Category Archives: Estate Taxes

Tom Clancy Family Estate Dispute Resolved After Years Of Fighting

While the final Tom Clancy estate battle may not have been as exciting as the climactic scenes in The Hunt for Red October or Patriot Games, the struggle between author Tom Clancy’s widow and four adult children over his $86 million estate is now over.  The seven justices on the Maryland Court of Appeals (the highest court in Maryland) were asked to rule about what a key clause in the codicil to Clancy’s will actually meant.  While it was close — four votes to three — the ruling marked a decisive victory for Clancy’s widow.Tom Clancy Estate Dispute

Considering that Tom Clancy is one of the best-selling authors of all time, it is ironic that the fight boiled down to how to interpret a clause in his estate planning documents that was written in an unclear manner.

The dispute centered around a provision in Clancy’s second codicil (which means amendment) to his will.  The will, originally signed in 2007, divided Clancy’s assets into three trusts:  one-third for his wife, another third for Read more...

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Mark Zuckerberg And His Charitable Plan Deserve Praise, Not Scorn

As if founding Facebook  and reaching #16 on Forbes’ ranking of the world’s billionaires wasn’t impressive enough, Mark Zuckerberg – along with his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan — is out to change the world for generations to come.  But not everyone thinks his motives are pure.  Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg and Chan announced their decision to transfer 99% of their Facebook stock to a new charitable-based venture called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.  This will do this through a new limited liability company, with the stated purpose to “to join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation.”  The stock will be handed over throughout their lifetimes, with no more than one billion dollars in stock gifted or sold annually for the next three years, according to a recent Facebook filing with the SEC.  Zuckerberg and Chan write that the value of the stock, presently, is about $45 billion, but that will likely grow over time considering their youth (Zuckerberg is Read more...

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Celebrity Legacies TV Show Premieres With James Gandolfini

We all know about the estates of Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith, right?  But what about Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, and John F. Kennedy, Jr.?  This week, the Reelz Channel premiered a new television series called Celebrity Legacies.  The documentary series explores a different celebrity each week, discussing their legacies, estates, and what they left behind:  Feuding heirs? Mounting debt?  Or a golden legacy glittered with fame and fortune?  Edie Falco, James Gandolfini, The Sopranos

The premiere episode delved into James Gandolfini.  The late Soprano’s star died shockingly in 2013, leaving behind two young children — from two different marriages — and an estate plan that was, well, not exactly perfect.

We appear on each of the 26 episodes of Celebrity Legacies, providing legal and financial commentary and analysis.  On the premiere, we talked about how James Gandolfini’s will was initially done as a Band-Aid measure, after his daughter was born.  Instead of using a revocable living trust to keep his affairs private and outside of probate Read more...

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Bill Davidson Estate In $2 Billion War With IRS

Bill Davidson, the late owner of the Detroit Pistons, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Guardian Industries — one of the country’s largest private companies — had a reputation for being aggressive.  The Pistons aggressively built two championship teams under his watch and was inducted into the NBA’s Hall of Fame in 2008.  His businesses thrived through his management.  But the IRS now says Bill Davidson was too aggressive in his tax-reducing estate planning techniques. Bill Davidson and Isiah

The IRS recently filed a petition in US Tax Court in Washington, D.C., claiming that Bill Davidson Estate owes up to two billion dollars in taxes.  Yes, that’s two Billion — with a capital “B”.  How could any individual rack up such a large tax bill?

Davidson, like many wealthy people who worry about estate taxes, gave away assets through gifts, trusts, and other transfers to his wife and other family members.  The IRS says that he undervalued the worth of these assets.  They feel his reported net worth of around $3 billion was really much Read more...

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Will Estate Taxes Force Al Davis’ Family to Sell The Oakland Raiders?

Al Davis, the long-time principal owner and general manager of the Oakland Raiders, passed away this weekend at age 82. As Mike Ozanian of Forbes recently wrote, estate taxes are a huge concern for NFL football owners, including the Davis family.  Those taxes led to the sale of the St. Louis Rams in 2008 and the Miami Dolphins in the mid-90′s.

For those who pass away this year, the tax tops out at 35% for those with the highest level of assets, like Davis.  Too bad the Davis family wasn’t as lucky as the Steinbrenner family, which avoided the taxes altogether, since 2010 was the one year there were no estate taxes.

The day after Davis passed away, NBC Sports already reported from “a source with knowledge of the situation” that Davis used thorough estate and succession planning to protect his beloved Oakland Raiders from leaving the family.  Reportedly, his widow, Carol, and his son, Mark Davis, will take over control of the team.  The San Francisco Chronicle wrote Read more...

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What Do Estate Tax Laws Mean To Your Family?

Danielle Mayoras was recently interviewed by Kim Vatis of NBC Chicago for her Smart Money finance feature:

If you think tax season is over, think again.

The Tax Relief Act of 2010 has changed the rules for estate taxes. And while Congress is giving families a gift, they need to act now and plan.

“2011 to 2013 is critical,” said estate planning attorney Danielle Mayoras. “Take advantage of the laws while we have them.”
How to Save Money on Moving

As of this year, the federal exemption for estate taxes is $5 million dollars, but that will go down to $1 million in 2013.

In Illinois, the exemption is just $2 million, meaning a lot more middle class families here could be affected.

“It’s not just the money in the bank,” reminded Mayoras.

Death benefits on life insurance, your 401ks and the fair market value on your home are all part of your estate and could add up to $2 million dollars quicker than you think, she explained.

The death

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