have proof!

- Death certificates in hand, you’re now ready to battle bureaucracy at every turn — assuming you don’t misread the fine print.

Are your parents not quite dead?

- You don’t just need a to-do list. You need a to-die list. 

From the introduction: "Unfortunately, our legal and financial systems don’t care about your feelings. Starting now, your parents get to rest—but you don’t."

Saturday, February 4, 2023

IRA distributions under SECURE

The 2019 SECURE Act made a major modification to post-mortem distributions of funds from IRAs and qualified retirement accounts to non-spouse designated beneficiaries. In most cases, if a designated beneficiary [DB] has been properly named, the funds have to be distributed, and taxed at ordinary income rates, within ten years of the death of the owner of the account. Previously, the funds could be distributed over the life expectancy of the DB. This is a dramatic shortening of the time for distributions, and for larger accounts this will be a significant change. The distribution schedule should be planned carefully. 

Most lawyers and financial advisors appear to assume that the distribution timeline after the death of the account owner should be the maximum ten years. Many, further, simply assume that 10% of the original amount should be distributed each year. That assumption overlooks the fact that the money invested in the account will continue to generate income and to grow in value over time. If the DB were to withdraw 10% of the funds each year for nine years, the IRA would still have, in the tenth year, 57.6% of the original amount that she started with in year 1. 

Our calculations show that the projection over time often justifies a shorter period of approximately six years. There is relatively little difference between the outcome at the end of a six-year period vs. at the end of a ten-year period. 

The calculations shown here assume an IRA worth $100,000 at the time of the owner's death. They also assume an average growth rate of 3% per year. 

The primary benefit of using the alternative six-year period is that the funds that remain after taxes are paid are in the hands of the beneficiary several years sooner. Over the six years, the distributions are made, beginning at 10% and then increasing by 10 percentage points each year thereafter, until year six, when the amount remaining is distributed. Tax is paid on the distributions, at the Federal marginal rate of 22% in most cases, but then the remaining assets are held outside of the IRA container, and they can continue to appreciate, no longer subject to income tax. The cost basis for purposes of calculating long-term capital gains would be the fair market value on the date of distribution.

New amendments to EPIC

Public Act 1 (2024) made a number of changes to the Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC). These changes were given immediate effect...