Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hot Topics by Akers

I find commentaries by Steve R. Akers, Esq., a managing director with Bessemer Trust Company, N.A., in Dallas, Texas, and a member of the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel (ACTEC), to be astute & accurate.

Previously, I reposted some of his writings, with his permission. For example, see: PA EE&F Law Blog, "
Looking Back & Ahead"(12/29/07); "McCord: 5th Circuit Respects Defined Value Clause & Allows New Type of Gift".

Today, he sent another interesting article (40 pages) regarding "hot topics" in estate planning. He consented for me to repost a summary of it here (while, of course, the copyright remains in force). In it, he takes the pulse of the fiduciary & tax systems.

Here is his summary of the article's contents.

Winter Musings 2007: Estate Planning Hot Topics and Current Developments

by Steve R. Akers, Managing Director and Associate Fiduciary Counsel

Some of my observations from seminars and other current developments this winter, including a summary of some observations of the 2007 ACTEC Annual Meeting, are attached. Among the items addressed are the following:

Estate and Gift Tax Reform Legislation. The Senate and House each passed its own version of the 2008 Budget Reconciliation Act. There are indications that the Senate version may extend the 2009 estate, gift and GST tax exemptions and rates to 2012. We will have to wait to see if that remains following the conference agreement between the Senate and House.

Stop Tax Haven Abuse Bill. The Stop Tax Haven Abuse bill (S. 681, Levin, Coleman, Obama) has some interesting proposals, including one that would make tax patents issued after the effective date of the Act ineffective, and another provision that would extend the gatekeeper “tattletale” obligations to certain activities by attorneys involved in tax planning. Various bar groups are in the process of commenting on the gatekeeper proposal.

New IRS Position on 9100 Relief for Late GST Exemption Allocations.
The IRS has adopted a new internal rule refusing to grant 9100 relief for late GST exemption allocations if (1) the original transfer involved a discounted asset, and (2) the gift tax statute of limitations on additional assessments has run for that transfer.

Credit Shelter Trust That Is a Grantor Trust. Professor Mitchell Gans, Jonathan Blattmachr, and Diana Zeydel will be publishing an article in an upcoming issue of Probate & Property magazine describing a strategy of creating a credit shelter trust to utilize the first decedent spouse’s estate tax exemption that is a grantor trust as to the surviving spouse. A brief summary of their approach is included.

Income Tax “Nuggets” For Estate Planners. Ted Atlass (Denver) has accumulated over his career an impressive list of a wide variety of often overlooked income tax issues affecting estate planners. A brief summary of some of Ted’s outstanding “red-book” of income tax tips is included (with his permission and with his helpful edits).

Attorney Client Privilege.
A recent case, U.S. v. Landon, 98 AFTR2d 2006-7518 (N.D. Calif. Oct. 30, 2006), is an excellent roadmap of what types of matters in an estate planning attorney’s practice are privileged in tax litigation. Among other things, the case concludes that billing invoices are discoverable, but that attorneys “may redact any privileged information which speaks to the specific nature or substance of their services provided or reveals client motives or litigation strategy.”

Example Statement From Parent to Convey Values and Wisdom to Descendants. John Warnick (Denver) provides a wonderful example of language that a client of his used to convey values and heartfelt advice to descendants. John emphasizes this values based approach in his practice. DON’T’S MISS THIS!! THIS IS WONDERFUL-THESE ARE REAL PEARLS OF WIDSOM (except Item 19—you will have to read it understand my hesitancy about this one particular bit of fatherly advice.)

Copyright © 2007 by Bessemer Trust Company, N.A. All rights reserved.
For those interested in receiving a copy of the entire article in PDF format (236 KB) free, you may contact: Steve R. Akers, Bessemer Trust, 300 Crescent Court, Suite 800, Dallas, Texas 75201 (Ofc: 214-981-9407; Email: You may also contact his assistant, Debbie, with your request (Email: They would be happy to oblige; and they might add your name to his mailing list.

In the alternative, you could send an email to me,
and I would forward it to you by reply email, just as I received it.