Electronic Wills: Revolution, Evolution, or Devolution

Reproduced with permission from Tax Management Estates, Gifts, and Trusts Journal, Vol 44, No. 1, 01/10/19. Copyright 2019 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) http://www.bna.com

Electronic WillsInternet-based companies are currently encouraging state legislatures to adopt new statutes that will significantly impact Uniform Probate Code (UPC) provisions and other longstanding statutory schemes in order to facilitate widespread marketing and use of online estate planning and notary services in regards to the preparation and execution of wills, trusts, and other related estate planning instruments.

Is this evolution or devolution? Will the Uniform Law Committee’s current proposal with regard to electronic wills provide sufficient protections against fraud, undue influence and capacity issues?

In 1968, just over a decade before the internet, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the Beatles’ song, Revolution.

Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of societal changes that would result from commercialization of a global system of interconnected computer networks (known as the “Internet”) that now links devices worldwide and has incorporated services and technologies into virtually every aspect of modern life.

In Revolution, the Beatles sang:

We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
Later, in Revolution, the Beatles continue:
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can

It remains to be seen whether legislation recognizing (and thereby encouraging) use of electronic wills (and other estate planning documents) is a real solution or whether the better path is continued use of the UPC harmless error approach to such instruments (which require clear and convincing evidence that an instrument represents testamentary intentions, when the instrument doesn’t fully comport with formal execution requirements for a valid enforceable will).

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Lipson Neilson Shareholder Sandra D. Glazier is the Only Attorney from Michigan Invited to Present at the Prestigious 44rd Annual Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute

Sandra GlazierLipson Neilson Shareholder Sandra D. Glazier will present Ethical Considerations in Representing Vulnerable Adults and Fraud within the Family at the 44th Annual Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute. Stacked with top tax and estate planning speakers from across the country, this is the fourth consecutive year that Ms. Glazier has been invited to present at this prestigious national conference; she is the only attorney from Michigan on the Institute’s faculty.

Held in South Bend, Indiana, during October 10-12, 2018, this conference is unique because it covers topics not found in tax-focused estate planning programs such as the ethics attached to an estate planner’s duties and liabilities when implementing an estate plan, financial elder abuse, and reasonable compensation for trustees. This Institute brings together tax and estate planning experts from across the country.

An attorney for more than 35 years, Sandra D. Glazier is known for her expertise and successful track record in probate litigation, estate planning, trust and estate administration, and family law matters. The cases Ms. Glazier works on tend to be very complex and require technical as well as legal expertise. She has represented contestants and proponents of estate planning documents, as well as fiduciaries, in significant trust litigation proceedings.

An AV Preeminent® rated attorney, Ms. Glazier is recognized nationally for her accomplishments and expertise in estate planning and probate litigation and is routinely requested to speak at some of the leading legal industry conferences across the country. She has been selected as a “Michigan Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of information for the legal industry and has been recognized as a “Top Lawyer” by DBusiness, in the areas of probate, estate and family law. Ms. Glazier has had numerous articles published by some of the legal industry’s leading publications. and has taught “Valuation for Federal, Estate and Gift Tax Purposes” in a Masters’ level course.

Contact: Sandra D. Glazier
Phone: 248-593-5000
Email: sglazier@lipsonneilson.com

Steve Malach Participates in Casey Kasem’s Seminar

Steven Malach, who heads up the Probate, Trust and Estate Planning section of Lipson Neilson, recently attended a webinar narrated by Casey Kasem’s daughter, discussing the unfortunate circumstances involving the late Casey Kasem’s affairs. Mr. Kasem passed away on Father’s Day of 2015. He was an iconic disc jockey of national renown and known for the Casey Kasem top 100 song countdown.

In addition to suffering the ravages of dementia, his children were isolated and told they were not allowed to see their father by his second wife. This is an unfortunate textbook example of what can go wrong with or without an estate plan that can lead to very dramatic and dynamic probate related litigation during a person’s lifetime or even after they passed away.